Just trust.

Take a minute to imagine this… what happens when you’re so uncertain of your life? Maybe you start to become aware of your antsy body or you may feel anxious. Or possibly the lack of sleep is making you exhausted and you’re coming up with unhealthy thoughts. But then, what about the times when you start to trust your heart and trust that everything will be okay and the fear of all things are removed? 

And let’s be honest, I’ve always had this fear that when too many good things happen to me, there will be something terrible that will come attacking me and break down all the positive thoughts I’ve secured so deeply in my heart. Even worse, I tend to generalize that to life and believe it actually holds true.And man, what an unhealthy thought to have. So then, what about those moments when you thought you had your life together and it turns out it’s not and now you’re left hanging and unsure of what’s next?

I think all of us are in this journey at one point or another and there is never a time when we really know what’s to come. We’ll never really find the correct answers that satisfies our soul. But what’s amazing is that we can simply trust – simply trust that God knows what’s best for us and that He knows what’s to come and that He is always holding our hands guiding us every step of the way; even when we think He’s not present.

It’s definitely been a wild week… I thought that coming back from Reading Week, I would be renewed and replenished to conquer the remaining semester of my degree but I sure was wrong. Thrown with so many uncertainties and so many big decisions to make, my heart simply closed up and received barely anything. All I ever wanted to do was curl up and cry and through the action of crying, I was hoping that maybe an answer would suddenly appear. Of course, it just doesn’t work that way…

However, we can overcome all these thoughts and it’s the best that we can do. We can put all our expectations, uncertainties and any false ideas right behind us because we should never carry those burdens on our shoulders and rather, allow the road of the journey to be revealed one day at a time, one step at a time and one little thing at a time. It’s one of the best ways to strengthen who we are, who we were created to be and reveal all that was planned for us.

So as I end this crazy ball of cheese, I pray that each one of you reading this will be showered with blessings and new opportunities in this new month and that any fear or unhealthy thoughts be released out of you!

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5

 

My crazy idea in the making.

For those of you that attend or have attended University of Calgary can picture what the campus generally looks like – maybe the first thing you imagine is the Prairie Chicken on a hill or the inside of a crowded MacHall or maybe even that huge sidewalk between Mckimmie and TFDL that usually has a trail of “soy sauce” or maybe it’s just some kind of chemical to get rid of the black ice in the winter (I’m not really sure, does anyone know what that is?)

But have you guys ever wondered what the students walking around campus are thinking about?

I mean, they could simply just be zoning out from those 8am classes but I think it goes way beyond that. I believe that each of us has our own story to share, to encourage each one of us during our tough times and ultimately, to grow to become a better person each school year. And maybe those obstacles keep our minds racing, but in today’s word, having nothing in our thoughts is pretty difficult.

And so, I have this crazy idea that I’ve thought about for the last few months. Surrounded by so many amazing people that have a passion for videography or simply a video of the most “random-est” thing they’ve encountered, I believe this could one day become a reality.

What if we could make a short video of people walking across campus and dialogues appear above their heads about their thoughts right then and there? Maybe add some cheesy music to it or even a cheesy quote at the end to add the finishing touches to an empowering video. But I simply would just love to hear the story behind what people have. I’d be pretty surprised to see what people are really thinking about – maybe it’s just the thought of what to eat for lunch or maybe even something deep and heartwarming or maybe even something that’s very heart-wrenching.

And I think the purpose of this video is to share with people that each one of us has a story to share and be encouraged by, to be impacted by them and maybe even moving forward be able to provide support and love for those that are going through some tough times during the school year.

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Maybe one day this can happen
b e c a u s e
little dreams can one day be turned into reality.
#cheesebysarahtao

 

December cheese.

The semester is nearly over and I’d say this is the perfect time to reflect since the last time I decided to throw some cheese onto this blog. In the midst of the constant reflections of who we are created to be and unravel all the plans for our journey, there is no doubt that I’ve been hungry for personal growth and seeking new ways to step out of my comfort zone, take some small risks and find contentment in the little things I can do to serve those around me.

And although December is meant for a time to find hope, peace, joy and love as we are reminded of the birth of Jesus, we tend to stress about all that needs to be done – final assignments, papers, exams, Christmas shopping or whatever it may be, we tend to get so caught up in the little things that shouldn’t make us feel frustrated, agitated or furious. And in the midst of all this darkness we feel inside, we are to be reminded that this is only temporarily and there are so many greater things out there. 

