"Suprised by Suffering" Givaway Contest!

If you have been with me for awhile, you may remember my book review on R.C. Sprul's Suprised by Suffering. Although it didn't quite fulfill my expectations of being a primer on the Christian view of and response to suffering, I still considered it a good read with sound teaching.

In exchange for my book review, Reformation Trust kindly gave me a free hard copy of "Suprised by Suffering" for me to give to one of you!

So here are the rules:

1) In the comments section (this page only), share a struggle that you have had or are having. How did you/ are you/ do you hope to get through it? (Answers don't have to be Christian or even have "nice" put-together solutions. Just talk about where you were or where you are. I'm not "grading."

2) Comment (on this page only) by Monday, Sept 6 at midnight PST.

3a) Winner will be determined by random number generator corresponding to post order.  I'll announce the winner next Monday.

3b) Only one submission per person, but feel free to comment on other people's comments.

3c) Obviously, my own comments won't count.

4) US entries: free shipping

Canadian entries: free shipping, but it's going to be kinda slow

Outside of the US and Canada: Sorry...I'm going to have to limit the contest to the US and Canada; law books aren't cheap. I'm really sorry, but thanks for reading!

PS Please participate!  I would feel really bad if I didn't have enough readers/ commenters in order to give away a free book. 

 Edit:  Additions to the original posted rules are bolded above.

Edit: The commenting system is being wonky, so I'm going to keep track of commenters here. If you don't make the list and you were supposed to, let me know. I'm really sorry about this guys. I'll try to look into it.

1) Travis
2) MW

My Pet Peeve: Cafe-goers with poor planning

Illustrator: wwritter of flickr under CC2.0

Cutting yourself some slack

As some of you know or have ascertained from reading my blog, I started law school last Wednesday. Our 3-day orientation was one of the most grueling mental and social exercises I have experienced. I wouldn't say it was the most, but one of the most, to be sure. Our days started early and ended late, I was constantly meeting people, we had reading and briefing assignments before we were even sure how to read or brief, and we sat through numerous presentations, *most of which told us how hard law school would be, if we didn't already think it would be hard.

And throughout orientation, but particularly toward the end, I heard a phrase repeated by multiple people that I've never heard in my lifetime
Let's get wasted this weekend. We've earned it.

Now maybe I've never heard that phrase because most of my friends in college were/ are Christian, and that's not something that we did. Or maybe it's because the rest of my friends were physiology majors **who happened to like their livers.

Maybe (hopefully?) we Christians don't have that mindset, that we've earned the right to trash our bodies and relinquish control to a substance. But that's not to say that we don't have that sort of mindset sometimes.

Have you ever felt like you've worked or studied or for other reasons simply had a long, tiring day and felt like you earned the right to relax? I have. In some or most instances, did that "right" impede on studying the Bible? Praying? Yes. And in some or most instances, did that "right" impede on seeking out opportunities to love and serve others? Certainly. What if those opportunities sought YOU out? Truth be told, I've ignored those, too, on occasion.

The thing is, sometimes we feel like we can give ourselves a free pass. We feel entitled to cut ourselves some slack. After all, we've earned the right to be sinful. And it's not really that sinful. We're just, to use a torts term, negligent. And that's not so bad, is it?

A tort is a tort, and eventually we'll get our just desserts.

*To be sure, I feel my law school did a very good job of encouraging us and telling us about student resources and preparing us for our classes during orientation. Orientation was overwhelming by necessity, but not in a way that was meant to intimidate on purpose.
**No matter what your religion is (although if you're a regular reader of my blog, I'd imagine that you're at least a bit Christian) and no matter what your stance on alcohol is, seriously, be nice to your liver. And that includes not eating excessively or excessive amounts of fatty foods, too. A fatty liver is pretty much the same as an alcoholic liver. Chew on that. Or maybe not.

Early to bed and early to rise

...keeps you yawning and rubbing your eyes.

Edit: Sorry for the late post. I totally had it scheduled for Wednesday at midnight, but I must have hit "save" instead of "publish." The good news is that you'll get two posts in a row this week!

