Bonhoeffer

Just a few weeks ago I finished reading Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. The book is about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who took on many roles in his life: he was first and foremost a pastor, a spy, and, later on, a martyr.

In this book, Eric painted a picture of Bonhoeffer’s upbringing, schooling, family life, and actions during the World War II. Bonhoeffer is a man who was convinced that the God of the Bible is real, which had very real implications on how one must live.

Without having a foundation of what’s good and bad, it’s easy to follow along with what’s acceptable and not acceptable in society. But because Bonhoeffer trusted God as all knowing of what’s good and evil, he was able to see where Germany was heading towards when so many did not.

“The solution is to do the will of God, to do it radically and courageously and joyfully. To try to explain “right” and “wrong”—to talk about ethics—outside of God and obedience to his will is impossible: “Principles are only tools in the hands of God; they will soon be thrown away when they are no longer useful.” We must look only at God, and in him we are reconciled to our situation in the world. If we look only to principles and rules, we are in a fallen realm where our reality is divided from God.”

Throughout the book, I was amazed by Bonhoeffer’s boldness and drive to stay true to the Church. In those days, a new church arose. The German Christians were anti-Jew; they removed the Old Testament from the Bible and they claimed that the New Testament needed to be modified to portray a Jesus who corresponded entirely to National Socialism. To go even further, they claimed that the Church must no longer put an emphasis on the crucified Christ, but instead focus their attention to a heroic Aryan Jesus. In order to combat all of these outrageous changes, Bonhoeffer was at the forefront of separating the real Church of Germany (Confessing Church) from the pro-nazi Reichskirche.

However what may have piqued my interest the most in the book was Bonhoeffer’s confidence in his decision to become a part of the plot to assassinate Hitler–an idea that can sound outrageous to any Christian. Bonhoeffer didn’t impose his decisions on others and didn’t want to create trouble as the Confessing Church was already suffering in the hands of the Nazis. In this decision, he was described to have moved into a very lonely place. To gain others’ confidence, he saluted to Hitler and pledged his allegiance to him — convincing even some people from the Confessing Church that he had gone to the other side.

Eric Metaxas explains Bonhoeffer’s relationship with God so well,

“For Bonhoeffer, the relationship with God ordered everything else around it. A number of times he referred to the relationship with Jesus Christ as being like the cantus firmus of a piece of music. All the other parts of the music referred to it, and it held them together. To be true to God in the deepest way meant having such  relationship with him that one did not live legalistically by “rules” or “principles.” One could never separate one’s actions from one’s relationship to God. It was a more demanding and more mature level of obedience, and Bonhoeffer had come to see that the evil of Hitler was forcing Christians to go deeper in their obedience, to think harder about what God was asking. Legalistic religion was being shown to be utterly inadequate.”

Bonhoeffer was confident that he was taking the right step. It’s something I definitely admire him for. Many times I believe that it’s our temptation as Christians to just avoid sin rather than do God’s will. We are reminded that,

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

Overall, it was a very good read and a huge encouragement to me. I admired Bonhoeffer’s bravery and his faithfulness towards God in the midst of all the terror and confusion within society.

If you’re interested in reading another Christian’s account of World War 2, you can also check out Corrie ten Boom’s book called, The Hiding Place.

– P

Particle & Wave

In my recent oil painting class, I spent 4 out of our 10 sessions working on just one painting. At the time, I didn’t think it would take me 4 sessions, but the moment I started layering down paint for each box on the grid, I knew that it was going to take me a while. I was inspired to turn Teil Duncan’s painting into a grid painting.

What I love about this painting is the patterns. At times I felt as though I’ve lost the image in the simplicity of the shapes and the layering of colors, but I found that adding in patterns brought the whole image together and kept it from becoming too abstract to the viewer.

Multiple times, upon viewing my work, my instructor would be reminded of how light is both a particle and a wave that cannot be observed at the same time. In similar fashion, the grid painting is a series of mini paintings. Each square held a painting and life in its own, but it painted an even bigger picture when seen together as a whole.

I’ve found it easier, to step back every now and then to make sure that I wasn’t losing sight to the bigger picture.

 

And the final painting…

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– P

The Hiding Place

It’s been a while since I last read a non-fiction Christian novel. I’ve had my share of Christian fiction books like Redeeming Love, The Mark of the Lion Series, and the Chronicles of Narnia. All of them are great and encouraging books that I recommend, but I forgot how much more powerful non-fiction books can be.

For the past couple of weeks/months, I’ve felt myself dive into a dry desert. Though I attended Church and Bible studies, I felt as if I was stuck or stagnant in my walk with Christ. A lot of it was because I found it hard to believe that God was really listening to me. It was hard for me to feel or to know His presence in my prayer life. I felt as though I was talking to thin air, and I would always come out of prayer wondering if I was just self-reflecting or talking to God.

I always knew that we could come before God no matter how small or trivial our problems or circumstances could be, but the question remained in my heart if He really was interested in my work, my relationships, and generally my life.

The Hiding Place is an autobiography of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker in Holland during the time of World War II. She, along with her family, hid Jews during that time, was captured, and was sent to a concentration camp in Germany. Throughout the book, Corrie showed great dependence and trust in Jesus in the midst of all the horrible circumstances she found herself in. When she had nothing, she was rich because of what Jesus offered to her. In the concentration camp, she was able to smuggle in a Bible and would lead worship nights with her sister Betsie and lead many people to Christ.

Corrie wasn’t perfect. She struggled to love the Nazis, and she struggled to forgive the man who betrayed her family, and yet she was able to do these things because of Jesus’s help. Her pain and her sufferings were very much real, which made it all the more easy for me to see God’s love and care for her every step of the way. Her life was filled with too many little miracles to call all of it sheer luck. God’s hand was at work.

After Corrie was released from the concentration camp, she cared for people traumatized from the war and traveled all over the world sharing God’s story of how he continuously and actively tries to redeem us. She did this all the way into her nineties.

What fascinates me the most about this book is that it’s real. It’s easy to see the apostle Paul as a super Christian who’s on another level and who never struggled with sin (which isn’t at all true), so it was encouraging for me to see another Christian from a different era carry the same strong faith and trust in Jesus in spite of her circumstances.

After reading this book, I felt encouraged. I craved for that kind of faith. I found myself praying more and relying on Jesus day by day. Suddenly, I was hungry for the Word and hungry to know this great and powerful God. Thank you Corrie for pointing me to this good and sovereign God who cares about all the big and small things.

– P

How to Travel to the Philippines

In only a couple of days, Walter and I will be traveling to the Philippines to visit my family and friends. This post is for two kinds of people: 1) Walter, who has never changed time zones, and 2) For anyone who’s interested in going to the Philippines one day.

I’ve lived in the Philippines all my life, then I went to the US to go to Penn State for college and stayed when I got a job. I’ve gone back and forth from the US and the Philippines too many times to know the routine. I’ve also made many mistakes along the way to have known what missing flights are like. I am not kidding you when I say I’ve seen my plane take off without me because I missed the final call (I may have cried out of frustration). I know what it’s like to get a cancelled flight and get stranded in a different country on Christmas Day. I know what it’s like to wait in incredibly long lines in airports (much to Walter’s despair). I’ve had so many plane horror stories that my sisters are a little bit iffy when it comes to traveling with me.

To avoid all this, here are a couple of things you could do to make traveling a little less stressful:

  1. Set the expectation that things will never go as smoothly as you would hope. When you’re traveling, it is not uncommon to get flights delayed. This is a major problem if you have a connecting flight that you need to get to at another city. My sister, Trina, and I have experienced running through airports at final boarding calls when we just landed from our connecting flights. I remember my sister saying that the crowd opened up in front of her like the Red Sea as she was lugging her bags with her at a run. With that being said…
  2. Take the least number of connecting flights to your final destination. I do know that this could be a more expensive ticket, which is why I recommend buying tickets at least 6 months in advance. If you’re able to travel when it’s not a major holiday, go for it! Tickets are way cheaper then. An easy way to look at how much tickets cost is by going to Google Flights. The cheapest tickets I could see now from Philadelphia to Manila are around October, November, January, and February where tickets are as low as $692 USD (which is obviously why we’re going in June 😉 ).
  3. If you want to get an even cheaper plane ticket, consider flying out of a major city. Philadelphia is not that far away from New York. If I make the same search on Google Flights for New York to Manila for the months of October, November, January, and February, tickets could be as low as $564 USD. Walter and I will be taking the 2 hour bus ride going to New York and it would only cost us $11 USD each. Not bad.
  4. Travel light as much as possible. Traveling will make you hate your stuff. Don’t fill up every compartment of your suitcase. It’s really not worth it. You will be carrying your bag and pulling it everywhere you go. If you can stick to just having one bag, do it. If you want to bring shampoo and soap, I say just buy it in the Philippines (they’re likely to be cheaper for the same brand). For carry-on bags, only bring the necessities like: toothbrush, toothpaste, extra set of clothes, phone, phone charger, and a book. If you have more electronics, please bring ones you know you’ll actually use. If I can avoid bringing my laptop, I will. I also recommend an extra set of clothes (underwear and a shirt) because there are chances that you’ll get stranded without your checked-in bag and you’ll thank your past self later.
  5. If you’re traveling to the Philippines, get rid of all your long sleeves, coats or jackets. The Philippines is hot and humid (get ready to sweat). Even when it’s raining outside, you’ll be fine even though you’re in shorts. It may be slightly colder, but still comfortable enough to not wear a jacket. One thing I like about the Philippines is that the weather is so predictable. I never used a weather app until I went to the US.
  6. When they say come 3 hours before your actual flight, go 3 hours before your flight. Lines get long pretty fast if you delay going to the airport. Once you have your plane ticket and checked in your bags, find your gate first before wandering off to stores nearby. I once missed my flight because I was too busy eating Chipotle at a different terminal. When it was about time to board, I started looking for my gate. It was only then that I realized that I was in a different terminal and had to take a shuttle to the correct one only to find out that the plane had already left without me. I learned my lesson.
  7. Bring something that could pass the time. You do a lot of waiting in airports. If you do end up going 3 hours before your flight and have zoomed your way to the gate, you may find yourself with an hour left to spare. Read a book, watch a movie, or listen to a podcast. This will also serve to entertain you during the plane ride. There’s around 18 hours of flying time in total if you take the least number of connecting flights possible. My trips are usually separated to a 13 hour flight then a 5 hour flight.**Sometimes, I avoid sleeping the night before for two reasons: 1) Adjusting my body clock to the 12 hour time change that’s about to take place; and 2) To tire myself out so that I can sleep like a baby in the 13 hour flight. I try to pass off the most time through sleep. Sitting down for 13 hours is enough to drive anyone crazy, so I’d rather not be awake through it.
  8. Don’t drink a lot of coffee. This is for you Walter. Once you drink coffee, you’ll be going to the bathroom every 5 minutes. If you’re in the window seat, this will be really inconvenient because you would have to excuse yourself in order to walk out of the aisle. If you have an aisle seat, by all means, go as much as you need to.
  9. Be aware of the socket voltages. In the Philippines, 220 volts are used. If you bring a hairdryer that’s only good for 110 volts (which is the standard voltage in the U.S.), and use it in the Philippines, your hairdryer is likely going to break (or explode).
  10. Have fun! In spite of all of these things, I still love to travel because of all the exciting things you could see, eat, smell, and touch. For me, however, going to the Philippines is going home, and that is exciting all in itself.

I hope these tips were helpful!

– P

Millennials (try to) Cook: Lime Shrimp Dragon Noodles

W: I got a craving for some spicy noodles, so I went to my favorite cooking website to see if there was a fun recipe there for us to try! Budget Bytes is a blog designed to help people make low-cost, delicious food, and the recipe we got was SO good!

We wound up making this recipe, and Patsy and I both agree it was way better than it had any business being!

P: Okay, so let’s face it. When it comes to food, I’m not really that hard to please. I can eat anything and everything. So when I asked Walter to choose any recipe, I had full confidence that I was going to enjoy whatever it was going to be. This recipe, however, exceeded expectations in such a delightful way!

I looked at the ingredients and didn’t really think much of them, but who knew that soy sauce, Sriracha sauce, and brown sugar is all you really need to make the perfect sauce? I may be exaggerating, but that’s also because I can still remember every delectable bite of the noodles.

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Green onion counts as a vegetable, right?
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W: My eyes have been opened to garlic’s magical cooking power
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Not pictured: Patsy and Walter drooling over how amazing this looked and smelled
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And this was only the first serving! The recipe made enough for us both to have seconds

Let us know what you think if you decide to try it!

– P + W

Painting the Girl with Flowers

When I graduated from college, I was not really prepared for what happened afterwards.

My senior year was heavy with classes, case studies, papers, presentations, and social life that I barely felt like there was enough time to process what was happening. Even when I was applying for jobs, writing cover letters, and revising resumes, I didn’t really feel like I was leaving. School dominated the majority of my life, and so the thought of living without it was so foreign to me.

I moved to Philadelphia, started a new job, got my license, bought a car, and moved into a row home with 2 wonderful ladies just a couple of months after graduating. It was a very busy season in my life…and then one day that season was over. Everything quieted down, and I realized that it was a little too quiet.

Suddenly I found myself restless and full of energy. I would go to work from 7am to 3pm and find myself wondering what I should do next. Gone were the days where I would go to class all day and do homework all night (I was a little bit of a nerd). My job didn’t require me to do any work outside of my usual hours (for which I am incredibly grateful). I realized that I had a lot of free time, and I was starting to get bored (there’s only so many Netflix shows you could watch).

To remedy the situation, I started taking art classes. So far, I’ve taken oil painting, weaving 101, and batik art. Now I’m currently taking my second oil painting class. Aside from this, I decided that it would be pretty fun to learn a new instrument, and so I bought myself a ukulele and started strumming away. A big shout out to Yousician for teaching me how to play well. Yousician is an app that reminded me of the Rock Band game I played growing up, but the fun part is they teach you to play on an actual instrument.

Before taking my oil painting class, I’ve already had some experience painting with watercolor and acrylic. I never touched the oils because I felt a little intimidated by it (the Masters used it after all). The type of paint you use really does matter because it changes the ball game of the painting completely. I was accustomed to the acrylic’s bold colors and its process of drying quickly. Oil dried much slower, which gave you more time to mix, blend, or in my case, get the painting to look muddy.

Today I’m sharing with you a painting that I attempted to recreate by Roxanne Raven. She called it, “Wild Heart,” which I found to be very fitting for my restless little heart. I found out about Roxanne through Instagram and fell in love with her Nest and Girls with Flowers Series. I was drawn to the colors and her abstract impressionistic style.

Roxanne used mixed media to complete her paintings. I limited my painting to just oil paint. Here’s the progression:

Then the final product:

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It was challenging to keep the colors pure, but hey, I persevered ’til the end. I posted this photo on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, and guess who commented!?

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Hope you enjoyed it!

– P

Millennials (try to) Cook: Blue Apron

W: Millennials can’t cook. They also can’t clean, get a job, save money, or stop buying avocado toast (and they also apparently can’t buy homes). All of this can seem discouraging if you are a millennial, whatever that means, like Patsy and I are! If you are a millennial like us, you don’t have to be what everyone else says you are. So, as a means of encouragement, we’re going to share with you guys our small attempt to break the stereotype!

We are millennials who (try to) cook. Also, I know that Blue Apron is the most millennial that cooking can get (I mean, you don’t even have to leave your house), so we’re starting slow and working our way up to grandma-expert level of cooking!

P: This past week, Water and I had the opportunity to try out Blue Apron, a subscription that sends you fresh, pre proportioned food and a recipe, for FREE through a friend’s referral! We both agreed that it’s a great alternative to a date night out since we’re able to enjoy good food and learn a new recipe together.

This week we made: Shrimp & Squid Ink Spaghetti, Chicken & Sweet Peppers Tostadas, and Beef Knockwurst & Sauerkraut.

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Walter was a little skeptical of the black spaghetti, but it turned out delicious!

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Food is art.

Unfortunately, we were too hungry to even take a picture of the Beef Knockwurst & Sauerkraut (and I may have also forgotten my camera).

Nevertheless, we both learned and tried something new! They were all so good!

– P + W