Through the Land Before Time

After completing a strenuous 11 hour hike last year to reach the highest peak of Seorak, my friends and I knew we had to come back to hit the infamous Dinosaur Ridge Trail of Seorak. Nearly a year later, that is exactly what we did. We mentally prepped ourselves for what would be the longest day hike I would’ve committed to. It would begin at 3AM and end at 7PM. 16 hours. However, our more sensible airbnb host recommended that we skip the peak all together since we’ve done it and just hike the dragon ridge using another route. To be honest, I was SOOOO glad she recommended that because the Dragon Ridge was no stroll in the park even for your more seasoned hiker. It was definitely the most arduous hike I’ve encountered. BUT, it was also the most dynamic and fun hike I’ve done. The leaves were in their full fall colors. There were constant uphill and downhill battles. You had ropes to pull you up and ropes to prevent you from stumbling into a sprained ankle. There was a lot of crawling on my hands. A lot of deep breaths. Plenty of staring out into the distance moments. I mean .. there was lots of beauty to look at.

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Another hike with another hodgepodge of friends and new faces. This hike reaffirmed my fear of heights and I wondered if it’ll ever go away. Here’s a small recap. Kudos to So Myung Choi.

In This Corner of the World

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A beautifully crafted film with lovable characters and tender colors in the backdrop of war. Growing up, I learned a very one-sided narrative of the wars. The thing is every story has more than one. It’s made up of everyone involved recognized or not. This movie painted the life of one ordinary girl growing up during these war-ridden times. The difficulties and tragedies faced from her perspective. Someone who didn’t really get a say in whether she wanted a war or not. Nevertheless, breathed in and through it. Her life was filled with the mundane, sincere laughter, awkward moments, hard work, romantic frustrations, heavy guilt and sorrow, fear under the shower of bombs, delayed tears and incredible imagination. The beauty of this film for me was the hope. It reminded me of the verse in Romans 5 …

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character; and character hope.

Give it a watch.

04.29.18 Entry

oh captain
my captain
i seem to have lost my way
are you still aboard this ship?
could you be asleep?
or is it i that has jumped ship?
i feel lost.
not lost in the way of knowing you as reality
but lost in how to piece into your life
i lack the knowledge to fit into your shoes and attempt to even tie them
lost in my understanding of you and your word.
the infallible word written by fallible persons
the paradoxes.
the countless contradictions.
yet you claim constancy.
undeniable belief in your realness fails to escape me
however, i find myself shaken at the scrutiny of your word and the confusion that i uncover
illuminate is what the word is called to do, i suppose
confounds is what the word has done to me as of late
i seek something real, god
i seek something tangible
the word doesn’t seem so tangible nor sensible
i don’t want signs and wonders
i think i just want you. face to face. help me not to regret that part.
oh captain
my captain

Jordan Peterson VS Cathy Newman
wow. absolutely blown away by this woman’s audacity to make this man feel as uncomfortable as possible by rephrasing everything he says to fit her idea of him. continues to confirm my beliefs for awhile that extreme liberals have specific agendas to either mute or distort people’s freedom of speech. that extreme liberals seem to be some of the most intolerant people. glad he had that one ‘gotcha’ moment where she couldn’t fight him back.

02.18.18 Entry

“What if? Semy, what if you die and there is nothing? That’s the end of the story? What if?”

Doubt. Coming full force. Haunting me with its frequent visitations. Denial is preferable. But for how long? Brush it off like you usually do. Would be easier no? Would be easier than to go through the process of unbelieving everything you’ve come to believe. As I’ve dived into reading texts of all colors and backgrounds, I’ve been opened up to the possibility that all I’ve come to believe could simply be a result of what I’ve fed myself. What I’ve surrounded myself with. What if in fact, I’ve simply been consumed by what I’ve delved into. This way of christian living. “You become what you eat,” people say. Is it true? And to what extent?

Surrounded by christians. The church. The bible. The sermons. The songs. Oh the songs. Submerged myself to its ways until it became a part of me. Until I found myself. Or was it until I lost myself? To a point I believed there would be no return. Yet, here I find myself with questions. Questions I should’ve asked more often before I took the leap. But I didn’t. Instead, trust was given maybe a bit too readily resulting in the investment of a well-known commodity known as Jesus. Yesterday, I found myself in despair thinking that all of this could not be real. That this was all we humans got. One chance. One opportunity. One life. Nothing after. A terrifying thought. A hopeless thought. A liberating thought?

