Where the light shines

Teach me the unforced rhythms of grace.

when we listen.

when we listen,
God speaks.
Through circumstances, people, through His Word.
His voice is in a whisper, nothing grand or showy, but a still, small voice impressing upon our hearts.
And His words give life to the dead areas of my heart.
He is so gracious.


As I was on my way driving back to campus I saw a man with his bike pulled aside and looking over the city, since there is such a beautiful, panoramic view from where our school is perched. It was also one of those crisp fall nights which makes everything so much better. And from that moment I realized how much I missed writing.
I feel like writing is also a skill that can be lost if discontinued, but thankfully a skill that can be restored again when continued. With that said, I need to write more.. 
But anyway, I know this may sound strange but I also wanted to pull over and stand alongside him and get a glimpse of his current state. Not to be a creep or anything, but just an honest curiosity because I do people watch and wonder what could be going on in the life of so and so. People are so interesting.
And it got me thinking, that we really need each other. We need people in our lives, and even to have a friend or family member we can share our hearts with is a blessing worth remembering over and over again because it’s the people that keep us going. 
It’s almost that time of the year when I first started this blog, and I realized that my school season is slowly coming to a close, and sooner or later I’ll be graduated before I know it. As of now, I am looking forward to being done. 
Ok, my brain is too mushy to ramble on, so I’ll keep it at this. 
And I think I’m in need of a brutally honest and transparent conversation with God.

back to purpose

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world…”
These are Jesus’ words before Pilate.

So many distractions, so subtle, yet like the frog that slowly dies as the temperature of the water gradually rises, getting off course from the purpose for which each of us were called to is easier than we think.
That small stone on the path appears harmless but can actually cause me to trip and fall harder than I think.
Talked to two of my friends today, at separate times, and we had very similar conversations, both initiated by them, as they spoke on remembering purpose and not getting distracted by the sideshow that goes on, such as busyness and the stress that comes with life.
Oh God, just as David prayed, restore unto me the joy of Your salvation!
Why are you cast down o my soul? Rejoice in God!
Sometimes I just have to speak this over myself.
And get back to that place of remembering why I am here.
Who I am living for.
That I have a purpose, something I cannot take lightly, but I am being prepared for a reason.
God uses everything–our past–our education–everything.
Each of us has a God-given destiny, a calling as unique as the way He made each person.
I don’t want to forget the importance of being faithful where I am right now.
Because it will matter later.

On a different note, I am giving up coffee for a while! To see what effect that has on my skin and overall health. As much as I absolutely love coffee and even already bought a tamper and carafe to make my own espresso and lattes, I am realizing that coffee could just be the culprit. It’s a sad story because I just love the flavor of a soy hazelnut latte with honey, but if it means having a clear face and a lot less trips to the restroom, I just may have to significantly cut down on such an indulgence.. So far I am substituting my yummy comfort drink with a chai tea latte. I guess a taste of fall in the spring time is o.k. because it’s delicious and a warm, comforting drink partners well with a book or homework assignment. Perspective is where it’s at. 🙂