For those that know me well, I am guilty of stressing over the little things but this semester has been the most rest I’ve received and my heart has been so content and at peace knowing I never have to be afraid of all these emotions I’ve felt last year. I never have to worry that I have to do everything alone, because I don’t. And although my life plans did take a detour, I am not ashamed to share my journey and pure joy beams through me every time I share my story.

Even crazier is that I’ve been learning to step out of my comfort zone and removing expectations from others out of me – there’s just something so much greater than all these burdens I once carried. It was honestly not worth it. It’s crazy how my detours lead me somewhere where I never thought I’d be experiencing but so grateful for. So here’s a story I want to share with y’all:

Imagine living across the world and curious of what the other side of the world is like. Now imagine having the opportunity to study in Canada for a semester. You live your parents behind. You leave your friends behind. And the most scariest of all – you have to take a 12+ plane ride to a city where you experience extreme culture shock. Now imagine elected for President at your university’s Student Union. But you denied it because you felt like the exchange program  had something greater for you. Now, you’re coming to Canada with no knowledge of what the weather is like. You sense a cold breeze. You’re unsure of how to dress warm. But you do it anyways. You found a home filled of diverse roommates and they continue to share their journey with you and constantly be your tour guide around this new city you’re temporarily living in. You’ve changed for the better but now it’s time to go home. Now it’s time to think about what happens next, you’re so afraid of losing the community because you’ll know you won’t receive the same back home. You’ve fell in love with this new city that you can officially call home. Now what?

This story I just shared was an exchange student I just met a few weeks ago. No idea how we clicked so well but we did and it’s been amazing. Out of all the people in this university, somehow she sat beside me, became vulnerable and shared her heart out of me. It still bottles my mind to this day.

This story is one of the many stories I’ve been so encouraged by. Although this is not an earth-shaking revelation or some crazy miracle that happened – it’s one step toward stepping out of this comfort zone I’ve created for myself. Reflecting back, I wouldn’t have asked questions, connected with someone I just met on a deeper level, nor would I have offered to be their tour guide for a day. But there is so much power in knowing we can make a difference in the little things – small gestures, smiles, whatever it may be. And although, we won’t instantly see results, it doesn’t matter because you encouraged someone and that’s what matters.

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So allow me to encourage you:
There is power of love in the little things.
In the midst of the craziest of this month,
May you be showered with hope, love, peace & joy
that is greater than all the stress we put ourselves in.

“I am becoming”

In the moment of searching for all the beauty that makes us appreciate the little things one step further, I began to realize how much we take for granted. In one of my sociology class today, the professor showed us this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ (which I highly recommend checking out). It shows a group of individuals performing a social experiment where they start off in a line. A statement is read and based on your circumstances, you either step forward or back. Eventually, the individuals move back and forth, while others continue to move forward and some stay at the back. In the end, you can see all the individuals are in different spots – some further away from others, signifying the privilege gap between them. To this moment, this video is still resonating with me.

How incredibly amazing it is that Calgary is just hours away from the mountains, where an adventure begins. Or just outside your window is the sunsets that contains formations of unique clouds ending the evening in so many different colors. And while in the midst of all these things, our minds are racing to come up  with answers to so many questions – what do I have to do next?, what can i do to make my future more successful?, or how do I fix myself to become a better person?. I was once like that, maybe I still am a little but I’m improving and learning. We are all learning… and just like the spoken word artist Propaganda titled his book, “I am becoming”.

Throughout the summer, I reflected on all the deep and hidden thoughts that were affecting me physically and especially emotionally. Graduation, the future, my life as a whole but crazy enough, the miniature stressors that piled on top of each other till I exploded (or more like shed constant tears). All I could focus on were the ways to get myself back on track and make myself look as successful as everyone else. But ultimately, I am suppose to be where I am now.

Looking back, it amazes me how far we’ve all come – from this very moment. We’ve stepped out of our comfort zones, we’ve tried new things, we’ve built a fire in our heart, we’ve let our passions shine. We are here for a reason. Our journey was never suppose to stop at our worse moments but to only make us stronger and fight harder for the plan He created for us. Never in a million years would I think that these past six years of schooling has taught me more than the textbooks will teach me and everyone that has walked this journey with me while I walk with them.

And now that school has officially started, I’m really excited to see what is in store – to slowly come to realize what exactly it is that life has created for me, all the encouragements I’ll share, all the light that I can shine and ultimately, love others with no judgments. Although this school year does officially place a finishing mark, there are no expectations in where I head to next. I trust that everything will work out the way it’s suppose to be. So cheers to another year of school, whether this is your last year or not; make the best out of it and continue to shine in all that there is to offer!

