Love and Marriage

July 27th is a special day. It’s my parents’ wedding anniversary. As of tomorrow, they’ll have been married thirty-nine years, which is pretty amazing. Now I’ve only been around for twenty-five of those years, but I’ve been able to appreciate their sacrificial love for each other, their respect and honor of each other, their mutual submission to each other—in short, they’ve been an awesome example of Christian marriage, and I know my brothers (who are married) and I (who am not) both appreciate their embodiment of the gospel and their faith in their marriage.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, and happy anniversary!

P.S. Happy birthday to Ally (Friday) and Jason (Saturday) for this weekend!
P.P.S. Oh, and the facial hair thing? I shaved my face clean two days after I posted that blog. I realized that I will likely never be the goateed, ear-ringed and tattooed alter ego that I once thought I might be—it was a passing phase. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to grow facial hair, I had an earring for a few months before getting annoyed with it, and I keep shying away from getting a tattoo. I think I’m just going to give up on this idea …

Before shaving my ‘facial hair’:
And after … big difference, huh?

Facial hair and air mileage

The reason for the enigmatic title of my blog? They’re just the topics I’m writing on. First, facial hair: I’m trying to grow something on my face for about the ninth time—the foliage is and has thus far been disappointing. As an Asian, I’m not particularly endowed with a lot of non-head hair. And I’m discovering that absolutely no hair grows on my cheeks or on my jaw line. I just have a kind of fuzz on my lip and a little soul patch that’s a little lower than the normal place of a soul patch. Plus … I look virtually clean-shaven from anywhere beyond six feet away. That’s how successful my facial-hair-growing-experiment is going. Exciting, no?

What’s more exciting is the mileage I’m going to be racking up this coming year—actually, it’s not that exciting for my pocket, but otherwise, it’s freaking awesome! So at the end of August, I’m heading up to Seattle for a week to visit Hannah and Jason (who’s jetting over from London), and of course the MARINERS!! Yeah, I’m going to (pending the purchase of tickets) watch the Mariners-Angels series at Safeco Field, which will be my first trip to Safeco and my first time seeing the Mariners outside of Angel Stadium. So I’m looking forward to that.

And then in December, I’m heading back to Hong Kong for three weeks (7th to 27th). It’ll be the first time that all the family (all the brothers and all the kids) are together in five years, so it’ll be an amazing experience. We’re all (parents, two brothers, two sisters-in-law, one niece, three nephews and me) staying in the four-bedroom apartment that I grew up in … so it’ll be cozy. But I can’t wait for that, either.

Finally, just by way of update, I finished my first two-week intensive (Systematic Theology 1) last week, and I have my next one (NT Ethics) starting on July 30th. So these two weeks that I have in between, I’m working on my coursework and my distance learning class (Philosophy), as well as working part-time in the Admissions Office. Summer’s busy.

But it’s still summer. And things are going well. Thanks to those who expressed encouragements after my last blog. Things are a lot better and a lot clearer than they were three weeks ago: I spent a lot of time processing, praying and talking things through with friends and family, and I’m happy where I am. Not 100% content … but will I ever be?

Anyway, until next time …

Monday morning reality check

Monday morning … and we’re back in California. I never thought I’d be sad to be back in CA, but I kind of am. I knew it was going to be hard readjusting after a week of relaxation, reacquaintance and reconnection. I miss Tim and Tiff, and being able to talk honestly with them and pray with them and reminisce about old times—sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever live near them again. I miss the London crew and being able to talk about football with people who live football and how Henry’s transfer to Barcelona really, really sucks. I miss hanging out with new friends like Tiff’s family and the Florida girls. I miss the blueness of the skies, unblemished by smog—okay, here I’m being a little bit pernickety, since California skies are still pretty blue (bluer than London ones, anyway!).

But in some ways, I’m glad to be back. Because this is home now; this is where God has me for this season; this is where my stuff is. Because here, I have my own bed and my own room (i.e. I don’t have to share a room with snorers or a bed with roll-overers ☺). Because this is where my life is, with all of its joys and sorrows, struggles and heartaches: this last week in Colorado was a breather, a time to catch my breath and catch up with God, when the routines of the previous months and the worries of life were suspended, at least for a little while; but this—California—is where I’m growing up. Because here, I have friends with whom I can talk about baseball until the cows come home, and they know their stuff.

I needed last week. I needed to be able to share my deepest struggles with my best friends and to be able to pray with them for their marriage and other things. I needed to be able to take time out to just have fun (even though sleep—and consequently, rest—was at a premium). I needed to be able to make new friends who enjoyed my company and found me funny—yes, people here do that too, but it was nice to know that I haven’t lost it. ☺ I needed to be able to play music and be encouraged by people’s response to it—I’d been struggling with whether or not I still was meant to tread the path of music, and playing at the wedding, and people’s comments afterwards, instilled in me once again the belief that I can sing. I needed to listen to Lifehouse’s new album—hearing the band that really got me started in writing songs inspired me to pick up my pen and try my hand at creative musical expression once more. All in all, I needed last week to redefine my purpose and my direction, to reinvigorate my spirit, to renew my joy in life and to hone my calling.

I’m back in California, and I know I’m in the right place for now. I know that I’m here to prepare for pastoral ministry. I don’t know whether the pastoral ministry will follow immediately on the heels of my time at Fuller, or will crop up later in life, but I know, without a doubt, that I will be involved in church ministry at some point. I also know that I will not be called to one thing for the rest of my life. I know that music will play a role in my future, whether in the church or outside of the church. And wherever I am, whatever I’m doing—since I believe that who I am is greater than what I’m doing—I know that God will use me as long as I let him. It’s his story, after all.

Two weeks ago, almost to the day, I wrote this:

God … I don’t know where I’m going. But I do trust that I’m following you. I’m not 100% sure that my relationship with you is as good as it could be, but I know that it’s better than it has been this year. “Pain is part of learning who you are,” sing Lifehouse; and it is. I’m learning that this year: that as I go through the toughest, most painful, and (oxymoronically) best year of my life so far, I’m figuring out who I am, who you are calling me to be, and what you are calling me to.

I have faith that you will prove faithful. Help me to remain grounded in you.

He is proving faithful. He is leading me. He is growing me, molding me, forming me, shaping me, guiding me. He is strengthening me and encouraging me. He is my Rock, my Salvation, my Savior and my God. I am found in him alone, and my foundations are laid on him. I will not be shaken; (I will not be stirred—heheh). I will live with integrity, seeking to make the most of what God has given me in the here and now. And listening.

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.