Re: There’s a time for that

I was walking along High Park over the holiday break. The pond along the west side of the park had frozen over, some parts more solid than others. Caution signs plastered at the edges for visitors and children to mind the freezing water and unstable icy surface. Somehow ducks still found their way across the centre of the pond, swimming and splashing in the water while looking for whatever food they can find. Because there’s still life beneath the ice even if we may not see it. 

With a controversial political upheaval and continued uncertainty of when the world will open up again, it feels like we’ve been in this period of desolate winter for so long. And 2021 just started. During my chilly afternoon walk at the park, all I could think about was Ecclesiastes 3. 

A time for everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to tear and a time mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

Friends, there is still hope, we can still have peace and we can still find joy. Sometimes the fear of uncertainty overshadows the freedom of living in the present. And sometimes running away from the past dilutes the truth and beauty of its story. This might sound super romantic or to some overly optimistic, but it is undeniable…

What’s meant to be will find its way. 

The ducks find their way no matter what season. Made resilient, so will we. 

Always, 

K

P.S. In my humble opinion, strength is not the assertion of force, toughness, will power, the loudest voice in the room or even the ability to fight. Strength is confident security.   

Dear 2020

When we think about 2020 years from now there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the first word that we might all be reminded of is coronavirus or COVID-19. You’ve (2020) descended upon us with the same jolly smiles on new year’s day only to completely shatter any notion of expectation of what the year ahead may turn out to be. How it continues to be. But we would all be remiss if we didn’t see the flip side. You gave us many gifts, one of which is compelling us to be still. Surfacing the things we value most. Rooting us in the comforts of our homes. Challenging us to develop a grateful heart despite of it all. And humbling us to hope for something bigger than ourselves because in the grand scheme of things, we’re really not that important. 

Reflecting on the last couple of days of 2020, the word that comes to my mind is forgiveness. It took me 28 years of existence to notice that forgiveness is actually made up of 3 words – ‘for’, ‘give’ and ‘ness’. I guess it’s not the kind of word or concept that I’ve meditated on deeply. After all, as children we’ve been taught to say sorry, to forgive then forget. Although as I’ve been schooled [the hard way] the past year, forgiveness is so much more than that. Pain precedes forgiveness, but so do choice and most of all, love. 

If we break down the 3 words that comprise forgiveness an incredible truth comes out. 

For – with the object or purpose of; intended to belong to or be used in connection with; suiting the purpose or needs of; in order to obtain, acquire or gain

Give – to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; to place in someone’s care; to make a gift or gifts

Ness – a headland; promontory (a high point of land or rock projecting into the sea or other water beyond the line of coast); cape

Nowhere in each word definitions require (or even in the literal definition of forgiveness as one word) reciprocation or reconciliation contrary to expected conventions. So what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is a purposeful gift that knows no bounds. And yes, I hear you when you say that it’s not that simple in practise. In fact, it’s probably the most costly gift that we all have the choice to give/receive especially when the pain runs deep, hope is depleted and trust annihilated. I get it. I have a hard time doing it too without anger or bitterness offering reasons why I shouldn’t. But who am I to withhold forgiveness when I have been forgiven?

Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongue, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words or knowledge are forgotten. 

1 Corinthians 13:8 (Passions Translation)

In a word, forgiveness is love. The kind of love that allowed for all of us to receive second, third, fourth, unlimited chances to correct our mistakes through Christ. The kind of unconditional love that sees and accepts us for all of who we are, come what may. So I ask again, how can I not extend the love that Christ freely gives me every single day? 

2020 may have reshaped our lives in ways we didn’t expect or wanted, and we may not know what 2021 may bring with new strains of the virus popping up. But this is all just part of experiencing real life – the bad, the painful, the beautiful, the fulfilling, the extraordinary. So thank you, 2020, for giving me marked moments. 

Always, 

K

P.S. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5 (ESV)

Re: Chocolate chip walnut cookies

This cookie has dark chocolate, white chocolate chips and walnuts

There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. Two words come to mind – home and smile. And isn’t that what warm chocolate chip cookies are? I don’t know anyone who frowns upon receiving cookies. It’s a cozy sweet hug and smile adorned with ooey gooey melted chocolates and crunchy walnuts wrapped in a comforting cookie package. Before you get yourself some warm milk, below is my tried and tested chocolate chip walnut cookie recipe. If you want to go nut free, skip the walnuts and substitute another kind of chocolate or dried fruit. 

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted room temperature butter

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cup all purpose flour (sifted)

¼ tsp ground coffee 

Pinch of salt

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp baking powder

½ cup bar 70% dark chocolate shards (around 1 bar) 

½ cup chopped walnuts 

Dash of ground cinnamon

Procedure:

  1. Chop dark chocolate and walnuts to pea size pieces then set aside in a bowl
  2. In a large bowl cream unsalted room temperature butter with brown sugar and white sugar
  3. Once the sugars are incorporated in the butter (the butter tends to turn lighter in colour), add the egg and vanilla extract to the mixture
  4. Sift together all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt 
  5. Add cinnamon and ground coffee to the flour mixture then stir with a fork to ensure even distribution 
  6. Combine the flour mixture in the butter mixture
  7. Add chopped walnuts and chocolates in the bowl
  8. Form cookies using an ice cream scoop or a regular spoon
  9. After forming the cookies, place in the fridge until the oven is preheated to 375 degree fahrenheit 
  10. Take out the cookies and bake for 14 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown

**This recipe makes 12 cookies.** You can use white chocolate or milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate. This cookie dough also freezes well if you’d like to save some for a rainy day. 

Always,

K

Re: Imperfections. That’s the good stuff.

Earlier this year I wrote a letter To my future husband. I admit, it was romantic. The kind of stuff that reminds us of the possibility of love and genuine relationships in a world where partners are as “easy” to replace as a ratty old shoe. You thought I was going to say something about swiping left or right didn’t you? Nah. Dating apps have evolved to customized profiles and gamifying the experience so dating doesn’t seem as daunting or despondent. The thing is, the parts that make it challenging or hopeless are the parts that make it worth it. 

We remember the first date not because it was like a meet cute taken out of a rom-com movie. We remember the dribbles of sweat slowly streaming down the side of his face or the sauce at the corner of her lips while she ate a burger. We cherish the way we know how they like to take their coffee or knowing their go-to order at a fast food chain. We relish recognizing the nuances of their smiles like being privy to the world’s best kept secret – one just to be nice, another during awkward conversations and the real smile that tells us that you actually feel joyful. These are the things that I glazed over in that letter. But these are the things that (in my humble opinion) matter most.

To be seen. And loved. 

To be forgiven. And accepted. 

To unravel. And receive compassion.

Over the years I blogged about ‘my unorthodox philosophies on love’ or love in general. Correction, I blogged about intellectualizing and rationalizing love without allowing myself to fully feel the depth of it because I was afraid of what would happen when I inevitably love someone more than myself. Living in a self-assertive cultural zeitgeist, it feels countercultural doesn’t it? 

I don’t really know how to end this random blog post so I’ll just post this question – If our imperfections make us who we are, why do we look for the ‘one’ perfect person or idealize relationships when things aren’t easy?

Always,

K

P.S. I’m not going to quote 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It’s hard to resonate with until you truly feel His [God’s] love. Otherwise it may turn into an unachievable standard that we impose into fellow human beings. Who wants that? There’s really only one Being that could love us like that. And what a gracious love it is.