beauty from ashes–joy from my mourning–praise for a spirit of heaviness

Sorry about being so “MIA” as they say, as I feel like I’m strangers with the previous posts I’ve written, because these days, life seems quite the contrary. There’s just something about getting words written out, especially when you know that someone out there would spend a few minutes of their life reading about someone else’s day, you know? I also love to journal, but I guess that’s the reason why I decided to write a new post on here instead…
I am at a library at a university, because I feel like I can actually focus here. It’s like where I can actually get things done as opposed to my living corridors (I just wanted to use that word). This library and all the university atmosphere (students playing games in the school cafe, walking around in their sports attire, and I could ramble on and on) but my point is that I’m so nostalgic to those few years I went to a “real” university… Why is it that there is always this longing for the past? The things that I cannot have? I know that there’s a purpose to the season I’m in, and that life isn’t about what I want, because in the end, did I really want that?
There are so many things I know in my head that have still not been understood in my heart because I have not walked those out yet… There’s a constant tug of war going on in my mind; it’s so true that our mind is a battlefield, because when victory is won in there, then it’s most likely going to be walked out.
Sin is a terrible thing. At the moment sin seems so gentle, harmless, something that will ease the pain of the moment, but all of that = deception. Yet, knowing this, why do I still do what I don’t want to do and not do what I should do? Selfishness. Just like the tug of war in my mind, it’s this ongoing self vs. selfless battle which every decision rests upon it seems like. When just for a moment I take God out of the picture and place myself on the throne, I make the most foolish decisions that cause me to spiral down the path that I never wanted to take, which is probably why God wanted His rightful place, at the center, Him on the throne in our lives… He doesn’t rule like a dictator who only cares about Himself, but He desires to be there because He doesn’t want us to get hurt, and in turn hurt the people around us.
I understand why God kept saying “remember,” “do this in remembrance,” “don’t forget”… because I forget so easily and so often! One would think I’d learned my lessons by now, especially because of the kind of circumstances I’m in and what I have experienced, but I am realizing that I cannot place my trust in anything, or anyone, even my expected or present “maturity” because I am still the child that needs the discipline of a loving Father.

Deep, deep down in my heart I know that I love Him. Yes, that love may be weak, and immature, perhaps a broken seed. Every time I do something that I know will hurt Him, I tell myself, “how can you do that and say that you love?” Since love isn’t just feelings, passing emotions and highs, words and show. Perhaps I’m still hanging onto the hope that God will do something with that broken seed, that He is bigger than my failures and inadequacies and can produce something I would have never imagined, not because I deserve it, but because He is gracious and because He is God.

I just wanted to write this post because every time I’m not in sync with God, everything in my life malfunctions. Yes, it still goes on, like I go to work (though I confess I’ve missed so many classes this week–some of them valid reasons, some not) and everything else that life entails, but it’s just not the same. Joy is depleted and peace is replaced by a sorrow and dampness that I know is not from God. I understand why there are so many that are depressed, lonely, and seeking for love in this world. Without Him, it’s so easy to let other things and people take the place only God can have and then end up even more hurt and lonely than comforted and loved. It’s so true that we were made to love and to be loved. First loved by God, then loving Him and those He has placed amidst our lives. I find that without God’s love, it’s so darn hard to love others. Even if I cannot love myself I cannot love others.

I guess there was a reason why God said that I am to deny myself. It’s not to deprive me of the so called good things of this world, but because in dying to myself I find myself. Not new news, right? Well, maybe to some.. But just saying this mainly to remind myself the significance of living with gentleness in spirit, having a calm temperament so that I can think clearly, and not to live in the extreme zones but to daily do well in what has been apportioned for me. This is definitely easier said than done. Especially because I tend to be that kind of passionate person who tends to linger in the extremes and sometimes way too emotional for my good. I know that I can’t do this on my own strength, but perhaps this post was to remind me to return to, repent, and acknowledge again my need for a Father who mends, heals, restores, and is the one who can produce a beautiful oak tree even from a shriveled up seed so that birds can perch on it and people can rest in its shade and eat of its fruit.

“…and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

(Isaiah 61:3)

Wow! So as I looked up this verse and was writing it out, I realized that Isaiah had also used the image of an “oak” tree in this passage! I didn’t even know as I used the same imagery in my post.. so interesting how things like that happen. (:

Just tired & the randomness tht bubbles out of that

Today is one of those days I just want to take a week long break to a humble cabin in the woods (minus the scary wild animals) with a few good books, my journal, and an acoustic guitar.

I like being with people but I thrive when I take some time away in solitude. I’m not saying I want to be a hermit, but I have those more than usual occasional moments when I want to go inside my shell and just get away from all the noise, demands, expectations, all the busyness and commotion of life. I keep referring back to a line from Cats and Dogs, that it’s a “dog eat dog world out there”. My realization of this line just heightens when I’m at work, and as much as I love the combination of food and making people happy via serving them beautiful and delicious food, sometimes I am overwhelmed by the ongoing expectations placed by customers and the restaurant owners who watch my every move, like a hungry hawk. I’m thankful for the job, as I’ve been praying, and God answered (seriously, I know this may sound funny(not in the lol way), but sometimes praying works too well and I am left with the consequences of my answered prayers…yep.

