Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Poll: Writing Class?

Hey guys, a simple poll here to get your honest opinion. Here is the story..

I've been getting some urge from people to go serious into this writing business. "Hey, you should write a book man" or "I love your writing, continue doing it". As sweet as they sound, it is really hard to discern which one possesses a genuine heart-felt tone and which one contains fake flattery. Not that I'm judging but hey, that's a valid point. The difference between 'Aw, how cute is your dog', and "Hey, I think your dog should join a dog pageant" is worlds apart and I just want to make sure that writing is really my cup of tea, in your opinion.

For me, I like writing, sometimes. I like babbling, a lot. But to make it as a serious venture or to consider myself as the great venerated author had never crossed my mind, even now. But, I think I should not take lightly what people say, if they see that as a possibility, I should consider and this is what I'm doing.

I'm not aiming to be a super professional author producing a New York Times bestseller, but if this is a skill that God has given to me, I definitely want to be responsible for it. I know writing can be powerful and I can see some future of me with a laptop and a printer - writing article for ministry, book review, etc. But before I step into that uncharted territory, I need your honest, blunt or brutal opinion.

Thanks. (the poll is on the top right side of the blog - your simple yes or no is greatly appreciated and will greatly determine what the future holds for me. Yes, it is that dramatic.)

PS: and this is the writing course that I'm considering.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Leiomyosarcoma - For Dummies

First caveat: this post is not comprehensive by any means, but it provides a layman language to understand Leiomyosarcoma. If you want to go more technical on this topic, this website provides great valuable information (on which I derived lots of mine too), but for more aerial view of this disease, I hope you can find this post useful.

First fact: Leiomyosarcoma is a rare cancer, affecting four people in every million, of which my mom is one of them.

It is a smooth muscle cancer, infecting sites like uterus, lungs, intestine, blood vessels, liver, etc - basically every organs with muscle that operate without you controlling it.

Again, a very rare and aggressive cancer. Soft tissue cancer (sarcoma) is a cancer caused by error from soft tissue cells - in itself already a rarity. And out of all sarcoma, only 5-10% are Leiomyosarcoma (smooth muscle cancer).

As of today, there is no known cure. This type of cancer is lethal because it is resistant to chemotherapy and radiation. The only treatment is to remove the infected site surgically with wide margin, meaning to cut the area around the infected site wide enough (2 inches or 5cm).

Initially identified, the cancer usually starts from one primary site (primary tumor), and it progresses from stage one to four. However, the cancer could transport through blood vessels and infected different sites (secondary tumor). This is called metastasis, and just one metastasis makes a stage IV, even though the primary tumor is still at stage I or II or III. In such case, there is no cure.

Not only that, even if a surgery with wide margin is administered to less than stage IV tumor, the cancer can come back locally. This is called local occurrence and it possesses the same aggressiveness which make it as lethal and life-threatening as the previous tumor.

It is not my wish to terrorize you with all these heart-breaking facts, as shocking  as they are, they are true nevertheless. I will not water down the the diabolic traits of this cancer, it is hurtful, yes, but I think the faster you grasp and understand what you are facing, the less likely you will be paralyzed by it later on.

So, if I could give some advices. Cry it out loud, it is indeed debilitating and I found it useful to put your fortress down and just weep. Easy for them to say "be strong", when they don't walk a mile in your shoes. For once, I would say, don't be strong and spill it. But afterwards, linger not and face it.

On a personal note, this is what kept me going. I know my God understands my sorrow because he had also experienced pain and suffering on the cross. I know he knows what it's like to shout for God with no one answering. His calling, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me", was replied with total silence - a cosmic alienation. I know Jesus can relate to me and understand my pain and sorrow. And that gives me the ultimate comfort, hope, and peace to deal with this ordeal.

This is inexorably painful already even with God by my side, and I can't imagine people going through this without God. I just hope you can find God in this suffering, and to know that he is with us to share our fear and tear, that you are never alone in this ordeal, and that you are greatly loved.

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Pics - Jakarta

I understand that Starbucks is a well known brand, but coffee and meatball may not be the perfect mate don't you think? Let me have one Growbucks meatball and hmmm, one tall caramel macchiato please? Just doesn't rhyme.

Imagine my initial response when I discovered this obscene writing on a pavement in my complex, "What bastard would wrote such profanity in a residential area full of innocent children?". Then it suddenly dawned on me that this is a jogging track, and they used to have a running race. Connect the dot, and voila. lol. Can you blame them for misspelling an English? 

Again, I can understand if you use Obama's name for your business, it's commercial anyway (although I'm not so sure he's gonna be thrilled to see that). But, Mbah Marijan, out of all people? lol. Please take Tom Cruise, or Trio Macan or even Cinca Laura for that matters, but mbah marijan? I beg not.  

How many gadget do you see in the pic? I should remind myself over and over again that I'm not at a cellular shop, that they're not selling cell phones and how many phone they have is none of my business. But, still, six phones and an ipad? I would suggest them to test for prostate cancer.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Month After....

