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Resolution

As most of you may already know, I’m moving back to a life without Facebook. The reasons are numerous. Mostly it’s because it’s not my preferred method of communication. The friendships on Facebook don’t seem real to me. Maybe I just think too much. Sure, there are some advantages to Facebook. One of them being that it is the easiest way to keep in touch with people around the world. But there are other methods of doing that as well. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but the more you value a friendship, the more likely you will use a higher form of communication. Facebook, to me, is one of the lowest forms of communication. I value my friendships enough to want to work harder to use other forms. Such as email, texting, calling, mailing, etc. Whichever one is appropriate.

I actually never planned to have a new years resolution because it always seemed so pointless to me. Why does a resolution have to be made on new years? We can make one any day (I have at least). But it just so happened that when I created my Facebook event, my phone went crazy last night. Whatsapp messages, facebook notifications, google+ notifications, and texts all making different sounds. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I was very touched that you guys responded :). So my new years resolution is to keep in touch with as many of you guys as possible without using Facebook. It will be hard and I know it. I am terribly sorry if some of you fall through the cracks. That was not my intention. However, it will help tremendously if you guys shoot me an email or text once in a while.

This next year will be a big year as I graduate and as I take on more responsibility at church. I know I make mistakes. More often than I’d like to admit. And I know my mistakes may have affected or hurt others. I cannot change the past, but I pray that I’ll learn from them. I pray that my friendships will be meaningful ones.

Carrie

2011 in review

This is pretty cool!! Xanga never had something like this. Click on the link to view my most popular posts and more fun stuff to reminisce on 2011 with me :).

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

After Darkness

The sun shining over darkness,
Melting of morning dew.
Release of yesterday’s sadness,
Start of tomorrow anew.

The plant rises above the soil,
New and innocent dreams.
Fed with rain, darkness, and toil,
Now standing to be seen.

Darkness dims and fades away,
To the rising of the sun.
The earth proclaims a better day,
Darkness has not won.

Originally I had a post for new years. I started writing it but I could barely sum up all that has happened into one post! So much has changed. I have changed. If I tried summarizing it, it would have been to vague. Also, there were some things I didn’t want to share publically :). So instead, here’s a poem I started recently about some recent events (yes that is intentionally vague). It just so happened to fit into the new years theme, so I finished it today.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

p.s. happy anniversary wordpress <3

Carrie

What is Love?


Love, to me, is more than a word. It contains so many implications that I do not use it very often, if at all. I believe when a word is overused, it loses its meaning. Have you heard of “semantic satiation”? Me neither, until I found it on Google. Have you ever stared at a word long enough until it loses meaning and you begin to question it’s existence? That’s what sematic satiation means. Try reading this (as in every single word) quietly/in your head:

love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love

At least for me, the word “love” began to look strange.

Not convinced? I remember learning from micro economics about the law of diminishing returns, which states as we increase a factor of production, while other factors stay constant, there will be a point where the per unit increase in return decreases. In simplier terms, as we continue to get something we like, our happiness increases; but there is a point where the rate of increase begins to decrease. Or in more simplier terms, too much of a good thing often becomes boring. For example, when we are hungry, that first bite of food is amazing. However, as we continue to eat, we become full and don’t want it anymore. Or, remember your first trip to Disneyland or some other theme park. Amazing wasn’t it? But what if you went there every single day for a year? It would begin to be very boring. I’m sure you can come up with more examples.

My point is, I believe the meaning and use of the word “love” has been misused horribly. The fact that the words “what is love” reminds me of a song scares me.

This is love,

“If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13 TNIV

This is love,

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

1 John 3:16-18 TNIV

This is love,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another.”

1 John 4:7-21

This is love,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17 TNIV

This is love,

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:27-36 TNIV

There are some very good people in the world. People who go out of their way to help and care for others. Non-Christians who give just because they are kind hearted. But is that love?

Maybe you love someone who is very close to you, like your family. Someone who you would indeed die for. But is that love?

I believe that is care, sympathy, or kindness, a shadow of what love was meant to be, but I do not think that is love. You care for people for various reason. Because you admire them, because you pity them, because you want the best for them, etc. Do not get me wrong, that is a good thing. The world needs more kindness. But would you love someone who constantly spits in your face? Would you give up your whole life to serve them? Would you die for them?

What if that person hated your very being? What if that person didn’t want to have anything to do with you. Would you still love them?

I don’t believe humans are capable of this type of love, at least not by ourselves. God showed us what love is, not just by explaining it in 1 Corinthians, He lived it. Despite our disobedience, our faults, our sins, our unrepentant hearts, He still loved us because love is, first of all, unconditional. And as you might know, sin leads to death. Since we had no way of saving ourselves from this mess we’ve created, He came and died in our place so that we might live. He died a sinner’s death. He didn’t do this because we loved Him. No, we hated Him, but He loved us. This is love.

I do not believe we can truly love someone unless we know and understand how God loves us. Love is not a feeling, it is an action and a choice. For me, saying that you love someone means that you are willing to sacrifice your life for them. That no matter what they do, the love is unconditional. That no matter how many times you get angry or have to forgive, love endures. No ifs, ands, or buts. That I love them as much as God loves me.

I love because God loves me. I don’t even know how many times I’ve sinned, how many times I’ve hurt Him. Countless. Yet, regardless, He forgives me and welcomes me back with open arms. He runs to me. His love gives me the strength to love others. Because if He can love someone as disobedient as me, I can in turn love others.

Hopefully that makes sense. There may be some things I did not account for, so let me know what you think!

Carrie

My Christmas List

So it’s that time of year again! No need for me to remind you guys since I’ve certainly been reminded by the TV, radio, internet, emails, etc. that this is the time for…shopping. Yes. Apparantly Christmas is the time for shopping. True, you go out and buy presents for other people and feel good about giving and receiving and all that. But why have we come to participate in such a ritual where we buy gifts for people when we don’t even know what they want in the first place. So we have a list of people we buy presents for, then we go shopping for them, think about what they would want. Think about it some more…then buy them chocolate or something just because it’s Christmas :). But I want you to stop and think. Why? Ok fine, the economy gets a boost. But why? To show people you care about them? That they’re important enough to get a present? You don’t need a present to show them that. Spend time with them on Christmas. Give them a call, a text. Mail a card. I might be too radical here I guess. There are several occasions where gift giving is okay, but many times it isn’t.

My point is, I don’t want anything for Christmas. I’m not being a grinch. It’s just that, first of all, I have gotten many gifts for Christmas. Very nice things. But the problem with me is I tend to be a packrat. I don’t throw things away. And if you’ve ever been in my room…yea…

Secondly, I have everything I need! I may want things, but those are things I can get myself. And if I can’t, then they’re too expensive for you to get anyways =p.

Thirdly, if you do care enough about me to give me a present (yay!!), then you’ll also care that I don’t want to be receiving gifts when that gift could’ve gone to a much better use. I’m talking about IJM, World Vision, or even UGM. I’d rather that money go to them and not me.

So, thanks for reading my Christmas list. :).

Carrie

Normality of Abnormality

How can you find something you didn’t even know wasn’t there in the first place?

I remember that time where I lost a significant amount of functionality of my wrist. It came one morning where I woke up and experienced what is scientifically called “radial nerve palsy”. Radial nerve palsy, or wrist drop, is when you cannot lift your wrist. When you extend your arm with your palm facing down, you would not be able to lift your wrist so that your fingers point to the ceiling. When you curl your fingers into a fist, you would not be able to uncurl them. That’s what happened to me one Sunday morning in November 2010. I just realized it’s been one year already.

Long story short, I got better right before I left for Leeds. Which was two months later. Well, it was not a full recovery, but I did not need my “X-men” replica splint anymore. I don’t recall when I made a full recovery, but no one was able to tell that I did not have a fully functioning right wrist. My writing was a bit untidy, but that’s nothing new. I actually forgot all the doctor’s notes and documentations back in Canada. Thankfully I didn’t need it.

There are some things in life that we only notice when it’s gone. The simple action of raising my wrist is a blessing. Yet I never consciously think about it. I would always take it for granted, thinking that I’d always be able to do this simple action. In the same way, the ability to walk is a blessing. The ability to talk is a blessing. The ability breathe is a blessing. You never appreciate air until you are underwater.

Then there are times when things have been gone for so long that you don’t remember it anymore. Sometimes, you may have been living in abnormality for so long that abnormality becomes the norm. In my case, it wasn’t that I forgot what it was like to have a functioning wrist, it’s more like I adapted, with the help of a splint. It wasn’t optimal or natural, but it was sufficient. Though my wrist muscles, if I did not regularly exercise them, if I did not remind them that they have a purpose, even when my radial nerve healed, my muscles might not be able function properly. The norm, for them, would be inactivity.

Or in the book “Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi”, the author experienced something that made his heartbeats irregular and irratic. When the doctors discovered what was causing this abnormality and prescribed him some drugs, he exclaimed how amazing it felt when things returned to normal, that he had forgotten what a normal heart beat felt like.

And when those things return, when things are put back into natural order, when things return to their original purpose, it is a beautiful feeling. It is like breaking out of water gasping for breathe. It is like feeling your heart beat return to normal. It’s like the pure sound of a tuned piano after years of neglect. It’s like our purpose here that comes “bursting as if through a mountain of dirt and rock from the end of a tunnel with bad florescent lighting and traffic into sunshine and the blue sky” – David Crowder.

So what is this “original purpose” I am referring to? What has been hidden deep inside us for so long that we’ve forgotten about it and have found ways to adapt? I believe it is a desire to praise. Praise is “the culmination of our enjoyment of anything”, as defined by C. S. Lewis. It may be our enjoyment of milk and cookies, enjoyment of playing guitar, enjoyment of running around the playground, etc. But life came along and many of our childhood joys have been replaced by more “practical” matters. We no longer have time for childhood pleasures.

Not just that, I believe we were created to praise God, to enjoy God and His creation. That is our natural purpose, to live in constant communication with God, to enjoy His presence. It is not a formed/learned habit that takes time to develop, like exercising, eating healthy, or studying. But it is more natural, like eating when you’re hungry, sleeping when you’re tired, breathing, blinking, etc. It is not something that we have to do or that we should do, but it is something that we just naturally do, something we want to do. I believe this purpose is inside all of us. And when we discover it, it will burst forth like a tuned piano, pure and unadulterated, “bursting as if through a mountain of dirt and rock from the end of a tunnel with bad florescent lighting and traffic into sunshine and the blue sky”.

(Inspired by “Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi” – David Crowder)

Carrie

Belonging-ness

Do humans have a innate desire to belong? Why do we try to follow the crowd? Why do we try to be different? When we try to be different, are we just alingning ourselves with others who try to be different? I don’t know if I’m jumping to conclusions, but it seems like whatever we do, whatever our choices, it is influenced by others and our desire to belong. Let me explain.

If you know me well enough, I usually try to be different. Not in all things, but for the most part. For example, the main reason I refuse to buy apple products is because they are popular. Because I do not want to belong to that group of consumers (no offence). Though I have other reasons, that can be a post by itself :). I don’t like being generalized and glazed over. In our society and in the workplace, isn’t it better to stand out (in a good way ofcourse)? When you write a resume or cover letter, don’t you want to make it stand out? You don’t want to seem like just an average normal person. But when we try to stand out, when we disconnect ourselves from the general mass, aren’t we just connecting ourselves to various other groups? Meaning, can we really be different? Note that I am not speaking of a hierarchical clustering, for the most part :). For example, I am a person that enjoys reading, spending time by myself, and writing long blog posts that no one has time to read. Yes, by doing so, I am disconnecting myself from the general population, but I am not isolating myself as there actually exists others that have similar interests. In a way, though I try to separate myself from the crowd, I “belong” to another. Is there an actual need to belong somewhere behind this natural segmentation?

When we make choices, like what shirt to wear, what music to listen to, who to talk to, etc., these choices are made based on what group we want to belong to, among other factors, whether if it is a conscious choice or not. Ofcourse, the more long term the results of these decisions are, the more the decision is based on a need to belong. For example, why I listen to the DC*B is because they are so unique and different (plus the music is super duper awesome), which aligns with my desire to be different. I don’t watch Glee because I usually don’t like following pop culture (plus the plot is pointless). A need to belong usually isn’t deemed a positive attribute. For example, Twitter is used as a tool for connection, to obtain affirmation that other people care about us, where a need to belong is expressed publically. Yet there are people, myself included, that joke about that need. However, unconsciously, our need to belong is satisfied, not by belonging to Twitter, but by belonging to “anti-Twitter”. Whether or not it is expressed, I think we all possess this need. Feel free to contradict me though :).

Now that’s all just boring logic that goes on in my mind sometimes. Why I am publicizing my thoughts is because I have recently felt a great desire to belong. After coming back from the UK, I have been trying to connect and reconnect with people, with my friends and family, for obvious survival purposes. Yet, surprisingly, I’ve found it rather difficult. First of all, there are three basic groups of humans that I connect with here, church friends, non-church friends, and family. With church, I am currently transitioning from the Chinese side back to the English side. For the most part, it was because of a lack belonging-ness. Yet returning to the English side has not been as easy as I thought it would be. It’s not the people, it’s just that I need more time. With non-church friends, there are those who are SFU friends and those that are other random people. As I am currently not taking any classes my SFU friends, due to coop, exchange, graduation, etc., I feel rather distant from them. To my other friends, well, Surrey is really far away from anywhere :). With my family, for most of the previous months I’ve been living away from home to help out with a friend. Being away from home certainly doesn’t help.

Now I’m not writing this to complain how no one cares about me. I know you guys do. It’s just that the recent choices I’ve made, albeit necessary, have disconnected me. Sometimes it’s out of personal preference. And because of that, I’ve come to realize the necessity of belonging. To have people around you to remind yourself that you are alive. To have people support you and keep you accountable. To have someone to talk to. Now it’s not all dark and gloomy. I have found some unexpected friendships. I have found that some friendships, surprisingly, have not suffered. And I am really blessed and thankful for them :).

Carrie