Saturday, December 27, 2008

Caption Please

Hope you had a fun, love-filled Christmas...

I know I did.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

In Christ-mas Alone

I spent my first Christmas Eve alone with Jesus.

No tree this year.
No colorful decorations.
No big feast.
No family or friends around to celebrate (most were on vacation or with their families).

I went to work in the morning and came home in the late afternoon.
Ate leftovers Mom left me.
Did some chores around the house.
Stared at my friends' holiday cards lying on my bookshelf.
Glanced at the small set of gifts in the corner of my bedroom.

Up to last night, I was secretly hoping something would come up.
Maybe someone would be kind enough to invite me to their place to celebrate.
Maybe Mom & my sister's flight will be canceled and they can spend the holiday with me.

Maybe it would start snowing and I could sleigh down my hilly street. (Snow in LA....pray that God will do it, ok?)

But none of those happened.  Just me and Jesus for the night.

I cracked open my Bible to read my devotion (and it's admittedly been a while).  This caught my eye:

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." ~ John 15:9-11

Notice the first-person references Jesus makes with the word "love".  Notice how direct and personal He makes it for anyone reading.

In the midst of being on my own this holiday season, if I confessed my need for God, I would imagine He might respond with:

"Could it be that all these things were stripped away so you can be closer to me?  It's what it's all about. I love you so much that it's the only thing I want you to see this season: love.  It's this love I have for you that I crossed over to your life with my only son.  Don't try to cover this fact with anything or anyone else.  Let my love be your joy this year."

I brought out my guitar and worshiped.
I prayed.
I gave out free Facebook gifts w/ notes to people I haven't seen in a while.
I browsed through the many pictures I had with friends.
I was blessed with a great joy & peace I haven't felt in a while.

I don't know how you're celebrating Christmas.  You might be spending it alone or with someone(s) special,  at home or elsewhere, with many presents or none.  But I'm beginning to think that more than anything, God wants a closer relationship with us and His love through the Son is the greatest gift that can bring us the greatest joy.  And all those trees, families, and decorations can't nearly wrap a present that beautiful.

Merry Christmas, everyone. =)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rose Bowl Half Marathon 2008

Running AlongA nod of thanks to those who have been following and/or cheering me onwards in my training.  It feels more worthwhile when I find we're in this together.

I've come to learn that every race, even if it's the same course, has a story of it's own to tell.  The longer the distance, the more there is to share.  This one is no different and none more unique than other ones I've raced.

So about a week before race day, I developed some sore muscles in my left leg above my ankle.  I had to cut my last couple workouts to give it the rest it needed.  I ran my last few easy runs with little pain, but I wasn't sure how it would hold during showtime.

On that Saturday morning, it didn't really matter.  The minute the gun went off, I found myself surging forward with the crowd.  Some were well stretched, some needed more emptying-time in the bathroom, some were just determined to finish no matter how they felt.

It's always the first couple miles where you're letting out the creaks and tightness in your lower body before you find your rhythm.  That was a good thing because it was the three-mile stretch of Orange Grove Blvd that felt like a treadmill missing an off-switch.  Just road, road, and more road.  When we looped around to the Rose Bowl, I was relieved because the first half of the race was done in good time (~ 46:58).

Finish LineThe trails, hills, and gravity took its toll as we ran higher ground.  My left leg started acting up again.  I felt like I 'm going to pull something on my other leg and then it'll be all over.  But the green change of scenery and knowing that really, most of the race is done, pushed me forwards through the nagging pain.

The support came in good time.  Pasadena Pacers were manning the 10th mile fluid station, and I was greeted by several racers from last year's race!  Their smiles, cheers to press on, and applause became mine to take with me to the end.  And of course, there was AOW on the 12th mile to give that extra boost to the finish line.

Final time:


Going back to the 12th mile station w/ AOW.

On a separate note, it was good to be home for the holidays with the rest of the AOW family:

Home for the Holidays

There's been thoughts in my head about running more races in the future.  Anyone interested?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Merry Christmas at the Happiest Place on Earth

I received this through email to my uncle.  It's about time it was done...

I could die happy and go to heaven right now. =)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

It was a while back before, but it was too fruitful to forget.

Like another event, I can't find the words to describe the experience.  Maybe one day I will.  But for now, see for yourselves what God did on November 21st:

Packing Checking
Packing time
Writing Notes More notes More notes
So much happiness in this event Annie & Ben
All done!
Prayer Prayer

Some numbers:
  • 30+ Junior High Youth
  • 1 1/2 hours of packing
  • 56 shoeboxes filled with gifts and notes
  • $595 money donations for shipping


God is good.
I love Eureka.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

V-Day in November

It's like a complete ripoff of a certain movie.

Hence, I was more pleased with this:

Other than a late start in the morning and picking up my new contact lenses, I spent my holiday relaxing with my co-workers.  There is nothing more bonding than arguing and fighting over players for our fantasy basketball draft.

Though I'm still getting used to my contacts, I'm glad I could catch this right outside my backyard last night:

11/11 Sunset

What did you end up doing for Veterans Day?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

History Unfolding

I'm not a politician, let alone a political kind of guy.  I don't like debating issues back and forth, because that is what it ends up being in the first place: a never-ending discussion where nothing really gets done.  Don't shoot me...those are just my opinions.

Nonetheless, here are my 2 cents from all this:
  1. No matter who you voted for last night, we all witnessed history unfolding before us.  We as a country have elected its first African-American President.  I have a feeling that although politics can be so divisive among people, it can also be so unifying - crossing party, ethnic, religious, and many more boundaries.  On that point, this victory for Obama is very powerful.

  2. I found it encouraging how both Obama and McCain came off as gracious and humble as they closed up their campaigns in last night's speeches.  Despite the excessive "mud-slinging" over the past months, I was impressed by its conclusion and I have more respect for both of them.

  3. Now that the dust is settled, we still have a lot of work to do.  The world today is still as it was yesterday.  Even as we should get behind our new leader to support and pray for him, we shouldn't entirely rely on Obama.  We each have a responsibility beyond voting.  Ask yourself, "what are you going to do about the change you want to see?"

That being said, I'm going to miss Tina Fey and all the campaign parodies that kept me amused.

Friday, October 31, 2008

24 Days Out....

What a cool Google logo, designed by horror director Wes CravenProbably the most creative one I have seen in its time.

In addition to the glitz of Halloween, I've noticed we're 24 days out from the return of my favorite TV show.  Check out the preview and get pumped for it.

I've been waiting 18 months for this.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Free Post(e-)card

I like e-cards that let you customize them to your liking.

As well-intentioned (or not) as several e-card services are out there, it's getting harder and harder to find one that isn't annoying, chessy, ad-ridden, or all the above.

Then I found Simply upload an image file and an MP3 to the free, no-registration-required site, add a message, and mail it out.  The recipient gets a link to your e-postcard page, with no ads in sight (at least for now, crossing fingers).

This means you can be as cute, clever, snarky, or affectionate as you want.  I recently put together a simple collage for my friend's big 25th (used Picassa to accomplish this), slapped on a good song, and before you can finish singing "Happy Birthday", it was in her email-box  ready to be enjoyed.

It sure beats letting some oddly-shaped critters express your wishes in off-the-wall ways.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

An Afternoon With My 12 Disciples

A couple Saturdays ago, the Eureka counselors and the core group of 12 gathered for our summit at the Chicks'.  This is where we prepare our heads, hearts, and hands to serve the Junior High fellowship, letting God lead us in prayer and planning..

As I was trying to muster up some kind of essay for these images, I realize that sometimes pictures paint thousands of words, and I can't write any lyric that can comes close to describing our joyous afternoon together.

Notes Cross
"Stranded on an Island" Challenge "Stranded on an Island" Challenge "Stranded on an Island" Challenge
Taking notes Praying
Man Pyramid
MEAT! Cream Puffs
Happy Birthday, Natasha!!

What can I say except I love these people and their serving hearts.

Eureka Core 08-09

Eureka Fellowship 2008-2009: bring it on.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Fall 10

I think we're pretty much back into the swing of things for the fall season (though the 90-degree weather may say otherwise).

As I'm writing this and looking at some pictures, it floors me to realize how quickly the months have come and gone, and it's already nearing the end of 2008.  Probably the fastest passing year for me.

