Archive for September, 2009

Waiting now

I’m starting this at 11:28 pm. It is the end of another long day, another day that goes by too quickly, where I have no downtime between finishing my work and collapsing on my bed. I have had so little time to collect my thoughts and dwell on them, and I really think it is bad for me. My routine: Work, work, work, feel bad that I didn’t get enough work done, then go to sleep, open my eyes in the morning, and do it all over again. I have become a zombie. But I don’t understand how. I spend time with God every morning before I eat breakfast and go to work. I pray for the day, that it might not be wasted, that God would teach me and give me kingdom opportunities. But somehow, I still feel like life has passed me by when Saturday comes.

With most of my law school apps completed and sent, I thought this week wasn’t as tiring as last week. My body is telling me otherwise. On Friday, even with an afternoon nap, I felt so destroyed. I felt so out of it at the gym. So after a somber dinner, I went to bed early and got 8 hours of sleep. By the time I got home in the morning today, though, I again felt tired. Reading was getting agonizing, so I took a 40-minute nap around noon. I ate lunch, then tried to read the same book again, ended up putting my head down while laying on the carpet stomach-down. I think I slept for an hour, and I even had a short dream (in comparison, I didn’t have any dreams this week). I have canker sores and nosebleeds and acne…all annoying reminders telling me I’m doing something wrong.

I don’t understand why I’m like this. I’m not pulling all-nighters, and I don’t have any real stressful things going on. I just sat here for 5 minutes thinking and I don’t know what to write. I can’t seem to snap out of this. I’m going to sleep again feeling like I haven’t gotten enough done.

As I write, I get random thoughts in my head, lessons that I need to remind myself of, but they’re not sticking. They’re not coherent. They’re not convicting enough for me to write down.

The only thing I know about myself after this reflection is that I am weak. And that I am blessed beyond what I deserve. I am sad that I am feeling so worn and I am sad to see it in a few of my friends. I don’t know what to do about it except pray that God would help me somehow.

I keep staring at the page feeling like there’s something I need to write. 12:12.

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Second draft almost there

Last week was incredibly busy. Even at midnight, I was like, dang it, there’s not enough time to do what I want and need to do. My lack of sleep caught up to me Saturday, and I was exhausted after dinner. I had already spent 3 hours working on my personal statement before dinner, so sitting again front of my computer after dinner to work on my sermon was no fun. It was so easy to lose focus and want to do other things. As of this writing, I haven’t done any of my reading that I was supposed to have done for my first day of class nor any of my reading and assignments for my next class, which is October 3. Man. But thank God for Sunday. Thank God for rest. I am ready to tackle this upcoming week and once again put in my hours of work. I was tired by the end of last week but happy that I worked hard, knowing I didn’t waste my time. And to rest after it all is wonderful.

I started my unpaid internship last week. The office is the main headquarters for a bunch of different e-commerce ventures, and all the partners are buddies from a business frat at UCLA. Most of them are in their late 20s. Some are recent grads (c/o 2008, 2009). The first day in the office, they had me and two other female interns (still in college) in their break room to teach us a bit about Internet search engines. At any given time, at least one of them looked like they were going to burst out laughing. For what reason, I had no idea. It was pretty annoying. The guy didn’t seem like he knew what he was talking about. One of the older guys never made eye contact with me as he spoke. They all seemed so…frat guy like. I had to pester my supervisor with questions just so that he’d explain to me what I should expect from the internship. Like many typical Asians, they never tried to make me feel welcome in the office. They just had me sit down at a workstation and do my own work, never asking me about school, my career plans, my interests. The first lunch was pretty retarded. I was the one initiating conversation. It seemed like the only thing the guys could talk about was business.

After a couple days in the office, I’ve been able to talk to them more, ask them how they got to where they are, and how they keep their startups going. It’s admirable, how even though they are all college buddies, they know how to get work done and make money. They are all very smart guys. Several of them have experience in investment banking and finance, a few have graduate degrees from Harvard, and a few are well-spoken and carry themselves well in workplace. In terms of business, they are respectable. There aren’t too many Asian entrepreneurs out there. Most Asian Americans in business go the structured track in banking, finance, or accounting. To see these guys taking the entrepreneurial risk and pooling together their resources and skill sets to help one another out is cool.

