Follow Your Passion And Dreams

It’s 2019, another year has passed.  What I learned the most in 2018:  follow my passion and live out my dreams.

I recently shared these quotes with a really good friend, who has and continues to live out his dream for over 15 years now.  I want to share these with anyone and everyone who hopes to do the same (and for me).

If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s this – when there’s something you really want, fight for it.  Don’t give up no matter how hopeless it seems.  And when you’ve lost hope, ask yourself 10 years from now.  You’re gonna wish you gave it just one more shot because the best things in life, they don’t come free.  – Grey’s Anatomy

It’s hard to wait around for something you know might not/never happen; but it’s harder to give up when you know it’s everything you want.

When you feel like quitting, think about why you started and why you held on for so long.

Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe in the one reason why it will.

Take chances when you are young so that you can tell stories when you are old.

Believe in your dreams.  They were given to you for a reason.

It’s better to know and be disappointed than to never know and always wonder.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic.  It takes sweat, determination, and hard work.

There are three kinds of people:  those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what the heck happened.

Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.

You didn’t come this far to only come this far.

Never quit.  If you stumble, get back up.  What happened yesterday no longer matters.  Today is another day.  So get back on track and move closer to your dreams and goals.  You can do it.

A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.  A goal broken down into steps become a plan.  A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.

Sometimes the strength within you is not a fiery flame for all to see.  It is just a tiny spark that whispers ever so softly, “You got this, keep going.”

God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.

There is no wine if grapes are not pressed, no perfume if flowers are not crushed.  If you feel any pressure in life, it means God is bringing the best out of you.

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.  So Explore, Dream, Discover.  – Mark Twain

A professional is an amateur who didn’t quit.

If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.

The path from dreams to success does exist.  May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it.

Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go.  You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.

If life was easy, where would all the adventures be?

God never gives you a dream that matches your budget.  He’s not checking your bank account.   He’s checking  your faith.

 

We all have dreams and passions.  They were given to us for a reason.  Are we willing to be brave and courageous enough to put them into action and live the life we want to live, or set them aside and hope one day we’ll get to them like everyone else but then it will be too late?

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

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Unlearn What I Have Learned

We’ve all learned a lot of things growing up, from school, from our parents, our siblings, church.  But as I grow older, I am realizing that there comes a time when you need to unlearn what you have learned.

Something I had to unlearn recently:  It’s okay to take care of me and do what I love.

SELFISH, It’s the most dangerous fish – I have always heard growing up that you’re being selfish when you don’t put others before you.  You should always honor your parents and listen to what they tell you to do.  You shouldn’t do what you want.  Otherwise, you’re being too selfish.

Thus, I was putting my family first, especially after we lost my sister.  I tried to be the best daughter.  I didn’t want to disappoint my parents; I wanted to make them proud.  I tried hard to fill my sister’s shoes and patch up that void that we all knew was missing the day she passed away.  When my parents needed help, I rushed to their aid.  I did what they wanted me to do.  But, I got tired and frustrated, and mad, and sad because they didn’t show any appreciation.

I was also putting my husband first because I felt like I owe it to him.  When he decided to be with me, he lost quite a lot.  He lost his job in Taiwan because of me.  My aunt who worked at a bank at the time knew his boss.  His boss made things difficult for him at work, cutting his hours, cutting his wages to a point where he either had to accept it, or quit.  His boss told him if he broke things off with me, things can go back to the way it was.   He chose to leave his job instead…a place he’s worked at for many, many years.  He then decided to come to the US with me so we could be close to my family.  When he came over, he didn’t understand a word of English.  But because of me, he was willing to move to a land very foreign to him, start off fresh with nothing except two suitcases and $4000 in my bank account.  He also has to deal with my family.

After doing all this for many, many years, I was not happy.  I realize I stopped taking care of me.  When you do things for you, it’s not being selfish, it’s self-care.  I need to take care of me so that I can offer the best version of me to other people, so I can take better care of them.

