Before I forget: loving God in busyness and stillness

Before I forget: loving God in busyness and stillness

This is my cry, my one desire
Just to be where You are Lord
Now and forever it’s more than a song
My one desire is to be with You
Is to be with You Jesus

Before I forget, let this song be etched to my brain so I may remember this reflection.

During one of the evening worships at SHouT, as we were singing this song, I paused.

You see, I had to remind myself to not just sing for the sake of singing, and actually pray. Too often, after being spiritually high from an encounter or experience, reality sets in, old sins come back and weeks can go by without prayers. There would be days when His words would fail to resonate with me- no realizations or affirmations. God seems quiet and far, and I understand what St. Augustine meant with, “Our heart is restless until it rests on You.” I yearn and long for the blazing fire, when only a spark is present.

This time though, God revealed a few things to me. Maybe He seems silent because He is so close, and I’m too caught up with my daily life that praying has become a chore. The daily Bible readings turns to a skim-through, I rush the Our Father’s and stumble hastily on the Hail Mary’s.

Perhaps, like tea, it’s better to let it simmer. Reflect and ponder, as I was constantly reminded this year. Remind myself that this -whether worship song or one of the prayers- is a prayer. Otherwise, it turns to another task we can tick off on our to-do list, when praying is not supposed to be an obligation but a consistent act, done out of need and love for Him.

Loving Jesus is not like loving a person, wherein people and emotions can come and go. His love is constant and unconditional. Just because He hasn’t been loud or, to put in Tagalog terms, “nag-paparamdam“, doesn’t mean He isn’t there. God is with us when He is at the center of our hearts, He is with us in times of hurt, when we fall back to our sins and yes, even during the tranquility and daily bustle of life.

So, before I forget, remind me to not be defined by whatever it is that is hindering me from reaching out to You. To welcome God in my busy and mundane life. To seek God in His silence and stillness.

Current Stuff I’m Geeking About No. 1

I’ve always seen the Currently lists on blogs, but felt they’re not enough or boring, so I decided to start my own. Something less formal and I can relate to. So, here’s some recent interesting things worth a mention:

Books
#GirlBoss has been my go-to book for metro rides and something I try to read in the morning to give me a motivating push or, when I’m too sleepy and can’t be bothered to sleep in the mornings, on the way home from work. I’m not yet done, but I feel it’s a do-something-with-your-life book that could be kick in the butt 20somethings need.

On to spiritual reads, I’m trying to continue Youcat: Youth Prayer Book. It’s really lovely and I’ve tried to subconsciously motivate myself by putting it on my bed as a reminder to read a chapter a day (as they’ve suggested). But oh dear, my body is so stubborn. When I see my bed and covers, khalas, goodbye world.

Next on my reading list is the last from the Maze Runner trilogy: The Death Cure by James Dashner and then hopefully, Rick Riordan’s The Blood of Olympus which I’m hearing good things about. Veronica Roth’s Allegiant is also on my list. I’m actually at the end of it, but I just refuse to finish the last chapter because I accidentally found out the ending. Curse spoilers! So, when I’m emotionally ready for it, maybe I’ll finish it. Maybe.

Internet finds
I came across Start Something: The Power of Side Projects when I was discouraged and overwhelmed by the projects I want to pursue and it’s been helpful. I am so in awe with @swimiss and how her enthusiasm for solving problems led to companies she’s built. Here’s a talk she gave: (more…)

The warm up

Honesty time: I wanted to delete this blog. I cringed at my previous musings.

So for months, I’ve stayed away, though I knew I just wanted to write. I enjoy what I’m writing about at work, but I just want to write for the sake of having something written for myself. For an introverted person about my feelings and opinions, it’s gratifying and scary at the same time. I’m still working on that part of myself.

I’ve been going through some changes for a while. And change is good. But at the end of the day, there are some things I just want to get all out of my head. Remember the pensieve in Harry Potter? In muggle terms, it’s a magical vessel filled with thoughts and memories. I want my pensieve back.

I want to write, but my own perfectionist side screams, “Really? You want to write about that? Who cares?” I try too hard and think that everything should only be the best. Nothing mediocre.

There are days when I wish I could finish writing essays about how the current state of selfies is ruining our culture, how I think the graphic novel Saga is a mixture of Romeo and Juliet and Game of Thrones with a bit more spunk, about how I’m okay with being an introvert and even though it’s universally accepted I’m still shamed for it, how Once Upon A Time is doing something really exciting with giving fairy tale characters their own modern take and twisted back story, and how #GirlBoss is the book I wish I had after graduating.

No, really. I wanted to go on about the struggle of trying to dress somewhat stylishly easy-going and sometimes, work-appropriate while still being thrifty and ready for the blistering heat of Dubai, how cool it is to find pastors, priests and nuns interacting with new media to spread Christianity and how we can learn from them, the current exciting state of the Dubai art scene and actually post pictures of exhibitions I go to, about the awesomeness of the Pocket app and how it feeds my reading addiction during metro rides, why I like the 13th Doctor but still miss Amy Pond, how watching Gilmore Girls again makes me wish for a better mom-daughter relationship, and so much more. I just want to write. But for now, they are just drafts and mere thoughts.

In the meantime, I suppose this warm up is enough for the days-with-blog-entries to come.

Photos from my also seldom updated photo blog, by the way.

On My Messy and Organized Information Consumption

For a few years now, I’ve been on an information limbo with my Internet content consumption. I love falling into the rabbit hole of the Internet abyss to read content and stories, in an effort to be well-read in almost everything and anything. I’ve always wondered how Internet curators, like the awesome Brain Pickings managed to read through so much content to find the most interesting things and ‘cross-pollinate‘ ideas creatively to process it to ideas and concepts.

It’s taken me a few years and I’m just a beginner. But I think I have a system.

