Take a Breath

This is really strange. I find myself back home from work all alone. No one contacted me. I didn’t contact anyone. I’m just here sitting in my living room typing this out. I don’t know what to type about, but I know I should write about something. What will that something be?

Back in high school—I think when I was a junior—our English teach made us journal for the first ten minutes of class. It didn’t matter what we wrote about, we were just told to write out a stream of thought for as fast as we can. We counted the words when we were done. We didn’t have to make any sense. I remember that was when my handwriting started to fail me. There was this other kid in class that tried to beat me in the number of words written. Most days I would win, but there would be a few days here and there I would lose. So that said, I’m going to type out a stream of thought for the next ten minutes.

This is the first afternoon in awhile—maybe like three months awhile—where I can finally claim some me time. It’s been a pretty high pace three months between finding and moving into a new place and with my girlfriend coming back from Spain1. I don’t believe there was a single weekend where I could just relax and do nothing. I don’t even think there has been a single week day where I could relax and do mostly nothing. It’s been occupied all the time with going out, working out, or getting work done. It’s fine to be busy most of the time, I guess. But I know burn out is coming (if it hasn’t already).

So it’s a good thing that I get to relax right now at this very point in time, right? Well, I guess so. If it was a Monday or a Wednesday that would be fine. But it’s a Friday night! I should be out doing things with people, right? Where is everyone? What’s everyone doing? Where’s everyone?!

Oh wait, one of my roommates just came back. I think I just lost three minutes of writing. It’s okay. He was showing me all this carbon fiber accessories that he had to get for his bike. I think my moment of taking a breath is coming to an end. We’re heading out to help one of our friends. She’s moving from Irvine to…. I forget where. (It’s probably best I don’t mention where anyway.) If all goes well, we’ll head over to Clearman’s North Woods for steak. (It’s been years since I had that.)

Times up, maybe my next entry will be more meaningful. Who knows. (I really should just start writing… writing about anything, again.)

  1. “My girlfriend”—I’ll never get used to saying that []

Fourteen Tangible Goals for 2014

Well, it’s actually 13. In a nearly identical fashion for this year’s list, I crafted (maybe a bit too hastily) yet another tangible goal list for the upcoming new year.

Tangible Goal List for 2014

 

I know I still need to give an update how last year’s list is going. In short, I didn’t complete it, but it doesn’t matter because God showed me and blessed with so much more than I could ever want in a single year. At the of 2012, there was an outward-growth tone that I sensed. Nearing the end of 2013, I feel the growth is far more inward and I feel God will be challenging me in new ways where I have no choice but to keep Him close and carry an unshakable faith through this year. I’m a bit scared but curious. I don’t know 2014 will bring, but nonetheless I wrote this list and give it all to Him.

1. Write a tangible goal list for 2014.

Great! I’m off to a good start and it’s not even January yet!

2. Visit your girlfriend in Spain!

I know, I know, a lots happened since the last story about chasing after the 13th tangible goal of 2013. But let’s just say God keeps his promises and pours out His blessings in such beautiful and surprising ways. Anyway, she’s currently teaching in Spain for a year, and visiting her (also my first time leaving the country) is definitely on my tangible goal list.

3. Pay off your credit cards and don’t ever carry any revolving debt at any point this year!

At the end of 2012, I managed to pay off all my credit cards (just two) and start 2013 pretty new! It felt awesome and I had the best of intentions to keep myself debt free.1 But my spending quickly got out of hand. I had to pay for some major dental work. I ended up getting a new prescription for my glasses and contacts. For some strange reason I wanted to buy a couple of new suits even though I rarely ever have a need for suits. I bought a pair of hand made Italian shoes. I also found myself constantly going out with friends and doing things. That was definitely a contrast to last year where I spent majority if not all of my days on my own.

The first part of this goal should be easy to hit. I originally intend to be debt free by the end of 2013, but I fell short for about a month. The question is will I be able to stay debt free through the rest of the year?

4. Pay yourself first—at least 10% of all income goes to savings (after your tithe)

This should be pretty easy after being credit card debt free. God let’s me keep 90%. Right after that, I want to put the second 10% directly to savings. My real goal is to get my savings (since it’s my most liquid account) so that I have 6 months worth of living expenses. I originally wanted to do that this year, but that would mean I would have to cut my living expenses by at least half for all of 2014 to make that goal. I already made a lot of cuts (and I could do more) in the last three months. A side goal to this would be to get 3 months worth of living expenses to go to savings.