It has been the weirdest month, to be in a house which does not feel like a house. A big chunk of it is missing, and simply everything in the house just remind you of her. It is the weirdest feeling, to go home at night, knowing there is no more her to talk to, to wake up in the morning, seeing the kitchen without her cooking. It is the weirdest feeling, to realize in the middle of the day, that this is real, no more her figure no matter where I look for it.

It is the weirdest feeling, to be in a house that was so full of her presence, but now without her presence. It is hard to look at the cookies that she bought with me at Walmart, without being reminded of her. It is heart-breaking to see all the photo albums that she carefully gathered and collected, leaving her no chance to enjoy them. To look at the chocolate that she hadn't had the chance to eat, to look at the Korean drama that we didn't get the chance to finish. To look at her trinkets, her make-up station, her bible with her handwriting on it, her glasses, just bring up sweet memories of her, together with a painful fact.

It is the weirdest feeling, and words fail to describe what is this feeling. I think human learn and survive partly by association. We associate America with freedom or prosperity, women with being motherly like, and men with athletic prowess. That is why some truths are easier to learn because we always connect an idea with an existing idea, our mind is entangle with so many associations; a strong yet malleable link. Strong, that is why we found it hard to believe when the US economy plunged, simply because the event counter-attacked, violated and raped our existing idea. Malleable, we gradually learn to accept a newly introduced idea: business women or even stay-at-home dad. To have that link broken abruptly means to have all the associations disfigured, deconstructed, and deemed no longer valid. And the hardest of all, to have the link replaced and rewritten.

The house is deeply associated with her, from the biggest room to the smallest piece of art displayed in our living room. Her hands had touched, influenced, and curated not only the house but also all of us. She is always strongly associated with alive, with being alive, with her high spirit and genuine love. Alive!! And now how am I supposed to relive my life disfiguring the word "alive", rewriting it and learning the word "dead". How could I connect and associate her with that word?? How could I?? The association is so strong that I'm not only shouting for time to make it happen, but for a miracle to happen.

It wasn't until this time that I can fully comprehend this quote by C.S. Lewis and share in the agony,

"There is death .... I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?"

Is it even possible to learn? Or it is just a wishful thinking?

Our last memory. In the hospital, edited background, two weeks before she passed away,
still with oxygen tank and wheel chair... 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baptism - The Tiberias Way

In a nutshell, Tiberias is very much associated with its miraculous signs and wonders especially through the power of Holy Communion and the Anointing Oil. The head pastor, Yesaya Pariadji, claims to receive this special commission from God himself, here is an excerpt:

"Tiberias received a special commission from the Lord Jesus to reveal the power and significance of the Holy Communion and the Anointing Oil. ... We pray that in these last days, through the bread, wine, and oil, we are sanctified, restored, healed, perfected, and sealed as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven"

That is a brief introduction to give you an idea of what Tiberias is about. Beside those three, Tiberias also holds a firm belief in the power of baptism; it is believed to have the power to restore people back to the images of God. And this is what I'm going to talk about; I'll try to summarize their belief about baptism, and I would like to know what's your opinion on that.

Their concept of baptism came after Pariadji's struggle about the right way to baptize: immersion or sprinkle. He claimed that God personally showed him five times that immersion is the way to go, and it is with this method that we can be restored to the images of Christ, referring to Gen 1:26, full of miraculous power. He strengthened his argument by confidently stated that it was God himself who showed him, and if proven to be untrue, his mouth shall be knitted and be thrown into hell.

Matthew 21:23-27 was where he drew his teaching from:
1. Because the Pharisee hinted that John baptism was from the authority of Heaven (v 25), then baptism must come from Heaven and thus, has the power to send us as citizen of Heaven, and thus, has the power to give us heavenly power as we are restored back to the images of Christ.

2. The right baptism is John's baptism, referring to verse 25. And upon this verse, he built the teaching that only a person who possesses the spirit of martyrdom (like John) is allowed to do baptism. A powerful and correct baptism is conducted by the right person (those with spirit of martyrdom) with the right method.

3. Pariadji then claimed to have the spirit of martyrdom, given by God himself. He was taken to Heaven, stopped by for a brief visit to Hell and saw the suffering soul of the condemned. He quickly knelt and cried at Jesus' feet and pleaded for God to let him serve their sentence, let him sacrifice his life to replace them. He insisted and pleaded three times, and finally God answered:

"Today, your pact is fulfilled, you indeed have the spirit of martyrdom like John. Thus, you are given the power to conduct the Holy Communion; power reserved only for those with the spirit of martyrdom."

What is the pact that he is talking about here? He shared that he always wanted to meet with people who is more sacrificial than him. If God fulfills it, he will honor his promise to God (no elaboration on the promise) Thus, the pact is honored when he met Jesus; he met a person who is more sacrificial than him.

4. Mark 16:16-18 unpack the signs of those who have been baptized: drive out demons, speak in new tongues, delivered from unfortunate events (pick up snakes with their hands), and heal people.

So, those were some important key points that he made about baptism. He certainly believes about the power of baptism to sanctify people, that the right baptism is only John's baptism, and he is the official person to carry out the baptism ceremony because he is endowed with the spirit of martyrdom from God.