But as men, they have not earned my respect. Yeah, they may know how to get work done, but they still don’t seem to have grown up from the college, frat boy lifestyle. The bottle of Jack, the arcade board, and the Maxim magazine in the break room, the “Hot Chicks” folder on the network hard drive (not even kidding). I feel bad for the girls interning there. They must feel uncomfortable when they overhear the guys talking like guys do. One of the guys talks down to his employees like they don’t know what they’re doing. You wonder why none of them are married. One is engaged to be married sometime in the future and has his fiancee working as a secretary in the office. I asked her how long they had been together and she said 7 years. 7 years?! And they haven’t even decided on when they want to get married yet, just sometime next year. “Man,” I thought, “what was he doing the whole time?” Gotta man up and take charge.

So I’m praying for opportunities this week to be salt and light. I’m praying that I will work hard on my personal statement and apps this week. I hope that even though I am busy I will still have time to spend time with friends, to encourage and be encouraged, to grow with and learn from. I hope that we will all do our best this week to redeem our time.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24

Truly the young one

The first session for Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods with Prof. and Pastor Ben Shin was yesterday. I felt tired, waking up at 6:15 to be at class by 8. But then as the class went around for introductions, I found out some people drove from Thousand Oaks, Rancho Cucamonga, and even San Luis Obispo to attend class. My drive was weaksauce compared to theirs. Then, the introductions kept coming: married with two kids, married (and brought his wife to class), married (and her husband is attending another Talbot class just down the hall with their 9-month-old), an ex-Navy pilot and FedEx pilot who moved to the area from Tennessee (whom I just found out is actually Jake’s friend’s dad…small world), the occasional single person straight from college, an economist for The Gas Company, more married with children, a man who’s been married for 45 years and has 7 grandchildren, and a bunch of 1st gen Koreans.

The last thing we did in the afternoon was find the correct interpretation for Matthew 18:20. The verse that everyone uses for prayer meetings, fellowships, coffeehouse gatherings: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” After establishing that the context was church discipline, Prof. Shin told us a story from his second year of ministry. He had started a Bible study on Friday nights, and he was surprised to see the college kids coming to Bible study dressed so nicely. But they would all bounce right after the Bible study. One day, curious, he followed them after Bible study and found out they went to some club in Hollywood. He noticed one of these guys hung around a lot of the girls in the church. When he confronted him about his suspicious behavior, he straight up told him to his face, “My goal is to rob every girl in this church of her virginity” and something along the lines of, what are you going to do, stop me? To which he said, yes. So he confronted him again, this time with another leader in the church, and he was still unrepentant. Taking Matthew 18:15-20 to heart, the promise that Jesus would have his back through the discipline process, he decided to tell the whole church. It was an incredibly difficult decision for him, because there was a catch: the guy was the son of an elder, and kicking out the elder’s son wasn’t going to go over well with the senior leadership. So he prepared in advance a letter of resignation which he kept in his pocket as he called out the guy at the end of service, listing his sins and warning the congregation about him. When one of the KM pastors came up to him after hearing about it, he gave him his letter of resignation, but to his surprise, he ripped it up and said, “You do not have to resign. Today we kicked out his father for the same reason.” This, of course, took him completely by surprise because he had known nothing about it.

He returned to his office to find a line of dozens of people from the ministry outside his door. And person after person came forward to repent of their own sins. When I heard this chills ran through my body…not just because of how crazy the story was and how God used the courage of the church leaders to bring people to repentance, but the fact that he talked about it so matter-of-factly. This was just the second year of ministry, he said. And the way he said it, I knew that he probably faced so many more intense issues just like that. I couldn’t imagine being a leader in the midst of that kind of sinfulness within the church.  We were all motionless in our seats, no more rustling to pack up our laptops and books to go home. What a powerful testimony of God’s grace in a very messed up church. I couldn’t imagine myself having to handle a situation like that. I have much to learn…

After class ended and most of us filed out, I introduced myself and talked to the guy who drove from San Luis Obispo at 3 am to get to campus. He’s 34 years old, married for 10, and an Army chaplain (the Army was doing drills in San Luis Obispo; that’s why he was there) and has served at a Korean church in LA for 6 years. He knows Korean, English, and Spanish (and has a total cholo English accent because when he first came to the States, there were so many Hispanics around him that his first language in America was Spanish!), and that would have been inspiration enough for me. But even just his introduction was gripping…the next day he was resigning from his leadership position at church because it was getting too difficult for him. An overtime job in part-time disguise, getting home at 1 or 2 am, which was straining his marriage, then being told by senior staff that he had to choose either the church or his marriage. And they were suggesting to him that he couldn’t keep attending the church if he stepped down from leadership. It was very sad to hear. But to hear his heart for the lost sheep in the Army was so incredibly humbling. The church thinks he’s copping out and taking the easy route by working in the Army and getting a salary, but he told me about how desperate these men are for God, how not even 10 minutes after meeting them for the first time and sharing the gospel with them, they are in tears and asking how they can be saved. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. I have much to learn…

I read a blog post recently that talked about how pastors can get depressed. The beginning is about Charles Spurgeon and an event that happened at his church that caused him to become very depressed. Many believers just don’t know the burdens of being a pastor…

I have a lot of work to do, with law school apps and a part-time job and unpaid internship and school. There is no time to waste. Got to be faithful with each day and be diligent with my responsibilities. Because I don’t see my friends as often as I did in college anymore, I wish they would write more in their blogs. There is so much we can share with one another, about what we have been learning and where we’re headed and what goals we have for the future. Is it because we are beginning to enjoy privacy and distance now that we are getting older or because we don’t feel like setting aside the time? Are we actually too busy to write or are we too unmotivated to write? Or maybe it’s because the post-grad life is starting to wear us down and we have nothing worth writing about anymore? I hope not. Whatever the case, I’ll keep writing…thank You Lord for the soul stirring.

First draft complete

After finishing my first draft after a solid week of working on my personal statement, I took a break after lunch today to read through more of the 55 Successful Harvard Law School Essays. I read a bunch of yawners, including one that did what most admissions committee members would put in a list of DON’Ts: writing about writing the personal statement, especially about how difficult it is. How did this guy get into Harvard? Must have been an insanely smart theater major…

But wowzers, after reading this one, I just have to share it with somebody. I give all the credit to Ms. George, the author:

Among cherished hobbies and interests, I hold particularly dear my ability to make people’s heads vanish. I intend this statement in the least metaphorical sense possible, for encroaching blindness has given me superpowers. With a simple redirecting of my blind spots, a stained shirt is rendered clean; a dinner bill is reduced by factors of ten; and a distinguished professor is morphed into a headless body, arms flailing animatedly in an intriguing demonstration of his point. To be sure, blindness is never a dull companion.

I was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a juvenile form of macular degeneration, at seventeen. While I’ve retained the mobility of a sighted person due to my peripheral eyesight, the fine vision necessary to read books, see street signs, or recognize friends is mostly gone. Though victory despite adversity is often touted as the greatest challenge of a disability, this is the secret about my blindness: fighting is not the hard part. Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t always easy. My vision often requires more planning and a different approach. But challenge is an irresistible temptress. Edit Let’s Go: Europe or direct Room 13, then add blindness to the mix—the product is a precious and unique brand of confidence. Much harder than overcoming my limitations is admitting to them. Afraid the elusive line between letting go and giving up would fade with my vision, I spent my first two years of college “passing” for a fully sighted person. I refused to use magnifiers in class, pretended to see things I couldn’t, and worked to keep my disability a secret.

Al showed me the pace and strength born of acceptance. Each plain, white door at Chilton House Hospice is adorned with a dry-erase board. His read, “Al: A Friendly Guy.” I sat with Al every Sunday for the last four months of his life. One evening, his hand trembled so violently he was unable to hold a fork. I offered to help, and Al accepted. Afterward, he declared, “That was the best dinner I’ve ever had.” Al made this claim after every meal, but this time his words catapulted beyond endearment and landed in the realm of the sublime. I fought tears as my irrational equation of disability and weakness came blissfully crashing to the ground. Al had lost the ability to feed himself, but as he sat back, Lincoln-like in his tall armchair, I had never seen a person look more dignified.

Inspired by Al’s courage, I decided it was time to change the way I dealt with my own impairment. In perfect personal-statement splendor, the peak moment of my experience as a blind person occurred on top of a mountain. My junior year of college, I tried blind skiing. The sport involves verbal cues from a sighted guide and orange safety vests. For me, the scariest part of blind skiing was not barreling down a mountain with no usable vision; it was putting on the bright orange vest that said, “Blind Skier.” Fiercely independent, I had long feared the day when I would not only have to acknowledge my limitations, but inform those around me of them as well. As I stood at the top my first ski run since high school, my hands shook, and my large red mittens refused to cooperate with the vest’s small fastening hooks. My guide offered his help, and I accepted. It was the first time I was easily identifiable as a blind person, and to my great surprise, the world did not crumble. The sky did not fall. To the contrary, a previously uncharted world of convenience and understanding emerged around me: the chair lift slowed, other skiers kept their distance, and life was easier than it had been in a long time.

