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Back again!

Posted on 2013.10.22 at 19:15
After a hiatus of a few years, I'm back again on the LJ community.  Look forward to my incoherent translations of classical Chinese verse, both in the Chinese and Korean traditions, as well as some of my own verse.

Shopping with Mom

Posted on 2012.04.15 at 06:15

Sometimes, when we are receptive, God gives us a glimpse into that part of His character that transcends all human understanding.  These moments, whether experienced in life or in Bible study, deepen our understanding of God and allow us to comprehend His infinite wisdom and greatness. 

This past week, God revealed to me an insight that many of you may identify with. But before we go there, a little backstory is necessary.

We all have our obsessions.  Mine change over time, but the current obsession is with clothing and fashion.  I know this may sound rather petty to some, and I agree -- it is petty.  That's why, for the past few weeks, I have mulled over my current obsession with pangs of guilt and remorse.  I fully realized that when our minds are occupied by something other than God, we are violating the first commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Yet I was continually sinning against God by thinking of something other than Him.

As some of you may know, my mother has stomach cancer.  She was diagnosed in April of this past year.

Anyone who knows my mother will agree that my mother is a fashionista in the best sense of the term (though she doesn't obsess over it like I do).  The theme for my mother all throughout her battle with cancer has been this: make yourself happy.  By increasing the endorphins produced by feelings of happiness, a cancer patient will have better odds of surviving the illness.  So my family has been encouraging her to start making herself happy: eat well, shop well, pray well (at the risk of borrowing from a popular title on the market now). 

For the past few weeks, I have been shopping with my mother.  It has been a tremendous bonding experience.  I've been encouraging her to buy the occasional expensive piece because it makes her happy, and, after an initial reluctance, my mother has begun to do just that -- be happy.  Then it came to me: I thought it quite coincidental that I would have my obsession when my mother needed some family support and bonding.  That's when I realized, with God's grace, that He can take something like my obsession, in all its ugly sinfulness, and use it to further His ends. 

God works in mysterious ways.  The Bible, as a record of God's dealings with man, recounts the inestimable ways in which God can create something beautiful out of what may at first seem hopelessly decrepit.  Praise God that he can work a miracle in our lives without our being aware of it!


Spiritual journal

Posted on 2012.04.04 at 16:01
Lately I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with Christ.  I feel that after my conversion experience, my spiritual life has cooled down considerably.  I've reverted to habits that had been plaguing me before I knew God, and settled into routines that run counter to Biblical principles. Now don't get me wrong -- I haven't become a Satan worshipper or a drug addict; I just feel that something is lacking in my spiritual life.

When I explained the situation to Julie a month ago, she said I lacked intimacy with God.  I couldn't think of better words to describe my state. 

As it happens, I've reconnected with a friend from college whom I've known for over ten years.  To make it short, he is not my favorite person to be around.  But he was raised Adventist, so I feel an obligation to be his friend because I feel that it's important to maintain Adventist ties.  Now, my friend really dislikes the church.  And I feel that God may be prodding me to be a good friend and maybe lead him back to the church.

But I really can't bring myself to be his friend.  If he weren't raised in an Adventist church, I probably would decide to cut my ties with him.  

So I've been feeling this real need to pray about it.  I know that without God, I won't be able to stand being around him without getting very angry.

The moral of the story is that intimacy with God begins when you sense a need for God.  Only God can make the impossible happen.  My prayer life has been reinvigorated after I came to this realization.  I really need God to help me through this.     

Waxwings

Posted on 2012.04.01 at 13:02

Four tao philosophers as cedar waxwings
chat on a February berrybush
in sun, and I am one.

Such merriment and such sobriety –
the small wild fruit on the tall stalk –
was this not always my true style?

Above an elegance of snow, beneath
a silk-blue sky a brotherhood of four
birds. Can you mistake us?

To sun, to feast, and to converse
and all together — for this I have abandoned all my other
lives.

~ Robert Francis


The Power of Surrender

Posted on 2012.03.28 at 11:13
Surrender is a term often used in spiritual disciplines to describe an experience in which we give up -- or surrender -- control of our lives to a higher power.  In Christianity, Jesus demonstrates surrender in every moment of His life, culminating in His prayer at Gethsemane: "Not my will, but Yours."  Surrender entails an acceptance of your condition (in Buddhism, this translates to realizing that all life is suffering; and in Christianity, the concept of original sin), a recognition that your life is not really yours, but part of a larger mosaic, and understanding the need for the transcendent. 

For people with mental illness, it's important to practice surrender in dealing with their condition.  Even though our symptoms are at times uncontrollable and painful, if we accept our transient, ever-changing psychological states, we can manage our illness with greater ease and serenity.  I know that in my own life, my symptoms will surface at inopportune times, but sitting through it and giving it to God makes the experience meaningful and manageable.


Tips for Dealing with Mental Illness

Posted on 2012.03.21 at 10:31
Recovery from mental illness is a lifelong process.  Sometimes progress is slow or non-existent, but if pursued persistently, it can also be rewarding and confidence-building.  I am so fortunate that I have a supportive family, girlfriend, and social network that understands my quirks as well as my strengths.

My experience with mental illness has taught me a few things.  I offer these words of encouragement for those suffering from any kind of disorder.

1:  If you have not sought help already, it's important to find a mental health professional that can properly diagnose you and offer you the right kind of support.  Getting an accurate diagnosis is important as it helps to specify the type of medications you will be needing.  For example, if your mood shifts to extremes and you experience delusions, then it will help your psychiatrist to prescribe medications that will correspond with your symptoms.  Sometimes a proper diagnosis takes time because your symptoms may not be readily apparent to either yourself or others around you.  Therapy will help to clarify your symptoms.


2.  It's important to go to therapy regularly.  My suggestion is to find an insurance provider that will pay for your therapy.  I use DSHS which is a state-funded agency that caters to people with disabilities.  The reason for finding insurance is simple: it's easier to go to therapy when you don't have to pay for it.  Your expectations will be more realistic, making therapy an enjoyable experience for both yourself and your therapist.  If you pay for your therapy, your expectation for immediate results will negate any progress you would like to make, rendering it counter productive.  


3.  See your psychiatrist on a routine basis.  Your psychiatrist will help monitor your symptoms and adjust dosages or medications depending on what's needed.  It's important to trust your Pdoc and listen to what he has to say.  Also, clear communication regarding your side effects, as well as your insights into what's working, will expedite the recovery process.


4.  Take your medications.  I cannot stress this point enough.  Since it has been determined that disorders occur partly because of chemical imbalances in your brain, you must find a way to alleviate your symptoms by correcting that imbalance.  Be patient.  Sometimes it takes six weeks in order to receive benefits from a new medication.  If a medication doesn't work for you, and you have given it enough time to be integrated into your body, try a new one.  Don't give up just because a medication didn't work as you had expected.  Finding the right meds is a lengthy and sometimes exhausting experience, but you will find that with the right meds your symptoms will drastically improve, making you happier and able to foster meaningful relationships.


5.  Be good to yourself.  Treat yourself well.  Self-care is especially important for people who suffer from mental illness, because it makes you pay attention to your mental states as they fluctuate throughout the day or week.  If you notice anything unusual about your emotions, perceptions, or cognition, you can then rely on your support network to make necessary adjustments.  Also, it's helpful to be very easy on yourself about your recovery.  Don't place unrealistic demands on yourself, but make your goals elastic and in tune with the organic nature of development.  Therapy helps you to monitor yourself as well as find ways to deal with your emotions.  You will find over time that this increased self-awareness will foster maturity and wisdom in dealing with the difficult questions in your life.

Recovery is a lifelong process.  The rewards of learning from your experience will continue to build over time and give you a lot of confidence.  It's possible to lead a fulfilling life with a mental illness, but you have to work hard and be persistent.  Thanks for reading.

Back again

Posted on 2012.03.18 at 09:33
Well, here I am on LJ after a few years hiatus.  This journal has undergone some transformations in the past few years.  It started as a project to find like-minded writers with a passion for poetry and all things literary.  I remember posting translations of Chinese poems and finding others who shared my enthusiasm. 

But now, I feel that the journal should encompass more than just poetry -- it should be a way to communicate feelings and episodes in our lives to create meaning.

My girlfriend suggested I start writing about my experience with mental illness, so I will do so to alleviate some of her anxiety about forming a relationship with someone who suffers from it.  I want to tell her that my illness is a part of my life, but does not inhibit me from doing what I love to do, including sustaining a relationship with someone I dearly love.

The road to recovery is slow, but ultimately rewarding.  I feel that I have been reborn -- mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  I am now able to enjoy life and really savor it, which is what most humans want out of life.  I hope that this journal offers hope for those who live with mental illness, in addition to their spouses or significant others.

Revolutionaries

Posted on 2010.05.17 at 20:14
Current Music: Give Love - Third Day

The early Christians were nothing short of revolutionaries.  I was thinking today that Christianity is not a religion for the tepid, as the good Books says:" So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Rev. 3:16  Real Christianity burns with passion for Christ, for His words, His actions, His devotion -- even unto death.  It is said that Stephen, his face aglow, his mind composed, was welcomed into the heavenly circle with a host of angels singing to him.  (For those of you who are not familiar with Bible lore, Stephen was stoned for being a Christian.  Saul, known later as Paul the apostle, was present at Stephen's stoning.) That, to me, epitomizes passion for Christ, that we may approach death serenely and assuredly, knowing we will be welcomed in heaven with the sounds of praise and applause.  What a way to be remembered for all eternity! 



Being a Christian Writer

Posted on 2010.05.12 at 22:17
So yes, I've been pondering the prospects of being a Christian writer.  I never thought that I would ever become a Christian writer, having been enamored with Nietzsche's philosophy so summed up in his words: "God is dead."  But it happened.  Like a whirlwind (the gospels describe the Holy Spirit as like the wind, mysterious, manifesting itself through a logic of its own), Christ took hold of my soul, and all I can think of is Christ, His words, actions, and especially His death on Calvary.  I've thought about the plan of redemption, the reasoning behind it, and no matter how much I ponder its mysteries, I can't help but conclude that redemption is something that transcends all human understanding.  It is to be contemplated for all eternity.  And that, my friends, is my thought for today.

1 Thessalonians 5:16

Posted on 2010.05.08 at 21:39
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


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