Something else I had to unlearn:  Reality is nothing like what I thought it would be like growing up in the church.

See, my parents are the kind of parents who weren’t into much of that “parenting” stuff.  They think the church would teach me everything I needed to know about life, about growing up, about adulthood.  But I am beginning to realize there are a lot of things the church taught me that are very contradicting.

Growing up in the church protected me from all the bad things, but it has also sheltered me.  My understanding of the world was distorted.  Church made life easy because everyone was accepting of each other.  No one is against you.  So I had perceived that things would come easy out there in the real world too.

But in reality, life is hard.  Things really don’t come easy in life.  Nothing is handed to you on a silver platter.  You’re not entitled to anything.  Not everyone is for you, and most are against you.  If you want something, you have to work hard and fight to get it, and not give up and retreat.  It’s also not about waiting for something to happen.  You have to make things happen for you.

Today also marks twenty-one years since I last hugged my sister, talked to her, heard her voice or seen her smile.  Still not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.

This year has been a little different though.  I realize I have cried a little less, and smiled a little more.  Maybe it’s because I have a newfound joy…finding my passion again and doing something with it, to take care of me.

Pursuing my passion hasn’t been easy.  I am learning it’s taking a lot of hard work and commitment and grit.  But, I love every minute of it.  I don’t worry too much about the outcome or whether I get to where I want to be.  Rather, I’ve been encouraged to learn to enjoy the process and the journey itself, because you are doing something you love.

13 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13 NIV)

 

Birthday Reflection – My Dream And Passion

My birthday is coming up.  I don’t celebrate my birthday much but it is always a time of reflection for me.  I am a year older but I am still learning about life.  And God still works in mysterious ways.

I’ve shared that many people came into my life, but many also walked out.  I remember reading somewhere about reasons why people enter your life.  They come for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  The people that enter your life never enter by accident.

When someone enters your life for a reason, they come to assist you through a difficulty, provide you with guidance and support.  They are there for a reason you need them to be.  But this relationship will come to an end, by them walking out, or them dying, or by lost connection and their work is done, our need has been met.

When someone enters your life for a season, these people bring you an experience, they help you share, grow or learn.  These relationships teach you something, but only for a season in your life.

Then there are the people who come for a lifetime.

I didn’t think the people that passed away were people that only came into my life for a reason.  But because of them leaving, either my life took a different path, or I learned valuable lessons.

After my sister passed away, I learned about her heart for the lost and her desire to share the gospel.  That’s when I started going on mission trips.   My first missions trip, I went to Tijuana with my home church.  The second time, to Taiwan with a friend from college who was leading the group.  If it wasn’t for that missions trip, I wouldn’t have decided to take up an internship to Taiwan that wrote a new chapter in my life.

As for three friends who were a part of my life growing up but passed away, I learned what it means to be a true friend.  I’m just sad that it took me losing them to realize this, and I just wished I could have been better friends to them.

Unison fellowship and the church I grew up in were important for a part of my life.  There were definitely a lot of laughs and a lot of memories.  I don’t think I would have survived my teenage and young adult years without this group of friends.  But it was also the first time I learned that friends can let me down.  I learned a lot about friendships because of these people.  And growing up in the church taught me principles to help me make the better decisions in life.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without that.  But life took us all on different paths, and people walked out.  It took me a long time to accept the fact that these friends I grew up with in church were only meant to last for a season of my life.

The people who are meant to come into my life for a lifetime, they are the people who truly have the greatest impact.

Middle of last year, I finally tracked down a long lost friend.  This person has been absent from my life for almost 25 years.  I didn’t expect him to re-enter my life, but like I said, God works in mysterious ways.

He was part of Unison fellowship, but before I graduated from high school, he disappeared.  I never forgot him though.  In fact, I felt a nudge telling me that I shouldn’t give up tracking him down.  I felt it for many years, and it took me many years because no one I knew kept in touch with him.  He’s not on social media and he doesn’t show up on any google search.  It was like he disappeared from the face of the earth.  But, when there’s a will, there’s always a way.

