Grace upon grace.

Overwhelmed by the love and support I received as I walked across the stage on my convocation day – the stage that I’ve watched people walk on for the last three years as I volunteered as a usher for the past convocations. Finally, it was my turn. Sitting at my seat, watching row by row of graduates get up in a single file line, each student’s name called out to acknowledge all their hard work, countless nights of paper writing and last minute assignments, searching over and over again how to cite research articles, endlessly writing waiting for Microsoft Word to hit the exact number of words assigned, trying to stay awake in those super early 8am classes, all those other work commitments and extracurricular activities and everything else in between – it was finally time to recognize it all with extreme joy and happiness and show the world that we’ve did it and our time on campus is concluding, ready to leave a legacy behind and walk into a new chapter in life.

However, I am rather pouring with excitement to be back on campus in the fall. To know that my time and presence at the university is not over yet, I am filled of joy to come back with a firm foundation that I am here to make a difference, to connect with other people around me and continue to be that listening ear I’ve been blessed with. To hear all their stories and encourage one another, to plant a seed and watch it grow, to pour my heart out to those that need to hear what their heart desires and ultimately share my story and God’s love for all to hear, no matter how far we’ve ran away from Him, no matter how much wrong we’ve done.

We are all worthy of His love because we matter to Him. His love for each one of us is so unexplainable, yet it’s really the only thing that we need in this world that is defined by our performance, our schedules, the numbers and all the wisdom and knowledge we hold. He is our ultimate healer, redeemer and source of strength and pure joy and love.

For the majority of my life, my motto was always “love others before myself, so that everyone around me is happy with a bright smile on their face”. And without even being aware of it, a lot of my kindness and love for others was all about the actions, the “dos” or in other words, the performance aspect that I’ve been constantly fighting against. To love was the sacrifice I took to make that one person happy and to go out of my ways to help however I can. Giving was what I thought was the best way to do for someone – whether it was my time, a small encouragement or even a small gift, but when it came down to receiving love, my heart immediately built a wall. I never thought I needed to receive the same love I gave others until one day it hit me.

How can I give more love if I can’t receive it?

In Mark 12:31, it says “love your neighbour as yourself” – in other words, love yourself the way you would love your neighbour and not ‘before’ yourself. How mind blowing is it that loving yourself and caring for yourself is just as important as loving others. Without working on ourselves, there is something missing inside us – potentially the inability to fully love others as ourselves. By recognizing that we are children of God and that our Heavenly Father loves us so much more than we can comprehend, that is when we fully love and nothing that once defined us matters anymore. We no longer care about what others think of us and what once held us down no longer matters because there are far more bigger and greater things out there than one struggle we faced and wrapped around us for many years.

In the midst of this adventure, there will always be experiences that makes us question why things happened the way they did. There will often be answers we can’t seem to find, keeping our minds running active every single moment we are kept alone and unproductive, but are those answers really worth finding? When we really step out of our own perspectives, we quickly realize that those don’t matter when there is so much potential awaiting us each day. Two months from now or even two years from now, those answers will definitely not matter but rather bring out those ah-ha moments of why everything came to be and really understand why those experiences happened the way it did.

So in the meantime, why don’t we take those opportunities awaiting us, walk through those opened doors and keep that fire going inside you – the passion that sparks a fire each time we do what we love to do?

And as I continue this adventure, the search for myself is never going to end. There will be moments where I will come back to this thinking process but the fight is worth it all when I know I’m being taken good care of. After six years of weaving around, taking some detours and getting lost and confused of what’s to come, I’m finally where I need to be and back on track, revealing my passions and all that I can do with it! I’m so excited to see what is out there for me to be a blessing and the continuation of my passions come to life. That is what I live for – for the glory of God and to share His love for every single person I encounter!

18121959_10155208835342812_7897063832299412830_o.jpg

Let us not be defined by what we do,
but let God’s grace overflow in us.
For His love for each and every one of us
is far more than we’ll ever comprehend.
He is One I walk in my mission with
e v e r y
s i n g l e
d a y .

B L E S S I N G S,
ST.