I hope everyone is looking forward to fall because I so happen to have my top ten reasons that I'm diving headfirst into this season with a smile.  Check it out:

10.  Kids back in school (more room for us young adults to have FUN!)

9.  Less sweating for Bart. (that's a good thing...or is it??)

8.  Fantasy Basketball. (more bball & more trash-talking)

7.  Primetime TV shows finally return. (I've been waiting 18 LONG months for this)

6.  College Football. (GO BEARS!!)

5.  Changing colors and scents of autumn. (God is such a great artist)

4.  Starbucks holiday specials. (pumpkin spice latte & peppermint hot chocolate...yum)

3.  That much closer to the Christmas. (love everything and everyone about it)

2.  Cooler days and nights. (great for running and being outdoors in general)

1.  My birthday.  =)

What are your reasons you're looking forward to autumn?  Feel free to share one, two, or ten, if you like.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Summer Rehash

Just when I thought things would actually cool to a legit fall weather, I find out it's going to heat up to the 90s again.  Global warming is funny.

Speaking of high temperatures, I suppose this would be a good time to update about my busy summer.  In between our church's annual youth retreat and a friends' wedding, so many things happened and .  I was gonna try to be make it into a somewhat coherent show-and-tell, but I'm a little all over the place now and so I'll go with it.  Besides, doesn't things like "organization" and "planning" sometimes ruin the fun?  =)

Here it goes:

On NYC: I haven't visited in 13 years so it was nice to see what's new around there.  Times Square, Wall Street, 9/11, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Queens Bridge, Greenwich Village, New York Harbor, Serrendipity III....just to name a few places we checked out.  And I can't forget the several pizza parlors and the world class cheesecake we devoured along the way.  I'm STILL editing / uploading all the pics from the trip, so you can check on my progress hereMental note to self: go in the late autumn or spring season for milder weather.  I'm serious.

On AOW Missions:  Sick.  Amazing.  Blessed.  For the first time, our drama ministry did a tour around churches and other different venues in the South Bay to minister through performances and community outreach.  God was everywhere and led us together along the whole way.  You can read my debrief letter here for more of the big and little things He did for us.

On worship leading: I recently had a conversation with a friend about the delicate balance between spiritual leading and good musicianship in musical worship - specifically the latter.

I feel like a good amount of the time, we focus on trying to glorify God so much with the "right" passage, prayers, and songs, that we forget how important it is to skillfully set that mood w/ instruments.  Keeping on top of the tempo.  Staying in key.  I know I'm not the greatest in doing all these things, but I am being faithful with these musical gifts I've received.

During our conversation, my friend's words also showed me how ridiculously EASY it is to approach worship with a critical heart.  People turning their attention to the worship leaders and focusing on their shortcomings.  Are people so stuck in their own bubble of opinions on what they think worship should be like, that they miss the whole point of simply worshiping God?  It's discouraging to see that happen - for people to put all that responsibility solely on the worship leaders and sometimes taking NONE of it themselves, especially being spiritually prepared when they walk through the doors.

But here's the cool part of the whole thing:  it's not really his/her job.  God is still in control; He lets all the good and bad and even the ugly be in some way a praise to Him through the music, even when it's not "perfect" and it doesn't "please" us.

On that note, I'm truly grateful for the encouragements and growth I have received from serving alongside worship leaders this past year.  They are rock stars in my book.

And there you have it. Everything behind my eyes when I look back at these past three months.  Thanks for reading.  This was fun.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


So tell me....

...which sibling were you?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dodgers, Joint Fellowship, Music Builds Tour

Currently Listening
By Third Day
Call My Name
see related

On Thursday night, I took some of the guys out to the last Dodgers game of the regular season.  Our boys-in-blue clinched the National League (NL) West Championship after a four-year drought, so this last home game was quite special...

Free tickets.  (hookup from 76 - yes, the gas station)
Free shirts.  (last game of season)
Free Dodger dogs.  (scalpers who needed extra tickets =P ).

We left early when our team began slacking, only to find out the stadium began spraying the crowd w/ champagne after our meaningless loss.  Ah, gosh darn it.

Free shirt! Group #1

On Friday night, there was a CtC Joint Fellowship Night, where another church youth fellowship joined ours for a night of worship and fellowship. The most interesting thing that happened when everyone was divided up and I was left to lead a small group of 23. Woah, I know.  But I broke down the groups and everyone had something cool to share about having Jesus in their lives.  I left encouraged and praising GOD for this fruitful night.

Finale! =)

On Saturday, I went w/ several friends to catch the Music Builds Tour in San Diego.  It was nothing short of spectacular to see rock bands like Jars of Clay, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Switchfoot, and Third Day come together for causes bigger than themselves and to offer perspective with the awesome music they share.  It's all butter to my ears.