Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Is Not Christian

You know how weekends are supposed to be relaxing, a way for you to recover from the week?

Well my weekend didn't seem relaxing at all even though I got to spend it in peaceful Pennsylvania. Maybe it's because my work tolerance is very low and I need about three times the amount of time spent working to relax in order to properly recover.

Is that normal?

I just want to sleep in the grass outside somewhere for a few days straight then I'll feel motivated and fresh again...

Anyway, today after church I went to Mrs. Grace Kee's (lady in red) house for lunch. She's one of the new members at church who recently moved here from China. Her husband is currently attending seminary school nearby and their three children Elijah, Hannah and Enoch are trying to adjust to the new environment. The Kee family are Koreans but they are fluent in Chinese because they've lived in China for a while. The children however haven't had much practice speaking Chinese in a while and would rather communicate in Korean.

Mrs. Kee and I have been wanting to talk for a really long time because, well personally I don't know why I was so drawn to her in the beginning, but she told me that she used to work with young adults for Campus Crusade in China and so when she met me she was really glad to find someone in that age group that she was comfortable working with. Not to mention, I'm also one of the only people in church who speaks Chinese.

Sara Park (lady in the middle) is another new member at church and her husband who is a pastor in Korea is also attending seminary school. She's really soft-spoken and always smiling.

Somehow I guess instead of hanging out with lots of Russians I've been hanging out with lots of Koreans instead.

Outside the Korean supermarket today, there was a lot of church activity. There was a church choir performance, people handing out tracts and speaking to strangers about Jesus. The whole place seemed quite lively and reminded me of Glory Presbyterian Church in Singapore during lunch hour.

To the average person, it may seem odd that all these church people are gathering outside the supermarket. However there is really a deeper need and meaning for it.

Today is 31st October, the infamous night of Halloween. All across my school campus you can see students going out in their costumes, ready to get drunk till the wee hours of the morning. In suburban Pennsylvania, little kids and teenagers are going from door to door collecting truckloads worth of candy in their strange outfits.

For us Christians, Halloween is an anti-Christ festival. It is an event which celebrates the devil and the evil powers. Its subtle advertising in movies, songs, etc have made the holiday so popular that many forget the evil roots of this day. As a result, many Christians will celebrate Halloween and may invite unnecessary troubles into their lives.

As we gathered in church today, we were all aware of a spiritual battle being waged in the world, especially so on a day like this. However we all knew that we were all safe under the protection of God's love.

It was very encouraging to go grocery shopping and see that Christians everywhere felt the same way and even decided to speak up for Jesus on a day where people (deliberately or not) were celebrating evil.

While I used to think that donning costumes and going to a party or two on Halloween wasn't a big deal at all, I don't think that's ok anymore.

I think as God's children, we should stay far away from the roaring lion that stalks around, waiting to devour us. I will not expose myself to any subtle deception unnecessarily because that always ends in trouble. I get very sad when I see Christian friends downplay the seriousness of celebrating Halloween. I hope that God will open their eyes to what they are actually doing just as He has opened mine.

Let's keep to the straight and narrow path that leads to life at all times!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Last Collegiate XC Race

Hey I haven't been totally consistent with blogging now have I?

October is drawing to an end. That means it's time again to clear the calendar to make way for November.

Found a new hairstyle that I really like. I wear it to school all the time now.

Last week I asked my mom to cut my bangs for me but it ended up being a disaster. Now it's really short and awkward looking so I usually clip it up.

Random squirrels on the trash can.

My baptism certificate.


Thursday afternoon we left for Madison, Connecticut for our cross country championships.

The trip took around 2 hours.

We were thrilled to find that our race course was in Hammonasset Beach State Park.

Beautiful beach scenery.

All of us were busy walking around the beach and picking up stuff.

Then it was time to get to business.

We had to figure out the course before actually running it the next day. Although the paths were clearly marked with spray paint and rope, we still managed to get lost and ended up having to walk the course twice just to get it right.

After that, we went to the nearby hotel to drop off our things.

This is by far the best/cleanest hotel we have ever stayed in! It's even nicer than the one in Disney, Orlando. What's great is that this time, we only have two people in one room. We usually have up to four people sharing two beds.

Our sparkling clean bathroom.

My roomie was ecstatic to find complimentary coffee- her favourite.

That evening, the team went to Chuck's Margarita Grill for dinner. The rule however, was that we were not allowed to eat any seafood.

All the graduating seniors.

I ordered two fish tacos but could only eat one. They looked small but I definitely underestimated their filling power.

The next morning of the championships dawned cloudy and cold.

Temperatures were around 8 Celsius and colder with the wind chill.

However once you started running, the cold air was really quite enjoyable.