After many years, I finally found his brother who helped me reconnect with him.  It’s after talking to him all these months that I realize there are many reasons God brought his friendship back into my life.  He wasn’t meant to enter my life just for a season.

All of us had a dream or two growing up.  We probably still hold on to those dreams and might even have shared them with one or two people.  But in the end, we’re still just dreaming about them and we lack the courage to pursue them.

I had a dream too.  But life and its priorities told me I would be crazy to pursue it, especially if it means giving up security and a career that I have already built for myself.  By asking me three questions, this long lost friend reawakened my dream that I had buried deep inside.  He asked me, “What is my dream?  What am I passionate about?  Am I doing something I love?”

I found out he left his family and friends behind, gave up a stable career, sacrificed security and comfort, and is out on his own pursuing his dream.  He’s crazy for doing it, but he hasn’t regret it.  Why?  Because he is doing what he’s meant to be doing and he loves it.  I admire him for his courage and determination to pursue his dream.

A new chapter is starting in my life right now because of his influence.  What he’s doing with his life is giving me the courage to pursue my dream and follow his footsteps.

As I approach my birthday, just thought I’d share a song I recently heard.
https://youtu.be/uFYDEg0xZIc

Wanna chase my dreams
All the fancy things
Still got passion in my bloodstream
Hope I’m not too late
Wanna make a change
Don’t want to waste my life away
Wanna chase my dreams
All the fancy things
Life is filled with surprise
I just wanna do the things I like

I hope you will also have the courage to chase after your dream and not feel like you’re wasting your life away.

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. (Ecclesiastes 11:4 LB/TLB)

Because I Matter!

Thanksgiving passed already, and Christmas is just a few days away.  Holidays are a great time to get together, see those close friends and family we haven’t spoken to in weeks, months, years.  At least that’s what I’ve always imagined it would be like for me.

Unfortunately, my holidays hasn’t been like this for many years now.  It’s been years since I’ve received an invitation to sit at the table and enjoy a meal with my parents and sister.

It hurts, realizing that your blood family doesn’t think of you.  Realizing that you aren’t important, you don’t matter to them anymore.  But that’s how my life has turned out to be like.  I might not be the only one who feels this way.  I’m sorry if you are feeling the same.

The good news: we still matter.  I still matter.  You still matter.  There is someone out there who thinks of me, remembers me, smiles down at me every single hour, every single moment.  He sees you too.

I am glad it was in God’s plan for me to know Him.  To know that I am His.  He is my loving father who cherishes His relationship with me, His daughter.  I matter to Him.  That’s why He created me.  He calls me by name.  He sent Jesus down to die for me.  That’s how much I matter to Him.

I am reminded of a song I heard a long time ago, the song that first inspired me to write a script for my church drama ministry.

“We Are The Reason” – David Meece

As little children
We would dream of Christmas morn
Of all the gifts and toys
We knew we’d find
But we never realized
A baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We were the reason
That He gave His life
We were the reason
That He suffered and died
To a world that was lost
He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

As the years went by
We learned more about gifts
The giving of ourselves
And what that means
On a dark and cloudy day
A man hung crying in the rain
All because of love, all because of love

I’ve finally found the reason for living
It’s in giving every part of my heart to Him
In all that I do every word that I say
I’ll be giving my all just for Him, for Him

He is my reason to live

If you’re having a difficult time going through this holiday season this year like me, remember this:

You and I are not here just to fill a space or to be a background character in someone else’s movie.  Nothing would be the same if you and I did not exist.  Every place we have ever been and everyone we have ever spoken to would be different without us.  We are all connected, and we are all affected by the decisions and even the existence of those around us.

God loves you and me!  Our life is precious to Him!  If no one else, we still matter to Him!

