Dear lovers and fighters

I started taking kickboxing lessons a few years ago to fulfil a curiosity I’ve had as a teenager. There was something about how the fighters moved around the boxing ring and the impact each hit had that made me feel a victorious uproar. There was something about the resilience and strength fighters had between every round, more excruciating than the one before. Pain was inevitable, fighting through it was an option. 

This post is not meant to glamorize the world of boxing or mixed martial arts or kickboxing. There are legitimate precautions when training and fighting that should be considered. I’m not ignoring that and neither should you. No, this post is about lovers and fighters because we are one and the same. It takes a lot of heart to fight and to love. Most of all, it takes an unshakeable, unbreakable source of stability to hold our ground when things seem to fall apart. 

The first thing they taught us in kickboxing was how to stand, not how to jab or do a cool roundhouse kick. Why? Because how we stand has an impact on agility, the power of a hit and whether or not we keep standing after being hit. In so many ways, the way we stand has an impact on how well we fight through a battle, literally, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.

What do you stand for? 

A simple yet provoking question we’ve all seen on social media, billboards, TV commercials, or even election propaganda. These four simple words strung together speak to the core of our values and who we are as people. Whether we are easily swayed to get a bold sleeve tattoo or experience FOMO from seeing edited travel adventures on Instagram. It all comes back to the same place. So what happens when the fight gets tougher and longer? What happens when we don’t think things could get worse only to find that they certainly can? What happens when you feel like you’ve given it everything you have but nothing seems to be enough?

Where do you turn to when life feels disappointing, unfair and downright confusing? 

Late at night I was sitting by myself at my apartment, my gaze fixed on the floor and my head laying on my sofa cushions. Tears started streaming down my face while music was blasting on the background, partly to drown the silence but mostly so that my next door neighbors wouldn’t hear my groaning. The only thought that echoed in my mind was, “I don’t know what’s worse, rejection, grief or betrayal?” I didn’t expect to have the privilege to experience all of those things within the same year, let alone in the same sentence. Bruises on my shins and an overworked shoulder didn’t seem as painful anymore. But it was a privilege because that much pain was an invitation to heal. That much pain was an invitation to grow more compassionate. That much pain was an invitation to expand God’s love and mercy. 

Fighters are taught to fight through the pain and to use every last bit of human strength they have left – to give it their all. Some have an innate inclination to keep fighting, a fighting spirit. I am a fighter. Always have been and for sure not by my own design. God made me to be a fighter, but He also made me to be a lover so that when all of my human strength is completely depleted I can turn to Him. 

The book of Ruth tells a story of a faithful Moabite woman who showed great loyalty, tenacity and integrity. Ruth became a widow early in her marriage but chose to stay faithful to God and her late husband’s family despite hunger, discrimination and extreme poverty. A lot of theologians interpret her story with great emphasis on her unwavering faithfulness and though I agree with those interpretations, when I reflect on Ruth’s story I picture a fighter. It would have been easier for Ruth to leave her mother-in-law, and it would have been easier to walk away from the marriage covenant that she made with God when her husband died. She’s human like us and would have had to fight through her grief, temptations and doubts. Yet she didn’t give in. Ruth chose to fight through multiple rounds and came out a redeemed woman of faith. 

I’m not Ruth. But like Ruth, I have my own fight to bear. The reality is, the enemy will whisper and try to distract my focus from the transformation that God is doing in my heart. The enemy continues to do so every day. And when he does, these are the fighting words that I will choose to remember:

God is good even when circumstances feel cruel. 
God loves me in ways I may not understand sometimes. 
God has already redeemed all of us through Jesus Christ. 
God will give me the strength, patience, grace and empathy that I didn’t think I had more of. 
God will give me more love I didn’t think I can give others.

Always,

K

P.S. “She is not afraid of tribulation, for all her household is covered in dual garments of righteousness and grace.” Proverbs 31:21 (Passions Translation)

Re: Delayed Delivery

I’ve looked at the Amazon order tracker everyday since my order was confirmed, while being fully aware that deliveries are delayed because of the global pandemic. How irrational is that? It only took me 14 days to admit that I’m absolutely stricken with the need for instant gratification even when I know that somehow the order will eventually be fulfilled. 

Instant versus delayed gratification is not a new concept. Actually it is so ubiquitous that we often forget that it exists in our everyday lives. We want something, anything really, and we want it at the moment that we want it. So what happens when the thing that we want will take longer or would require more effort or would require for us to overcome a challenge? Does it mean that the thing that we want will never come? Does it mean that we should settle for what’s within our reach? 

Here’s the thing I’m not supposed to say but will say – We don’t know and we may never fully know. 

God promises us goodness and blessings throughout the entire Bible. And throughout the entire Bible we can read stories upon stories of men doubtful of His promises mixed in with characters/disciples exemplifying incredible faithfulness. Why is that? Some might say that the circumstances we are dealt with makes it feel impossible that His promises are coming. Others may wonder why God allows pain and heartache in our lives to begin with when He has unimaginable power to eliminate it.  

Here’s the other thing that I’m not supposed to say but will say – We don’t trust beyond what we conceive to be possible, ignoring that our view of the world is imperfect. 

Imagine losing your family, your financial wealth and contracting a disease that drastically changed your appearance. Then include losing everything else you might care about. How do you think you would feel? The Book of Job tells a story of a man who experienced exactly that, yet he didn’t lose faith in God. Although, I’ll admit that at some point in the story Job did question why God allowed this much misfortune. He questioned because Job is human. He is like one of us – only seeing the present devastation, relishing on the riches of the past, and feeling completely anxious of the future he doesn’t have control over. This may look like an extreme example, but in reality isn’t this what I had been doing by checking my Amazon order tracker every day? 

The package will come when it’s meant to come. God has the most sophisticated fulfillment and logistics system. We just don’t see how the supply chain is progressing. Our job is to make sure that we’re ready to receive the delivery when it does come. 

Always, 

K

P.S. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

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

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.