I did much better than what I expected. For the 6km race, I was expecting to run around 25:50mins since my last 6km race this season was around 27mins. However I ended up running 24:40mins- an improvement of over two minutes!

I am happy with the result, but not satisfied at all. It is only a waypoint for me; I still have 6 months left to drop time!

After the race we all went to the beach to take a group picture.


At that point I was super high from running and so I went for a dip in the sea. Everybody looked at me like I was crazy because it was cold, but actually I was still feeling really hot from the race. I was quite disappointed that nobody was willing to jump in the water with me.


After the race we drove about 3o minutes to Fairfield University for the MAAC Championship banquet.

Usually after MAACs for cross country and outdoor season, we have a banquet and award ceremony.

Albert made a funny face with his food.

Our table.

At the banquet, they basically gave out awards for the top runners, top coach, all-academic teams, etc.

The whole thing took about 2 hours.

On the way home, we had the misfortune of getting into really bad traffic. As a result, the ride home took almost 4 hours instead of 2.

Fast forward to Saturday morning (this morning), I drove back to Pennsylvania with my laundry and homework to be done.

I actually have a lot of thoughts to pen but I don't have the patience for it right now.

My head is just filled with thoughts of running running running... So I'm more occupied with watching running videos right now than blogging...

But I will blog more soon!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Past Weekend

Ok this post may be a little disorganised and random but I've at least tried to arrange it in chronological order.

Last Wednesday a dead cockroach appeared on the floor outside our apartment. It was probably fresh when I saw it because the janitors are usually very efficient with this sort of thing.

Being bored, I decided to do something stupid to it. I wrote a speech bubble on a post-it note and pasted it next to the cockroach.

Obviously the people on my floor who saw it knew instantly that it was me who did it. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing... Haha

My new favourite drink is this Aranciata-flavoured Pellegrino!

I first found it in an obscure deli in New York after a run at Van Cortlandt Park. I was actually looking for water but this can caught my eye. I didn't know that Pellegrino actually came in other flavours as well. So I took a look at the ingredients and there weren't any funny chemicals or ingredients added so I tried it.

One sip and I was hooked!

Amazing stuff! It's not too sweet like pure orange concentrate and has just the right amount of tang.

Ok skip skip skip to Saturday.

I brought my new Christian friend, Khadeen back to Pennsylvania with me so that we could attend church together. She's the friend I was talking about in my past posts.

It was nice to have dinner with my family again.

This Sunday, we celebrated Pastors' Appreciation Month by showing our *duh* appreciation to the pastors in our church. They are all hardworking people who love God and the church enough to dedicate their time and energy to serving full-time.

I have learnt a lot from these living examples of Godly men and women and feel blessed to have met them.

I missed Koshka so much! She apparently, doesn't miss me as much as I miss her. But at least she still lets me carry her around.

Check out the fall foliage! I'm guessing in about two weeks, there won't be any leaves left on the trees. Another fall passing by...

I have cross country practice in half an hour so I gotta go.

This Friday is our MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) Championships and it will be the last and most important meet of the season. The 6km race will be held up in Connecticut so we're leaving on Thursday, sleeping over Thursday night then running on Friday morning.

I feel fit and ready for action so hopefully Friday will good.

Gonna try to finish my pile of homework after practice so... that's all.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spiritual Developments

Ok I thought I had blogged about this before but glancing through my past posts, it turns out that I didn't really go in-depth about it.

You must be wondering what on earth am I talking about?

I'm talking about feeling far from God, feeling as though I want to hear His voice but He's not speaking to me and then wondering whether He's speaking to me but I'm just not listening and then getting confused and angry at myself.

I'm talking about failing to do things that God has commanded me to do- like keeping my itchy mouth shut and loving others unconditionally. Feeling disappointed at myself and like a big loser. Feeling unaccomplished and somewhat drained.

Almost like a lost puppy, knowing that I'm still attached to the leash but not being able to see where my owner is and if he's still holding onto the leash.

So I did the only thing I could do, which was to bark. Well, in my case, to pray. Pray pray pray... Asking God to turn His face towards me and to show me His will. To submit myself before Him and acknowledge my weaknesses. To ask what I want to ask instead of bottling it up and hoping that He would read my mind for me instead.

I pressed into the Lord and sought His face.


God has been downright faithful and has answered my prayer so overwhelmingly that I cannot express my gratitude.

His voice is like a cool refreshing shower after a drought.

Ok let me try to get more detailed here...

I was feeling really lost and wondering what God wants me to do next so I asked Him just that. And in my heart I felt that I simply needed to TRUST and OBEY.

At the beginning of this school semester, I had actually dedicated it to God and I asked Him to use this semester and to use me in school for His glory. To be honest, even as I prayed that, I wasn't sure that I could be of any use to God. I mean, I don't think a lot of people in school regard me as Christian (because everybody at school seems to call themselves "Christian" anyway) and I felt like I was the only one in a whole sea of people who cared about living for Christ at all.