Christian Identity

Photographer: bump of flickr under CC2.0.
Text: Part of a quote by D.A. Carson in Holy, Holy, Holy
Note: I don't want anyone to misinterpret the lack of the Dunny's face for a complete removal of individual identity and personality. Please don't take my comics literally like that :)

Edit 8/27: Just noticed the image didn't work after working for a few days. Reuploaded and restored.

Mac Givaway by Logos Bible Software

For those of you who don't know, Logos Bible Software is a great tool for studying the Bible, combining commentaries, reference resources, devotionals, and more all in one place. Right now, Logos is holding a giveaway of Mac products to promote their "Logos 4 Mac" ship day.

Click here to find how to enter!

"Whatever is noble"- The power of truth

Homesickness, Pt. 2

I was/ am homesick because things aren't the way I feel like they should be. The shower is too small; it should be larger. The grocery store is too far away; it should be closer. The air conidtioning only works in one part of the apartment; it should actually work in the old apartment. It's all about how thing should be, or at least my perception of how things should be. I looked at the environment around me and compared it to home. Things were different, and that wasn't cool.

That's kind of how life on this rock is. (You should have seen me going here.) This world isn't our home. And we look around and we see tragedy and heartbreak and suffering, and gosh, we see the need for lawyers of all people. Things aren't the way they are supposed to be, and this time, it's not a matter of perception but rather a matter of fact. For Christians, this is as close to hell as we're going to get, but the great and glorious news is that this world isn't our home. We've got another home in heaven, where our Lord and Savior has promised to prepare a place for us. We look forward to going home, not to a specific place but to the Person who makes it home. The church is the bride that has been waiting for oh, so long to return to her husband. To go back to Eden. To experience something better than Eden because now God's glory is magnified through our redemption. The redemption of our poor, wretched, lost, wicked, and rebellious souls. (Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips. Can I express Thee unblamed? For God is light and ever in unapproached light dwelt then in Thee, bright effluence of bright essence increate.)

So while we live in this world, we have hope for the next. We live as strangers in a strange land, but we also work for the good of the communities around us. We seek peace with our neighbors, bless our enemies, and do the good works that God has set before us to do before the foundation of the world. We're homesick, but that homesickness actually gives us hope that faith will become sight, tears will become dry, and doctors and lawyers will be unnecessary. Instead, we will be bards, musicians, dancers, and architects. Marinatha, but in the meantime, we'll live as ambassadors in the Already but Not Yet.

Special thanks to my dear friends and siblings-in-Christ who reminded me of these things. You guys rock :)

I name thee Carionite- The power of name

Homesickness, Pt 1

I've never been homesick before. Maybe it's because I'm not generally a very sentimental person. Maybe it's because I've always been relatively close to home. And maybe it's because when I did leave home, a lot of the awesome people that made home awesome came with me.

Regardless of the reasons, homesickness was just never something I dealt with in the past. It's not even something I considered when moving. So when I was sad and miserable after the first day of orientation yesterday (for reasons completely unrelated to orientation or law school), I blamed my shower. I blamed the lack of convenience stores or grocery stores around. I blamed the sucky air conditioning. I blamed my apartment for being full of bugs. I blamed the fact that my room is a mess because I haven't had time to organize everything.

But really, I just really, really missed home.

This morning, I woke up feeling pretty much the same as before. But then I realized what I was feeling. I named it. Homesickness. Maybe I'm a bit of a nerd and have read too much young adult fiction fantasy novels, but I honestly do believe in "the power of name." Naming an emotion gives you power over it. Homesickness. Homesickness. Homesickness. I can't click my heels because I left my ruby slippers at home, but the charm still works. At the very least I don't have the feeling of "I don't know what I'm feeling and why" to compound my misery.

I find hope in that homesickness is something that can be overcome. New homes can be made. I have an awesome new roommate, and at some point, I'm going to find an awesome new church. New everything. Maybe I can get a newly remodeled bathroom, a new air conditioning unit, and a new grocery store closer to my apartment, too. It's ambitious hoping, yes, but hey, go big or go home. And since I've no home to go to, looks like we're shooting for the first.