I have heard lots of disagreement amongst denomination about baptism: requirement for salvation, immersion or sprinkle, the significance, etc, but have never heard of what Pariadji just introduced. Lots of people hold the belief that baptism serves solely as a ceremonial ritual or celebration to mark a Christian. It seems to me that Tiberias holds a much broader and more significant view of baptism, or even stands in contradiction to that view. And the ultimate question remains, how should we view this, and what The Bible says about it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Prologue - The Church of Tiberias

I've been coming to the church of Tiberias here in Jakarta. Why?

The Prologue

When my mom was on her sickbed, several people from Tiberias, who had never known her come to visit to pray and encourage and heal her. At first, I was a little bit uneasy because I've been to Tiberias several times, and I know their teaching and doctrine. Admittedly, there are several points that I disagree with them wholeheartedly; plain unbiblical. However, upon hearing their testimonies about miraculous healing which were delivered with great confident and deep conviction, I can't help but to wonder, "Is this story true?".

I believe in miracle, but being brought up as a rational being, the concept of miracle often being buried under. God can do miracle, yes and amen to that, but miracle never come as an ultimate comfort / remedy in my struggle and walk with God. I didn't expect miracle to happen, and I didn't think of miracle instantaneously

So when all these testimonies were being told, I was like being torn into two opposite poles. It reminded me of my little faith in miracle and that God can still work supernaturally / miraculously in this area too. But on the other hand, should I buy into their stories, how could a church with so many misleading doctrines could be blessed by God with so many miraculous wonders?

Of course I wanted to believe what they said, I wanted my mom to recover and be healed completely just like what they claimed but I know there's something fishy there, it didn't fit to the whole picture, but even if it so, they have lots of stories to tell about healing. If the stories are fabricated, why would they be so convicted in it, why would they go through all the hassle to visit and pray for the sick? And it is undeniable that their church has been used tremendously by God to bring people to him. So, what's going on here?

I was like a 5 years old trying to gulp a stream of water, I was trying to understand why and how God operates, to dissect God's mind and see what's behind it. Pondering inconclusively, I decided to come to Tiberias to check them out, with an assumption that maybe we humans are too dogmatic about doctrines.

Maybe in God's eyes, he cares less about healing or speaking in tongue or baptism, and only patiently hope that we all would realize our own flaws and come to our senses eventually. Maybe God does not label his children by denominations, and as long as we believe in him, that's what matters the most and he will bless his church regardless. Maybe this is Satan's attempt to create division among the body of Christ - war of doctrines. Maybe, I can only assume.

And that's the reason why I've been coming to Tiberias. I need to know not just the nutshell, but also all the gory details. I've been an outsider hearing all these things about Tiberias, and now I need to be an insider to see with my own eyes and to observe objectively.

It is my goal to have a well rounded information before I come to any conclusion, and hopefully I can understand God better by doing it. So here I go, embarking on this new project of my own, and let's hope that it will be a blast.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Modest Proposal

Hey hair,

I'm still 23 and the law of nature postulates that you are supposed to still strongly rooted in my hair scalp. You are supposed to grow vigorously, as thick as you like, as long as you wish, and I think I've created a good environment for you to do that, have I ever colored you with red or yellow? Didn't I wash and nourish you everyday?  To act and behave like this given all that I've invested in you and at a time where I still highly dependent on you to attract my female counterparts is an epic act of betrayal!!

I've collected a picture of you from my 19th birthday in 2006 to the most recent 2010, and your lack of commitment and dedication to me are evident. To say you're getting thinner at an alarming rate is an understatement, the rate is astronomical, and I urge you, no, I command you to pull yourself together and grow!! Let's do it. Together, we are unlimited...

April 2006 - Look at all the fun we had, thick and dark, everyone looked at us with envy
April 2007 - Have you concocted your diabolical series of betrayal yet at this time? Would never imagine that 2007 is my last birthday with still a perfectly fine hair volume.
April 2008 - First sign was seen. I was getting worried, shower time was terrifying, but I was still faithful that you were going to come back to your senses

April 2009 - Did you still expect me to smile at this stage? The signs were conspicuous, people started to notice, I started to count "how many, how many?"
April 2010 - And finally. Oh, concerning, deeply concerning. 
So, my dear hair, please tell me when you're going to put an end to all these. I hope you will behave just like all your other peers, at least until the next 20 years. Could you? If not, please let me know, I'm gonna have to find a place to do hair implant soon. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Paint It with More Color

Few last entries have been pretty gloomy, and I apologize for that. This blog is like a conduit for my feelings, a place where my pool of emotions can slowly ooze out. So, especially at times like this, I might depend more on this blog to materialize my fear or grief. And I'm pretty sure more are coming up.

However, I can already sense and feel the dreariness and clouds of melancholy hovering over the atmosphere of this blog. Too much black color, and it violates the title of this blog. I need more nuance and I need it quick. so let's jazz things up!! The next post won't be so dramatic, I promise. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

10 Days After ......

It is not a beautiful memory, not something that you wish to harbor in your mind. I wish I could pay a price to get it erased, to have it deleted permanently. But no matter how determine or how faithful you press the delete button, it will come back with even stronger force. Ruthless. Brute. In-exterminable.

It is not death that breaks your heart into pieces, it is not so much the separation, but all the pains and sufferings leading to it. When the fallen world exerts its forces upon finite beings, when health deteriorates, when breathing becomes a pain, when sleeping becomes a toil and when all your organs work against you, that’s what unbearable and sickeningly suffocating.

I don’t think any of us is designed to handle that, not even the strongest and most iron-hearted of us. I don’t think the heart of flesh possesses any capacity to see, observe and feel the pain, especially if it is your beloved. Watching is excruciating, and without you being able to do anything about it, is even more excruciating. It is beyond excruciating. Don’t you now wish that you are given a heart of stone instead?

I try and try to imagine how God faces this kind of stuff. It’s too painful for me to handle, and this is just a one single event of my life. How could God face the reality of pain every second? If we humans could be so troubled and disturbed by the pain of our beloved, what’s more of God who sees his children suffer every second? What does he feel when he sees his children desperately crying out for help? I assume the pain he feels is unspeakable, and probably the temptation to extend his hands is unmatched by ours, but probably he understands more that love is not equal to kindness, that sometimes love involves pain, even the most seemingly despicable pain.

I wish it could be that easy, I wish.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In Loving Memoriam

Thank you God that although we would never be able to make sense what you're trying to do, you always make it a perfect sense eventually.

Thank you God that the Bible is full with stories of your great deeds, and human remain only as the characters, not the author of the story.

Thank you God that the Bible always shows how humans are too small to even know what we are doing, but you always know what you are doing.

Thank you God that you rise beyond humans' ability to plan their life. Thank you God that at the end of Joseph's story, you have the last word. "You meant it for evil, but I meant it for good"

Thank you God that in the Bible, death is only a stage, not an end in humans life, that neither death, nor disease, nor suffering nor angel nor even evil can separate us from the love of Christ.

Thank you God that in you, death is not a tragedy, it is a celebration. For as Paul said, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Thank you God that you give us promise to be hopeful and even to be joyful at the face of death.O death, where is your sting? Where is your victory?

So help me Lord to be joyful, to fully understand that you have prepared a better place for her, that one day, we will be united again in perfect harmony, a place with no more grief, tears, and pain.

Thank you God that you let me know how to respond at times like this. Help me to conclude just like Job concluded, God gives and God takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

Thank you God for giving me such a great mom, thank you God for the splendid 23 years together. 23 years is too short, but I thank you for the time, the last vacation together, the opportunity to serve her during her last days. Thank you God that although it was not a perfect relationship, you will make it perfect in the end, thank you.

And thank you God that you think mami's life has reached its perfection. Thank you God that it is with your loving hand that you take her away, that she is now at your bosom, at your loving embrace. 

Thank you God that it is you who gave mami to me, and it is you who took her away. And with all that I am God, with my limited understanding, and with my utter humility, I submit totally to your will.

God gives, God takes away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What does God die for?

People should learn to read the bible, that's my thesis. It is stated intentionally this early and this conspicuous because situation demands no other less. Yes, there are some parts of the Bible that admittedly need more dedication to interpret, but major doctrines like atonement or what I'm about to expound shortly is crystal clear, and any possible misinterpretation, I conclude, has nothing to do with its author, but everything to do with its interpreter.

God died for our sin, and it is our sin that he redeemed on the cross because it is sin that brings alienation between God and human. In case you miss the repetition, I'll repeat, it is sin sin and sin (read for yourself Romans 5:8, 1 Cor 15:3). But, what I hear so often from the mouth of the unwise is a very audacious extrapolation. He died for our disease, that he has win us over from the power of sickness and we can claim that promise from God. Hey, the cross has freed us from cancer, or heart disease, or HIV.

I have a problem with that statement simply because it distorts the main teaching of the bible. The trademark of a Christian is not the immunity from the evil in this world, but from the wages of sin, which is eternal death. Stemming from this false belief, people are given false hope. I wonder how many people buy into this promise, just to be disappointed later on with God once they discover that death is real and inevitable, yes, even for Christians. 

I have a problem with that statement because it doesn't hold water. It doesn't matter how many times a person is healed because of this belief,  they know at one point, healing will betray them and they will have to succumb to the reality of death. And if an absolute statement of "God will heal you because he has died for our disease" is proven wrong once, it is wrong no matter how many times it is proven true. It fails to be absolute, and exist to be a mere wishful thinking.

Clearly I have a problem with that statement because it it is my mom that we're talking about here. It is my mom who would be disappointed, it is my mom's mind that is being corrupted. And what makes the problem even more painstakingly ironic is that this can be evaded simply by paying more attention to the Bible. If only people learn to read the Bible, and let the Bible talk to them, we wouldn't have to face this problem.

Again, I'm not saying anything against healing or miracle, and I hope you can interpret from my writing that I'm not against it. If not, maybe you need to simply learn just to read, not only to read the Bible. And for those of you who still hold on to your own concoction of the Bible, I just wish that God also died not only for your sin or disease, but also for your folly and ignorance. May God listen to my plea. Amen.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Peace in Worship

It's an encouragement from the Lord this morning as I listened to a sermon from Tim Keller - couldn't be more timely and the context / topic couldn't be more right on.

How do we answer the question, how do we face distress and adversity with peace? The Bible is full of petitions to God asking for deliverance, healing, comfort etc and that is exactly what we did, and of course we should do it and in fact we did it. The Bible talks about it.

But, Psalm 57 talks about a different way to face this tough time with peace, which I through experience, should acknowledge to be true. It is through worship - utter amazement of God and God alone, the alpha and omega, the end in itself.

The psalmist, in the midst of all his valley and trouble, does not ask for God to change his situation. He asks for neither deliverance nor success nor victory - there's no petition at all. Instead, after he accounted and listed all his inventory of troubles, he exclaimed "Be exalted oh God, above the heaven; Let your glory be over all the earth". It is through worship that he calms himself, not through determination or loud petition. If the psalmist can find peace through this, so do we.

What are these compared to God's glory and majesty? What are these compared to grace? Everything pale in comparison to the salvation and hope that awaits us ahead. Thus, for me, I will bring this salvation that I have, present it daily to my very heart to get it appraised, to be reminded over and over again of its value, to let its glory shine before me so strong that all other problems, anxieties, and sufferings become a blip on my sight. So minuscule that they are easily overlooked. Yes, ignorable, brushable and neglectable.

"They say of some temporal sufferings, "No future bliss can make up for it", not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory" C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Positive Note on Traveling

Traveling has always been one of my favorite things to do, be it a leisure travel or work travel. Why? Simply because you can get out from your routine and experience something new - place, food, people, culture, politics, and  local movements. Of course the last three are a complete bull, but I do like to venture into new things and it is always been a comfort to walk around and to let all my five senses absorb all the sensation they can take.

With such long winded introduction, I'm actually only getting at this point, that these past couple of weeks I have been travelling quite often for work. Our company is having all these trade shows around the country to promote our products to local garden centers. A brief tangent: the show is enjoyable, here is the picture of our booth.

The display is great and I think we are one of the best, if not the best booth in all the shows, but great things come with a great price. It takes us six hours to set that up, and please pardon me for complaining, but keep in mind that those black furniture need to be transported from the van to the booth which is first, not a short walk, and second, let just say that they are not light, they are wrought iron-ly heavy. And yes, they don't look very pretty inside the van. Clutter clutter clutter.

So, what do I really like from all these traveling? First, you stay in a hotel which equals to no making up bed, no guilt feeling when you use five different sets of towels for different purposes (then toss them on the floor), no cleaning dishes and complete freedom to roll to any direction on the king size bed (and the liberty to pick your favorite pillows out of the six available).

Secondly, you received an eye-opening revelation, that even if human race is on its way to extinction, Chinese would probably be the last one standing. Go to the most remote, unseen county, just down at the corner of that corn farm and east of that valley and river and you would see some Lim or Chin or Lee family own a Dragon-something Chinese restaurants. Of course, all have a special and unique General Tso's chicken just like they proudly proclaim. They rule and reign and populate the US.

But of course, there is always one of them who go off on a tangent and open a law firm. Heaven and Dragon forbid, and look at the destiny of those who violate the law of nature.

They "Suk"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Your Next Pick-Up Line?

There are two books that I want to share here, one is a biography of the well-known Amazing Grace composer, John Newton and the other one is a journal of a Christian writer, C.S. Lewis. Both individual lived in a different era, but both of their writings share one unifying theme - a crazy and intense love feeling for their wife. One cannot help but notice and feel and shudder in amazement at the passion coming out from the romantic and melancholic hands of these Christian leaders. So, I think it would be interesting to show the other side of them which is too often shadowed by their other glorious life story or achievement. Here are the writings of an ordinary Adam falling helplessly to their Eve.

Describing his initial feeling, he wrote "Almost at the first sight of this girl, I felt an affection for her that never abated.". In his journal, he expressed his feeling as "this violent and commanding passion .... a dark fire locked up in my breast ... in degree it equaled all that the writers of romance have imagined". 

Isn't this the greatest love letter ever?
"The first day I saw you I began to love you. The thoughts of one day meriting you (and believe nothing less could have done it) roused me from a dull insensible melancholy I had contracted and pushed me into the world. .... I think I could run on to a volume, but it would be quite needless, for it is not in the power of words to express with how great ardency I am - Your most devoted faithful admirer, John Newton"

And upon returning to England for six weeks with his wife, he called this period "the happiest part of my life," and continue "I never before had so much of your company in equal space and with so little interruption. Seven such weeks are preferable to seven years of common time."

And on a later occasion, writing to his friend in regards to several people who questioned his wife's excellency to be his partner (as she has no brain nor beauty), Newton wrote "There are sensibilities belonging to a happy marriage that can no more be communicated by description than the taste of a pineapple. They are only to be acquired by experience."

C.S. Lewis - A Grief Observed
Well, this one is different - it's not a book but a journal that he kept after his wife died - detailing his pain and grief at this bereavement. 
"At first I was very afraid of going to places where she and I had been happy - our favorite pub, our favorite wood. But I decided to do it at once. Unexpectedly, it makes no difference. Her absence is no more emphatic in those places than anywhere else. It's not local at all. Eating in general would be different, every day, at every meal. It is like that. The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything."

Reflecting back to his marriage and why it was ended he wrote "It was too perfect to last, so I am tempted to say of our marriage. It could mean "This had reached its proper perfection. This had become what it had in it to be. Therefore of course it would not be prolonged. As if God said, 'Good; you have mastered that exercise. I am very pleased with it. And now you are ready to go on to the next.' "

It's never easy to swallow the hard truth and face the reality. But it is always better to take it at face value rather to deny it by creating a disillusionment or petty comfort  "It is hard to have patience with people who say, 'There is no death' or 'Death doesn't matter.' There is death. .... I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?"

And lastly, such a despondent statement - and I second that. Grief has less to do with sorrow or being forsaken, it has more to do with being fearful of what tomorrow or even the next hour may bring.  And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn't seem worth starting anything. I can't settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Before the Morning - An Encouragement

This song has been such an encouragement for me and I hope it could be to you too. No matter how defeated or discouraged you feel, drag your heavy-heart out of the bed because in God, there is always a reason to sing. Get up and fight the good fight!!

Check out the story behind this song, super awesome - and the YouTube video.

Before the Morning - Josh Wilson
Do you wonder why you have to
Feel the things that hurt you
If there’s a God who loves you where is He now

Maybe there are things you can’t see
And all those things are happening
To bring a better ending

Someday somehow you’ll see you’ll see

Would you dare would you dare to believe
That you still have a reason to sing
Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling
It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming
So hold on you gotta wait for the light
Press on and just fight the good fight
Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning

My friend you know how this all ends
You know where you’re going
You just don’t know how you’ll get there
So say a prayer

And hold on cause there’s good for those who love God
But life is not a snapshot
It might take a little time but you’ll see the bigger picture

Once you feel the weight of glory
All your pain will fade to memory

It’s just the hurt before the healing
Oh the pain that you’ve been feeling
It’s just the dark before the morning 

"They say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory" - C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Touch 3G Slide - Part 2

This is the part two of my entry about my new phone (view part 1)

Hate it
1. Battery lifetime
I think people are too busy developing awesome apps and forget to come up with battery that will at least last more than a day. Yeah, the apps are freaking cool and I'm loving all of them but what's the point if you have no battery to run the apps. It's like manufacturing a car, only later to find out that you have no fuel to run it. Pretty pointless don't you think?

2. Oversensitive screen
It's a neutral ground for this one actually, coz I know I'll be bitching too if the screen is not sensitive. But I just resent it if in the middle of a phone call, it accidentally drops dead simply because my cheek hit the "end call" button. It is also very likely that I dial somebody's number unintentionally. One particular number is this restaurant that I frequently patronize. I put its direct dial on my screen, and I don't know how many times the restaurant's server pick up the call, only to be disappointed and annoyed at the absence of response

3. The not so 'genius' button
This phone takes pride in its newest genius button which promises voice recognition feature. The premise is to make it safer and easier to navigate the phone while you are driving; you can do Google search, type message, dial contact with your voice. However, all of those fail miserably. The genius button rarely catch what you are saying or sometimes it is off due to limited connectivity, and then you have to press "start over" button, look again at the screen if it is ready, say it again, fail again, then your screen is locked, then you have to drag the screen down, check the screen again and the last thing you know is you miss an exit or hit the car in front of you. I think it is engineered in a way that will increase your chances to get into accident - so I would suggest to ignore this genius button, they're far from genius.

4. Inconsiderate to certain skin-type
The screen is huge and if you see it in the ad, it is glossy and clean and clear. But in this perfect real life, this almost never happen. Imagine a typical summer day, it's hot and humid out there, your face is an active oil producer and you are sweaty and filthy, and you pick up a call, gently place that massive screen on your cheek and voila, all you get is an oily and greasy screen; nothing like what is shown in the ad, nothing like a glossy, clean and shiny screen. That's a problem in itself, but the real disaster is if you try to clean it or wipe it. Imagine smearing a butter on your laptop monitor, yeah, that's what you get. No matter how strong or persistence you wipe it, it gonna stay that way until you leave it for couple of minutes and wipe it with clean and half-wet paper towel. That's, ladies and gentlemen, how you do it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My New Phone: MyTouch 3G Slide

After more than a year since my post on Blackberry, I should admit that my old Samsung flip-phone is no longer user-approved (or even culturally-approved). The battery case is missing so I have to tape my battery to keep it intact. And worse....... hmmmmm (thinking hard) ....... , no animation maybe, or no email, and no camera? Well, there is actually not that many valid justifiable reasons to begin with beside the fact that I just want to have a new phone. It's starting to get lame when "ringg ringgg ringggg" is what you hear when you get a call, I want Jason Derulo or Taio Cruz singing for me!