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Just as the mountains are roaring, so is the inside of you.
The fire that lies within you signifies the everlasting impact you’ll have on others.
Allow yourself to shine as brightly as the stars do each night.
‘Cause you are meant to be where you are now.

Our calling.

[Adventures] : It only takes a few steps out of your comfort zone to explore the world out there. Walk through those doors and adventure awaits. To your left is a field of canola. To your right is the land that stretches as far as your eyes can see. Look up and you’ll see the bright blue sky, filled of fluffy clouds shaped like birds, flowers, butterflies, or whatever you want to imagine them to be.

It’s an exciting opportunity when you are welcomed to enter a familiar face’s congregation and hear them speak about what God has put in their hearts. Yesterday was one of those days. A mini road trip to Chestermere, not too far from home but it feels like you’ve entered a new place. Internally you know you don’t belong, but you actually do belong with all the friendly faces that greet you “good morning!” not too long after you step out of your car.

Pull those doors open and greeters shine a bright smile, welcoming you to the service. You hear songs that you continuously listen to, but with an indie vibe. It makes everything so unique. Take a seat and you already feel like you are a part of this family. I felt so comfortable in this atmosphere and it sure says a lot.

So here is a story that kicked off my week with so much joy in hopes you can be encouraged too!

I think that many of us can relate to the search for our calling, no matter where we are in our journey. A certain purpose that keeps us going and brings so much happiness to not only ourselves, but also for others. And ultimately, our primary calling is to love others and we were each given a passion so we could fulfill our primary calling. Neat isn’t it?

And more importantly, our calling starts with taking on the role of ourselves, because all the other roles are taken. Although it does sound pretty cliche and we often hear it many times from those cheesy Instagram posts, it holds so much truth. If we can’t be ourselves, our happiness lies in other people. And rather, we are meant to flourish in life by embracing who we are, and not what others think of us.

And often times, it’s so easy to build walls, create boundaries and trap ourselves in our comfort zones because we are held back by our fears, insecurities and inadequacies. And as a result, we are held back by our own gifts and talents. And what’s even more powerful is that when we hold back all of this, everyone around us doesn’t have something they were meant to have. They wouldn’t be able to experience the love we can share with them. Wow!

So whatever your heart desires, go reach for the stars because things that are impossible can be possible. Trust, believe and have faith in the impossible!

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A search for a specific calling requires;
staying faithful,
testing the waters,
taking the first step,
and not shying away from opportunities,
Because, ultimately each step leads to the bigger picture.

A reflection of us.

As I organize my so-called ‘messy’ room where I have hoarded all the birthday cards, little souvenirs and other random keychains now cherished as memories, I stumbled upon all the printed photos from junior high and high school. Pictures that were no longer digital, forgotten but regained conscious, and all the moments that were at least ten years old. Now, it’s only right to secure them in a photo album, to at least conquer my OCD and test my organizational skills. However, I was unable to tell the order the pictures were taken and my only option was to base it off of whether or not I had braces or not, or any crazy changes we’ve done to our physical appearance, which was actually a rare sight to see.

As I finish gathering the pictures into the photo album and excitedly ready to show each person that is captured within these moments, their reactions were priceless! Cringing to see their younger self but their eyes shone with happiness, we quickly realized this year was the year we’ve grown the most – not just our physical appearances, but the enormous amount of growth we’ve encountered through our obstacles and through our experiences. I look back at the person I was – that timid girl that once had braces but still wears bifocal glasses, I wouldn’t have imaged this is the person I am now ten years ago. The women that has grown with so many stories to share and so many people that can be encouraged. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have guessed that the people sitting in this album were still going to be by my side, day after day, after day. From the day where I tripped a new classmate of mine in my homeroom, to the person that pretty much wanted a friendship with me because of food to even the undefined ways of creating such a strong bond and relationship, these people certainly did not change even after the spread of rumours that say they will after the start of university. Yet, it only got better. 

As I sit alone in Devonian Gardens, where this peaceful place is about to close down for another repair, headphones on and thoughts running around in my head, it’s so easy for me to start being cheesy (but let’s be honest, when am I ever not…). But I’d like to think today is different. This is the summer where I can truly relax, no school to worry about and just enjoy the summer. Each day is a new day of spontaneous plans and undefined routines. And although it can get boring at times, I try to find new ways to keep the days going and not worry about what’s next. And although, I am entering that age where the future of what adulthood deems to be, I’m extremely thankful I don’t have to follow the conventional path society expects you to take. Because, all our lives are unique and different. And that’s okay.