Conflicted. As I recounted the story of how God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Premeditated kill. Murder, no? Did I miss something in the story? We could agree to disagree. Sure the the ten commandments came after he asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Yet, if god was the same yesterday, today and forever, how could he put in his commandments not to kill? These thoughts led me to the bible. This book of words supposedly from god. God’s word. Why? Because the book says so. The only truth. A claim this book makes. More doubt. More questions. “How valid is it? Didn’t imperfect people write the words of this book? Moses wasn’t there in the beginning. How am I supposed to believe word for word the words of a book that claims to be the truth written by imperfect people?” It doesn’t make sense for me to be fully convinced. And quite possibly it’s for that very reasons I could be finding myself struggling with the ‘what if’. Maybe I’m trying too hard to make sense of it all.

Despite the war waging in my thoughts, I find myself defending the bible and god to others opposed. All the while, thinking to myself … “Have I gone so far, so deep into this way of life that now I feel there would be no way out?” It took incredible faith for me to believe in your wonders, but I realized that it would take an even more outstanding faith to ‘unbelieve’ them too. What can I do? What must I do?

The first thought. I must go back to my past. Rediscover the points in my life where God seemed real and tangible. Not just some story that I could’ve assembled, but something real. Sometimes, I think about a lot of my testimonies. I think about the time where I thought I had a sickness I could not cure on my own and was “healed.” Was I healed or did the sickness simply run its course through my body? My father who quit smoking after “prayer.” What if it simply coincided with the fact that his wife didn’t like it and told him to stop? The tears and feels from retreats. What if they were simply emotional highs triggered by a high spiritually stimulating and emotion-inducing environment like a football game?

The only story I would be able to recount that could have no man-made explanation is dreamlyn. The girl in the philippines. The girl I believe god healed through me. Could I have made that up too? The tears in her eyes? The tears in mine after I felt her swollen ankle become ‘unswollen’? Did her ibuprofen kick in? Could I have imagined her running back to her class with her healed ankle to create a better story? Could I have fathomed it or fabricated it to say that “God used me to heal too”? Doubt, where have you taken me?

What do I do? Maybe I need you to talk to me through a burning bush. Send me a pillar of fire! A little too much? Okay something more my generation. Send me a text message or an email. Not through some person but you. You can, can’t you? Heal my brother. Take away his diabetes. Do something impossible. Right now, I know that I might be acting like the Israelite in the desert when they complained. Even after they saw your glory in Egypt, they stopped believing in your goodness. They needed more. Needed water to flow out of a rock. Needed manna to fall from the sky. You gave them things that could not be explained by human rules and standards. Call me fickle, cause maybe that’s just what I am, but I think I need more. Please God. Say something … do something cause I don’t think I can give up on you.

Birds of a Lesser Paradise

Recently finished reading Megan Bergman’s “Birds of a Lesser Paradise.” A few honorable mentions from the short stories in the book that really tug at my heartstrings and conscience.

Yesterday’s Whales:

This story presented a man of incredible and stubborn conviction and a woman who was torn between two contradicting convictions. The man believed humans were the bane of all existence. That the only solution to all the problems in the world would be the extinction of the human race. The woman, his partner, grew to believe what he believed. She went through the motions and eventually adopted his convictions as her own. Eventually, “there were unspoken rituals and routines, books on the nightstand that reminded us what kind of people we were should we forget for a moment, or be tempted to change.” Then, the world seems to come against her by giving her a life inside of her own womb. Abortion is the man’s automated response without a second or third thought. Uncertainty was the woman’s response. In the possibility of being a mother, her thoughts wander to the idea of mothers. She thinks, “mothers i believe, intoxicate us. we idolize them and take them for granted. we hate them and blame them and exalt them more thoroughly than anyone else in our lives. we sift through the evidence of their love, reassure ourselves of their affection and its biological genesis. we can steal and lie and leave and they will love us.” She also remembers something her own mother shared with her about whales and she pictures “the mother whale, exhausted from labor, pushing her calf up to the skin of the water. the miracle of breath in the face of predation, life in the wake of whaling ships.”

The Artificial Heart:

The advancement of technology has made it possible to prolong life beyond it’s designated limit. Artificial hearts to replace ones that no longer function as it should. Causing struggle and angst between the living and a living machine. The main character had “become one of many cash-strapped caregivers with no children of her own – just the responsibility of an aging parent modern medicine had turned into an invincible robot, a robot puttering around outmoded and diapered, trying to make sense of tangled strings of thought.” Her father was tired of living but had a heart that prevented him from getting what he wanted. His daughter, his caretaker, would hold his hand, “half loving, half impatient.” When he would act out, she would feel like “a disappointed parent.” She would think, “his failings were now my own. I felt Dad’s pain acutely, but part of me wished my responsibilities were over. I was tired. The feeling reminded of the look I’d seen in a friend’s eyes as she repeatedly corrected her special-needs child, who bit the other kids in his playgroup – embarrassment, love, determination, fatigue.” Made me think about how far do we push modern science in order to play God. Is prolonging someone’s life the most loving thing to do or is it not? Who knows. But thoughts to be thought.