So anyway, I upgraded my old Samsung to MyTouch 3G Slide; quite wordy don't you think? Why can't you say like iPhone, or Nokia, or Blackberry. Why it has to be like "Hey, I just bought a black MyTouch 3G Slide smart phone?" Well, but that's the way you should say it, lacking one word will be disrespectful since every word conveys a special meaning. 3G: Geez, you have a 3G signal, must be blazing fast? Slide: Yeah, it's the new one dude, it actually slides. My Touch: say bye bye to old keypad, touching is the trend now. So, please share what phone do you have, mine is actually (drum roll please) a MyTouch 3G Slide. Hah. 

Well, I applaud you for still persistently reading my hogwash until this point. Of course and as always, I have something better to offer you. Here, I would like to share things that I like and don't like from this Droid phone. Of course as someone who just switched from old flip phone to this smart, touch-screen, camera-capable, 3G slide phone (Oooops, I'm doing it again), it's kinda hard to find the drawbacks, but I'm pretty confident my complaining and criticizing nature will come in handy this time. 

Love it
1. Impressive arsenal of apps. 
From zero application to now thousands of downloadable application in my grip, I am almost estatic. The Google Sky Map is awesome. Planning a romantic date? Just download this app and let your imagination run wild. My favorite is the Coupons App; Go cheap and check available coupons everyday - it's two for one pizza at Dominos today!! 

2. GPS Navigation System
Can we say that GPS is obsolete now? I lost count of how many times I was saved by this feature, especially when I have to travel around Columbus for work. It does feel really peaceful when you are almost hysterical finding your way out and suddenly you hear the all-knowing lady's voice uttering the most melodious sentence "Turn left, your destination is on the right"

3. Link link link. 
Link your friends' profile with their Facebook, Gmail or even Linkedin account. Now you get all their contact number in one place. Their birthday is automatically in, their Facebook updates are only a click away, and the best part is, their Facebook / Gmail pic is incorporated to your phone book. So, it is completely unnecessary for me to take pic of every single contact I have, not that I would ever do it but it certainly makes my life easier. 

(to be continued) ......

Monday, June 28, 2010

Three Utmost Important Twitter Tools

I've been using twitter pretty heavily this last few weeks because my company is jumping into this social networking bandwagon, and as a avid users myself, I am getting the privilege to manage it. For this purpose, I've been looking for several twitter tools that could make my twitter experience easier, like managing followers, deleting mass followers, looking at trends, etc. And in this post, I'd like to share with you three tools that I consider are the utmost important.

I really think this is the most comprehensive twitter tools ever. You can search and filter your followers based on several variables like who haven't tweeted in the last 90 days, those tweeps who do not follow you back, and even those who have no profile picture. You want to do mass follow / unfollow? Piece of cake, just "select all" after you do the filter, and then "delete" or "unfollow" or "block" or whatever your like. So, it is a very fun and helpful application to use, especially if you have more than 1000 followers. For good complementary reading on refollow, click here.

2. Twitter Analyzer
Don't let the word "analyzer" scares you off, it sounds a bit geeky admittedly, but this is a very fun tool to use as well. First, unlike many other twitter tools, this one does not require you to sign up or to follow them on twitter etc, just type in your username and let them do the trick.

One distinct feature that I like from this tool is that it can find who are your closest tweeps, who mention you the most, who you interact the most and, to be fair, who you disregard the most. Thus, you can either keep your friends close or, identify who seems less influenced by your tweet, and start building relationship with them (keep your enemies closer right?). If you are a data-driven type, or wanna still sound smart although what you do is tweeting all day, justify your action and impress them with Twitter Analyzer.

3. @unfollowr
This is not even a twitter tool, but this twitter account really provides solution to the pressing question - who are those people who have the audacity to unfollow me? I used Qwitter before this, which worked pretty good until it started getting drunk and sending inaccurate report.

Nice thing about @unfollowr is you don't have to log in or whatever, just follow the account and it will send you DM whenever someone decides to unfollow you. Yes, it is heart-breaking when someone does that, that's why I need this tool to know whose names I should write-off from my Christmas list.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Visit to Passion Works Studio

Around two months ago, we had an opportunity to visit Passion Works, a social business entrepreneurship located in Athens, OH. Basically, Passion Works is about doing a collaboration between artists with and without disability problems. It is originated from the belief that every humans are innately precious and are capable of doing something valuable to society. Patty Mitchell, its owner and founder, sees beyond their disability, and started to use this opportunity to help them restoring their sense of self-esteem while at the same time building her own company . Thus, you have the term Social Business, a for-profit company with a social vision.

At Passion Works Studio with founder, Patty Mitchell

So, how does the collaboration actually work? Sketch is drawn by disabled people; they are the one who come up with ideas which then being actualized by full time artists. Tons of wonderful ideas and drawings sprung up from their creative mind, one of them is the Passion Flowers which is now being recognized as the official flowers of Athens, OH. The products that they carry range from decorative item to functional items like guitar or even luggage.

It was unfortunate we didn't take more pics

As my eyes observed all the amazing artworks before me, my mind can't help to wonder. It doesn't take a special set of eyes to look at these people and realized that they are uniquely created. It doesn't take a master or Phd degree to acknowledge that they possess certain kind of abilities which often times are being overlooked. Patty sees through that, and I believe we can also see that. However, it takes a tender and courage heart to go beyond what we see or believe or acknowledge and actually turn that into an action. Often times, doing is much harder than believing, because doing is another level of commitment, and that is why people who are actually a doer, are those who are able to bring huge impact to the community. Patty Mitchell did this several years ago; starting with only a strong determination and bold courage, she brought her vision to reality, and thus has become an inspiration for lots of people, including me.