No doubt that things have changed since I entered my first day of seventh grade – the day where my photo album begins. There is no doubt that each person I’ve encountered is living the life that was meant for them. But change is good. And as each one of us learns to remove the mask of perfection, expectation and everything else, we become comfortable in our own selves and it excites me to continue to grow. Living the free life we were all given. This is us. The true reflection upon the mirror is us. We don’t have to express the “I’ve-got-it-all-together” image, because that is not us.

We can accept our flaws and failures and let our souls runs free. This is who you are.

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So let your reflection reflect who you truly are,
and embrace those flaws and failures.
You were made to be [perfect] in God’s eyes,
and no one else.

23 things I learned at 23

23. Two years after turning the legal age and seven more years before turning thirty. A number that should be defined by so much more than our degrees, jobs, materialistic success and accomplishments. As a matter of fact, it goes much deeper than that.

I was told on my birthday to “be you, be true”, and that definitely has hit home.

So here are 23 things that has guided me to so much growth in hopes this will provide some encouragement for y’all too.

1. Dream big, anything is possible.

If there was nothing stopping you from achieving that one big dream, what would it be? If you answered that with all your heart, you’re already one step closer to your dream. Anything is possible and nothing will stop you from achieving it. You already have one person to support you, and that will always be me.

2. You are not defined by your failures.

You are worth so much more than your failures and your mistakes. You are so much more than the past that keeps triggering fear. You are so much more than the lies that keep telling you inside that you’re not worth it. All your flaws, all your weaknesses and all your mistakes makes you the person you are truly meant to be.

3. Being vulnerable and open only makes you stronger.

I’ve never liked being vulnerable, opening up and sharing my stories because I was afraid of being judged or not being able to understand my circumstances. But I’ve been so much stronger knowing that there are people out there that are willing to wholeheartedly listen. They might not understand, but at least their two ears are wide open with no judgement in their heart and there is so much comfort in knowing that holds true.

4. It is okay to say that you’re not okay.

One of the worse things to do is tell yourself that you’re okay when you’re really not. To hide all negative emotions inside just so you can pretend to be happy and show off a positive side of you is so uncomfortable. But once you tell yourself that you’re not okay and that it’s totally okay to feel this way, you begin to realize that a huge burden has already been lifted off your shoulders and you’ll begin to see how many people around you are there to support you for who you are.

5. Be confident in who you are.

Look in the mirror, take off that mask and who do you see? That’s right, the person you are meant to be. Each and every one of you were wonderfully and beautifully made. No extra touch ups, just you. The person that was created to do great things in this world and be a light to those around you. That is who you truly are.

6. Appreciate the little things, for they are the greater things in life.

For those of you that have seen my #throwback Instagram pictures of my Oregon trip would know this trip had such a huge impact on my journey. Before, I focused so much about worrying what the big things I was going to achieve in the future was, that I forgot about the little things that appear in the now. With a world that is always on the go and productivity is key, we tend to forget the little things in life – the daily sunsets, the clouds in the sky that triggers our imagination, to wake up full of energy, etc. – these are the many things that we tend to forget to appreciate with our busy lives.

7. Continue to step out of your comfort zone.

Another huge part of my Oregon trip was coming back home in a new area of my comfort zone. Never would I have thought that I’d have the opportunity to fly down there to experience God, to create new relationships, to deepen friendships and ultimately, step out of my comfort zone. It definitely takes a lot of courage to do so, but there is so much more out there than what is sitting in your comfort zone. You’ll never know what you encounter once you step out of those doors.

8. Embrace the singleness.

I’m never afraid to tell anyone that I’ve never been in a relationship before, nor am I afraid of admitting that I’ve chased a lot of guys in hopes that they can love me back just the same way I had loved them. But I know that there is someone out there for me – that one person that will love me unconditionally for who I am, that I can walk this journey with, support me for me and loves my weaknesses just as much as my strengths. Until then, I take this time as a single lady to figure out who I am so that I can wholeheartedly love the man that I am suppose to spend the rest of my life with.

9. Comparison is the theft of joy.

It took me a really long time to understand what this famous quote really meant. I’ve spent so many years consciously and unconsciously comparing myself to those that were “better off” – in careers, in graduating faster than I did, in getting into med school and so forth. And it made me feel so worthless. It even stole a huge portion of my happiness. But what’s so dangerous about comparison is that you will always be comparing yourself to others, when the person you were made to be exists for a purpose. A purpose so unique that no one was given it. So stop comparing yourself to others, because there is no one out there that can be a better version of you.

