Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Switching Gears

Today I came to the realization that I am actually a very artistically driven individual— art is what fulfills me. There are a lot of things that I am interested in and are intrigued at, business plans, philosophy, politics, literature, film, math even—but what truly makes my heart beat, is art. There's nothing that melts my heart more than seeing an artist express themselves through some form of brush and canvas; there is nothing that makes me happier, than expressing myself through some form of brush and canvas.

I must have known this all along, but somewhere along the way, I started believing that I was a success driven person. Like Carol (see her entry here), I believed that a certain position at a certain company will make my life perfect and solve all my problems. But of course, like Carol, I was chasing after all the wrong things.

A lot of people see me as the artsy type because I enjoy crafts and projects, but no one really sees me as an artist. It’s because I don’t act like one. I think I gave up that identity when I decided not to go to art school. Once I entered business school, I moved even further from that persona: putting on the business cap and telling myself that I’m a business person. I think because I never went the artist route, I denied myself the right to behave and act like an artist. I’ve neglected art for a long time, and as a result felt lost and uninspired for just as long. I don’t think it would be too far from the truth if I said my brain was the most stimulated when I was in middle school, when I did art every day. I was among a couple several kids who wanted to go to art school, so we took every chance we had to go to the art room and study from my art teacher. Drawing, painting, and creating were the most important things in my life. After I moved to America, I continued with art classes in high school and college, but with far less intensity and never with a mentor as good as my middle school art teacher. To this day, I still yearn for the kind of fulfillment I felt as a young artist.

Subconsciously, I’ve settled uncomfortably for a path which society tells me to be the right . Even event planning, something I am undoubtedly passionate about, has became a career path rather than what it should be—a way to express myself. I remember chatting with my art teacher when I was back in Taiwan this Summer. Even while I admired the way he lived, his views on life, his visions and passions, I was thinking to myself, “your life is too different from his; you will never be where he is now”.

But how silly was I—to limit myself just because I didn’t pick a certain path? Whoever said that because I didn’t make a living with a paint brush, I can’t think like an artist and live like one? With this new realization in mind, I examined my life and decided that this will be the end of me planning my life around my job, my next move in my career, and what society expects of me. I’m going to start doing things that make me happy and fulfill me. I am switching the gears of my identity from “Lillian the girl who wants an event planning job” to “Lillian the artist who will create beautiful events”. And already, I am excited for the endless possibilities.


Saturday, September 12, 2009


Though Autumn doesn’t officially begin until another week or so, the month of September’s arrival and the cool weather sure feels like the start. It only seems right for me to pay tribute to the ending season.

I didn't know it then, nor did I realize until now that the summer of 2007 was my last real summer. It would be my last summer as a single woman, my last before becoming a mom.

In retrospect, it was an amazing summer. It started with a trip to Hong Kong , with a man I was absolutely smitten with. Though, my smitten-ess with this man also ended during this time. I travelled to three continents I had never been to: Asia, Australia, South America. I was prophesied over the first time. And I encountered a miracle of God this summer.

A friend of mine had been holier than usual this season of 2007. He was high on holiness, devouring all things Christian. So when he invited me to a gathering of Christians where we’d get to meet a real life modern day prophet, it was a no brainer I’d be there.

When he invited me, he failed to mention that the prophet doesn’t speak any English and that everyone there is at least 20 years older than us. But whatever, I was about to meet a modern day Moses.

The prophet only spoke mandarin. While he spoke his prophesy over me, a man next to me simultaneously translated. I was hearing Mandarin one ear and English the other. No doubt, the message was lost and diluted in translation. From what I did understand, the key message was that I will come upon a crossroad soon. At this crossroad, I will have to make a very important decision, a decision that will change the course of my life. With either one, I will be with God, however, one will prove much more difficult and challenging than the other. Something like that.

This prophesy didn’t make much sense to me at the time, it only made me weary of what important crossroad I will come upon, what difficulty I might face in the future. Now, in hindsight, I know much too clearly.

Weekls later, I was sitting in Boston Common one morning writing in my journal and meditating on God. I felt that God was imprinting on my heart to remember. To just remember. Remember the intimacy I shared with him this summer. Remember his nearness. Remember his Love. I kept repeatedly writing down the word, ‘Remember.’

Later, I gather up my things to leave, and start to exit the park. When I’m almost near the gate, I walk by something inscribed on the cement floor. Something in me tells me to go back. I return, and take a picture of it with my cellphone. For the mere fact that it was written in nice fonts and I’m a huge sucker for fonts. And that’s when I saw it. What the words were on the floor. The words said on the ground read: “Garden of Remembrance.”

I would not have made it through the 9 months of pregnancy and the days that followed had it not been for God and his love. Upon finding out I was pregnant, my first thought was, “My mom is going to kill me!” But the next immediate thought was to surrender to God. Everything that I had depended on was stripped when I became pregnant – boyfriends, looks, my independence, my future.

With all those things taken away, I was finally forced to only depend on God. And for the first time in my life, I learned to depend on friends. On family.

Some may say that my encounter with those words “Garden of Remembrance” 3 years ago is only a matter of coincidence, or at best, a matter of fate. But to me, fate is only the secular word for God’s will.

Three years have passed since I first came across those words, almost a year has passed since I was utterly dependent on God, but I hope to always Remember. Remember his love and his grace, his intimacy and his tenderness. But to also Remember the state of being so completely reliant on something other than myself, and to Remember that that is the key to life.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New York

I had a small glimpse into single life in New York this past weekend. For about 5 hours, Jeremy was with my mom while I scheduled back to back dates with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I took the subway into Manhattan from Flushings, trying to pose and pass as a New Yorker until I needed to confirm with my map that I’m heading to the right place.

As I got out of the subway and headed upstairs to the street, New York came onto me naturally. Without struggle, I started pacing myself as quickly as anybody else; maneuvering between the crowds, waiting impatiently at red lights, walking with purpose. It felt so good to be in the city. In the midst of activity. In the heart of everything.

I went from one pinkberry to the next, one restaurant to the next, ecstatic on good conversations and good company. But mostly, from the rare freedom I was experiencing. It had been a while since the last time I was alone in the city. I lost myself in these dialogues, believing that I was just like my friends in that moment – free to do as I chose with my night, free to stay out as late as I wanted to.

The euphoria that came along with such freedom didn’t last long however. Soon, my real identity knocked at my soul. And with that, the realization that I’m not like them. The mother in me started to miss my son. I then felt like I was missing a limb. Still able to function and get by, but not fully comfortable in my own skin.

Truth is, my being no longer makes sense without a 20-lb baby strapped onto me. Although at times I relish the independence, it’s never long before my arms, my heart, my entire being ache for my baby. My Jeremy.

I live a dual life. While I am a 23 year old single woman, I am also a 23 year old single mom. I don’t have the complete freedom my 20-something friends have, but I also have more freedom than my married parent friends. This is an identity I’m still learning to adapt to. How to make time for myself and my goals but still spend enough time with Jeremy. How to be a mom and a single woman.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jaeson Ma

One of my spiritual heroes is Jaeson Ma.

I first heard about Jaeson Ma from my youngest brother, Alex. He had gone to a Christian conference called Nyack over a long weekend. When he came back, he was a changed man. He kept raving on and on about this amazing speaker named Jaeson Ma.

What amazes me about Jaeson’s life is how much Jaeson trusts, turns, and depends on God. And in return, I’m amazed at the many and different ways God blesses him.

In this world, we can strive for greatness or we can depend and look to God for our greatness. When we try to do it on our own, our achievements are limited. But when we depend on God for our achievements, when we depend on the supernatural and the spiritual, there are no boundaries. God breaks through any barriers.

Jaeson Ma’s recent project is a great example. Ever since he was little, Jaeson aspired to be a rapper. An Asian rapper. If he were to rely on his own capabilities, he very well may have gone on to rap. But because he relied on God’s strength and not his own, because he sought God first, God blessed him with more than he could ask for, blessed his talents. And as a result, Jaeson recently put out a single that’s unlike any genre of music. It’s a genre divinely inspired. It’s music inspired by God.

Whenever I start to plan for my success and figure out the steps I need to make to get there, I remind myself that my ways are so limited. Recently, I keep coming back to this idea that I can seek after my success, yes, or I can look to God for my success. I can be the best that I can be, or I can be the best God that can make me.

Why settle with our human limitations? Why not strive for more, for what has no limits?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Beginning of...

The very first time I met Carol was at church on a Friday night.
Our first conversation was her asking me about Hong Kong TV shows.
I think "Do you watch TVB?" were her exact words.
I remember being intimidated by her...

Her confidence-- in approaching someone new;
Her style-- I specifically remember this look of hers, where she would layer a white T underneath a black one with the white sleeves poking out a little;
Her "mature" perspective in life-- when I was using some stupid Applebee's jingle which I can no longer remember for this tagline game we were playing, she was using "Maybe it's Maybelline";
She became close friends with this girl at church that I thought was cool, and it seemed like they would do all kinds of fun things I didn't know about together;
She went out to parties with people I wish would invite me to hang out with, at clubs that I wish I knew about....
Everything about this girl intimidated me.

One of the most tried and true facts in this world is that women bond over the inadequacy of men. Carol and my friendship started from what she calls "shared misery".
I don't even remember how it began, but we started venting to each other about our awful boyfriends, and just like that-- our friendship started blossoming.

Shortly after we started getting close, I had to leave the country for 3 months. I half expected us to lose touch while I was away-- But somehow our friendship didn't grow apart from the distance. We overcame time difference problems and managed to talk/email/facebook/msn each other almost everyday. I spoke to her more than I did to my boyfriend; yet at times I would still miss her more than I missed him.

Now more than 2 years later, after fashion shows, shopping trips, operas, sleepovers, major crying sessions at movie theaters, haircuts, business ideas (nail color mixing kit anyone?), a lot of yummy foods, church visits, and a wonderful baby named Jeremy Asher Tran, we are still going strong, keeping each other sane, and sharing little discoveries in life.

We've grown so much since the days of me being intimidated by her. Carol has been the best friend/listener/advice giver/companion I can ask for, and my appreciation for her goes beyond words.
We started this blog because we wanted a place to record our friendship, we titled it "Grace Inspired" because we want to build each other up to be the best versions of ourselves -- to face the challenges in our lives with grace. With the "official launch" of Grace Inspired, I am asking you to join in our journey to becoming the best of what we are and share in our dialogue of living grace inspired lives.


A Funeral

As you may (or may not) know, Lillian and I had seriously considered using the name "Two Girls One Blog" for our site. However, due to what it reminds everyone of, we decided to let it go. It seemed only fair that we take a moment of silence to remember the name. What better way to do that than with a funeral.

Dearly Beloved,

Today we gather here on this humble forum to celebrate a short, but well lived life. The life of 'Two Girls One Blog.' And though her fame short, she will always be remembered for her ingeniusness, her creativity, and her wit. It is a shame that her evil twin sister outlived her. The evil sister that ended up killing her. Natural death is heartbreaking as is, but when it is murder, and by a family member, there are no words for such tragedy. Justice will prevail and I know she will be fairly punsihed according to the internet gods.

Though it was only a short moment in time that I knew you, I will always wonder our future, what could have and what would have been. We came so close, and yet we are so far now. But it is all for the best. I wish you well, my friend.

Here's to you, 2G1B, may you live on in our memories forever, and may you find rest.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Hunt

Lately, I have been applying to jobs. For THE dream job. On average, I would say that I apply to 2-3 positions a day. In the midst of this job hunting frenzy, it becomes so easy to think, “If I only got that position, I would be so happy. Life would be so good. I would have made it.” It becomes so easy to associate your identity with a job.

You know you’ve made an idol out of something when you can’t stop thinking about it day and night. And when you can’t stop fantasizing about how happy it will make you. I’m constantly daydreaming about the font on my business cards, my title position, the office I’ll have and the assistant that needs to come along with it.

When I’m not applying for a job or writing a cover letter, I am looking for jobs to apply to. Day and night, I am seeking that perfect position that I am called to fulfill.

In the midst of this, I was reminded that the final destination is not the window office. Tonight, as I was rushing to get Jeremy into bed so I can resume the job search, God imprinted a passage on my heart:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

I’ve been seeking jobs much more frantically and passionately than I’ve been seeking God. In any given day, I devote 3 hours doing things that are job-hunting related. Doing things that are God related, like even bothering to read the bible? 30 minutes. At best.

Hearing this song by Phil Whickam was what also brought me back to reality tonig
ht. I was captivated by it and for the first time in days, I felt at peace. I realized that whether jobless or career-driven, homeless or living in my dream house, none of that can shake the love God has for me. None of that changes how God sees me. My identity isn't in what I do.

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”