Communicability of the Incommunicable

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Click to enlarge (click a second time to see it full-sized). You know the drill.

Note: This is an awesome quote by D. A. Carson in Holy, Holy, Holy, a book by Reformation Trust that they kindly gave to me for free in exchange for a book review. I'm 6/10 of the way through and enjoying it!


Note: I started thinking about the topic because of this whole fiasco, but my post shouldn't be considered a direct response to it.

Spirituality in the Mundane

I love Donald Miller. In fact, Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What were pivotal books for me in shaping the way I think about God and the Bible. He has a great way of telling stories, both the story of God and salvation and also the stories of individuals.

Recently, he has been focusing on the stories of individuals, teaching people how to live their lives in a way that is meaningful and impactful. If you aren't familiar with his book Million Miles, an example of this can be found in his blog post here.

However, I feel there is a flaw in this sort of thinking. It's great to strive for those memorable scenes in life when we do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes in the Christian life we are called to do that. Sometimes we're called to change vocations or to pick up and move our families to somewhere unknown until God says, "OK, you're here now." But I don't think that's always the case. It's easy to glamorize these great out-of-the-ordinary moments, but there is also something to be said about the mundane.

What about the middle-aged man taking care of his aging parents at the expense of his career? Or the young woman struggling with daily, chronic pain? Or what about all the people with depression, cutting, and/or addictions- people for whom waking up in the morning and looking at themselves in the mirror is a challenge in and of itself?

We want stories where people perform great feats, whether it be biking across a continent or surprising strangers with one's spontaneity. We want to see success stories and be inspired. But not every good decision leads to a grand story. Some stories are simple. Some stories are one-liners: "I put others before myself." "I chose joy instead of despair." "I will believe in the goodness of God and the identity He has given me, even though circumstances obstruct my view of Him." Stories like these are not based on a one-time decision but are instead a daily crucifixion of the Self. They are messy and hard decisions that are made over and over again, and sometimes (a lot of times?) don't have a forseeable "happily ever after." These are the types of stories that are sometimes not resolved until eternity.

While there is a place for spontaneity and challenging oneself to go beyond the routine, there is also a place for "radical spirituality" in the mundane. Sometimes the most mundane road is the most radical, meaningful, and impactful, and the people who choose it should be hailed as heroes just as much if not more than fountain-runners.

The Waiting Gameble


Note: Yes, I'm still on the Tetris theme, but I promise this is the last one for now.  No, I don't believe in "the one."

Background: Actual screenshot from a game.  In the first game I played, I couldn't set up the double tetris with the two I-blocks until the last 5 seconds.  In the game shown, I was almost at the top before the second I-block came around.

What happens when I don't plan my day properly

Repost: The post earlier wasn't supposed to be some tongue-in-cheek way of saying that I get nothing done when I don't plan my day properly, although that is quite true.  I'm just that brilliant, even when I get the HTML for my images wrong.

Click image to enlarge.

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A few friends and I went to Disneyland yesterday for one of their birthdays. I'm really tired now, but I had a super fun time. We all had different types of passes that allowed us to "park-hop," which meant we could go back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure as we pleased. This was pretty exciting for me because previously, my first and only visit to CA-A was shortly after it opened, which meant it was suuuper crowded, they had less cool stuff, and I was a little young to appreciate the stuff they did have.

  • Eating "waterside" at the Blue Bayou, the restaurant that's inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  The food was a tad pricey, but the ambiance was worth it.  Good food, good service, and a free dessert for my friend's birthday.
  • Having every Disney cast member say "Happy Birthday" to my friend as we walked through the parks.  That's the deal.  You get a "Happy Birthday" button to wear, and everyone has to say "Happy Birthday" to you.
  • New Space Mountain.  I actually don't know how "new" it is, but I'm pretty sure it was different from the last time I went on it.  It was way cool, but the flash picture they take of you at the end was less of a flash and more of a we-are-trying-to-blind-you light.
  • Indiana Jones.  There's some controller-type guy in a lighted booth upstairs who didn't move for the 10 minutes that we were staring at him.  My friend, L, asked the cast member who seated us, "Should that guy be sleeping?"  The cast member quickly replied, "He's not sleeping," but we said that we had been observing him for quite some time and that we thought otherwise.  The cast member then got on a phone and rang upstair, startling Mr. Controller, who started doing his job again.  I hope he doesn't get in trouble or anything, but his inaction was a tad disconcerting for us.
  • The Tower of Terror.  When I went to CA-A the first time, they didn't have this ride up yet.  Disneyland rides are fun because they're fun.  You don't get scared, but you get a nice thrill of being on a magical ride.  Not so with the Tower of Terror.  True to its name, it was very, very terrifying.  I love rides with large drops (which is why as a kid I loved those log water rides...before I started thinking about how nasty the water is), but the difference between log rides and the Tower of Terror is that in log rides, you know how far down you're going to go.  You can see the bottom.  The Tower of Terror just keeps dropping.  And going back up.  And dropping again.  I loved it and it was fun, but it was scary as heck, and there was now way my friend could have gotten me to ride it again at night.  I have it pegged as a daytime-only ride
  • Disney Animation Studios.  I'm not sure if this one was in CA-A when I first went.  I vaguely remember wanting to go to it, but my parents didn't because they thought it was boring or something.  Either way, this was my first trip there.  In a small lecture hall, they teach you how to draw one of the Disney characters.  I dedicated my drawing to my mom to put on her fridge, because, you know, she hasn't gotten one of those in 15 or so years.  She actually knew who I drew, which made me happy.  (It was Winnie the Poo.)
  • New fireworks show.  This one had the usual magical choreographed fireworks, but there was also more stunt-work done by Tinkerbell and also a cameo by a stunt-flying Dumbo.
  • Hanging out and chatting with friends.  My friend, K, told me about how she and L went to Neuschwanstein, the castle which the Disney castle is based on.  I'd heard the story before, but she told me a few details that I didn't know.  We also talked about the original Mulan poem and I made a really nerdy joke about a Chinese poet named Li Bai and Plato's Republic.  K will be abandoning us to study abroad in England, and it was nice to hang out and celebrate her birthday with her before she goes.

Family Reunion!

Photographer: Yui* of Flickr under CC2.0. This new work is therefore released under a similar CC3.0 license.

Note: It was great seeing everyone at the family reunion over the weekend! Sorry we couldn't spend too much time together, with everyone's schedules and all. Safe travels back home!


An old couple in the middle of a reveling room
Surrounded by their children,
who brought the many grand
and the tiniest of the great
to celebrate.

New glasses, with the stickers still on them.
Have they been washed?
Everybody stops to pray:
*Dai quon sick sai quon
But sanitation worries are soon washed away
by Peking duck, lobster, and walnut shrimp.
**Sic tong, sic fan, everyone.

Borrowed words in a foreign tongue
I give a toast to my grandparents in the simplest of sentences.
For a few fleeting moments
I possess a world
that was always mine but never mine to possess.
Everyone cheers.
But I get the feeling that my friend Tsingdao helped a bit.
After all, my speech wasn't all that impressive.
The Cheshire grins.

My blue nailpolish sparkles under the light.
My aunt comments, and I joke
that I had offered to paint my mothers' nails azure as well.
The color reminds me of the nine koi in the pond outside.
Serene and swimming back and forth,
Reflecting the moonlight.

It was like a fairytale.
Something old, something new,
something borrowed, something blue.
A marriage, a feast, and a song
sung so ferverently that no one noticed
it wasn't quite in tune.
But a few off notes matter little
when there is harmony and family and joy.

Happy 60th anniversary to my grandparents. Here's to many more.

*I'm told this means "big bacteria eat small bacteria." Chinese proverb telling you not to worry about germs because they'll take care of themselves.
** Sic tong quite literally means "Eat soup," and Sic fan means "Eat rice." It is customary to say these phrases before drinking the soup (which comes before the meal) and eating the meal, respectively.