10. Time does not matter as long as you’re growing.

Prior to entering university, I had no idea that I would be spending six years in university trying to figure out what’s next for me. It’s so silly to even think that I was going to finish in four years and get a job right away. Of course, there are many people that has been honoured with this opportunity but I’m just taking a little detour. In these six years, I have grown so much and I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am now. So take your time, no one is rushing you.

11. Live forward even when the future is unseen.

The past is the past for a reason. No one can change what has happened before but we have full control of the present. We also don’t know what the future holds, but as long as we live forward with open arms and open hearts, nothing is impossible.

12. Mistakes and failures are the stepping stones to growth.

It is totally okay to make mistakes, no one is perfect. Without our mistakes and failures, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to reflect back, change our perspective and allow us to grow into a better version of ourselves.

13. Seek authentic relationships.

It’s been such a blessing to find the ones that can walk my journey with and do the same for theirs. To have those that can sit there for hours to listen to you rant in ways that sometimes don’t even make sense. To accept you for who you are. To be honest with each others. And to allow me to bless them in all that I can. That is what a meaningful friendship is. Your heart will know who these people are.

14. No need to rush anything, life wasn’t meant to be a race.

The journey was never created to have a finish line. Just obstacles but no timer. Some easier ones to overcome, others much more difficult but can be done with strength and courage. There is not one single journey we all start with, just some paths crossed. I’d like to describe ourselves as marathon runners, not sprinters. A never-ending marathon runner where the journey is the reward, not the destination.

15. There is power in love.

Love your family. Love your friends. Love on strangers. Love yourself. With love shining so brightly in the heart, nothing is impossible. They do say that “the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart” and I most definitely believe that holds true.

16. Happiness is found in the daily blessings.

I’ve been asked so many times how I can smile without even having a reason to smile. Well let me tell you – I smile because there is always a reason to smile. The big things, the little things and the most random things in our daily routine can absolutely be the reason for our happiness. It just requires some searching but it’s so worth it.

17. Everything happens for a reason.

Every decision and every step in our journey was meant to happen for a reason. God created each one of us with a plan – all unique with no two plans that are the same. All our mistakes, our failures, our expectations, our struggles – He knows and He’ll never leave your side. He will always be there to guide your every step so allow any fears to be released for everything happens for a real good reason.

18. Even at our deepest struggles, there is always a way out.

In the moment of our deepest struggles, we tend to think that there is no way out and everything seems so impossible. But it’s really not. With strength and courage, everything and anything is possible. In my previous blog, I wrote about my deepest struggle that I hid for the last few years and I knew I had to finally release it. So I did. And it was honestly the hardest thing to do, but I did it anyways. And I believe you can too.

19. A season of rest is important when we are consumed in a society of productivity.

As a girl that loves to always be on the go and feels so uncomfortable in full rest, the concept of a season of rest is so difficult to understand. But I believe it’s so important. When I first thought of ‘rest’ – I honestly thought that it meant sitting there and doing nothing. And of course that’s not what it really is. I’m still learning to fully rest and put all thoughts of what I have to do later and rest in the idea that I don’t have to worry about the near future and rest in the present – the here and now and allow myself to indulge in all that around me in this very moment.

20. Doubts and assumptions are dangerous.

It was so easy for me to assume all that was being said and all that was being done was presented in the ways that my mind believed was true. But that is so detrimental to the mind. As much as we like to think that everything is the way we want it to be, it’s unfortunately not. We can only take things with a grain of salt.

21. Me time is important for growth and reflection.

Spending time alone, without any distractions is so essential. It allows us to sit back and really reflect on our day, soak up all our thoughts and ultimately, give all our worries to God. We live in such a world where all our deepest thoughts and questions are never brought to the surface, but let’s change that and allow it to be part of our daily routines.

22. Take people’s opinions with a grain of salt.

We all love to hear other people’s opinions – to be reassured that our own point of view is the same as other people. But there will be times where other people’s opinions does not align with ours. But that’s okay. We all have different perspectives and ultimately, we just have to respect that whether we choose to accept them or not.

23. Finally, don’t be afraid to try and take risks.

We’ll never know until we try – a very famous quote my parents love to tell me. If we are always sitting within the comforts of we are think we can do, we’ll never know what more we are capable of. Just because we are afraid of failure doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. If once you don’t succeed, try and try again.

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23. Just a number.
Unsure what the future holds.
But that’s okay.
I hope you accept your age as a number too.
And embrace all that this journey has to offer.