Learn more about Passion Works:
Follow them at Twitter
Be their fan at Facebook
Click here for video, and here

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Birthday Gift

This post is one month due, but I'm gonna write it anyway because it concerns me and anything concerning me is absolutely essential to be posted. I've written one post about the kind of untypical birthdays greetings that I got for my 23rd birthday, and I think to be fair, I need to write about the gift that I got as well, which is equally untypical. They're unprecedented.

I have received a watch, gift-card, clothes, electronic-stuff or even Gundam as my birthday presents, but this kind of gift, like what I alluded, is unprecedented. I guess it takes a strong urge of determination and mountainous efforts to even set the project in motion, let alone finish it in a meticulous fashion. Thus, hail to my good friends for spending hours creating this scrapbook, and for effortlessly lying to me regarding their whereabout several days before my birthday. I certainly appreciate the thoughts and energy that you guys have put into this book.

Bits and pieces of the scrapbook, displayed nicely before being binded together

One of my favorite pages, I like how the bird hovering over my head.

Road trip to Boston, beaten by the mad crab

My dark and secret desire, massage gift card!! haha. Ecstatic. 

 Thank you guys, really appreciate everything. (setting: at our secret study center, dare to guess??)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Places To Visit in Columbus - Part 2

I posted the part 1 several days ago, and here is the continuation of my visit to several unpopular but worth visiting places in Columbus. 

Franklin Conservatory - If biology is your favorite subject in high school, this is the place you don't want to miss. Showcasing various exotic plants and botanical gardens, this is a great place to learn and also to take pictures. 

Alum Creek Dam - again, a collection of the beauty of nature:  beautiful dam, green and vast pasture, clear blue sky, and the lake. Enjoy the breath-taking scenery or be active and do some kayaking, fishing or even windsurfing. 

That's all for now folks, I will post more pics if I get more chance to go around Columbus. As of now, I look forward to visiting Amish County which I haven't get the chance to visit. So, stay tune and anticipate more postings. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Places To Visit in Columbus - Part 1

When you think about Columbus, you and maybe the other 95% of people will think about the renowned Ohio State University, which is good because that's what Columbus, OH is well-known for. However, it is unfortunate that places like Goodale Park, Hoover dam, or Hayden Falls, beside their pristine beauty, remain untouched by visiting tourists, locally or nationally or even internationally. That's what prompted this post; I've had the chance to visit these places and I truly believe that their beauty should not be overlooked. Below are some pics which I hope will convince you to visit these places right after you're done visiting Ohio State University.
Goodale Park - With its natural beauty, this park is perfect for picnicking, jogging or even for playing around with ducks. 
Santa Maria Boat - I did not go for the tour so I have no idea what this boat is all about. I'm pretty sure it has some interesting historical stuff if you're really interested. For me, this pic is enough. 

Hayden Falls - I was so close to sending this pic to several magazine editors out there. I'm sure the splendor of the Falls plays a bigger role aesthetically, but surely you can't dismiss that guy right there. 

Topiary Park - a very beautifully landscaped park, with a pond at the center of the park which provides you with a very comfortable place to chill and appreciate the art of topiary. Where's the picnic basket?

to be continued.... 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Retract, Retreat, and Refuel

Take a 360 degree look at your surroundings and you will notice that we are bombarded by all these advertisements and articles which promise one ultimate thing:instant gratification. We are being taught to get everything in a split of a second, from losing 7 lbs in a week under the tutelage of Jennifer Aniston to getting an instant healing under the miraculous power of Benny Hinn.

Yes, we want everything now, and it has to be now. Why? Because we are told to be hurry, to follow the world's accelerating pace. I think it is just about time when one-minute microwavable food is not fast enough, and waiting 1.02 second for Google to display its search is a waste of time.

In contrary to the contemporary culture, The Bible teaches a very opposite approach. We frequently heard the exclamation "Hurry Up!", but The Bible tells us to slow down and be still in the Lord. When all the instant messages, email, text keep us occupied, The Bible urges us to slow down and reflect. The Bible teaches a very aberrant approach: retract, retreat and refuel. Retract from the noisy culture, Retreat to a quiet place, and Refuel your spiritual tank.

And with regard to that, I found the prayer of St Anselm to be profound and relevant, especially in times like this when people have to learn that is is okay to press the "esc" button, or it is even highly recommended to shut down your computer, your ipod, your blackberry, facebook notification to escape for a moment and listen to the voice of God.

Come now, little man, turn aside
for a little while from your daily employment,
escape for a moment
from the tumult of your thoughts

Put aside your weighty cares,
let your burdensome distractions wait,
free yourself awhile for God,
and rest awhile in Him.

Enter the inner chamber of your soul
shut out everything except God
and that which can help you in seeking Him,
and when you have shut the door, seek Him.

Now my whole heart, say to God,
"I seek your face,
Lord it is your face I seek."

St Anselm