Dear Malta

photo of St. Julian Bay at Mlata
St. Julian, Malta

I came to know you from Paul, the Apostle Paul to be exact. Reading the verses that mentioned you in the Book of Acts, there was something that was pulling me to you… 

In retrospect, I needed to see you. You gave me the space and time to breathe again. You led me to my refuge amidst my very own shipwreck. 

Oftentimes, I’m very good at compartmentalizing between my personal life, work, and my inner thoughts. It’s one of the reasons why it may shock some people when I say that I’ve been feeling anxious, in pain or sad. They don’t see past the smile, where the pain and disappointment like to dwell. But when things got too much, Lisbon taught me that it’s okay to sit in that moment. It’s okay to feel sad because sadness is as real as feeling happy.

Riding around the island on your rubble roads and steep hills, I saw your most protected ruins, vibrant fisherman village of Marsaxlokk, eclectic city centre, and fields of fertile farmland. Everywhere I turned was the crisp blue Mediterranean Sea sparkling and endless. There was always something about water that gave my heart peace. And you, Malta, are surrounded by it in every corner. 

photo of woman sitting above a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea
Hagar Qim & Mnajdra Temple, Malta

Taking a few moments to myself before getting back to the sightseeing bus, I sat cliffside in awe and hope. The kind of hope that I didn’t have much left of before landing at your footsteps. You see, I had a vision of a future life I thought could happen. It wasn’t a life of extravagance or incredible success. In fact, it was a simple life with very ordinary ways, nonetheless I cherished it dearly. Unfortunately, that life disintegrated right before I booked my plane tickets and hotel accommodations. Seeing the vastness of the Mediterranean Sea as I sat down by rocks and overgrown weeds reminded me that I have absolutely no control of my life now, in the past or in the future. Much like how the water has no choice of which beaches its waves crash onto. The water just goes with the flow yet somehow it has the power to move through mountains. How is that?

Malta, you taught me that having no control of my life does not mean that I should lose hope. Quite the opposite actually. You taught me that my life is guided by someone far greater than me. Someone who knows me better than I know myself, and has planned out a life far more fulfilling that I ever could. You led me to my refuge by faith. 

I couldn’t fathom how Paul continued to have so much trust and faith despite being shipwrecked in an unknown island. It would have been easy to be persuaded with fears and anxieties. Afterall, he was human. And, I’m not saying that going to Malta has helped me gain a full understanding. Although, I do know this. Hope is not wishful thinking. Truly hoping for a better tomorrow means having the confidence to expect a better tomorrow through faith and trust that God has already created it for us. That’s the refuge He has given all of us. 

Always, 

K

P.S. For we walk by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Part 2: 18 Thoughts I Should Probably Say Out Loud

A few years ago I wrote  a blog post called ‘18 thoughts I should probably say out loud’ to get out of my own head. It was a way for me to not let some recurring thoughts run amuck. Social distancing as we try to reduce risks for COVID may also mean a more isolated experience for others; more time to think and overanalyze. 

Thoughts are powerful. What we do with them is just if not more impactful. 

  1. I will always choose love over pain, anger, frustration, disappointment, fear and confusion. It’s just who I am.
  2. I don’t recognize the man you’ve become. I don’t know you anymore.
  3. How you get consumed by fear and doubt is up to you. Looking for instances to justify those fears/doubts is a sign that you’ve already been consumed by them. Can you find objective proof? Are you seeing things with empathetic eyes?
  4. “GDP does not measure value, it measures what we value.” (quote from a presentation)
  5. I miss playing outside with my niece.
  6. God is my refuge.
  7. If tomorrow was the last day, how and who will you spend it with?
  8. How can we make sure that those who need it most can continue to find access to meals?
  9. I hope you learn to forgive your demons.
  10. What’s next? How do I keep growing?
  11. Just because something was said under your breath does not make it less painful. Is this the same attitude that you like to receive?
  12. Everybody is just doing their best.
  13. How are you acting on your values today?
  14. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
  15. Self-sabotage is a real thing. Regardless of how intangible it may seem.
  16. I wish you had faith in me. Even just a little bit.
  17. It’s really hard to take the high road all the time. Correction: exhausting.
  18. Accepting love can be just as difficult as giving it, but happy endings do exist. They are just not as utopic as the rom-com movies depict them to be.

Some thoughts should be challenged or better off letting go, while others are better acting on. Choose wisely. Choose thoughts with positive impact. 

Always, 

K

P.S. “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

Dear 17-year old me

February 22, 2020: Last day of your first culinary arts course

It only took us 10 years before taking our first culinary class at an actual culinary school. It was worth the wait! It only goes to show that oftentimes the thing we always wanted, truly wanted, will come with patience and faith. 

Looking back, had you taken that road defiantly would have changed your passion and appreciation for food. You had to learn over the course of ten years why it matters, how cooking makes you feel, and what about food makes it a big part of your identity. The uncertainty of waiting, yearning for the thing you wanted to do only made the experience that much richer. 

Wearing the pristine white chef’s coat, top hat, and apron for the first time became a proclamation to genuinely and openly put yourself into the world with confidence. 

This is me. This is the woman that God is making me to be.

And what an exhilarating feeling it was! The 6:30 AM wake up routine during cold winter Saturdays won’t matter. Showing up was more important. Acting on your values with integrity matters. 

Though the next 10 years of waiting for this moment may seem too long, frustrating, and most of all exhaustive, the day will come at the right moment. You will feel with every bone in your body that this moment is the right moment. So simmer down. Take time to discover. Making a master stock requires the right ingredients, time and patience to marry all the flavours together. So do you. 

Always, 

K

P.S. Faith is the salt that will help you heal, bring you hope and determination. Sprinkle it in every aspect of your life, generously. 

To my future husband

I don’t know where you are, when we’ll meet or whether we’ve already met. But I do know that I will always choose to love you and have faith in you when the time comes. Every single day. Until then, this is an open letter I’ll keep close to my heart.

Dear K, 

You will fall deeply and unconditionally in love with a man who cares to understand and accept you. He will show his empathy towards you through his speech and actions. He will love you unconditionally and faithfully, the same way you’ve fallen in love with him. He knows the value of a good woman and will choose you, and only you, especially in moments of fear, anger or disappointment.

When it comes to his time, he will show you that you are a priority. No work could ever be big enough or more important. Nonetheless, you will show him respect as work and his ambitious goals are equally important as yours. He will similarly treat you with respect and admiration. And he will not be ashamed, but proud of you as his partner and best friend. 

Over time you will grow together and align in values. You will have beautiful children and build a home together. This man will not only want you to be a part of his life, he will build and cultivate a Christ-centered life with you. A choice he is not hesitant to make because having a family is something he has truly wanted for himself. He will never leave you or make you feel alone. He will protect you and care for you and your family as a symbol of his appreciation and gratitude for your life together. He will not take you, your commitment and love for granted.

You will grow old and have wonderful squishy little grandchildren running all around the house. Each day may not be perfect but always filled with a grateful heart and a joyous smile. 

Stay hopeful. Have patience. 

Love always,

K

P.S. This letter is to those relentlessly putting their hearts on the line with the hope of a happier ending. Loving someone is the most courageous choice and action any of us can take. It requires trust, hope, friendship, integrity, vulnerability, commitment, and most of all, faith. 

Your day will come, just be ready to receive and accept the love freely given to you.