Saturday, October 15, 2011

Two choices

Read this on someone's blog today. Not that it really matters, but her circumstance (a young widow) makes her writing all the more encouraging:
"But at the end of the day, I'm left with 2 choices: seek God or don't seek God.  And seeking God today brought so much more peace in my heart.  We're all still sick.  Circumstances haven't changed, but my heart is still.  And I know where my real "home" will be."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Looking in the mirror

Every so often, it helps to look in the mirror. Check on those teeth + reach for that floss. Grab that facewash + cleanse those pores. Pickup that razor + clean up that chin.

I'm not declaring spinach-in-your-teeth, clogged-pores, or a five-o-clock-shadow as features of "ugliness" (aka as 'unbeautiful') or anything, but there are certain things you might just be better without.

I guess this week was one of those clear reminders. Being 24, semi-independent, and relatively accomplished by worldwide standards (I'm talking about getting my bachelors degree), I've always felt a certain confidence in my life.

The world is full of opportunities! Adventure is out there!

And sometimes, we forget to look in the mirror. Ok, I forget to look in the mirror. As put together and professional I can be among the most difficult situations-- chaotic wedding mornings, uncooperative children, camera-shy seniors, children going in and out of seizures for 2hrs straight-- sometimes I just get plain upset at really stupid things. I take things the wrong way, and bam. Cordially offended by someone's poor attitude, or the fact that someone speaks to me in malcontent. Or a wedding guests' rude attitude. Or when everything runs late, time and time again, at a super long wedding day. And suddenly, in those moments of uncontrolled emotions, I am reminded how puny and blemished I really am.

Some people get tattoos to remind them of things. Others, they punch away at their iphone calendars to mark down the tiniest little reminders. When we were kids, there was an old fashion practice of tying a string around one's finger as a reminder of a chore or an act to be done. For me, I think my biggest reminders are in those "Oh boy, what a fool I am" kind of moments. Moments that happen in which, after cooling down, I cringe and wish I had a CTRL-Z button to push. Regardless of how many fingers I can point outwards and no matter how I can argue my case effectively, there's always one finger pointing back at me.

And one thing stands true: I am the biggest, most broken sinner that I know of.

In that same thought, it is also a reminder of where our dependence should lie as Christians. The church isn't full of holy and beautiful people; it is made up of broken, foolish, and lousy people. We are made Holy in Christ (1 peter 2:4-5). How much more we should learn, each day, to cling to Christ, knowing we are really nothing without Him? How constant are the reminders we need of how little we are, as human beings? May we constantly be reminded of this for the very reason to point our hearts back to the cross. - Revelation: I overanalyze when it comes from E-type people. There, problem solved. Relieved.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This is not my Tierra

Recently, I had a conversation with someone about tattoos. The topic of discussion was 'What kind of tattoo would you get?' My friend's response was thoughtful, and one that many others would probably mirror as a motive for getting their own tattoos. With tattoos being so permanent, she'd only opt for a tattoo that would be a significant and meaningful reminder of an event in life. In essence, something that deserves to be permanent.

I've been thinking about her response for a while now. While this conversation made me think about what kind of tattoo(s) I may eventually obtain, it forced me to step back and examine the larger picture; what sort of events in my life would constitute "deserving" of such permanence? In short, what events in my life have influenced me the most? Surely, dermatological graffiti shouldn't be thought of lightly.

The other night I was meditating on the concept of pain and suffering. Specifically, I think about all the times I've encountered suffering in the lives of others… Like that time I met a whole village of Malawian children who stopped going to school because they hadn't eaten in 3 days, and their churning stomachs were too distracting for them to sit in the classroom. Or that time I curiously approached a large line of people at a little Cuban fishing village only to discover everyone was waiting to pick up their government-monitored rations. Or all the homeless folks I've met who have looked me in the eyes and told me to be thankful for the little things in life. In reflecting upon those experiences, I look back at all the times that I had suffered, and all but a few really seem so insignificant.

After reading an article one evening about suffering ('Should We Pray for Suffering?' <>), it made me think about all that encompassed the suffering experience. Truth be told, no one likes to suffer. But as painful and strenuous as it may be to endure suffering, I've realized that it is in those very experiences I've learned the most. You see, suffering is a natural part of our human lives. Suffering isn't just uncomfortable; it's discouraging, it's unwanted, and at the same time, often times I find it inevitably necessary. When we encounter suffering, we can either complain & mock it; curse it with our very hearts, or we can embrace it. Stones on the beach don't become smooth by gentle waves and warm sunshine. The impact of crashing waves and the friction against other elementals make this smoothness possible.

That's a lot like how our lives should be.. or so I hope. The more years we take on in our lives, I hope + pray that we become more refined by the difficulties we encounter. Obviously, it always comes down to perspective. Do we endure the trials, knowing it will make us stronger? Or do we whine and cry and wallow in our situations?

In hindsight, I sincerely believe that the times in my life where I grew (and grow) the most took place after I had suffered + endured-- times of loneliness, deep frustration, spiritual wrestling matches, and suffering. Moreso, meeting and hearing the stories of those who suffered so much greater than I has always humbled my heart by helping me realize how small many of my problems really were.

I didn't get the grade I wanted on that final paper? Ended up with a C+? My college career is doomed (They're embarrassed to admit, but they bring their kids into the local food kitchen thrice a week just so their family doesn't go to bed hungry).

I lost my cell phone? How inconvenient. (They lost their home to foreclosure + unemployment.)

She broke up with me? Biggest tragedy to befall me in years (Oh yeah? Well, he lost his wife to cancer.)

Many of our problems are smaller than they first appeared, after all. But I am reminded by Abraham particularly. He stayed obedient down to the hardest moments. When God called him to sacrifice his first born son, he obeyed. He could have rebelled, ran away, complained or said, "No way." But he obeyed, down to the very moment his son was to be slain, he stayed obedient. Why? Because Abraham knew his God was so much bigger than his mortal little mind. Abraham's faithfulness was one of his most honorable traits. God rewarded him for his faithfulness by sparing Isaac's life. And Abraham's lifestyle? Exactly why I titled this blog accordingly.

In Spanish, 'la tierra' has mutliple meanings. It means 'home', but it also means 'land' and 'earth'. The Native Americans, who preceded all the Pilgrims we learned about in 4th grade history class taking over the "New World", would likely have used this word if they spoke Spanish. In the same way, Abraham's life was nomadic. He never built a home; he pitched tents. He never built a temple, but he setup altars wherever God told him to. Why? In short, Abraham knew that this place wasn't his home.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quote of the day

"Talent is God given. Be humble.
Fame is man-given. Be grateful.
Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
- John Gooden

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Traveling until 3/20/11

Hi! I'm traveling until late March 2011, so this blog will be on pause. Follow my travel adventures here:

Jon Tan

Thursday, January 6, 2011

random photos from 2010 that i never got around to post...

homemade curry puff pastries by mama tan. the first shot is actually of a "failed" pastery, aka one that my mom wouldn't give to friends, but keep instead for home. because it wasn't sealed thoroughly, the curry ground beef & onions peeked out just a tad (and instead left at home for us sons). we're not complaining.

on may way to bed, i saw a pot soaking in our sink. the soap suds were just dancing on the top layer of the water, every so slightly. i spotted the water droplets leaking from our faucet, and i quickly grabbed my camera. had to get in a few snapshots before i tucked myself into bed.

towards the end of 2010, my brother had carved a watermelon for youth group. pretty neat, all hand carved.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

35mm film || Black & White Photography

all images taken with Nikon 50mm 1.8 and 400speed Black & White film (shoprite? cheapy brand)