I admire and am inspired by simple people. People who live simple lives~they don’t stand out so much in terms of appearance, wealth, talents, you know, what most people in the world look at, but these simple people faithfully live their lives, balancing what they have to do and making time to bless others in truly the most practical ways. They don’t live extravagantly, though there is a time and place to be a person of extravagance, but most of their lives consist of simple thinking hence simple living. And they seem to be the happiest people out there.

Anyway, why am I saying all of this? I ask myself why I do the things I do, and often get the sneaky vermin called pride mixed up into the equation of life. I have to watch out because anything I start with pride, even so unconsciously, I find myself tired, wearied out, on the verge… Thankfully God gives me the strength I need for that day, but tonight I just want to say that I think I need to take some time to ask myself again, why do I do the things I do, who am I doing this for? And if I find a cause greater than myself, no matter the challenge I know that God will help me, but if my heart motive reveals self-centered intent, I’m going to need even more help to make the necessary adjustments, need there be some.

Turkish Apricots & Turkish Delights

Turkish Apricots (Organic)

Have you ever, while strolling through the various lanes of the neighborhood grocery store, in my case, Freddie’s, ever glanced over inside another customer’s basket or cart, and something they had appealed to you so you decided to take a risk, buy whatever that was, and then try it yourself?

That was me two days ago. After a long day of school and work I was exhausted and really hungry (not the best combo for going to a grocery store as I tend to make silly and more extravagant than usual purchases–this is when food budgets come in real handy & give you peace of mind), and was craving some Brown Rice Chips (they are gluten-free and I love the sesame-seaweed flavor), and a man in that same aisle was holding a bag of dark, dried fruit looking things that he had gotten from the bulk section, and 1) I was curious as to what they were, and 2) he got so many that I presumed they were really good, and 3) being a risk taker I decided, why not? So I ended up getting a couple (not as much as him since they were more of a taste test trial bunch). And, they were so good! They’re called Turkish Apricots. Exotic huh? Organic, too. Not that I get everything that’s organic, but it just makes you feel better knowing that they weren’t sprayed on or processed with chemicals and what not. They are a bit spendy, however, so I have to make sure I munch on them in those sugar craving moments, & they do a great job in satisfying the sweet tooth I get every now and then. I haven’t had very sugary foods these past few months, so I haven’t been craving things like brownies, cakes, candy, chocolate (though I admit I had half a “heavenly” maple donut (the donuts were from a place called Heavenly Donuts…who can resist that, right?) in one of my classes), but I surely do enjoy the occasional sweet, chewy, and satisfying snack.
Peanut Butter Cookie Larabars hit the spot as well, but it’s dangerous for me to have more than one in sight. They really taste like a healthier version of peanut butter cookies. Yum. Turkish Apricots (I like them more than the regular dried apricots (the orangy kind) as these have a slightly smoky and very rich flavor and the color reflects that) and Peanut Butter Cookie Larabars are definitely healthy alternatives to gummy bears or vanilla creme filled cookies or whatever your sugary cravings may be. I also heard that Probars, which aren’t sold in the typical grocery store, but at places like New Seasons or Whole Foods or other specialty health stores, taste great but with the extra bonus of packed nutrients due to the whole foods that make up the bar. I hope to try one someday. I heard Superfood and Kettle Corn flavored Probars were the best.

In light of Turkish Apricots, I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch, and The Wardrobe where Edmund is mesmerized and perhaps even hypnotized? by the tastiness of Turkish Delights. I heard they were palatable pieces of irresistible goodness. Would definitely like to try some one day, especially the kind that C.S. Lewis featured in his beloved children’s book.

Turkish Delight

blessings that lead to brokenness

God is so good.
Even in the midst of doubt He answers my prayer.
I’m not stating that as a principle or anything. Just experience.
Ya, He didn’t have to, and maybe when we are strong, and in faith, He answers because He is faithful to His Word, answering our prayers of faith and persistence.
He can do whatever He wants.
Yet, He answered.. when I was weakdoubtfullacking trust and trying to do things on my own, losing sleep over it, manifesting again in the form of stress acne, etc..
I wasn’t expecting to be prayed over, just to pray for a good friend of mine, yet she ended up praying for me (during a youth conference where thousands of youth came from all over the U.S. & even the world like Australia..), and telling me that God hears and will work through prayer & fasting, through intercession (praying for others).
This was the same day after He had answered a distressing situation of mine.
Ever have those times when things work out so smoothly, when it seems like it’s favor working on your behalf.. God??
I know that it’s so important to keep a healthy fear of the Lord,
where we understand His majesty & grandeur (after all He did create the world and everything in it), His holiness, how He is both a God of mercy but also one of justice.

But He always catches me off guard when He is so kind to me. Even when I don’t deserve a single ounce of it.

Or do you think lightly of the rices of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?                                              Romans 2:4 (italics mine)

I remember a saying: “There’s nothing that draws you more to God than when He blesses you when you don’t deserve it.”
Please don’t hear what I didn’t say. In times of lack, trouble, and all the shapes and sizes of problems that are thrown at us in this thing called life, most of us are more prone to lean on God during these times. Because we realize how much we need help, some kind of intervention, some kind of miracle. And He is most close to us in our times of brokenness.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.                                                                   Psalm 51:17

I think blessings have the power to break us in one of either two different directions.
Either towards Him or further from Him.
But I’m here to testify that whenever He blesses me, especially when I least deserve it, it breaks me towards Him. His kindness, His love, truly turns me towards His heart.
I don’t deserve it. But He freely gave.
He did this when He freely gave up His life on the Cross to save ours…when He didn’t have to, and when we didn’t deserve it.
He is so gracious. I am so grateful.

My chains are gone.
I’ve been set free.
My God, my Savior, has ransomed me.
And like a flood, His mercy reigns.
Unending love,
Amazing Grace.
                     Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone by Chris Tomlin

Contentment comes in various, sometimes unexpected forms..

Lately I’ve been craving and making the baked zucchini hummus dip along with baked vegetable greens. They compliment each other so well. The dip is so yummy baked in the oven for about 10 minutes (or until there is a bit of brown on the edges) at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (remember to sprinkle handfuls of nutritional yeast on top! as it heightens the taste, color, and nutritional value of the dip), and sprinkle a bit of paprika and lemon juice and it becomes the yummiest dip for your roasted or crispy veggies! I baked my dip in a Pyrex loaf pan, making sure that the dip layer wasn’t too thick because the top baked part tastes best. Today I made Italian Kale Chips and Roasted Cabbage (just using what I have again) to go along with the dip, and my friend and I devoured them (she loved the dip and asked for the recipe, and kept making sure if I had really made it with zucchini(: ). So just in case you missed the recipe, here is a revised version:

  • one fourth a cup of raw sunflower seeds (soaked 4-8 hours)
  • one and a half peeled and chopped raw organic zucchini
  • one and a half or two cloves of chopped raw garlic
  • freshly squeezed juice of one whole lemon
  • one teaspoon of sea salt and your favorite spices (I like spicy so I added seasonings like paprika, chili powder, cayenne)
  • two tablespoons of coconut milk (for smoother blending)
  • one half tablespoon of organic honey (yes, the sweetness really adds to the taste of the dip)
  • two pitted dates

Blend, and bake this sweet & savory dip! This dip is incredibly flavorful as it is spicy, sweet, savory, and tangy. If you try making it, please let me know how you liked/ or disliked it. I appreciate feedback.

So with a full and satisfied tummy I write this post. I guess I am on a blog roll these days, writing three posts within two days and stuff like that. But tonight was so memorable that I have to record it here for the purpose of reading and remembering again.