5. Contribute a minimum of $50/mo to your ROTH IRA

I must be a grown up now. I have both a 401k and a ROTH IRA! By the way, I wish I knew about the advantages of a ROTH IRA when I got my first job so many years ago. Fifty bucks a month isn’t much, but it’s definitely $50 more a month than this year. Ideally, I would like to max it out for the year ($5500), but let’s take it one step at a time.

6. Find a mentor

Just like last year. I still haven’t found one yet. Maybe 2014 will be the year for me to find someone who’s willing to mentor me! 🙂

7. Find a mentee

I sort of found on this year, but not really. Though… I could probably find one through the next tangible goal…

8. Be part of another ministry at Newsong

I was part of the Muffin Ministry this year as well as the morning prayer ministry, but during this period of “inward growth” I took a step back and I still want to find ministry I can be consistently a part of. I’m hoping nothing on the level of leading any ministry, but something more personal.

9. Collaborate with Mark to launch the first phase of Inspire Ave

I’ve been looking for a partner to build some kind of cool app or something. Turns out the guy found me at the start of the summer. We’re planning on building something that could change the outlook of finance. I can’t go into details yet, but I’m sure you’ll be hearing about it here and there on this blog mainly because Inspire Ave is Kingdom focus.

The first phase of the project consists of launching a marketable website, the RESTful API, and prototype mobile app (most likely HTML5-based for the prototyping). This is completely doable even with my current full-time job.

10. Visit my dad at least once every six weeks.

It was once a month, but considering I only see him and his wife on major holidays, I think once ever a six weeks is a pretty good start.

My dad an I haven’t been very close. I had this feeling over the summer that I should forgive as I grew up without him. God also (strongly) nudged me that I need to honor him despite his past (this goes the same for my mom). In 2014 I want to make the small steps to do just that. I don’t know what it means to honor your parents, but if it’s nothing like honoring God, it’s time.

11. Relaunch (yup, again) twinwork.net using WordPress instead of your custom platform.

So I did launch twinwork.net very early on this year with this platform I wrote using the Yii framework. So many things happened that I just couldn’t complete it. It was supposed to be something along the lines of a tech blogging platform. There so many of those, there really is no point  keep writing it. That’s why I want to finally give up my goal of creating a self-evolving blog that is twinwork.net and just use WordPress (which singlethread.org uses).

Though, the Twinwork Platform is not a complete lost. I just finished organizing the components and it’s going to be used for Inspire Ave.

12. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile and keep it current for every project you complete

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile, but I have this eerie feeling that I’ll be glad I complete this goal very early in 2014 that later.

13. Upgrade your computer gear! (this will be the year, really!)

Yup, I failed at this for 2013, but it’s here again for 2014! Honestly, most of this list is finance related, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is pushed off for 2015. But it’s here just in case I find myself amazingly financially blessed (more so than now) that will be able to accomplish this goal.

14. Start and end every single day with your first love, your Father, your Savior, your Creator—our Mighty God.

I want to get better at this. I could look back at 2013 and say that I did an okay job with it, but seeing what He’s done in my life thus far, I really do want to give Him my all and definitely want to start and end my days with Him.

As I mentioned earlier, this list seemed very financial fueled (which includes Inspire Ave). There’s nothing related to my other hobbies in music of photography. I feel I need to enter a time of a bit of planning my future made with His wisdom. I know there’s still a lot of stuff (and things) I want to do, but it feels I need to make it right first and plan accordingly for years to go come. So yeah—2014 seems like a year filled with financial discipline! It doesn’t sound as fun as the tangible goals for 2013, but I’m still looking forward to it!

  1. I’m not counting my low interest student loans. I’ll take my sweet time paying those off for the next few years. []

What have I done?

What have I done to deserve this? Even though nothing has been determined, nothing has been decided between the two of us, the mere act—the dance between us is a blessing in itself. What makes me worthy of such a blessing? I am nothing without my God, but through Him I am more than I can imagine.

But the feeling I have for this wonderful daughter of Yours is something I longed but forgotten. It’s an unfolding mystery. It’s a story in writing. It’s an exploration of emotions. It’s a discovery of who we are—individually and together.

It brings me joy. It excites me in the morning. It keeps me sleepless at night. I look forward to every second and it pushes me to dream bigger—further out in the space we reside and the time we occupy.

And even though there is an inevitable end to it all, I am not worried and I am not concerned. I live for today and today alone. I wait on You, Lord, for my bread—in physical, mental, and spiritual nourishment. We live for today together, because today is a day you made and it is good.

Thank you for showing me “us” thus far. I’ll cherish every moment. I’ll hold onto every Word of Yours. I pray that I continue to obey your every command. We will live to honor You—to glorify Your name. All praise to You, our God.

Thirteen Tangible Goals for 2013

Well, it’s actually 12.

2013 is Going to be Easy

Within the last remaining weeks of 2012, I had an idea to do an Instagram/Facebook post of “13 tangible goals for 2013” where the joke really  is the first goal already being crossed out late in 2012 because the goal itself was to write said list. I posted the list and got its share of “likes” on their respective social sites. Then I took a look at the list again, and I though to myself, “I think this list is actually doable.” The list isn’t too broad and for the most part I already know the first steps to accomplish much of the list. So here’s the list and the explanation for it all.

1. Write a tangible goal list for 2013.

My exact words were:

2013 is going to be easy. I already finished one goal before the new year.1

Sweet, got that one out of the way!

2. Launch twinwork.net

This is a pet project that I’ve been working on the last couple of months. I always wanted to relaunch my “techie” website for the last couple of years where I focus in software development and merge (and update) Twinwork NOTES. I’m close. Very close. I expect to “beta” launch the dev blog some time in February with a dozen or so migrated articles from the original NOTES. I expect to do a full marketed launch via the Twitter-verse and name-your-social-site-here by the middle of this year. The development behind this “site” is actually a launching pad for any other web application I create going forward. This is pretty important to me because this will set myself for a new tangible goal for 2014.

3. Create a photography/portfolio blog

I don’t have a normal portfolio website to show off my creations. I figure I’d start with just my photography work in case I get a call for some freelance work. Whether or not I do get work from said site is not the goal, it’s the idea that I am able to show off the non-techie-creative side of me. Between Twinwork, Single Thread, and this new photography site, I’ll be pretty busy generating content.

4. Learn 2 lead rifts in 3 keys on the guitar

That’s what I wrote verbatim, but I really meant learn two common lead scales in three common keys. Notice I didn’t just put “practice the guitar every other day” or “learn to play the guitar better” or something along those lines. For this particular goal, I knew I needed to add something very specific to it. It also already has built-in milestones: 2 scales in 3 keys gives it 6 milestone points.

This is also a stepping stone goal. Again, the broader idea is to “be better at playing the guitar”, but writing out tangible steps as the goal and accomplishing it might just motivate me to learn more scales in more keys and I will get better at playing.

5. Serve in at least one ministry at Newsong

I’ve been out of doing any consistent church ministry for probably about 7 years now. God tells me I need to serve. It’s a desire and a command that I need to do this. As for where? I have no idea. The new church I’ve been going to has a number of ministries where I could get involved as well as a service where you can consult with them to help you discover where you can best serve. This idea is extremely important to me. Organizations need to put the right people in the right roles. Even if that organization is mainly ran by volunteers. I could serve in any ministry at the moment until I finish my FLOW consultation with Newsong, but it’s not like I’m doing absolutely nothing now. (Oh yeah, and I finally did finish the three worksheets for FLOW, so all I need to do is turn it in and wait for the appointment!)

As mentioned in my 2012 review, God has placed me in two groups: the young adults group at Newsong and a brand new small group. Sure, my current involvement in both groups isn’t formal enough to earn me any “ministry credits”2, but I feel I’m involved with a community and I firmly believe I have so much experience and knowledge in the waiting and suffering in my 20s where I can totally empathize with people in those groups. But I will find a solid, consistent ministry to be a part of at my new church!

6. Find and learn from at least one mentor

No doubt this is going to be difficult for me. I’m hoping the more I get involved in the church, I will be able to find a leader and identify him or her as that mentor role.

7. Find one person to mentor

Wait, what? How does that work? A pastor once told me that we should have these three things in life for learning (mentorships?): have a mentor, have equals or peers in your field, and be a mentor. It’s also implied this is for your field, but it could also be life in general. For me, professionally, I have many peers in my field to consult with. I don’t have a single go-to mentor who is also teaching me his ways. In turn, I also don’t have my own apprentice to mentor.3

For both mentor-related goals, I’m actually talking about in my discipline and learning God’s Word and discovering more about myself how I fit in God’s plan. I so desperately want to find a mentor to accomplish that as well as find someone I can impart my own experience and knowledge. These are going to be difficult goals.

8. Post a story to singlethread.org once a month

Again, verbatim, but I really meant some kind of post to this site at least once a month (sure beats once a year, right?). Hey! January is done with!

9. Fly to Hawaii to see Joel (and Iron Man 3) to celebrate our 20th friendiversary!

Joel is one of my best friends. I couldn’t believe we’ve known each for 20 years. Sure, like any relationship, we’ve had our ups and downs. We shared a long history, and one of these days I would love to tell part of his story.

So what’s the deal with Iron Man 3? Well, back in 2010, Joel dropped me a text one week and asked me what was I doing the following weekend. At the time, chances are I was probably planning on doing some kind of raid in World of Warcraft. He told me I should come out to Hawaii to see Iron Man 2. Yeah, and that’s exactly what I did. I figure I should book my ticket by February and I’ll be good to go on this goal!

10. …And fly Joel out here to see Hillsong

Hillsong will be out here doing a concert in LA some time in the fall. Joel is the one that told me about it. He really wants to come out here and see them. He’s still figuring out the logistics how that will happen. I don’t know if he was just planning on coming out here for a few days by himself or with his entire family. I figure I’d surprise him and just fly him out here. I haven’t told him anything about it… so, Joel, if you manage to stumble upon this post… surprise, I’ll fly you out to SoCal!

11. Build that new computer!

This computer I’m typing this article on is getting old. I mean, it works just fine as long as I need to surf the web, listen to iTunes or Spotify, and add these posts in Word Press, but when it comes to development, it’s painful. It’s time to upgrade—something I’ve been meaning to do the last two years.

12. Buy that D800 & 105mm macro lens

Both points above would be pretty easy if I didn’t already have this other goal that I never bother to put on the list: save 4-6 months worth of income in case of an emergency. That computer on my Newegg wish list: probably about 3 months worth of saving. This D800 and 105mm macro lens? That’s about 4-5 months worth of saving. So yeah, even both of these are on the list for 2013, it won’t be a big deal if it slips to 2014. Here’s my sane logic.

My goal in 2012 was to finally pay off my credit card debt that I accrued for the latter half of 2010, 2011, and 2012. I did reach that goal by January 1st, 2013. Yup, I did it, and it felt awesome! So before I go crazy to max out my credit card by buying this stuff I want, I ended up programming a Google Spreadsheet to calculate how much something would cost by the time I paid it off. Seeing the amount of interest I would pay definitely deters me from buying anything on credit—especially when that something is computer tech which gets outdated the moment they ship the product to you. Anyway, so for this entire year, I’m only buying anything if I have the cash for it (unless it’s an emergency… like car repair or something like that). That means if I fail to both build a computer and that photography gear, I still win because I have accrued a good amount of cash into my high interest savings account. Then I can finally spend a bit of it in 2014. So, I already win no matter what (as long as I continue to be debt free through 2013).

Oh yeah, I also wanted to add there’s no way I can buy the D800 without a new computer just because my current computer can’t even handle the images my D7000 produces and a D800 produces images more than twice the size.

13. Be her Adam for your Eve

Honestly, this is one goal that’s not up to me. Instead, I’ll leave this one up to God if He sees it fit for me to finally meet, court, and win my Eve over this year. In the meantime, I have 11 solid compelling goals to aim for. If I can do all these other things on the list prior to the end of 2013, I’ll pray really hard that God helps me finish out this year by completing the last goal for me.

Besides, did you see this list? I’m going to be really busy in 2013. Eve really needs to be the last one on this list otherwise I’ll never get anything done! Honestly, I’ve never been so happy to be single seeing the freedom that I have to do these things.

2013 is going to rock!

  1. http://instagram.com/p/T3tDtcsgS6/ []
  2. When I went to Azusa Pacific University, every student needed to log a certain number of ministry credits (in hours served) before graduating. []
  3. Even though twinwork.net is going to be a teaching platform for development, that’s not an intimate interaction which would take place in a mentorship. []

Just write

It’s been a good 20 months since I’ve wrote anything. Well, that’s not completely true. I have been writing, but it’s been in a Moleskin (hey, I’ve had a Moleskin-like storage apparatus before it was cool, k?) with mostly notes learned from church and Bible studies as well as my own prayers and devotions. Though, I feel those thoughts ought to be published elsewhere (at least with a better opportunity and legibility of it being seen). I figure it’ll be here.

I don’t expect the writing to be any good. Instead, it should (if it isn’t already), be a flow of thought with (hopefully) a thesis behind a post. And if not, oh well, whatever. I have this urge to start writing again… even if it’s mostly rambling (much like the other million or so blogs out there…)

Fight against spambots!

FYI, I cleaned out the entire user/subscriber list from Word Press.  Majority, if not all, looked like it was from spambots.  If you were a legitimate reader and subscriber to the site, sorry!  Go ahead and register again.  This time around I’m using reCAPTCHA for the registration page.  I’m hoping that curbs the bots that are out there.  I can also tell that  you’re a legitimate subscriber if you have any comments to the site.  Registration isn’t required for commenting anyway, so my guess is that all users registered are from spambots 🙁

That said, if you do register and like to lurk, please at least modify your profile to include your first name so that I know that you’re legitimate 🙂

I’m trying to get reCAPTCHA working on the comments as well, but my current anti-spam filters seem to be working properly for now.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering why reCAPTCHA is different than normal CAPTCHA: http://www.google.com/recaptcha

In love with falling in love

I have this problem.  It might have occurred when I was younger.  Maybe I didn’t get enough hugs or something when I was a kid.  Growing up, I always had this yearning to “be with somebody”—to be loved (using the term loosely).  I just had to have a girlfriend of some sort going through school.  Of course, me being as dorky as I am, I wasn’t very popular with the ladies.  Not surprisingly, I wasn’t on any girl’s radar.  I did my best to be noticed, but my personality never allowed me to stand out.  I was shy and a daydreamer.  I planned my approach and hoped for the opportune time to execute said strategy.  Rarely did I ever go with my master plan.  Even when I did, it never panned out after its approach.  But still, I insisted to keep daydreaming about how everything ought to happen.

The problem with the whole daydreaming thing is that you have to make assumptions on how the other person would react to what you are doing.  This would generally work if you knew who the person well enough to predetermine her reaction, but I never knew who she was.  I daydreamed how she would react openly and accepting of my approach.  I’m essentially putting words I want to hear in her mouth.  Eventually one thing leads to another, and I win the girl, right?  No, not really.  But I kept reiterating this daydreaming process for the girl in elementary school, junior high, the girls in high school, local college, the one girl I followed to a university, the one I went to church with, and finally the girl that shares the same hobby.

When I reiterate this process for the new girl, I don’t really ever get to know her.  I’m essentially taking the girl—her features and mannerisms that attracts me—but wrapping the personality and character I expect and want of her.  That eventually leads to this infatuation where I become heartbroken when she doesn’t match to what I dreamed.  Pathetic, right?  I mean, this kind of emotional distress should be kept on the elementary playground.  Seriously, dude, grow up.

With that bit of background out of the way, I wanted to write about the approach on the newest girl that caught my attention.  Of course, like all girls of interest, she’s pretty (obviously).  She’s a gamer.  The fact that she’s really pretty and a gamer is what really caught my attention.  When I saw pictures with her and her (then) boyfriend, I had to step back and ask myself, “People looking this good really shouldn’t be playing World of Warcraft—they’re usually going out and doing cool things with other good looking people.”  Yeah… like that.  I’m keeping further details about her sparse for obvious reasons.

Despite the fact I am attractive to her and that we share a similar hobby, I honestly don’t think it would be wise of me to pressure on with a pursuit.  Maybe I finally grew up and recognize the mistakes of the past.  Maybe I’m supposed to discern a higher purpose that is in alignment with God’s will.  I honestly don’t know.  I do, believe, I received affirmation about what my approach ought to be after spending some time at the driving range with a friend of mine.

I haven’t seen Mark in awhile.  We occasionally run into each other at the same church service, but for the most part I wouldn’t see him because he’s busy with work.  One Sunday morning , we went out to the Glen Oaks golf course in Glendora.  I haven’t picked up a club since my golf class more than 5 years ago.  I brought Mark up to speed with the whole I-think-I’m-done-with-life-in-SoCal-and-I-want-to-move-back-to-Hawaii story.  He also felt that my next move is probably going to be away from California.  Even he thought Hawaii sounded like an advancing move.  By thew way, since Mark was a former World of Warcraft addict, I gave him our guild’s progression status and whatnot.  At that point I had to tell him about her.

I told Mark pretty much every personality trait that attracted me so much to her.  And in the end, he came out to remind me, “As great and fun as she may be, do you really see her as being your helper for God’s will in your life?”  (See Gen 2:20b ff)  No, I cannot.  Mark didn’t need to go into further detail because at that moment I remembered what Paul wrote in his second letter to the people of Corinth:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16, NIV)

Paul finishes by writing,

“Therefore come out from them and be separate, […] touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinithians, 6:17-18, NIV)

I associate that piece of scripture with marriage.  It’s pretty tough for me to associate it with all relationships just because I believe we’re called to make believers of all nations, and my method to sharing the gospel is by creating authentic relationships so that my friends (hopefully) will see the glory of God through me.  Anyway, if someone could give some insight what Paul meant by “yoked together” that would be awesome.  (Who knows, I might be completely off the mark on this one.)

With that in mind, that’s the reason I see her differently.  I’m not sure exactly what it is.

I need to remind myself so that I won’t repeat these bad daydreaming habits.   In the event I do fall into the same cycle, I must not forget that she can never be mine.  She belongs to God.