Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Come, let us have a chat, shall we?


  • Coffee. The caffeine and the wonderful, temporary feelings of euphoria make coffee very appetizing. Dangerous, because it's very addictive. My parents and sister know all too well what I was like when I was addicted to coffee and went without it; I was horrendous company, and I had an unbearable headache. When I was pregnant with my first born, I couldn't stand the taste of coffee and I had no caffeine withdrawal symptoms (thank you, Lord). I am doing everything within my power to prevent my body from waiting and expecting it daily. No more than twice a week of coffee, I say. Anyways, today seemed a good day for coffee. Some would say I'm not a true coffee connoisseur, since I add some coffee to milk and sugar.
  • Lent. You may remember my desire and intention to better integrate or live my life being radically transformed in His image. I'm not really sure what a life, my life, with the Holy Spirit working within me and through me is supposed to look like; but I sure stink at it. Since being off facebook and twitter for nearly seven days (only seven days), I have felt more lonely and distanced from people. As if facebook or twitter really, genuinely connected me with anyone in any profound and meaningful way. Anyways, I'm learning the hard way what it means to lean on the Lord in many aspects of my life.
  • Cooking food in interesting and new and tasty ways is therapeutic for me these days. And, it's an extra bonus that my husband can't eat enough of it!
  • Snowflakes and shimmering glitter falling from the sky. Can be very dangerous, practically - driving; especially when water has frozen into thick ice underneath the fluffy snow. However, the snowflakes - with their unique sizes, shapes, textures, transparency - has been a gentle reminder from the Lord, for me, that we (or I) are (am) not meant to fit some sort of cookie cutter mold. I was made by an artist creator uniquely, intentionally, artistically, carefully, wonderfully. The snowflakes, in all their uniqueness and beauty, were also a reminder of His wonder and grandeur.
  • Friends and family. I am so blessed to have friends and family to love and who love me, too. I am a deeply relational, interrelational to the core. I am grateful for influential, personal relationships where people not only accept me for who I am but encourage me to further my passions.
  • Being a new homeowner has felt like a bunch of fast curve balls have surprised me, from paperwork (hello personal property tax bill - from whence did you come? Isn't my loan company supposed to take care of that from our escrow account) to less than pleasant occurrences (such as half of the electricity going out in the house not long after we moved it or the downstairs bathroom dripping water from the ceiling). I have absolutely neither talent nor inkling nor desire towards home repairs. But, all in all, I'm really glad we have a home in our names and that we're not just dumping money into an endless abyss for someone else's welfare.
  • Income taxes. I find them anything but lucid. I thought I had fallen in love with Turbotax. First time ever I'm not doing it entirely pen and paper. Did it pen and paper (in addition to Turbotax - what am I, a glutton for punishment?) just so I could compare and see whether I really saved money doing it with Turbotax. I shall wait awhile to make any final judgments, but, as of today, I stand a bit disappointment. Am already planning on filing an amendment to the already submitted tax return, because the refund from doing an amendment makes that much of a substantial difference.
  • The arts - poetry, music, visual arts (photography, painting, etc.) - without which I would be much sadder and incomplete. I love the arts; may it live on and prosper. On a side note, I closed my smugmug account and hence my photography website.
  • Philosophy and happiness. Many of you know that I have spent no small amount of time studying philosophy and I wrote my dissertation on happiness. My love and itch for philosophy need tending and scratching. I'd like to continue writing on happiness, but this time a distinctively Christian conception of happiness. I'll give you a hint at the direction towards which I am heading - happiness is not the same thing as pleasure (they're not interchangeable terms in my view). Rather, it has more to do with doing what God made us to do or the way in which God created us. But, here is where I want your input. Why is "happiness" important (to people in general, to Christians specifically, to you as an individual)? How is happiness significant to your life? Thoughts? Questions? Ponderings?
  • Colorado weather. Love it. Could be below freezing temperatures and a blizzard one day and temperature in the fifties a few days later. Skies are oftentimes blue. Couldn't ask for more beautiful weather or landscape. Won't complain on bit.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Family fun fare


I always look forward to Saturdays, because amidst our crazy busy schedules, we intentionally take a chunk of Saturday for family time. This morning, for breakfast, I made some delicious swordfish and asparagus for Troy and me; we shared them with the girls, too. We then went to the Children's Museum, where Isabella did her first watercolor paintings (today). We have children's watercolors here at home, but I've been afraid of the mess that will be made (I know, I just need to get over that). We all had a blast, the girls running around and playing and Troy and I watching them be merry. Then, early evening, before dinner, we all made cookies together, which the girls love, love, love to do. No, no, they didn't have cookies for dinner. After the girls went to bed, Troy and I got caught up on Lost for the week.

A little note on the photographs:

I love how both of them are into pretend play. Isabella's preparing "porridge" to feed Henry; she sometimes makes food for me, too. Victoria's not so much make-believe playing in the photograph, as she is laying down in the doll's bed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Today's the first day of Lent, and I'm going off twitter and facebook hopefully for the duration of Lent. This is not in attempt to distance myself from people. On the contrary, people who know me well are fully aware I'm quite reachable, and I'm reliable for returning calls and such. So, feel free to connect with me via some other medium.

Instead, my goal is to take extra time to reflect on what the Lord has done for us, through his ultimate death and resurrection. Hoping for lots of reflection, reading, and prayer. I don't want this to be about adding more stuff to my already super-long daily to-do list. Rather, it's about intentionally reflecting about the Lord, my life and whether I am doing my best to what I was created to do, and where He is leading me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Blessings, this Valentine's Day and Lunar New Year

I've not seen this happen before, but today is not only Valentine's Day but also Lunar New Year. I know Valentine's Day is difficult for a lot of people for various reasons. I would be lying if I said I cared not about being swooned or serenaded by my husband. But, that can happen any time, not just Valentine's Day, to make my day and have me smiling from ear to ear. Valentine's Day shouldn't be one of the few days a person shows appreciation to his or her significant other.

Well, this year, we didn't spend much in celebration of either "holiday." Last weekend, I made hot and sour soup, when my friend Xieting came over. That was sort of an early New Year's celebration. Besides ordinary activities in which we participate - going to church and cooking, we let Isabella (and Victoria, too) decide between two activities we knew they'd enjoy: going to the Children's Museum and making cookies. No hesitation in choosing the latter.


We made gingerbread cookies, since the girls seem to really enjoy those. The last time we made them, they could stop raving about the cookies. Didn't find out until last night that Troy doesn't like gingerbread cookies. Well, I gave him some Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies for Valentine's Day, so he has an alternative.

Troy also cooked up some beautiful lobster tails for us adults. Mmm, mmm. Didn't have to waste time or money eating out (or looking for and paying for a babysitter).

Valentine's Day, and perhaps I just live in my own world here, isn't just about my spouse. I spend time thinking about all the people in my life that I love and how thankful I am for having them in my life. I am every grateful we serve a loving, merciful, kind, patient, forgiving God.

As for Lunar New Year, we are now in the year of the tiger. Celebrating various Eastern holidays, in addition to the "traditional American" ones, are important to me and hence our family. Happy Valentine's Day and Happy New Year!

How we met


Over ten years ago we met for the first time. It was August 1999. Classes had just started at Mizzou. We had both just started University of Missouri's PhD program in Philosophy. Up to that point, I had a whirlwind of stuff going on - I was in a 1-year Master's program at Baylor, during which I didn't finished my Master's thesis; I was a teaching fellow for a year at Hong Kong Baptist University; came back into the country and had 3 months to finish and defend my thesis before beginning a new chapter of life in Missouri. Troy had just completed a 3-year MDiv at Nazarene Theological Seminary, during which he worked an insane amount of hours at Sprint (I believe he said it got as bad as 80 hrs. in a week) while taking a full load of classes each semester.

Moving forward, there are two accounts of when we first met:

1. Troy said he first spotted me in Symbolic Logic class. Besides looking around that first class and noticing that there were very few women in that class (there might have been 1 other woman besides me), I was paying attentive interest to the prof. as he taught. Troy, well, I can't speak for him. :) He recalled everything I was wearing that day.

2. The first time we were formally introduced was after a campus christian meeting. We had both approached the same table at different times that first week, interested in finding fellow Christian graduate students. Meeting another Christian graduate student in Philosophy was a bonus. We had interesting conversation that night.

But. . . that man was forever hard to drag out and get to know. He was always "busy." At that point, I wasn't looking to elope with someone; I wanted to find some friends amidst very demanding and difficult studies. Though Troy wouldn't "hang out" with me, he met me at the gym, three days a week, regardless of the time (oftentimes on Fridays, 6 or 7 AM was the only time I could meet), to teach me how to lift weights.

On February 11th of 2000, about five and a half months after we met, we officially started dating. The way in which he asked me out was quite unconventional (not that I am familiar with a plethora of conventional fashions in which one asks another out) but sweet. About a year and a half into dating, with my non-subtle ways of hinting that I wanted our relationship to move forward (hey, a gal in her mid-20's doesn't necessarily want to continue dating perpetually), he proposed around my birthday (in September 2001). Whilst taking a full load of classes, teaching as a teaching assistant, and working part-time at Talbots - I planned a long distance wedding and we eventually looked for an apartment where we could live together once we were married.

Funny, the pace of our lives hasn't changed much since. Starting August 2005, we were both offered full-time teaching positions at the same university in Texas, in Philosophy, we took the positions, even though I hadn't finished my dissertation. We each taught 5 classes per semester, with up to 55 students a class; and I was working on my dissertation. Having been married three years and given that we were both working, we decided to start trying for a family as soon as health insurance kicked in, in December of that year. Apparently only took one try, so to speak. You guys know much of the details after that. We now have two darling girls, yadda, yadda.

I am blessed to be married to my beloved, the love of my life, my best friend - Troy. Though our personalities are as different as night and day (just to name one example, he's as introverted as they get, and well, I'm somewhere in the middle), we approach life similarly and nothing could be more important than doing what we were made to do - restore the image (of God) in which we were (all) created. Figuring out how to do that isn't so easy; but what in life, that is really worth anything in the end, is not hard earned?