Present > perfection

Blog Post Image.jpgJust like any other summer, I envisioned a time for rest, a time for connecting with more people and a time to go out there and capture the beauty of this season but #summer2017 has been very different and nothing I had envisioned. Entering into a transition of being a new graduate, which almost seemed like many many months ago was actually only a month ago. And it certainly has brought constant thoughts that I’m officially breathing the adult life now. And with just a little over a month left before I head back to school, I almost feel like I’m in first year again with U of C sending me emails about tutorials on class registration, signing up for res and the frightening Orientation Week to meet your potential classmates and lifelong friends… or as they jokingly like to say, the person you marry. It’s a weird transition to be in, but I think I can safely say I’m on the right track.

A few months before the summer, the question of “what are your plans for the summer?” was rather difficult to respond to, bringing anxious thoughts of what this summer break would actually look like. As a planner, not knowing even a glimpse of what is going to happen next is like wandering in a corn maze and not knowing how to get out. However, there was some sort of peace that wrapped around my heart – a small amount of trust and believing it was going to be okay. And from this very moment, everything seems to be just okay or at least I would hope so.

I was reading my devotional today and it was titled “Noise Pollution” and speaking on the topic of peace. Reality is, the real world cannot provide us with the peace our heart longs for and the peace we seek might not be what we are satisfied with. The noise that is polluting our life is our business and productivity we continue to strive for each day. It’s honestly so funny that even those times when you’re unconsciously aware of your unhealthy thoughts that somewhere, outta nowhere, the little things brings your attention to those thoughts.

I have been showered with so many opportunities these past few months and I never thought this would be how my summer would look like – to make a difference in the ethnic community and to push myself daily out of my comfort zone. Despite my constant thoughts of “out of everyone on this earth, why me? I don’t even have the skills to do any of this” or those doubts and discouragements that I speak within me saying that “I could’ve done this or that better” or “I need to constantly meet up to these expectations”, I knew I had to push through. As much as I think many external factors play into this; reality is, it was just me. The me inside that was making up these expectations for myself and setting these non-existent expectations that I just could not meet. I took my productivity and turned it into something that was eating me up inside, day after day.

With trying to be productive and living the daily on-the-go routines comes the word “busy”. So often, we speak the phrase “I’m busy, maybe I’ll do so and so tomorrow” or “I’m busy this week, let’s try for maybe next week”.

Is it because we are settling for the “busy” life?

We were all given exactly 365 days in a year to do whatever we want to do with it, but so often we choose to fill it up day after day, week after week until our plates get more fuller than it needs to be. Checking our calendar on our phone to see when we are free and slotting in hangouts, meetings and any other activity we think we can fit in an entire day to only find out that at the end of the day, we are exhausted but we think it’s okay because there is tomorrow to rest. But guess what, the routine starts all over again and the next week hits and we slot more hangouts, more meetings and every other activity in between. Exhausted but productive, I’m not sure which is the better choice.

And I speak from experience because I am rather guilty of this until I start to get burnt out. As an extrovert, I love to be out and about and connecting with others as my energy comes from socializing with others. But there comes a time when we need to draw the line, create some sort of boundary and give ourselves some time alone, to rejuvenate and to re-energize.

As much as I would love to be productive and meet the expectations this world created, there is only so much we can do. Even if the world presents us with discouragements when we are “unproductive”, we have a choice. 

So what if we stopped settling for the busy and chose to find peace in Him – the one that gives us good things and knows us better than we know ourselves?

And remember that devotional I mentioned above, what spoke out the most was this: “It’s going to get rough down here, but don’t worry. I am with you. I will never leave you. And I am your peace.” 

So here we are, a month away from my next chapter on this journey and still cannot see what that will look like but at least the foundation is set not in the opportunities that have arise over the summer to bring me here, but because of Him and His goodness, I am on the right track to continue to be the light in His eyes, ears to hear those in need and a blessing to all I’m going to encounter.

I pray that you too will not settle for the busy life and take time to grow in those opportunities He has set for you and trust that He is your peace and nothing else can give you that same amount of peace.

Blessings,
ST

When is it time to let go and take a break?

When is it time to let go and take a break- (1).jpgOver these last two months, it has been a constant routine of meeting deadlines, reaching the learning curve and presenting many, many presentations in a language I have barely touched for the last five years. Sounds like school, doesn’t it? I’ve had the opportunity to take part in a summer program with a non-profit health organization and experience what it is like to be involved in community health, while exploring if public health is something I hope to gravitate my career towards with an education degree. As I discover deeper into my passions and where I can bless others, I am always bringing myself back to where I get my energy most from – building relationships, connecting with others and bringing light to those that need it most, especially in the health community. I would say that these last two months hasn’t been the easiest, to the points where I wonder if this was even worth the experience but at the end of the day, I am reminded of what a great opportunity this has been to learn from the daily routines, to step out of my comfort zone and really bring out the gifts I was given.

