The last two months

My mom used to say that she could tell how busy I was by how little I was blogging. My plan is to get back into blogging a little more regularly (I feel like that’s been a recurring plan, but anyway), but to tide you over till then, here’s I’ve been up to the last couple months:

BaptismCelebrated East Side’s 2nd anniversary and a number of baptisms. We had a wonderful time thanking God for what he’s done in the life of East Side parish (it’s hard to believe we’re already two years in!) and in the lives of many individuals who had committed — and recommitted — themselves to Christ.

Fish!Went on vacation with Carolyn’s family. It was a great time of rest, rejuvenation, and reading; and I also got to go offshore fishing for the first time — we caught a few! The couple books I stormed through while in sabbath mode are two I’d highly recommend: Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and Christena Cleveland’s Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart. (Y’all know books are my love language by now, right?)

 

John & Bethany's weddingOfficiated two weddings, including that of my dear friends John and Bethany (above). John and Bethany were both part of small groups I led, at various points, and their relationship and story is such a testimony to the gospel and to the goodness of God. It was an absolute privilege to perform their ceremony. (You can see some highlights from their beautiful wedding here.)

Asher sleeping 1We got a dog!
Carolyn and I would like you to meet our pup — well, if you’re friends with, or following, either of us on social media, you’ve probably already met him. He’s a mini-goldendoodle and just turned four months. We named him Asher, which means “happy” in Hebrew, because we felt like he was going to be a source of happiness, not just for us but anyone he encountered. (This is not to say that he’s been a source of constant happiness, as anyone who’s ever had a puppy — or a baby — can attest; but he’s a mostly chill, pretty smart, mildly introverted dog. And we’re grateful for that.)

Also, his full name is Asher Russell Rodgers Fung. Or ARRF. (It just worked out that way.) #gohawks

Blogged for Sojourners: “Learning to Walk in the Desert.” Excerpt: “I used to be afraid of the desert. … To me, the wilderness was a place not only of nothingness but, worse, of negation. … To be in the desert was to be deserted by God.”

Boundaries Series GraphicPreached three out of five weeks at The District Church for our Creating Healthy Boundaries series, which you can listen to here:

The other two sermons were “Creating Healthy Boundaries in Your Family” and “Creating Healthy Boundaries in Your Dating and Marriage,” which you should also go listen to.

Anniversary dinnerCelebrated our first anniversary. This is last on the list, but by no means the least. We had a low key evening, hitting up a really good restaurant in Georgetown called After Peacock Room (go check it out). So grateful for the grace of God this year.

And with that, back to life (back to reality).

It’s been an emotional week

Whew.

Last night I got back from Minnesota where I got to see my friends Chris and Ashley get married at the coldest wedding I’ve ever attended (let alone, played and sung at). It was a beautiful setting, a wonderful (and definitely memorable!) ceremony, and a fun reception, too. Also had a little Fuller reunion with my friend Julia, who was also at the wedding.

Upon getting back to DC, I found out that Donna, a friend and neighbor who’d been a part of The District Church community pretty much from the beginning, had passed away this last week from the cancer that she’d been diagnosed with in August, when it was already late-stage. Donna had a tremendous story of redemption and she wasn’t afraid to share it–in fact, she was the first person from our church community to be baptized; and at our Sunday gatherings, she was a one-woman amen corner. She’ll be dearly, dearly missed.

This morning, I preached from Acts 4-5 about Jubilee and about the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, and I shared about a friend who’d told me this week that she was moving on from our community. This was a pretty difficult thing to hear, but as I’d been praying about it this week, God reminded me that … well, neither I nor our community is perfect. Still working through it, though.

Then, in between the two services, I got a text from my friends Isaac and Jess, who’d also been part of The District Church for a while before moving back to Minnesota (and I’d gotten to see them during my brief stop in the Land of 10,000 Lakes), that Jess, who was pregnant with their first kid and due tomorrow, had given birth to a beautiful little girl!

And to cap it off, this afternoon, as I was doing some work at home, I found out that another friend’s dad had passed away.

So it’s been an emotional week … heck, it’s been an emotional weekend!

I’d welcome your prayers for me, but even more so for those I’ve mentioned–those that are celebrating as well as those who are mourning.

Thanks, friends.

My Best Friends' Wedding

Last Friday, June 22, in Littleton, CO, my best friends Tim and Tiffany got married.

It was an emotional occasion, not least because I hadn’t seen either of them since I left London in August. Also, I’ve been privileged to be able to call both of them my best friend, and so it felt simultaneously like a double loss and a double blessing: a loss of friendship because that marriage takes precedence over other relationships, but a blessing to see two of my favorite people in the world committing their lives to each other. It was an awesome occasion to be a part of, and I’m honored to have been asked to serve as a best man (Tim had three). Here are some pics:

Tim and I

With the lovely couple

Tim and his groomsmen

Tiff and her bridesmaids

For more pics, you can visit my Facebook albums here and here.

Anyhow, this trip was awesome because, among other things, I saw old friends: (Tim and Tiff, of course), James T, Oli, Jamie, Pete, Aki, Ken, Neena, Julie, Tiff’s siblings; and I also met new friends: James Mc, Faith, Tiff, Mel, Bri.