Back when Google Reader was still alive, I categorized RSS feeds to how I’d like to ideally read. Sometimes I get through them, often I don’t. I would go for months having more than 100,000 articles unread.

When Google Reader stopped, I was partly relieved because let’s be honest, I will never be able to finish reading all that. But there was Feedly, so after filtering out sites I rarely visit, I shifted to Feedly. The design and keyboard shortcuts were a plus to lessening the unread article counts.

Having an iPad and an Android phone was an advantage too, it proved easier to read during my downtime or when I wanted be away from my laptop. I say so, because at the moment, I’m really enjoying Flipboard.

I love its magazine-like experience and the topics aren’t bad as well. It’s quite interesting to see what others curate to their own ‘magazines’ too. My only peeve is not being able to add personal preferences of websites in the topics. I’m not quite sure how the algorithms of how a website gets chosen to appear in a topic gets chosen, but I’m a bit skeptic that I might be influenced.

I love the feature of being able to add feeds from Google Reader, Twitter and other social accounts though, especially since I have the tendency to favorite articles on Twitter I’d like to read later.

***

“An ideal state far in the horizon to where I put stories and ideas and information for me to consume and synthesize to make myself a better, more informed person.”

-  Cheri Lucas from Writing Through to the Fog.

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My reading year, in 2013

Looking back to the books I’ve read in 2013 is kind of embarrassing. Much like the stuck phase of what my life was/is, it reflected on my reading habits as well. I’ve learnt that reading books for me is an experience. Maybe even a phase in my life. The books I’ve read got me so emotionally attached that with every book I finished, I felt like I was ending a wonderful relationship.

That said, it was hard to choose only a few selected ones, but here are my 10 favorite books of 2013:

Mindy KalingIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

If Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were comedy writers and inspiring women I look up to, Mindy Kaling would be the best friend I wish I had. Honestly, after reading this book, I wish she was a friend I had in school.  I could relate to her on having few friends, pleasing her immigrant parents, being a late bloomer, not understanding one night stands, believing/hoping on long-lasting relationships.

Mindy gets away with talking about race, self-love and comedy in such an easygoing and engaging way. For a few weeks, this was the book I would read on the way home in the metro from a hard day in university. Perfect for college-aged women. It is also partly the reason why I love the TV show, The Mindy Project.

C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

I finally get around to finishing the Narnia chronicles and as much as I loved the others, nothing can still beat this one. Who wouldn’t want a find a whole new world in the back racks of a closet? Here, I love the themes of forgiveness and family.

I never really noticed the Christianity symbolism but I’ve found Aslan heartwarming, and I thought The White Witch was fierce and always hoped she would have goodness in her in the end. It’s a good classic read.

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman’s prose is a combination of creepy and sweet elements, a trait that makes it appealing for children and adults. It’s an interesting plot for a graveyard of ghosts and spirits to raise a baby.

Somehow, the world looks better through Nobody’s (I love that this was his name as well, quite metaphorical) naive eyes. The parents who adopted him and his guardian are endearing. I loved this part the most:

You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change.”

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I’m not a runner but a lover of his books and I must say, I definitely enjoyed this open-ended memoir-esque book by the great Murakami. For a while, it inspired me to start running.

It’s wonderful insight to his thoughts on running, creativity, writing and general pleasant outlook on life. His dedication, consistency, perseverance and struggles to his work, whether it was running his jazz bar or writing, or keeping fit, is impressive.

Chetan Bhagat, 2 States: The Story of My Marriage

This was an enjoyable and enlightening read. Perhaps it was because I have strict Asian parents too and I understand the pressure someone can get from parents with high expectations. Plus the woes of ‘marrying’ each other’s families accepted by our culture’s society.

Also, though I have Indian friends, it’s quite interesting to know new things about their cultural quirks. (more…)

10 things I’ve learnt from college the hard way

After 4 years, I present the lessons I’m glad to have learnt (albeit, painfully and wished I realized earlier) through college.

10. You are broke because you’ve spent your money on ‘going-out’ dinners or expensive campus food court instead of staying in for home-cooked lunch/dinner and learning to cook. Or by taking a taxi cab because it’s too hot to wait for a bus and less stressful to commute. Use meal coupons/discounts and student metro cards – they’re the students’ Holy Grail.

9. If you never speak up about the little things – e.g. not wanting to be part of a group you know that will eventually make you do all the work, being too shy to raise interesting topics and issues in class for participation grade, brushing off snarky remarks, not asking for help or a second look for feedback from a professor – the world will walk all over you. The universe doesn’t give everything on a silver platter.

8. But of course, be grateful. For the extra minute you’re given when it’s time to collect the exam papers, to the kindness of strangers, for the understanding of friends and for the support of parents and mentors. Take victories whenever and wherever you can, as my professor would always remind me. (more…)

The week I started using a flip phone

On November 11, my Blackberry had completely died and given up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never liked it that much. It’s always been a crappy phone, albeit cheap and allowed me to contact anyone on my BBM, Whatsapp and other social accounts easily, thanks to Etisalat’s AED49/month package. But yes, it was slow and it drove me insane to the point where I want to smash it to pieces through a wall. I was alright with its imminent demise.

I was about to succumb to another cheap Blackberry or maybe an Android if I can scrounge up some more. And then, I remembered a part social experiment, part self-seeking journey and story of how a Verge tech journalist left the internet for a year. I could understand his reasons: wanting more ‘real’ social interactions, reduce reliance on internet and so forth. It was brave, crazy and funny, and I really admired it.

Inspired by his accounts, since I don’t think I can last without internet, I decided to forgo an easier level: by ditching my smart phone and going back to a dumb phone, like my dad’s old Samsung flip phone.

It’s been equal amounts of frustration and freedom. (more…)