First of all, I would really like to take the time to say or write ^^ thank you to those who have been following along with me in my journey. As you would have already figured by now from reading previous posts, I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ (always learning, growing, falling flat on my face on many occasions, then getting back up and trying again…), and I really appreciate that you would take the time to read and take interest in my experiences, though we may not necessarily share the same faith, beliefs, values, and even taste preferences. (;

Next I will be jotting down what happened tonight for keepsake. So my church finished the fourteen day Daniel Fast tonight by having a prayer night, and despite wanting to lounge at a coffee shop to do some reading homework I decided to go (I think not being able to have coffee helped, in all honesty, because it disrupts hormone levels & is acidic, which doesn’t help my acne). At these prayer nights, there is something called a “prayer tunnel,” which I know sounds like something you would see at the McDonald’s Play Place (fond memories…), but it was more like you wait in line until it’s your turn and then people pray for you in pairs, as you go from the first to the last pair of people. So I went near the back corner and got in line, but before I knew it a kind, adorable (I think old people are really cute(well, most of them)), and elderly man who reminded me of a cute grandpa you’d see in a Pixar film, as he had thick rimmed glasses that magnified his kind eyes and an old fashioned hat, came alongside and started talking to me as if we’d known each other for some time. Of course I’d never met him before, but I felt really comfortable and peaceful in his presence, just listening to him. Yes, I heard that elderly people like to talk, and I realized this worked out really well because I like to listen, and listening to him was such a pleasant experience as I learned a couple things about his life: he was from Germany, used to be a textile company owner and was now retired, the three things he asked for in a wife, how he met his wife, the prophetic dreams he had, especially as he made the decision to cling to God even after his wife had died two years ago from cancer, how he came to have a relationship with Jesus, and how he was at this church for over 40 years. Talk about faithfulness. I soaked in all of his wisdom, and there were even a couple of instances my eyes started to fill up, touched by his encouragement and words of advice as he shared his life with me. Then it was my turn to go through the tunnel. I was looking forward to that moment, of being prayed for, and was encouraged by the prayers and the time these people took to pray for a stranger like me, but the highlight of today was meeting this grandpa. I really don’t think there are such things as coincidences. I was so blessed by him.

As soon as he got out of the prayer tunnel, I made sure to give him a big hug.

a little crush…

I hope this video will touch your heart, as it touched mine.
As well as millions, if not billions around the world.

faith & food

I began the fast wanting to break free. One of those reasons was to break free from the bondage of compulsive eating, since I was so prone to seek comfort from food.
Though I wasn’t eating as much during this Daniel Fast through my mouth, I found myself eating with my eyes, compulsively.
How? By spending hours into the night looking up recipes that seemed to somewhat fill the hunger in my stomach for foods that I was so eager to make as soon as the fast was over (you can see where my heart is at this point…).
Yes, I learned how to be fancy with spices, how to make vegan and gluten-free substitutes for mayo, ketchup, cheese (even goat cheese), hamburger patties, you know, the essentials. I even looked up how to make a vegetarian version of Pho Vietnamese broth.
But I realized that all of this endless searching, bookmarking, subscribing and fantasizing was an indicator of a more serious condition, a hunger that went deeper than the demands of the god of the belly.
I was hungering for more of God.  Healthy eating and living is good, but I realized that I had soon become consumed with being healthy and in turn looking good that my spirit was slowly starving and shriveling away.. once I started to realize that I was spending more care and time being concerned about my external, rather than my internal condition, I knew something had to be adjusted. But, let’s be real. You know those moments you know you have to do something about it, but since it’s so much easier to resort to default mode, we end up not doing anything about it? Yeah, that was me. At that point 6 more days of the Daniel Fast seemed so much more daunting than when I had first started and had 20 days left.
I was discouraged by a couple of things in my life, the very things I began to pray for going into this new year. I started to lose faith in my prayers, and my prayer simply became a sleepy whisper to God asking Him for His grace and help to continue. Since He hears even those.
When I woke up this morning and checked my phone, I saw that I had two messages from two different friends.
Both were from friends I had not seen in a while, friends whom I text once in a blue moon.
One was a word from 2 Peter 3:9:

“The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

The other text was simply that God had put me on her heart the last couple of days, and that she was saying a prayer for me today.