We also got to go white-water rafting at Clear Creek, which was bunches of fun. It was the afternoon before the wedding (the day of the rehearsal), and all 30+ of us who went piled into Subway, across the street from our hotel, for dinner. I took this picture after I’d almost finished eating … some people hadn’t ordered yet.

More thoughts to come in the next few days (when I’ve readjusted to California life and caught up on sleep).

Greetings from Colorado

Hey y’all, I’m writing this blog from my hotel room in Aurora, CO. I’m halfway through my 8-day trip for Tim and Tiff’s wedding, which takes place on Friday. The temperature’s been consistently in the high 80s/low 90s and the weather’s been consistently sunny. Anyhow, in the few days I’ve been here, I’ve:

  • visited Scum of the Earth church in downtown Denver with Tiff;
  • gone to see a Rockies/Devil Rays game at Coors Field with four of the six Barker kids;
  • walked around downtown Denver—well, up and down 16th Street;
  • chilled out to a couple of rented movies over the weekend;
  • driven around lots, running errands—technically, this should be “been driven around lots by Tiff, while she has errands to run”, but whatever.

2007 has indeed been the toughest year of my life so far, as I sensed God saying at the end of last year. It’s also been, somehow simultaneously, the best year of my life so far. It’s been very different, very good; but very tough.

But I think a turnaround is in the works. Something about being here, out of the routine grind of Pasadena life, without work or class responsibilities, being with an old friend, just being able to enjoy life, being able to pray with Tiff, going to church, helping out at Sunday School, going to church again; something in me is ready for a return to full relationship with my God and King.

Being at Scum was invigorating—it was the kind of church I think I would want to be a part of: church that is honest, where the music is not over-produced but still polished, where the sermons are coming together to address real life, not simply talking in abstracts. It made me realize how much I really did miss regular communion with a community of faith—I’m still visiting churches in CA and will continue to do so until some time towards the end of the summer—just as spending time with Tiff and Tim made me realize how much I missed the comfort and companionship of old friendships.

I know that when I go back to California, things won’t be the same: my friends from London will have gone back to their lives in London and I’ll go back to work and class. But this downtime (well, as much as pre-wedding time can be downtime) feels like a kickstart. A much-needed kickstart.

Right … back to editing this best man speech of mine.

Summer's here!

This is how I know that I have time: I’m blogging more, journaling more, and my email inbox is empty (coz I’ve replied to everyone). Which is the state I now find myself in. Glorious.

It’s kind of strange to think that I’ve been in California now for coming up to 10 months. It’s gone by like nothing else. Much has changed in the last year. Much has improved; some has regressed; very little has stayed the same. God has remained faithful.

A year ago, I still thought I was staying in London to complete an MA in Human Rights at UCL. I had no idea the things that God had in store. I had no idea that I would finally see the realization of my dream to live in the States (and in SoCal at that!). I’d never gone on a date with anyone I wasn’t already going out (it’s complicated, but I’ll explain, if you ask); I’d never owned a car, or lived by myself; and I hadn’t lived close to anyone in my immediate family pretty much since I left Hong Kong in ’98 (notwithstanding the six months Gabe was in London during my final year at UCL).

I have to admit, there were still a bunch of things to adjust to; among other things: the currency (I no longer convert to GBP to see whether something’s a good deal, coz inevitably, it’ll be cheaper here than in London); the average speech volume (yes, Americans are louder on average—Daren attributes that to more space per person, so we have to speak louder … it’s as plausible as any other explanation, and more polite, to boot); the approach to spirituality and Christianity (both in a theological academy like Fuller, where there’s a gamut denominations and backgrounds, and in US culture in general); the overwhelming quantity of cars, and by implication, greenhouse gas emissions (I drove a friend to the airport at 6am one day, and it was already rush hour); and the weather, which was a happy change, and which has enabled me to thrive in my fair-weather-footballing skills and get rid of my London tan (i.e. paleness).

WeddingsNext Friday, I’m off to Colorado for Tim and Tiff’s wedding. It’ll be awesome.

A friend of mine somewhat jokingly pleaded for the glut of weddings to stop … I know the feeling. It’s that time of life where almost everyone I know is getting married, or already married, or in a serious relationship.

The next season … babies.

Music newsSpeaking of babies, the lovely Natasha Bedingfield’s new single is called “I Wanna Have Your Babies”. It’s a bunch of fun, as well as some pretty insightful social commentary (as some of her other singles have been.)

Finally … I got to be part of the audience for the taping of Lifehouse’s Nissan Yahoo! Live Set. It was a bucketload of awesomeness, as they played their two biggest hits thus far (“Hanging by a Moment” and “You and Me”), five new songs (including the awesome “Broken”, which will, I hope, come out as a single eventually), and one redux (the song “Storm” has its roots in Jason’s days at the Malibu Vineyard, and appears on the album Diff’s Lucky Day, released before Lifehouse were signed/big).

Being slightly behind the band, I got to see what they see, and I have to tell you, it made me miss being in Lifesize, playing gigs, writing songs, making music, having fun, having people singing your songs. I was slightly distracted by a girl in the front row … but to be fair, I couldn’t really see the faces of the band. Yes, that’s my excuse.

Anyway, Lifesize reunion tour, anyone?