A few days ago the little absurd idea of starting a bible study at school popped into my head. I followed that thought half-heartedly but stopped when I thought that no one would probably reply to my invitation to study the bible together once a week.

So it was just a fleeting thought, a passing one. And what Eileen said to me a long time ago about starting a bible study flashed briefly in my mind as well but I didn't take it seriously.

Well last night at school, I was randomly surfing around on Facebook and one of my track teammates posted a status saying something about no one wanting to hang out.

Strangely, even though there were many reasons I couldn't hang out with her (it was already 21:30 and I had practice the next morning at 08:30), I decided to comment on her status saying "you didn't ask me!"

Long story short, she ended up coming over to hang out in my room and we began talking about God and Christianity. It turns out that I'M NOT THE ONLY GOD-FEARING PERSON AT SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I was SO happy when I realised that this was God directly answering one of my prayers. I had asked God for a Christian friend at school quite a few times but I never thought He'd answer my prayer this way.

The funny thing is, as teammates, we never realised that we both had the same passion for God. All this time, I thought I was the only one who didn't like partying, who didn't believe in the worldly dating system, who didn't like cursing, who liked Christian music...

As we were talking and sharing about our lives, I suddenly found myself blurting out "we should have a bible study here". And as I said those words, I felt my brain go "oh no" and "oh yes!" at the same time.

"Oh no" because of my doubts. "Oh yes!" because it's another answered prayer.

But most of all, I was just so touched that God listens to my prayer and answers them just like that! *snaps fingers*

I cannot believe that with all my inadequacy, even though I am such a failure, that God is still willing to use me. I'm not hardworking, disciplined, considerate, patient or tender but even though I am so weak in all these areas, God still chooses to use me and He didn't let me go......

Anyway, it was simply a great night as God tied the pieces together. Even though I didn't go to bed until 02:00, I still felt refreshed and strengthened in spirit the next morning.

We are going to have bible study every Monday evening from now onwards. It is a strange thing to hold bible study in a Catholic college that requires every student to take theology classes- but I know that God's way is always the best way.

Please pray for us as we continue to serve the Lord!

Peace and joy to everyone out there who is persevering for Christ.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 8:38-39.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall Weather

Last night I went to the young adults' bible study C.L.I.M.B. (Christ Lives In My Body) again.

Before I got there, I really wanted some sort of answer from God. I didn't even really know what the question was myself, but I just wanted to hear some kind of answer.

And it turned out that what we were discussing were the questions that I didn't specifically know I had to ask.

Where am I going next? What do I need to give up?

At the end of it, we had to write down on a piece of paper what we felt the Holy Spirit had challenged us to do next.

I guess it's time for me to stop doubting and just DO IT.


Well the leaves are definitely losing their chlorophyll and falling off bit by bit. Last night temperatures fell to about 8 Celsius under an almost full moon. The sky was so clear and bright that it seemed as if it were daytime under the stars. It's crisp weather like that that makes me think of warm fuzzy socks and potatoes cooking under a fire.

Oh and guess what! I can officially swim freestyle! I finally learnt it this past Wednesday at swimming class and can now swim it without the help of a kickboard. Yay!!!!!!!!!!

I'm soooooo thrilled because swimming freestyle is so much faster than swimming breaststroke.

Anyway, that was the highlight of this week. And that's about all.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Struggling With Envy

I just came back from my swimming class about fifteen minutes ago and I still haven't showered.

Because the Wifi at school has been "under renovation" for the past two days, I felt that I MUST write a blogpost now before going about the rest of my stuff.

Anyway there's a particular thing that's been pressing on me for a long time now.

I realised that I get jealous very easily over stupid things.

I get jealous when other people seem to be enjoying themselves more than I am, when they're prettier, smarter, louder, quieter... It seems that no matter what the issue is, I can always find something to be envious about.

Which leads me to think that I'm not actually envious of any particular things or people. Ok, granted, there are a few people who are stronger "triggers" of my envy than others. But I think the core of the problem is simply that envy exists, in me.

It's been really aching in my heart now because that little seed of envy has grown into an obvious obstacle in some of my relationships. Somehow I can't get past treating the person better than myself because I want something that they have and I don't.

And to deal with that inferior feeling in my own twisted way, I end up visualising them as worse off than myself and then treating them likewise.

You could say that I've been caught idolising other things. Holding them in higher esteem over God.

I know that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God that is more precious than anything in the world. And that's what makes me even more upset- that my heart is so corrupted to long after something I know is worth nothing.

I know this is wrong and it's really hard to turn from this because envy is an automatic reaction in my mind. It's not like cursing when you can just shut your mouth. To turn off envy, I feel like you really need a change from deep inside your heart.

Lord, you see my weakness even better than I can identify it. If there is darkness hidden in my soul, please bring it to light and deal with it in your wisdom! I confess that I need healing in this aspect of my life. The voids which linger in my heart, the empty longings and worldly desire, please take them away and grant me a pure heart. Fill my heart with the Holy Spirit and whet my appetite with living water Lord! Help me to see others through Your eyes. Don't let me drift away from Your ways... All the relationships that are suffering due to my lack of love, I hand them over to you. I ask that You work miracles in these relationships and bring healing to my heart and the other person's as well. I ask in faith and gratefulness that You have listened to my prayer and will continue Your good work in me!


There's only about a month and a half left in the Fall 2010 semester, then we'll have a month off in December for Winter Break. After that, it'll be the Spring 2011 semester and then graduation in May 2011.

Time is flying and still I don't see any destination in sight.

Everyday seems crazier, like I'm sinking into an ever-expanding sea of homework and to-do lists. While the water was up to my waist before, now I feel that it's raging near my neck.

I keep wondering if I'm doing something wrong, or if God has already spoken and I just wasn't listening, or I'm ignoring His usual gentle whisper....

I don't know.

And the future still seems uncertain and scary...

Is it because my focus may be drifting off of God? I don't want it to be that way!

I really need to surrender ALL of myself, the good and the bad parts to Jesus. I can't handle myself. I should really stop trying to teach others too, if I can't even handle myself.


It's so hard to keep my mouth shut sometimes!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Messed Up Sunday


Sunday was a very busy day for me.

Now before you go on to read this post and think that I had a very fun day indeed, let me just say that I felt really disappointed in myself at the end.


Because I missed church on Sunday due to my careless time-keeping. I thought it was ok to go out after the cross country meet in the morning and still make it in time for church in the evening. I should have listened to that little voice inside of me saying "don't push it, the seventh day is God's holy day!"

But I kept saying "but". "But the weather is so gorgeous", "But it'll be the last beautiful day out!" "But I don't feel like sitting in the dorm all afternoon"...

And so... well I'll narrate the days events.

Temperatures were hovering around 10 Celsius on Sunday morning as we left for the cross country meet in Queens, New York.

The boys ran their 6km race first.

Then us ladies had to go to the starting line at 10:30. We were all freezing and my fingers were numb from the wind.

But we had to complete our 4km race somehow.

It turned out to be a great race. I really gave it my all and felt very happy with the end result.

While on the way back to school, I started getting the itch to go out. I really didn't want to be indoors all afternoon as the temperatures were rising to 20 Celsius and the sky looked lovely.

So I dragged a bunch of track teammates out to Central Park for a hang out session at the Great Lawn.

The Great Lawn is basically a big field of grass where people can come to lie out in the open. Mostly families and couples go to relax or play frisbee or football.

You're not allowed to honk in most of New York City. This is their effort in reducing noise pollution. Looks like Singapore isn't the only "fine city"!

Found an awesome tree on the way to the Great Lawn.

Everybody just standing around.

After *gasp* THREE hours of travelling, we FINALLY get to where we wanted to go!

It took three hours because of many unexpected delays along the way. It was really supposed to only take us one hour to get to Central Park...

Lying in the grass, looking at my tights which match the sky.

Telly and Natalia on their phones. As always.

Some of us played frisbee.

Others just lay around.


We only stayed there for 45 minutes. By then, temperatures had began to fall again and I needed to leave at 17:00 to get to church at 18:30.

However, miserable luck ensured that I never got to church.

The E train was rescheduled and we waited 20 minutes until we realised that it would never come.

So we had to wait for another train instead and got off at Canal Street.

From Canal Street, we had to walk another 15 minutes to World Trade Center to take the PATH train into New Jersey.

So by the time we got back to school, it was already 18:45.

Honestly, I had a lot of fun hanging out with the people that I see everyday at practice but never get to mingle with outside of the track.


And instead of resting, I walked all over New York City and came home with sore legs after an already tiring morning at the meet.

Somehow, I feel guilty too because I thought to myself that God would surely forgive me this time.

But isn't that belittling His commandment?

I know we are not saved by keeping God's commandments alone but by faith. Yet God also calls us who are born of His Spirit to live lives of holiness, shining as examples in this world of darkness.

What kind of example was I setting for my teammates by missing church and hanging out with them?


I guess as a person who's not very good at keeping time and following schedules, I shouldn't play with God's holy time since I'd probably mess it all up.

I should really really dedicate all of Sabbath to God, not just one third of it.

I don't want to drift away from you Lord! Help me stay close by Your side. I'm sorry for messing with the precious rest day that you have commanded me to keep. Help me to do Your will in Your time at all times!