Either this was really good timing and coincidence or God knew that I was on the borderline, that I was getting closer and closer towards the edge. This doesn’t mean I was going to pull a crazy stunt today, wrecking all havoc, but He knew that deep inside I was crying out, slowly chipping away from believing in the breakthroughs and promises for this year. He was gently nudging me to press on, and to press in to His heart, reminding me that He was there and that He is faithful to carry His Word to completion as we persist to believe His promises, as He “is not slow about His promise as some count slowness.”

Yes, I cried a lot with watery things coming out of my eyes, nose, and even mouth. It was refreshing. It’s interesting because today’s reading (I follow a Bible reading plan) also included 2 Peter 3, which was the word that my friend had texted me.

If we don’t quit, we win.

Though people may give up on you, especially those we may expect the most from, we can be assured that God never does. Though we may not necessarily feel His wondrous presence every day of our lives, that doesn’t take away the fact that He is there watching over us, graciously encouraging us to continue, patiently waiting for us to return to Him. 

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

On a bit of a relevant yet different note, I made some Sweet, Spicy & Tangy Collard Green Crisps (picture included).
Using the ingredients I had, I decided to make some collard green chips with a zucchini hummus dip (gentle to bean-sensitive tummies). I didn’t have a couple of the ingredients that were needed to make the hummus, so I improvised a bit. Here it goes:

Collard Green Crisps

  •  A couple leaves of Fresh, Organic Collard Greens (Tear into edible chip-size pieces–I don’t use the stems)
  • Olive oil (Drizzle on the bottom and massage onto the collard greens; I heard cold-pressed extra virgin is the best kind for full flavor and nutrition) 
  • Sea Salt  (Sprinkle onto the collard greens, but not too much because the hummus will be slightly salty)
  • Paprika & Chili Powder (Sprinkle onto the collard greens–adjust spiciness as you like)
  • Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (Sprinkle onto the collard greens–use generously as lemons give great flavor)

Sweet, Spicy & Tangy Zucchini Hummus (I got the basic recipe from http://www.cleaneatingmag.com/Recipes/Recipe/Raw-Beanless-Zucchini-Hummus.aspx but mine serves a smaller portion)

  • one and a half of organic zucchini (peel and chop–mine were small-medium sized)
  • two and a half cloves of garlic (chop a bit)
  • half a cup of soaked raw sunflower seeds (soak 4-8 hours)
  • a tablespoon of fresh pressed pineapple juice (optional for an island-sweet flavor–pineapples aid in digestion)
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice (I used the juice of one whole lemon)
  • one fourth cup of raw tahini (I didn’t have this so I used a sprinkle of sesame oil for the flavor)
  • one teaspoon turmeric (I didn’t have this so I sprinkled on a few herb seasonings I had)
  • one teaspoon paprika
  • one teaspoon sea salt 
  • one half teaspoon ground cumin (I didn’t have this so I sprinkled on my own seasonings)
  • two pinches of ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 pitted dates (optional–I wanted this to be a bit sweet so I added the dates)
  • nutritional yeast (I blended some of this to get a more yellowy color, and also sprinkled it generously on top of the hummus after I applied the hummus onto the collard greens–nutritional yeast can be bought in the bulk section of grocery stores and contains a lot of B vitamins, protein, etc.)

Put all ingredients for the hummus into a blender and blend until there is a creamy consistency. You can add salt and other seasonings based on your taste preference. After I have all the collard greens laid out (a bit of overlap is okay but try not to for extra crispiness), apply the hummus onto the collard greens, and then sprinkle a generous amount of nutritional yeast.
I heard it was best to dehydrate the greens (both for texture and nutritional benefits), but I don’t have a dehydrator so I put mine in the oven at 300 degrees F, checking every 2 minutes so they weren’t burning for 5~10 minutes (every oven is different, and there are slower methods of making these chips, where you put them at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, but I was hungry (; ). I found that a slightly burnt smell is the best time to take them out because I discovered that slightly browned collard greens tastes absolutely wonderful! Let them cool off for a minute or two. Also, you will notice that the hummus takes on a thicker, cheesy texture, which melts delightfully in your mouth. This is such a healthy, filling, and flavorful snack or appetizer and has amazing nutritional benefits. Bon apetit! & thank you for reading. (: