We.

In Solidarity” by artist Latasha Dunston of Jitterbug Art Studio. Reminds me that growth, change, healing, is done together.

We have sinned.

We have not loved God.

We have not loved our neighbors.

We are screaming, sometimes silently, because it’s not safe to let our pain and anger be seen.

We are lamenting. We are enraged. We are in grief. We are in fear.

We cry out asking “Do you not care?” “Do you not see?” “How can you not hear our cries?”

We have lost trust.

We have lost friends and loved ones.

We have lost parts of ourselves.

We have lost hope.

We have chosen preservation over pursuit of justice.

We are tired.

We can choose to live here.

We can also choose to imagine a better world.

The most important word in the US Constitution is the word WE.
– President Barack Obama.

Our personhood, our families, our community, our nation, or world is, as MLK famously penned, “caught in an inescapable network of mutulality ties in a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly affects all indirectly.

This past week, brought forth another wave of pain, anger, lament, fear, and loss of life. A singular person took the lives of 8 people: Soon Chung Park (74), Sun Cha Kim (69), Yong Ae Yue (63), Paul Andre Michels (54), Hyun Jung Grant (51), Xiaojie Tan (49), Daoyou Feng (44), Delaina Ashley Yaun (33). His atrocious actions forever changed the lives of the families whose loved one were taken. It also enraged the cries of the the AAPI community, as the rise of hate-crimes towards Asian American since the beginning of the pandemic hit horrific numbers, with six of the 8 people killed being women of Asian decent. The actions following the mass shooting, continued to reveal the fear and lived experiences of communities of color who are constantly being dehumanized and perceived as threats, such as the treatment of Mario Gonzalez, who survived the shooting but was mistakenly HANDCUFFED for several hours, while his wife Delaina Yaun lay dying, because the police did not believe that he was at the spa with his wife or was a victim himself.

The responses from myself, my family, my sisters, my APPI community, and other BIPOC communities has been wide ranging. This last week has brought up a lot of wounds, pain, anger, fear, mistrust, and brokenness not just within our AAPI community, but so many other communities who have been on the receiving side of dehumanization and rhetoric that have made our lives feel as those we are unworthy, “othered,” disposable, and invisible. I’ve had conversation with so many women this week lamenting how exhausted and angry we feel regarding the desire to be safe, the silence of our brothers, and knowing that our world is not yet safe for us. I’ve had conversations with my Black brothers and sisters, regarding their desire to be in solidarity with me, while also acknowledging their honest pain that they are navigating as they reflect on anti-black rhetoric and experiences they have received from the AAPI community, and even at times silence and lack of solidarity with the Black community.

These conversations remind me how truly intertwined our lives are. Our pain is real. Our uncertainty to believe and trust each other is real. Our shared history in the United States can show us all the ways BIPOC communities have been pinned up against each other, even weaponized as a means to divide, such as the creation of the term of Model Minority that has harmed all of us. And that is exactly what white supremacy, racism, sexism, and xenophobia does, it removes our strength, our power as whole, and keeps us distracted from the greater systems, structures, and ideologies that benefit from our pain our exhaustion, our turmoil, and fear.

As I wrote the poem above, the reality is we are all found in it. We can read it and I believe identify ourselves and our communities somewhere within the statements made. If not, than you might need to take a honest look in the mirror and ask: “Why, don’t I see myself in this? Am I part of the problem.”

Anyone who knows me, recognizes that I am a huge history nerd, I love understanding the context of things, and I love finding ways to celebrate each other. For me, celebration is my act of resistance. It is the vehicle by which I chose to bring forth what is hidden and the change I believe in.

It is important to understand our history, how we got here today. We must know the pain and injustices of the past to correctly understand the way of justice today. But I also find strength in the ways our ancestors and those who believed in a different world than what is, stood together in solidarity to bring about change. From the uniting of Filipinos and Chicanos to form the United Farm Workers Union and Delano Grape Strike and Boycott, or the coming together of Black, Latinx, and AAPI students in the late 60’s to create the Third World Liberation Movement, our strength lies within our We.

We must understand each others pain.
We must take responsibility for the ways we have caused harm.
We must acknowledge the impact of our silence.
We must believe that we can’t change our world without each other.
We must move towards each other.
We must allow our anger to inform us.
We must let love for each other be greater than the hate that was used to keep us apart.

Isang Bagsok,
Meleca Jerra Pernito Abuda Consultado

Image taken from the Associated Press.

2020.

What is lost, but a reminder that we live.

I’ve been reflecting on how I might respond if, on New Year’s Eve 2019, someone from the future came to tell me all that I would experience in 2020. That, not only would I be part of a generation that is experiencing a collective trauma caused by a global pandemic, but that I would witness the growing division of a nation I deeply care about. A division, fueled by the polarization of perspectives, caused by the mounting fruit of racism and systemic injustices experienced by communities of color, not just today, but for generations. A division that would lead me to leave my church home of 20 years, to enter into a season of wandering in the wilderness. Lamenting, as I watched in horror as our brothers and sisters within the Black community, continually see their sons and daughters being murdered with the real fear that justice will not be served.

As if this was not enough sorrow and anguish to last one’s lifetime, 2020 would also bring personal loss. Loss in the form of my father unexpectedly passing away from a sudden heart attack, followed by my grandmother, and then my uncle, who was more like a father-figure to me, finally losing his battle to cancer. 

In some sense, this was the tip of the iceberg of 2020.
Pages more of my journal could detail for you layers of loss, grief, confusion, anger, exhaustion, sorrow, rejection and pain.
The summer, though hot, found me frozen in a metaphorical paralysis.
Finding myself overcome by emotions that lead me to feeling numb and disconnected from my head, heart, body, and others. Experiencing for the first time in my life a low-grade depression.
Lacking motivation.
Feeling like a prisoner within my own thoughts. Unable to see past the haze.

And then, just as it is penned in the old Christmas hymn,  “…He appeared and [my] soul felt its worth, a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn” and not that at that moment all my anguish and sorrow left me, but instead the root of our joy and the giver of perfect peace found me.  He showed compassion and came to the depths of my despair, and whispered to me, even here I Am is with you beloved. El Roi. The God who sees me.

My soul felt its worth. I felt seen. I felt held, in my brokenness, my despair, my exhaustion, my weariness, my lament, my anger, my confusion—He entered in. He is able to enter into our pain because He is a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3) and it is He, who “took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” The Lord came down, Emmanuel. He did not take me out of my desert wandering. Instead He inhabited it and made it purposeful.

In the season of my deepest sorrows, He reminded me that He will continue to sustain me here in the desert until my time of wandering is finished. I wish I knew when this season would end, but I’ve come to find a peace that the end is not meant for me to know. But instead, He whispers into the stillness of this desert and tells me, “Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” (Isa. 43:19). 

Though the world still feels heavy, and there are nights where silent tears are my closest companions, the breath of life has allowed me to sing this verse as both a reminder and a prayer for our weary world, in hopeful expectancy of His return, by which He will heal our souls, our relationships, our land, and will wipe away all our tears: 

…Truly He taught us to love one another

His law is love and His gospel is peace

Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother

And in his name, all oppression shall cease…”

Reflection Question: 

What has broken your heart this season? What has brought you to tears? If the Lord was sitting beside you looking at these things with you, what might He be telling you about their purpose?

Church.

“How did we come to this?”

“How did we end up here?”

How do you begin a letter to someone you love, but who is also a source of pain, grief, and hurt?

The whole of creation is groaning.

My own heart is angry, full of sorrow, and so desperate for my loved ones to hear my cries.
The cries of so many.

The blood of our brothers and sisters are crying out from the ground for justice and revenge.
Just like Abel.

The blood of Christ is calling out for repentance, reconciliation, and restoration.
Just like MLK.

But in order for you to understand the depth of my pain, you must first know why I love my church family.

I love my church family because they showed up when others stepped out of my life.
They have showed up for the last twenty years of my life.
I love my church family because they created space for a hurt, angry, confused, and curious little teenager to work through a lot of deep wounds and misguided perceptions.
I love my church family because they genuinley sought to bring comfort to the hurting, offer guidance to the lost, rest for the weary, and honored and fought for the dignity of each human life.
I love my church family because it was here that I was introduced to the powerful testimony of Christ on the cross for my sins and the radical love of God to bestow upon me new life through His Son’s death.
I love my church family, because they pointed me to Christ.

And that is why this pain, anger, hurt, confusion, and fear is so maddening. My heart keeps breaking for you. Because I can’t make sense of what is happening between the silence of my church family who has taught me so much of the Good News of Christ, and the groanings of a deeply broken and hurting world that needs to hear and see Christ more than ever. Have we chosen the path of the Levi and the priest, instead of the Good Samaritan?

And I find myself pleading for my church family to be just that: the church.
The silence is deafening.
The inaction feels like betrayal.
I don’t want to step away from you. But I feel like I may no longer have a choice. 

I must follow Jesus.
And that might mean following Him away from you, my church family whom I love.

I have been wrestling with this choice for sometime now.
Even before all that has been occurring in the world the last 3 months, the last 3 weeks, the last 3 days.
I could barely step into our family home last year. I felt like an imposter.
Acting one way on the outside, but feeling so many conflicting things on the inside.
So I just stayed away.
Some people asked why I didn’t just leave.
And my response has always been, because God did not release me from my assignment here.

But, the last few months have been a season of listening, praying, and discerning. Seeking to be obedient and not fearful.

“I don’t want to miss a word you are speaking, because everything you say is life to me.
I don’t want to miss one word, quiet my heart, I’m listening.”

And last Monday, the Lord gave me this word for us, His church and offered me release:

“But alas my faithful and brave warriors, my ambassadors of peace, whom I have called for a purpose, let these injustices anger you, but do not let anger consume you, for that is what the evil one would have you do. Judgement will be mine. The evil one will distract you from the DIVIDING WALLS that are on the brink of being torn down. And now more than ever the world must see us preach in word and deed the Gospel!!

I AM is on the move, the SPIRIT is on the move. We are living in a moment that is ‘just a time as this.’ And therefore I will no longer be shaken or distracted from the glorious assignment I have be given—and that is to share the truth of Jesus Christ and preach good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, help release from darkness the prisoners, comfort the mourning, and to help bestow upon God’s people and creation a crown of beauty instead of ashes. He is making all things new.” (Isaiah 61: 1,3 & Revelations 21:5)

I feel released, for this moment, from the need to engage those in my church family who chose to close their ears, harden their hearts, and remain blind and will not place my energy there, for God is expanding my assignment! I am resolute, and my eyes remain on Christ Jesus and on the mountain top of Calvary! There is no turning back.

Citizenship.

reconciliation-statue
“Reconciliation” by Josefina de Vasconcellos

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of what it means to be an American–especially today on American Independence Day. As an immigrant and someone who is still in the process of applying for my US Citizenship, I think deeply of what it means to become a citizen of the United States of America: what responsibilities, rights, freedoms, and national ideals are connected with this change of national citizenship and how I would live up to these responsibilities.

But what does it mean if someone is a citizen of a nation, yet does not get to experience, in the same way as other citizens, the same rights, privileges, and even freedoms promised to them, merely because of the physical attributes they possess or their birth place of origin. To deny someone, as Philosopher John Locke wrote their “inalienable” natural rights that have been given to them by their Creator and that can never be taken or even given away, among these are: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” seems like it would be un-American, if we simply read the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. If I was a citizen of a nation, and become aware that my neighbor has been denied such inalienable rights with no just cause, would I remain silent, or would I use my voice and my responsibility as a fellow citizen to address such an injustice to my neighbor. This then caused me to think of the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

And when I think about this, I think about my identity as a Jesus Follower, and Paul’s reminder in Philippians 3:20, that as a believer my ultimate citizenship is in heaven. I’ve been reflecting on one’s citizenship, in connection to their allegiance to certain values and ideals, and I am again brought to remember that as a Jesus Follower, who’s ultimate citizenship is in Heaven, that I have then been called to be Christ’s ambassador (2 Corinth. 5:20), someone who brings God’s message of reconciliation, first to Himself and then to each other, and this message is to be shared with everyone I meet this side of heaven. And then to think of the commands that come with this citizenship: To love God and to love my neighbor (Matt. 22: 37-38), to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives (Isa. 61:3), and to work towards “learn[ing] to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isa. 1:17).

So what does it mean to be American?
Who is free? What is freedom?
What does it mean to celebrate one’s freedom, knowing others do not?
How do we pursue justice for each other?
What does it mean to be Filipino?
What does it mean to be Filipino-American?
What does it mean to be a Christian?
How do we reconcile these sometimes opposing identities?
How should my core identity as a Christ Follower inform, shape, and influence my other social identities?

Well…if you wanted a window into how i’m spending my 4th of July–here you go.
What are you thinking about today?

Choice.*

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“You cannot cross the sea by merely standing and staring at the water.”
-Rabindranath Tagore

On most days and weeks the question “how are you doing?” is invited and harmless.

But this week that question has felt
overwhelming,
heavy
and loaded.

That question does not usually illicit such a response in me,
this week it has.

This week, my community experienced a hate incident.
The symbol of a swastika
was drawn over the room of two of my students
who live in the residence hall that I reside in and supervise.
It was drawn over the room of two students,
One African American.
One Caucasian.
And our whole community has been impacted.

The spectrum of emotions and feelings being felt have been and are…
anger
pain
frustration
sadness
fear
disbelief
apathy
dejected
tired
sick
shame
guilt
remorse
confusion
indifference
hopelessness
hopefulness.

The actions of this week and the reactions connected to them,
reminds me that this is not merely an incident, but it is a cry from within our community that requires all of us to pay attention and acknowledge that we have a choice before us to make…….
…………….and to continue making.

Our choices as individuals and as a community can lead us to either
more….
apathy
division
anger
blaming
confusion
indifference
pain
injustice
bitterness
defeat
and hate.

OR

it can lead us to
healing
understanding
empathy
ownership
compassion
justice
repentance
reconciliation
and love.

But the reality is, we must enter the chaos that is upon us and not run from the things we cannot control, but instead choose to have the courage to:

Stay when we want to leave
Listen when we want to speak
Speak when we want to remain silent
Seek to understand when we want to blame another
Love

And love again.

As a person of color at Biola, I personally have had many deep and rich moments of joy, support, positive challenge, growth, and interactions of love and understanding while both a student and staff member.

I love this place.

And it is because I love this place and what it can be, that I know we cannot remain silent and indifferent to the stories within our community that honestly cannot share in the same affections I have for this community.

This breaks my heart and I want something different for the future of this place that means so much to me.

I also think about my student who did this.
The weight this student may now be feeling,
Is a weight I too feel.
I think of them as I think of what we can do to move forward.

The events of this past week and the emotions and feelings being experienced by our community is a reminder that we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but it is
GOOD work.
It won’t be easy, it may be tiring, at times confusing even chaotic, and painful–but sometimes you have to re-break a bone that has not healed correctly so that it can have the chance to heal again to wholeness.

I have been awaken anew to the journey ahead of us, to the choices I, that we, have to make that will take…
courage
conviction
humility
compassion
action
and love.

It does not come from us, but from Christ and His redemptive work on the cross that gives us the hope that we too can be reconciled first to God,
then to each other.

I’m done staring at the water.
I want to cross the sea.

*Opinions expressed here are solely that of the blogger and do not express the views or opinions of Biola University. 

 

 

 

 

Unafraid.

IMG_3539
Question: What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Today, I’ll be joining a group of women to discuss the first few chapters of the book: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. In the first few chapters, the author poses the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”  Within the context of the first few chapters, this question is a reminder to the reader to reflect upon the areas of our lives in which our fear has taken the front seat, and our internalized insecurities have become our own self-fulling prophecies. This book catches me at a crossroad.

To be honest, its a crossroad I didn’t even consider needing to cross until now.

This book has me thinking about the future.

PLANNING. Planning for the future is such an interesting concept when you take the time to think about it. I have found myself asking what is the balance, if there is such a thing, to being present in the moment and planning for what may lie ahead.

Again, I find myself at a crossroad (I’m not actually sure if this is the right word to encompass where I find myself, but it’s the word that has crept into the foreground of my reflections). So much potential and possibility towards what tomorrow can bring, while at the same time acknowledging that at the blink of an eye life can change: illness, death, an accident, closing of a door that you believed was open, a new relationship, and the list goes on. The unknown, I believe, should not leave one feeling anxious or paralyzed about the “what ifs” in life, but quite opposite–it should cause us to not take today for granted.

I have been mulling over the idea that, though it is true that we do not know what tomorrow will bring, this place of mystery is actually an invitation to LIVE.

To LIVE and…..
….make mistakes…
…fail….succeed…..
..be disappointed…
…to be surprised….
…to experience heart break….
…and to have courage to love again….

I want to LIVE and not merely exist.
I want to LIVE because I have been given life.

So, I’m asking myself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid?:

1: I’d keep going back to that book store, just for the chance to ask that guy behind the counter out for a date.
2: I’d finally take my GRE exams and not simply begin the process of applying for the doctorate program I’ve been considering for the last 3 years, but SUBMIT my application.
3: I’d finally sign-up for my church’s financial peace class and face my reality head-on.
4: I’d finally send that letter to my dad.
5: I’d finally put something up on my blog….

So, here’s to practicing life.
To choosing to not be afraid of the unknowns and instead to welcome the unknown with both a humble and courageous spirit.

How would you answer this question…..? 

 

 

Routine.

It’s been one week on the farm.
So many new experiences have presented itself:
Picking wild blueberries.
Making homemade strawberry rhubarb jam.
Mucking the horse’s stall.
Holding baby goats.
Herding goats.
Picking fresh eggs from the hen house.
Loading 100+ barrels of hay.
Learning to make homemade goat’s milk.
Getting shocked by the farm’s electrical fence.
And the list can go on and I know will only continue to grow.

Each day brings something new,
and yet also carries an air of the familiar.
For Kathy, the amazing woman who own’s Spiritwind Farm,
all these “new” experiences for me are but
daily life for her.
It has been and continues to be a joy to be invited into her life.
She welcomes our questions
because she loves this farm, her animals, and wants to share this love with others.

Though each day may present something new,
there is also the gift of:
Routine.

The beauty of routine on a farm is that you must always be flexible.
One cannot always control if it will rain or not and change your plans for the garden.
Or if the chickens will produce the same amount of eggs as the day prior.
But, each morning, everyone on the farm must awake from their slumbers,
and set out on their daily morning chores.

So let me give you a glimpse of our daily morning feeding and cleaning routine through the form of pictures: (this is all done before we even sit down to eat breakfast) 🙂

Each day starts off with lots of hay. It is used to feed most of the animals.

Each day starts off with lots of hay. It is used to feed most of the animals.

Extra yummy food for the goats :)

Extra yummy food for the goats 🙂

First thing we do is feed all the animals while in the barn. Here are the goats.

First thing we do is feed all the animals while in the barn. Here are the goats.

Don't worry they are not attacking me :)

Don’t worry they are not attacking me 🙂

Once fed, all the animals are taken out of the barn to roam around the pasture for the day. This is me preparing to take Abby out of her stall.

Once fed, all the animals are taken out of the barn to roam around the pasture for the day. This is me preparing to take Abby out of her stall.

Here's Lainey taken Lucy out of her stall. :)

Here’s Lainey taking Lucy out of her stall. 🙂

Here's Abby enjoying being out of the barn!

Here’s Abby enjoying being out of the barn!

Then the goats are let out to graze the farm grass as well. :)

Then the goats are let out to graze the farm grass as well. 🙂

Once the horse are out, it's time to muck the stalls. :)

Once the horse’s are out, it’s time to muck the stalls. 🙂

For those who don't know what mucking is, here's a picture to give you an idea.... ;)

For those who don’t know what mucking is, here’s a picture to give you an idea…. 😉

Mucking = Removing all the horse's poop from the  night :)

Mucking = Removing all the horse’s poop from the night 🙂

Then all the horse crap gets taken to the forest or garden....

Then all the horse crap gets taken to the forest or garden….

....where it becomes great fertilizer!!!

….where it becomes great fertilizer!!!

Then we head back to the barn to clean up all the left over hay.

Then we head back to the barn to clean up all the left over hay.

After the barn, we head to  the hen house to feed all the chickens :)

After the barn, we head to the hen house to feed all the chickens 🙂

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Here's Lainey with the chickens outside the hen house.

Here’s Lainey with the chickens outside the hen house.

 

Spiritwind.

Day 1: Done.
When I say done, what I am really saying is the adventure is just beginning.
The beginning of things usually involve introductions,
so let me introduce you to my home away from home for the next few weeks: Spiritwind Farm.
Spiritwind Farm is nestled in the lush hills of the quaint little town of Lebanon, Maine.
It’s full of life, laughter, and love.

It has life found in:
humans, (caretakers of the land and animals)
woman’s best friend (a German shepherd name Rue),
critters (our non-domestic residents…)
horses (beautiful English Shires)
goats (mommas, “teenager” goats and two week old babies)
chickens (eggs for days!)
plants, trees, and land (lots and lots of land).

Laughter  is shared around the table, the barn, the kitchen island, the side porch, and
all through out the day as the task of completing the daily farm chores is had by all.

Love for this place exudes out of the kind-hearted yet strong, vibrant and hard-working
Kathy, who sees her farm as a true labor of love.
Let me show you what I mean:

This picture doesn't even begin to capture Kathy's love.

This picture doesn’t even begin to capture Kathy’s love.

 

 

I’ve only been here for a little less than 48 hours and I feel like it will be
an experience of a life time.

For now, the sun is setting and an early morning awaits me,
so I’ll leave you with some views from my own eyes of this lovely place:

Let me show you what idyllic looks like...

Let me show you what idyllic looks like…

 

Why yes, yes that is a red barn.

Why yes, yes that is a red barn.

Can you believe this was hand made by one man!?!?!

Can you believe this was hand made by one man!?!?!

Our beautiful 100+ Maple Tree (and Rue).

Our beautiful 100+ Maple Tree (and Rue).

The ending of a lovely day on the farm.

The ending of a lovely day on the farm.