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:29-30 NIV)

Letter to my sister in Heaven

Dear Aileen,

You came into this world experiencing two years of undivided love and full attention.  But then your life was disrupted by two strangers who you learned to share that love and attention.  You learned to care for them and look out for them because they were your baby sisters who mean the world to you.  We played together, had our adventures together, fought with each other, and sometimes we despised each other.  We could love and hate each other like no other.

We grew older and learned to appreciate each other.  We shared secrets, we confided in each other, we experienced the same family life, we laughed together, we cried together.  We became each other’s best friend and confidant.  We understood each other, we were the only ones who could tolerate each other.  Our hearts connected and we bonded like no other.

Just when we were experiencing the best years of our relationship as sisters, God decided to take you home, and my whole life with you in it shattered.  I lost my big sister, my best friend.  A part of me died with you that day, and I have never been the same.

It’s been 20 years now, half of my life lived without you…20 years too long.  I have not forgotten you, nor forgotten that tragic day and how I felt when I realize that you were never coming home again.

I doubt I will ever be fully happy again.  There will always be melancholy in me that will never go away.  I will always be 50% happy and 50% sad at any given moment.  I will never get over losing you.  I know that now.  And I embrace it.

I never want to forget you because you deserve to be remembered.  That’s how important you are to me.  So if I have to be sad and lonely without you, missing your gentle spirit and tender heart, missing your voice and laughter, and what you brought to life, that’s the way I choose to honor you.  I’ll be sad and I know it.  I accept it and I’ll live with it.  Because I know it’s okay to have these feelings.  I’ll keep honoring you because that’s what keeps you alive in my life until we see each other again.

Thank you for having been a part of my life and the best sister ever!

Someday I will be whole again.  Until then, please forgive me when I continue to miss you and cry when I think of you.

Missing you always and forever!

 

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:21 NIV)

The Forgotten Mourner – Sibling Grief

My heart feels heavy for the past month, even worse this past week because my oldest sister’s anniversary is coming up in a few days…it will mark 20 years since I lost her.  It will also mark exactly half of my life without her.  20 years, and I still miss her dearly, and I still find it hard getting over this day, this month, this event.

I thought grieving should become easier as the years pass, but I am finding it very hard.  As long as I miss my sister, I will always have a hard time dealing with this day.

I just recently looked up why I feel the way I do.  It’s because I lost my sibling, and it turned my whole life upside down.  I am one of the forgotten mourners.  I lost someone who shared a unique co-history with me.  My sister was an integral part of my formative past.  We shared common memories, along with childhood experiences and family history.  When death took away my sister, it also took away one of my connections to the past.  She knew me in a very special way, unlike those who know me now as an adult.  Consequently, a constant is gone.

My sister holds a symbolic place in my life.  And it changed my family’s dynamics.  I went from the youngest to the oldest because my middle sister isn’t capable enough to be an older sister, the older child to be there for my parents, who in their own ways are still grieving silently to date.  This new role changed my relationship with my parents.   I honestly think I haven’t really allowed myself to grief in a healthy way for 20 years because my parents were focused on overcoming their loss, so I’ve felt a little abandoned by my parents.   At a time when I needed them the most, my parents were disabled by their own grief.

This is what I learned today:  losing a sibling creates a “horizontal” grief in which shared histories and futures are fractured, creating uncertainties and insecurities that are often unacknowledged or misunderstood.  Sibling relationships are among the closest many of us will ever have.  The death of my sister breaks that unique sibling bond that is irreplaceable.  My sister will always be my best friend, “buddy” through life, protector, and keepers of the family secrets.  The loss is the loss of a “life witness”, one who knows me in a way that no one else ever will.   As a result, surviving sibling may suffer from long-term depression.  This is why I can’t make myself happier.  I will never be okay.

Time will not heal the pain, but it’s okay.  And it’s okay if I still need to cry, because it just reminds me how much I loved her and how much she loved me.  She will always be a part of me, in my heart, and in my memories.  I will forever miss the hell out of her.