I returned to Harvard with the wisdom that acknowledging limitations opens new possibilities. That spring, I cosponsored a fundraiser for the Foundation Fighting Blindness and gave several speeches, including one to the College Council. Marvin Bell writes of losing vision: “Autumnal light/gave to ordinary things the turning/beauty of leaves, rich with their losing.” Blindness is indeed a beautiful and enriching loss—the gems of wisdom my shattered vision reveals remain my most treasured life lessons. So, when the daily grind of low vision wears me thin, I imagine a day when I’ll go soaring down that mountain once more: I throw my poles behind me, crouch firm against the wind, and shoot a smile to the headless skier next to me. It’s a beautiful place to be.

p. 123-125, 55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays

My first Talbot class meets tomorrow. I hope it’s fun, even though it goes from 8 am to 4 pm. Going to be a busy weekend. Trying to get most of Sunday prep done before tomorrow. For some reason I never really told people that I was taking a class at Talbot. Maybe it’s because I’m not doing it because I feel a calling to be a pastor, but for other reasons, which I can share with you if you ask me. This is the first time my dad has ever told me it’s totally fine if I get a B or C in school. HAHA. How ironic, on the surface.

Never has writing about myself been so hard

I’ve been working on my law school personal statement since the middle of July, and it’s been the longest time I’ve ever spent on two pages in my life. The first few brainstorming sessions were so agonizing. What in the world am I supposed to write about? How do I get a bunch of old admissions committee members to pay attention to my story and my life for a few minutes? About a month passed where I’d write topics and try to write a couple bullet points and none of it would stick. I thought everything I wrote was cheesy or would turn out cheesy if I tried to write about it.

The thing that made it hard for me was that the change I’ve gone through as a person, the person I am now, isn’t a result of one or two crazy life experiences like it is for some. I read a bunch of the essays from 55 Successful Harvard Law School Application Essays, and some of them were so impressive. Impressive because of how eloquently they wrote about an experience that deeply impacted them, but also because they could do it in 5 paragraphs, 600 words! Some weren’t impressive in the way they were written, but they became impressive because of their content. I realized after reading them that there is no magic formula to a personal statement that will lead to an acceptance. There’s the typical “Asian person regurgitating her resume” essay. There’s the studying abroad and becoming fluent in a language essay–some boring, some very captivating. There’s the unique identity essay–the Norwegian, the half-Italian, half-Chinese, the Eastern European Jew. There’s the crazy work experience and “I know exactly why I want to go to law school” essay. These all gave me ideas about how I could structure my essay. But once I got rough paragraphs and chunks onto paper, and the more I began to write and discard, write and discard, the more I began to green-light the sections about my experience as a PK and serving at church.I knew it would be a must-have section of my PS, but having it take up the majority of it was something I didn’t plan.

It’s been hard coming up with specific anecdotes and scenes to show how I’ve matured and developed as a result of being a PK. I really, really hope that the end product will be somewhat of a interesting read. I want them to see me as a deep person with a compelling story, that even though I didn’t start my own business or non-profit, even though I didn’t do Peace Corps in Africa, even though I didn’t write a senior thesis on some obscure, dying language on a remote island, even though my most significant work experience was reading fatal accident reports from Georgia, and even though I didn’t even go on missions overseas, I am still a mature and well-spoken and intelligent person and will add something valuable to their entering class.

So I will do my best on this essay and leave the rest to God. I’m really at the mercy of the adcoms once I send in my apps. For the top schools, the essay will be what pushes me over the fence, because there is nothing special in my resume. I’m excited to see where God will lead me next and am looking forward to great things in this next year.

Need new Bible study material

We finished our Bible study book on Ephesians two weeks ago. It was a little wordy and academic-sounding at times, but that’s what I get for ordering from Westminster Bookstore. Can anyone suggest some good Bible study books that they’ve gone through? It doesn’t have to be Bible study per se, like in-depth verse-by-verse. I just don’t know what’s out there that’s both solid and easy to read.

God’s riches at Christ’s expense

Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

I told a brother yesterday that when I write, I like to sit down and write a lot.

Oops.