It has also been a blessing to work alongside with an individual whom shares so many similarities to the point where we are constantly laughing at how crazy this is to really be digging deeper as if we have met many years ago. Aside from work-related conversations, our interactions became so much more than what we do on a daily basis. It is not easy to spend six days a week with the same person but it is never a dull moment with her. You know who you are, girl! ;]

As I reflect on the bigger picture of these last two months, there’s been a lot to learn from as I continue to grow from the experiences and as I continue to explore the adventures. From the daily routines to the new experiences that occur weekly, it is so different to be actively involved in the community rather than just reading it from the books. I’ve also learned that what we really learn from the books, sometimes, just can’t be applied into the real world and learning just how important it is to be practicing those theories with real world examples. With such abstract theories and concepts, it becomes rather difficult to see it be put into use. But aside from the practicalities, there’s been a question on my mind and it goes like this,

“When is it time to let go and take a break?”

As this page in this new chapter comes to an end and I’m ready to turn to the next page, I am constantly asking myself “what’s next?”… “what’s the next thing I want to fill my plate with?” – a possible question to satisfy my productive self and avoid “resting” for the remaining two months before I head back to school. It almost seems like there needs to be a productive routine to make this summer another successful one, a summer filled of adventures, new memories to cherish and another summer to add into the books. Yet the only word that really comes to mind is R E S T.

So what exactly is “r e s t”? According to this handy dandy friend of mine, Google defines rest as a verb that states that rest is ‘ceasing work or a movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength”. Notice, how the word is a verb (and a noun too) or in order words, an action word. For so long, society has always seem to put a negative connotation to this word – a word that seems so forbidden in this world that seeks productivity and requires people to be constantly working and being on the go. And if that’s not the case, rest is imagined as an individual that stays at home, being still and does nothing. Seems a little contradictory, doesn’t it?

For so many years, I’ve been fighting (and still fighting) this idea of what rest is portrayed as. The little self in me has always fought for productivity and the sense of being proactive where productivity meant doing something, rather than spending time to recover before the next ball of energy rolls around. Digger deeper, this sense of productivity really comes from the identity of performance I’m also fighting against – to not be defined by what I do but rather the love and joy that comes from the things I’ve been blessed with, to reach out for love that spreads further than we could ever imagine it can go. 

And as I continue to really dig deeper into my passions and things that bring me life, I’m starting to realize that rest works its way into us when we are burning inside to fight for what we love, to go out there and do great things in life because God provides us with the strength and energy to move forward. He is the one that provides the joy, the peace, the ultimate source of love to allow us to continue even when times get tough.

When we wholeheartedly work towards the things we love to do, that is when we can keep moving forward, regardless of what obstacles we face along the way. The remaining things, even rest, will figure itself out, one at a time. 

So here I am, days away from turning the pages of #summer2017 and I can only look forward to what’s the next adventure I’m walking in, as long as the One that brought me here is always by my side and I know that he A L W A Y S will be, regardless of how far I run.

And I pray that each one of you finds rest in your passions, that burning fire inside you to keep striving forward day after day, because you were created to love on others and use what you’ve been blessed with to be world changers, to be healers of this world and whatever else you’ve ever imagined yourself to be.

Blessings,
ST

 

Rainy day cheese.

As the rain pours down with winds shaking the house tonight, I am reminded of how peaceful this can be and what a wonderful time for reflection and cheese. Despite the strong winds and rain that drenches all of us when we step outside, we can look beyond that to know that the grass will be greener, the flowers will bloom and the sunshine is only a day away. To know that the skies will be blue again and the birds will be back to chirp its voices away, that is something so worth being thankful for.

As I sit here tonight and realizing how quickly this month has passed by and really learning what it’s really like to work a full time job, I am amazed at how much one individual can do to really make a difference. With only a few weeks left before I walk the stage, I am really amazed at how different school and the real world is really like and it makes me question, is this really what it should be like? How is it that we learn theories and concepts that might not even necessarily be applicable to what we are doing in our desired career? But there’s one thing that’s for sure – and that is the ability to be a positive light and blessing no matter where we are.

How beautiful and wonderful is it that we called to be a light, no matter where we are and no matter what we are doing.

And although we are all imperfect, we can shed a light and give our hearts by loving with imperfect love.

What if the only thing that we have to do is open our hearts to love and receive love despite our circumstances? What if the only thing that we have to learn to do is shift our hearts to be child-like? Just like a child that is so curious of the world and letting his/her imagination run wild, we can have a similar lens of the world because all it takes is for us to love with imperfect love. 

And despite all the mistakes we’ve made, all the wrong paths we’ve walked on and all the wrong decisions we’ve made – ultimately, we are on an adventure to experience, to learn and to become who we are all designed to be. We are all called for a purpose and to love one another.

It is so powerful to see someone who can love despite their past, their wrongdoings and all the regrets he/she has experienced.

18698672_10155304980312812_1675964579_o.jpg

So let us open our child-like hearts,
where His love surrounds us.
So that we can love and receive love too.

Glimpse of His reality.

I’ve had Kim-Walker Smith’s latest song “Glimpse” on repeat for the last few days thanks to my fave work buddy where our days of office work consists of blasting worship songs and singing along to them. And what a blessing it’s been to share such a deep connection with her where we are so similar and always on the same page. I honestly wouldn’t have wanted to work and serve in the community with anyone else, but we’ll leave that for another story of #cheesebysarahtao

Aside from that, I’ve been so in awe of how our Heavenly Father sees us daily. No matter how much we walk away from Him and want to make choices for our own good, and often walking in a different direction that what He planned for us, He still and will always be with us. We are often drowned in our circumstances that we tend to forget that none of this really matters when we are viewed and loved in a totally different, yet unconditional way. What if we are able to see His perspective and His reality of us? What if we live in His reality and see even the tiniest glimpse of eternity? His overflowing and unconditional love and joy for us is so much greater than our wildest dreams, our desires to control our life and walk away from Him.

When I really step out of my box, out of my own comfort zone and my own views and perspectives; every living thing that exists and every person I connect with should be a reflection of Him. He knows exactly what we need or even what our heart speaks even when we don’t speak it aloud.

As we give and receive love; security and significance, gratitude and generosity, community and mission is immensely produced, giving us a life of peace and joy even in the hardest times.

So, no matter what your circumstances are, no matter what struggles you’re overcoming; let us be encouraged that you are never alone and we are so so loved. And let us be reminded that our life purpose is less about what we do and more about why we do it. Ultimately, love redeems all we do… especially God’s love for us!

Enjoy and feel His presence, love and joy! 🙂

18426525_10155257963712812_236126880_o (1).jpg

Spirit of God, come alive in me
Give me a glimpse of your reality
I am changed by a love that will never run dry

Do you trust me?

Do you trust me when my answer is wait? – God

To some, the answer is a simple yes or no, just as simple as stop or go. Or rather in the middle of the two, the answer is maybe. “Maybe” or “I’m not sure” they say may actually be the most consistent answer to so many questions in life. An answer that only shows the building of uncertainties inside us or we simply cannot let go of our clenching hands and trust. Our thoughts and mindset – wrapped around the ‘what ifs’ and outweighing the pros and cons and yet, we still can’t have a definite answer of what we want. Now it sounds like we are controlling our life a little too much are we now?

A season of waiting, scary yet such an important time of our life. It’s this season where we can take the initiative to prepare for an upcoming opportunity. A season to wander around searching for what’s next. A season to dig deeper into our hearts. A blessing to be able to engage in the growth of ourselves, play a little hide and seek till we finally find what our heart desires. However, we often think of waiting as idling and sitting back for something to just suddenly appear in front of us. And neither was life suppose to be easy.

Although we like to think that once we have overcome something, anything after that will be smooth sailing but sometimes that’s not necessarily the case. We live in a world full of distractions, productivity and materialistic success that the constant comparisons and competition is not an easy thing to avoid. And to sit around and rest for some self care is almost out of the question for so many people. It almost seems like that is discouraged from the world we live in. But we need to recognize that self control is different from self care. 

It’s been an adventure learning to rest in this season of waiting. Constantly driven by productivity, it has not been an easy task to simply rest. Days where I seem to have nothing planned and just relax are the worst things on my agenda. It’s these days where my mind wonders if this is actually where I’m suppose to be, the uncertainties of what’s to come and over-evaluating everything I’ve done and what I could’ve done better… these are the days I would call “unproductive”. In this case, I’m taking some down time for self-care but I’m also taking this time to control what’s to come. However, it’s this time of rest and peace do I really realize that the life I’m pursuing is the one that matters the most, and that has to include our Heavenly Father.

It’s these moments where I can submit to Him, be vulnerable and transparent and let Him do the work. I may not have signed up for the easy life but it is the good life when He is around. And what’s truly amazing is that He has always been around, no matter how distant I feel. How funny it is to even think that my “unproductive” days are the days where He’s distant, but really He’s closer than ever during this time. It’s these days where I can rejuvenate and continue to pursue what He’s given to me and as I go through these days, I am in awe of the many ways I’m living in that I would never imagine, the gifts I never thought I’d have or as cheesy as it sounds, never image the person I’m becoming. And that truly is a blessing on its own.

And although our little city of ours has been dropped with a taste of winter rather than the spring we never get, underneath all this lies the growth of greenery, sunshine behind those grey clouds and a cotton candy sunset we’ve been waiting for. And just like that, we can simply put faith in knowing that the best is yet to come and the wait will be worth it for it is not the destination but the process we adventure into.

18120194_10155214706532812_2034476816_o.jpg

A season of waiting ain’t no idling
Engage, prepare & wander
Trusting that the best is yet to come!

Wander with trust.

With a season of transitions and unknowns, we often wander into the uncertainties wondering if this is the correct checkpoint to the next adventure. Or even so, we wonder what our next path is, whether we should choose to step to the left or to the right – possibly afraid to make the wrong decision and fear regret later on.

But what happens when both paths are good decisions and we just have to pick? 

Ultimately, it comes down to t r u s t. Do we trust that we can fully let go of all things behind us and just go.. or do we take one teeny step and hold on to everything we want to control and trust that one teeny tiny step we took?

Just reflecting back on my adventure, I honestly had no idea how to fully open my arms to trust what was ahead of me and believe that this is better than what I had planned. It was like a baby bird learning to flap its wings to fly but only open their wings wide enough to take a step forward and trust it won’t fall. And the only way to open my arms nice and wide was to remove all fears, not just from the mind but also from the heart. It’s easy to believe that I’m no longer fearful, but it’s not easy to believe that I trust that my fears cannot hold me down. I’ve learned that my future is not for me to control and my plans are way smaller than the plans that were created for me. I can run with my own plans but I won’t go far. I’ll eventually come to a point where I can no longer walk further not because I am blocked but because my heart no longer will be on fire for it.

I remember when I was still in elementary, my mom told everyone that one day I would be a kids doctor because she just knew I love kids so much that being a paediatrician would be a waste. I also remember people telling me that I would be great with kids and really see me working with kids in the future. Love for kids, most certainly true… going into med school, sure that was a drive I once had but there is just so much more than that. And that’s not to say med school isn’t a great place to be, but I only recently knew that wasn’t where I was suppose to go. And this realization only came about by willing to search for myself and who I am made to be, not by other people’s expectations. To say that I am finally healed from the wounds I’ve caused myself by being a perfectionist and a performance-driven person is one of the reasons I am set free.

But of course there will still be times when my heart tugs a little to control life, to look at life based on my own performance or make sure things are going in the most ideal way, but what really matters now is that I respond in a new way. It no longer matters about the things that cause me to bring back the uncertainties, but what matters is that how I respond to it. Take a moment to really soak it in this beautiful revelation – not what our failures are, but how we respond to it. And all this can be summed up with one word – T R U S T .

So here I am… almost a graduate in one degree and onto my next one, I am proud to say that it’s been a wild ride and an adventure I never thought my high school self would think I’d be at but I am so unashamed of it! It only builds a brighter fire in my heart to share it to the younger generation and encourage them that this adventure is not under our control but an opportunity to discover who we are, who we were made to me and all the plans that is already planned for us even before we were born. And we run on this adventure together, just trust with our open hearts and believe that all obstacles only makes us stronger and confident enough to be world changers and blessings to others.

17097253_10211710560376773_8271106906810144871_o.jpg

L i v e for the little things.
O w n the cheesiness of life.
& t r u s t with an open heart
for what was planned only for you.
Blessings! ♡ – st