The Worst Day of My Life

I passed by my sister’s resting place this past weekend.  It motivated me to continue my story.

This was my junior year in college.  The quarter just started for me.  I remember already being at home that Saturday, and waiting for my eldest sister to come back home.  She was coming home that day to attend a Billy Graham Crusade in San Jose.  It was her last quarter at Cal Poly and she was graduating in December.

I waited and waited.  She didn’t show up.  My mom finally asked me to call up my sister’s friend who she was suppose to meet before going to the crusade.  I called him up, and I remember his words so vividly:  “I’m coming to your house right now”.

He showed up.  It was difficult for him to say this, I could tell.  He finally spoke up.  “Aileen has been in a car accident.  They are at the hospital in Salinas.”  We didn’t really wait for him to finish as we rushed out the door.  On the way there, he told us there’s more…

A pickup truck, driven by a 16-year-old girl and her mom, lost control.  The car swerved over the center divide and hit my sister’s car coming from the opposite direction.  The impact was head-on.  My sister’s car, her brand new 2-door Honda Civic, flipped and turned, and finally stopped when it hit the freeway wall.  My sister’s friend who she was driving up with, the 16-year-old girl, and her mom, were all taken to the hospital.  My sister was the only one who didn’t make it in that accident.  She was pronounced dead at site.

We arrived at the hospital and saw the friend.  We wanted so badly to see my sister, but we couldn’t.  She chose to be an organ donor, so we couldn’t see her body.  We went home.

That night I couldn’t sleep.  None of us could.  I remember walking to my parents room and crying, “I want Aileen back.  I want Aileen back.”  It felt like a nightmare…and I was desperately hoping to wake-up from it.  But I never did.

It was about a week later when my parents went to claim her body.  I was at school so I couldn’t accompany.  My twin sister and two friends went to see my sister’s car at the vehicle impound to reclaim her belongings.  The photos of the car showed the roof completely shaved off on the driver’s side.

Since then, things have been so different.  I stopped receiving her emails at school, and her encouragement cards that she would snail mail to me.  I miss her smile, I miss her voice.   My grades that quarter started to fall.  I kept playing the event over and over in my head.  What if I had called Aileen before she left?  It would have delayed her drive for a couple minutes and she could have avoided that accident.  What if I had from the very beginning applied to the same school as her?  I would have been around to stop the accident.   These were questions in my mind.  I find myself thinking about them quite often since then.

For a long period I was very bitter.  I was bitter at myself, I was bitter at God.  Because God is an all-knowing God; He is omnipotent.  He could have kept this from happening, but He didn’t.

Remember my previous post about the motivation I received from the annual retreat and my prayer?  I asked God to use me that year….He heard my prayer all right.  He gave me my sister’s testimony.  I didn’t want Him to answer my prayer that way.  I didn’t expect Him to answer my prayer like that.  If I could, I would take it back.

It’s been 20 years since.  It took me many years to start understanding why God took my sister away.  I’m still trying to find answers today.  I still miss her very much.  There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about her.

It’s hard to understand why God allows bad things to happen in our lives.  But sometimes, it’s also through these bad things that we see what’s more important in life.  Through my sister’s incident, God opened my eyes to see His wonderful gift of salvation, and the gratitude in knowing that we’re all saved by grace, and grace alone.  We don’t need to work for our salvation.  It’s a gift, ready for us to receive.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • I’ve learned how precious God’s relationship with me is.  He gives me a living hope, because He promised me that I will see my sister again.  It’s really what keeps me going these days.

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV)

  • God is using me to share my sister’s testimony to touch lives:  It gave me the courage to start going on mission trips (YUGO, Taiwan) to share God’s great love to people because my sister had a great love for God and people.

My story continues to where I am today because of that first missions trip back to Taiwan.

For now, I’ll end here.

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV)