Author Archives: Jason

About Jason

Stats and analysis nerd. Soccer lover. Remote worker. I distill, organize and simplify. It doesn't matter where I am (a restaurant, my pantry, my office, a store), but where I see complexity triggers a desire to bring order to the chaos.

31 Things I’ve Learned

I’m a little late on this, but here is a list of 31 things (in no particular order) of things that I’ve learned in my 31 years of existence.

      1. Always say “Please” and “Thank you” to everyone. It’s called common decency for a reason.
      2. Learn to touch type.
      3. Cable TV is a waste of time and money.
      4. I have never regretted waiting for a deal to buy something.
      5. “No” is an acceptable word to say to others.
      6. “No” is an acceptable word for others to say to you.
      7. Trust yourself to make big life decisions. God gave you free will for a reason.
      8. Respond to people in a timely manner.
      9. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
      10. Life is scary. Get used to it.
      11. There are no magical fixes.
      12. Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy. 
      13. Make eye contact with the people you’re talking to.
      14. Learn how to laugh at yourself.
      15. A real man is comfortable with himself. He does not fear the color pink, tea parties, makeup, princess play time or taking his daughter shopping. Anyone selling you another version of a man is a fraud.
      16. Get over yourself. You are not the center of the universe. Yes, God loves you and you are made unique in His image, but He is bigger than you. Don’t think that you are irreplaceable to the mission.
      17. “More” is the answer of anxious people. (@yosoykristy)
      18. I’ve never regretted saying “Yes” to God.
      19. Be a person of gratitude.
      20. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
      21. Take the 30 seconds to hang up your clothes.
      22. Tell your family you love them. Everyday.
      23. Running is an excellent stress reliever.
      24. Be teachable. You don’t know everything.
      25. Have the posture of a learner. You can always learn something from someone else.
      26. Playing Devil’s Advocate for the sake of it is old and tiring. Don’t do it. You’ll have no friends.
      27. Don’t be a leecher and pull your own weight. Don’t be that guy who always bums a ride but never offers to drive. Don’t be that guy who sits while everyone else cleans up. Don’t be that guy who never offers to pay for a round. You are selfish and greedy and no one will like you.
      28. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.
      29. Have an open mind and learn to appreciate different things. There’s a difference between appreciating something and liking something. If you don’t know the difference, let that be 29(a) for you.
      30. Learn and know basic grammar. (That includes typing it out. Don’t be lazy.)

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      31. Always, always, always side with your spouse and never complain about them to your parents.

Sound Mind Investing

You may have noticed (but probably not) that there’s one “ad” on this blog to a company named “Sound Mind Investing”. It’s been there for a few years now and one that, despite my general disdain for ads, it’s one that I feel very good about having on this site. Some of you may know from various Facebook statuses or my previous posts on this blog that Sound Mind Investing (SMI) changed my life many years ago. It helped me get my financial house in order, and taught me how to give, save and spend appropriately and without any guilt. I love SMI and what they stand for so rather than just a passive ad on the side, I wanted to write a little more about them and how you can benefit from their services too.

Take a look at their mission statement:

Sound Mind Investing exists to help individuals understand and apply Biblically-based principles for making spending and investing decisions in order that:

  • their future financial security would be strengthened, and
  • their giving to worldwide missionary efforts for the cause of Christ would accelerate.
In other words, we want to help you have more so you can give more.

I have been a faithful subscriber to their newsletter since 2008 and my only regret was not discovering them sooner. As a subscriber to their monthly newsletter, SMI gives their monthly investment suggestions and I simply follow them. Not every pick has been a winner. I recall my first year with them and I lost something to the tune of 24% of my portfolio (but the Dow and S&P 500 lost an average of 38% for comparison). But I never panicked and was actually very excited about that because I had 40 some years for that investment to bounce back and because I believed and was taught the principle of “dollar cost averaging” through their handbook.

Which brings me to the other offering that SMI provides that I have found to be invaluable in every way: the SMI Handbook. Being new to finances back in my early twenties, I picked this book up off a recommendation from a friend and decided to go cover to cover in a week. (Something I don’t actually recommend.) I was young and hungry, so I devoured it, learning everything from how to save to mutual funds, to the differences between stocks and bonds, from asset allocations to understanding mortgages. Whenever I show people the book, they immediately get intimidated. Not going to lie, it is a thick read with lots and lots of pages. What I try to remind people and encourage them is to treat this as a textbook and handbook, not a novel to be read straight through. From time to time I still pick the book off from my bookshelf to scan a few sections to brush up on topics that I need or want a refresher for.

But what good is a financial newsletter recommendation without some facts? So just how good have their picks been? Since I started investing and following their picks in 2008, I have seen my portfolio grow 33% overall. But more importantly for me and TJ is that our financial house is in order and we have NEVER fought about money during our marriage. Never. We have no debt (minus a mortgage). No car payments. No student loans. We have an emergency fund. We are saving for “retirement” so that we can be self funded ministers of the Gospel in our latter years. We have college savings for our children so that they can graduate from college without the burden of debt. But the best part of all? Our giving has increased every year too. Yes, we have been able to save more but the best thing for us has been enabling ourselves to give more to the causes that we are passionate about.

For anyone who is interested in subscribing, I would highly recommend you do the web option for $9.95/month. You get the digital version of their newsletter via email AND you get full access to their website with other helpful articles and readings over various financial topics. The print only version is $79/annually and the dual version (which gets you both the printed newsletters and web access) is $79/annually plus $4.95/month.

Would you like your financial house in order? Would you like to be worry free about the future and your “retirement years? Would you like to increase and give to all the places where God is asking you to?

If you answered “yes” to the previous questions, why not give SMI a try?


My Thankful Project

In the past few weeks our church has done a short emphasis on joy. In some sense, this is right up my alley and in others, this really isn’t. What I’ve appreciated from what the pastor and our Sunday School leader mentioned was this joy is a choice. I must choose to be joyful. It is me initiating my emotions and not me reacting to circumstances. The fact that is on me to decide makes it both a positive and negative for me personally. I am hopeful that I can be joyful in all things because it’s simply just me learning and choosing positively, but it’s also depressing to realize how many times I’m resentful, angry and upset and I know it’s because I’m just reacting.

In one of my late Mother In Law’s journal entries, she wrote how thankful she was that the roof just leaked a little bit today. I have absolutely no grid for that. I’ve always been privileged to have a sturdy roof over my head and I’ve never once been thankful or joyful that I’ve never had to worry about my roof leaking.

I’ve seen this done before as many of you probably have to, but I’d like to start a Thankfulness Project for the next 365 days. Every day, I want to write about something that I’m thankful for from the biggest things such as my family to the smallest things such as having running water in my home. I want to point my heart and mind in a positive direction because I know how easy it can be for me to be dissatisfied and ungrateful. I want to be grateful and I want to be thankful. And I know I can be those things if I choose to be joyful, especially when things are hard. It’s what I love about my Mother In Law’s entry. There was acknowledgement that things were difficult, but she still chose to find something to be joyful about. I very much admire her for that quality.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. (Phil 2:14)

My plan is to do this via Twitter and Facebook. You can find me there if you’d like to follow along and participate with me.


My Generational Hope

When I first started my journey with Cru I really didn’t think that I would be much more than a spiritual guide to college students. But after five great years with Epic Movement, I’ve come to realize that I am much more than that. I am to many of my Asian American brothers and sisters, a cultural guide as well.

I had that typical Chinese upbringing where the values imparted to me where education, job and wealth were to bring me life. A good education would bring me a job of status and that would equate into a large salary. Having the means to buy anything and to take care of my entire family, across multiple generations, would translate that I was a success. That I was the pride and joy of my family and that I had done my duty as a son, husband and father.

I know I am not alone in that story. Many of my Asian American family share in a similar upbringing. Many of us believe in that gospel and put everything we have in pursuit of the Asian American dream. I was on that path – until I met Jesus.

I did not pursue my medical degree. I did not become a doctor. I wanted to do full time ministry. My parents were supportive. Their main concern was how I would get paid and would I have enough? I am thankful, everyday that I do have enough. And that everyday that I don’t go asking them for money for anything is another day that I get to pronounce God’s goodness and faithfulness to them. But I also know that this part of my story isn’t common.

I know now that I wasn’t meant to be a doctor. I do not carry the passion nor the intellect to treat a patient. It was not what God intended for me and my life – I wasn’t made to save people’s lives (not in the medical sense).  And as I survey the students that are involved in our movements and what they are studying, and what their career aspirations are, I can tell that they still cling to a dream that doesn’t necessarily reflect their passions or their own giftings.  There is still that pursuit of education for the sake of a job that pays well.

My hope and dream is that one day we’ll see a generation of Asian Americans raised up by their parents not to just pursue a career for the sake of it. My hope is that we’ll see a generation of Asian American parents who will first and foremost teach their sons and daughters about Jesus and to help them discover their true calling in life, whether that would be to be a doctor or a fire fighter, an engineer or a secretary. I want to see that generation really and truly know who they are, who God intended them to be and in doing so, know who God truly is too. To know God is to know yourself and to know yourself is to truly know God.

I sense that we are on that we are already on that path. I hope I am alive to see that dream come true, starting with my own children.


Five

(Picture by Sean Hsueh with Day 7 Photography)

I am extraordinarily late on this, but I think for this post it is actually appropriate. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed from being married to TJ is that we create our own traditions to reflect not just us, but also that we have an unique relationship. When and how we celebrate things is entirely up to us. It is our day after all. So to give you a better insight into our quirkiness, here are five memorable and random moments from the last five years of our marriage that I believe really define our relationship:

Manentine’s Day

Truthfully this is more a testimony of TJ’s awesomeness than anything else, but while we were dating TJ opted to turn Valentine’s Day, a rather traditional girl focused holidy, into a day for me. So there are no expectations for me to bring flowers, book a reservation or shower TJ with gifts. Instead there will be a steak for me on the table and some sort of practical gift that I’ve been dying to have (Kindle cover, electric shaver, extension cord, etc). Which brings me to my next moment…

Hotel Amenities

A frequent request of mine for a Christmas gift is simply a package of good toilet paper or paper towels. I really, really, really like practical gifts like that. Occasionally TJ will travel by herself or she gets sent on a night away and she will always remember and bring back a roll of toilet paper for me and if the hotel has it, a couple of travel sized toothpaste of my favorite brand: Aquafresh. It is silly, but I am like a child on Christmas morning when she pulls those guys out of her luggage. Speaking of travel…

Food Above All

A few years ago, we celebrated our second year anniversary in San Fransisco. We only had  a couple of days as we had a wedding to be a part of, so we did our best to cram as much in as possible. When we tell people of that trip, people frequently ask if we saw the Golden Gate Bridge and/or Alcatraz. The answer is “yes”, but it may not be how you imagine it. We did technically “see” them, but only while we were standing at Fisherman’s Wharf with a Dungeness crab in each of our hands and we enjoyed the view of the two iconic sights. Whenever we travel, food is Tier 1 in our priorities. If we don’t get to eat, we are not happy. While we are on the happiness note…

The Goal Celebration

One of my favorite things to do with TJ is play soccer. We play on the same co-ed team every Saturday. I generally am not ashamed to celebrate my wife at the expense of my public image. Last Fall, TJ scored a technically difficult goal and while she tried acting like she had scored before, her overly zealous husband did not. I sprinted some 40 yards, screaming at the top of my lungs,”THAT’S MY WIFE!!! THAT’S MY WIFE!!!” Then of course, I recreate one of those absurd movie like embrace where the man lifts his woman in the air. You know, something you’d find in a Nicholas Sparks’ novel (A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Dear John, The Lucky One, etc.) My teammates were (rightfully) a little embarrassed by my celebration but I don’t care. I’m a dork and I like to celebrate… and that brings us to our last moment…

Biscuit Day

Sometime after our second year together, TJ started asking me, “How many biscuits do you love me?” To this day, we have no earthly idea why she started that or what it means, but my response started at “two”, to signify the number of years we’ve been married. So today, if she were to ask me how many biscuits, I would answer “five”. So naturally our anniversary is now known to us and our close friends as “Biscuit Day” and on the morning of “Biscuit Day” we eat biscuits!

As I was writing this, I had to stop several times and just laugh at our relationship and how odd we are. And honestly, I think that’s one of the reasons that makes our marriage great. We can look back and just laugh at ourselves. I love that I can share in all these things with my wife and best friend. Happy Biscuit Day.


My Ladder Rung

I am shamefully afraid of heights. I mean, I am terrified of being elevated in the air by more than a couple of feet. Roller coasters are not entertainment but rather a torture device created by the cruelest of men. To put it into context, I get a little nervous just standing on top of a 6 foot ladder. Because of that, I’ve never been that adventurous of a person. I’d rather play it safe and am generally an overly cautious individual. I was always adverse to risk and confrontation.

Which brings this conversation I had nearly 10 years ago into great perspective. I was either filled by the Spirit or completely insane to do what I did. I sat down across the desk of a man that I had both respected and admired. He was a very spiritual man and a highly educated one too. It’s just not that often I get to sit across from men who helped found a seminary. Unfortunately for me, I had this meeting not to glean knowledge from him or to study under him. In fact, it was a “clearing of the air” meeting where I needed to bring up some ways where I felt he wasn’t entirely fair or kind regarding his assessment of me. I was deemed unworthy to be dating his daughter at the time, and his reasoning that I wasn’t “good enough” didn’t exactly register with me. How do you determine the value of someone that you’ve interacted with just twice in a group setting?

The conversation led to him drawing a diagram for me. It was a ladder. Each rung represented a level of leadership and responsibility that person could manage. The lowest rung represented the immediate community, the second lowest represented the local area and so forth with the highest two being one with a national and international capacity. I didn’t climb too high in his eyes and he saw my highest capacity about three to four rungs high. No further than a regional level. You can guess where he saw his daughter. (Hint: It was much higher than mine.)

The other thing that he told me was that I couldn’t become a spiritual leader because of my family of origin. My parents are not Christians and therefore he believed I wouldn’t have the capacity or the know how to lead a home as the spiritual leader. I mean, how could I possibly do what was never modeled for me? He saw me as being set up to fail and his daughter could not be a part of that sinking ship.

10 years later, now married and with a daughter of my own, I can sympathize with that man. If I saw some bum pursuing my daughter, I’d encourage her to not give him the time of day. Naturally, my hope is that I’ll have raised her well enough to differentiate between a quality man and an idiot so I won’t need to step in myself. Thankfully I still have a few years before I get to that point, but as I think about my future and my family’s future, I want to take stock of where exactly I came from.

Those of you who know my wife know that she is not ordinary by any means. At least not in the spiritual sense. Most of her insight doesn’t come from anything learned, read or trained. It’s mostly instinct and intuition. It is God-given and it is amazing. It is breathtaking to watch TJ in her element. I would much rather watch her in ministry than hop in a time machine to watch Pele in his prime. She is just that incredible. And this isn’t just me being her biased husband. Most of you have stopped me in my tracks just to tell me how amazing she is. It is something that’s just so evident and clear to the world around her. Which leads me to the obvious question, “Why in her right mind, would TJ marry someone like me?”

I carry with me that conversation with that man and a metaphorical ladder rung. I don’t carry it around as a chip on my shoulder and use it as a big “I told you so”. But rather I carry it around like a scar. It is healed, but you can still see the damage that was done. That conversation was absolutely brutal on me emotionally, as I would imagine for any other 20 year old. I want to remember how damaged I was so I’ll never inflict that kind of pain on anyone else, much less any suitors Eden has.

I’ve been very fortunate and blessed by the number of people who have commented on me and my marriage, on me as a husband and on me as a father. Every piece of affirmation in that area slowly tears away the wall of doubt in my heart and affirms that I am not nor will I ever be defined by that ladder rung. My spiritual legacy will not be defined by my heritage alone. I can have a godly marriage, be a godly husband and be a godly father, and even be a great spiritual leader despite my great fear in climbing high.


My Birthday Reflection

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It wasn’t fancy. It was just round with a very classic black and white look. It was my favorite birthday present of my childhood and quite possibly the only memory I have of my birthday celebrations. I was eight and my parents had gotten me the best gift of all, a soccer ball.

I had zero coordination and my best attempts at anything resembling a soccer move would be a painful toe punch towards nothing, but nobody cared. Certainly not me. All I knew was that I had a chance to kick a ball around with my Dad and my friends and that was plenty of celebration for me.

Which brings us to today which is my 30th birthday. Every year I try my best to play down this birthday hoopla. TJ’s been extraordinary in her efforts to celebrate me, my birth and my existence but I’ve always put up a stern resistance to the notion that my life needs to be celebrated. I disguise it as a misguided belief that it’s just a “normal day” like every other day and I’m uncomfortable with all the attention.

While there is a certainly some truth to it, what lies beneath that nonsense is that I never really felt that anybody would really care. What makes the post below from my wife and friends so meaningful is that I have rarely sensed that people know me or thought anything of me. The words of affirmation below are a strong “in your face” statement against my inner insecurities that if people really knew me, they would despise me.

I miss that eight year old version of me. Armed with nothing but a ball and no discernible talent, people still celebrated and played with me. Somewhere in the past 22 years I’ve taught myself that I needed to be more than just me for anyone to care. Some of it was from parties where very few people showed up. Some of it was from forgotten birthdays. Whatever it was, the message was always loud and clear, “You are a nobody and nobody cares.”

In the end, it was just easier to tell myself that I didn’t care, so that when my community didn’t care, I wouldn’t feel the pain. I’ve learned many things in my marriage to TJ and one of those is being truthful and honest about my feelings and to apply the proper weight to them. I’ve also learned to face my fears and insecurities with strength that is more befitting of a man, husband and father.

To my friends and family who took the time to write something encouraging to me, you haven’t the slightest clue as to how liberating those words mean to me. I am humbled that is how you experience me and that I mean something to you. Over the weekend I’ve started accumulating gifts from flowers to checks, from an aeropress coffee maker to an electric razor, and while everything is exactly what I would want, the little space below that occupies this blog is by far the most meaningful, significant and important gift to me of all. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for remembering and celebrating me.


My Ethnical Dilemma

Before Eden was born, I looked TJ in the eyes and told her in all seriousness that I hoped our daughter would look white because her life would be easier. Her response will always be with me. There was no shock. No laughter. Just sadness in her eyes because she knew. She knew I was serious and she knew that my comment came from a place of suffering and past experience.

Fast forward a year and wouldn’t you know it, my daughter is indeed very white looking. I am both amused and shocked by how much she resembles me and that she reflects a completely different ethnicity too. But despite her appearance fulfilling a wish of mine, I’m not oblivious to the fact that she’ll still face some hardships over her ethnicity.

Back in college, when I was dating my former girlfriend, her father directed a comment about me that I’ll never forget. We were both 20, still a few years off from graduating and marriage wasn’t even a remote possibility. He sat his daughter down and told her his concerns about any future children we might have. How they’ll be half. How they’ll grow up with identity issues because of it. When we broke up, she relayed that information to me but I was too young and naive to realize what had really happened.

When my friends heard about it, they were immediately outraged, horrified and even stunned by what he had said about me for they saw what I couldn’t see. I cannot even imagine how my parents felt when I told them what happened and their sense of confusion when I wasn’t angry about it.

My parents met in England, spending over a decade of their lives away from Hong Kong, trying to make a better living out there. I recently learned that they moved back to Hong Kong before I was born because my father’s career as a doctor had reached a dead end. He had been passed over for several jobs. Jobs which he was well qualified for, but wasn’t even considered because he was Chinese. The jobs all went to Caucasians, most of them didn’t even have the proper credentials. The final straw was when he was filling in for a friend and a patient refused his service because of his “black hair”.

Being a parent myself, I can imagine the horrible feeling of hearing my child face a racist situation. The recent Jeremy Lin and “Chink in the Armor” incident has surfaced for me all the times I had been called a “Chink”. I can recall the many times I had someone reference my “squinty” eyes, even though my eyes are actually pretty round. The one that hurt the most was when someone in a mocking accent tried to converse with me with “Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong”. The act of making fun of my language wasn’t entirely that hurtful, but that it mostly happened in the company of people and nobody would come to my defense. Nobody would say anything. The most recent episode occurred when I had dinner at a friend’s house. Even after conversing with his family for over two hours at this point, my friend’s step elementary age brother blurted out “Wait, what’s your name again? Ching Chong Wong Wang?” My friend stepped in as much as he could, but his parents just sat there, silent and slowly kept eating.

The message from these stories is clear to me: it’s better to be white. You get the job even if you didn’t work for it. You are marriage material. You don’t get called names. So when I told TJ my hope for our daughter’s appearance, I was wishing she wouldn’t experience the same pains I did growing up.

Eden is unique. She comes from two cultures and two worlds. It has started to become more and more evident as I begin to show pictures of her deceased grandparents and teach her how to address them in Cantonese. Eden is not half. She is fully Chinese and she is fully American. But despite her outward appearance, she will not have that “easy” life that I wish for, partly because I won’t allow it.

Eden cannot grow up in this world turning a cold shoulder to my, no… her story. To the best of my abilities, I will raise her to know her Chinese heritage and her American heritage too. She will know of the plight towards her people as immigrants in this country. As TJ put it, we cannot allow her to grow up with apathy. Because she is both Chinese and American, she has a unique opportunity in bridging two worlds together bringing forth healing, reconciliation and understanding. But to do that she needs to have empathy for both cultures and that cannot happen without some pain and suffering in her life.

It pains me to say that, and while my role as her father is to protect her, I cannot shelter her from certain experiences in life even if it means it’ll hurt her. My natural instinct is to keep her from harm, but I would rob her of far more if I did.


My Investment to Give

In the past three to four years, I cannot remember how many times I’ve read something along the lines of, “If you stopped buying a latte every morning and invested that $5 for the next 30 years,  it will be worth $149,035.94… assuming an 8% return”. Generally I believe that to be good advice. But have found it to be rather impractical in execution. Seriously, how many of us have actually read the same thing, curbed our coffee addiction and actually invested the difference? My guess is very, very, very few.

I’ve been reading more investment books recently. Part of it is because I find them to be a “fun and light” read, but also because I’m feeling a sense of conviction of how I am stewarding God’s resources and want to make sure I give Him the best return on investment through me.

I don’t think I’m actually wasteful at all. I brew my own coffee. I take 1 minute showers to save water. I have TJ cut my hair. I keep my home’s thermostat warm during the summer and cold during the winter. We don’t have cable TV (except for that one month during the summer of 2010 for the World Cup). I work out from home to save on a gym membership. I still have a pair of shoes that I wear regularly from seven years ago. But while I’m not spending much, and our giving has increased every year, I do believe that I can do more to give more.

I am eternally grateful for the people behind Sound Mind Investing for forever changing my financial family tree. They taught me how to save, how to invest and more importantly how to be generous and to give abundantly. TJ and I walked into our marriage debt free, had a fully funded emergency savings within a few months, started saving for “retirement” and started giving where our hearts were led. They taught me the value of a financial plan and how to honor the Lord and His works with careful planning and a “loose” checkbook to give.

As I mentioned before, TJ and I don’t have cable TV. The difference of having cable or not is about $50/month for us (internet bundle) and so I did the math. Just like the hypothetical latte above and arrived at: $50/month for 40 years (by the time I “retire”) at 8% will be $174,550.39. But rather than just say to myself, “Wow that’s a lot of money”, I decided to start investing it, for real.

I get play money to spend on clothes, gadgets, shoes or whatever I want every month. If I were to get cable or something else purely for me, it would come from my “allowance”. So starting today, rather than spend that $50/month for cable TV, I am investing it. As I’m writing this, my first investment went through my brokerage firm and I am on my way to “Wow that’s a lot of money” sometime in the future.

My plan for this money is simple: use it to advance God’s Kingdom. I realize that rather than investing it, I could be giving it right now instead and I firmly believe that’s a good option too. I’m choosing not for several reasons: 1.  I believe God is not asking me to do that right now. 2. I know a thing or two about investing to grow it modestly and 3. I am inspired by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I will not have their resources by the time I reach their age. My level of impact in terms of giving back will not be at that capacity. But I love what they’re doing and their attempts to do good in this world by creating sustainable systems. It’s the very same thing that our good friend Kirby Trapolino is doing with Peace Gospel International, and we are utterly delighted to be a part of what he’s doing. I believe that I should invest carefully and prudently so that when the time comes, I can with the stroke of a pen, write a big fat check (will checks still be around then?) and create some kind of system for the betterment of mankind and as a testimony of God’s love.

I believe God gave me a serious interest in investments for a reason. I believe that I should wisely invest the money so my Master will have a decent return for his resources. I believe that will be one way I can contribute to His story of redemption. I believe I can make a difference. I believe that difference starts now with my “cable TV” money.

 


My Unsettled Heart

“Deal with it.”

That’s actually one of my favorite lines and running joke from a canceled sitcom called “Better Off Ted”. Two characters on the show start making bold choices in their personal and professional lives and their response to the controversial decisions is to simply utter the phrase, “deal with it”.

Comedy aside, I have found it be a rather profound statement in my current life. As you know, I’ve been losing my hair (literally) in recent months and random bald spots are appearing over my scalp. (See below) On good days, I am confident and unaffected by my odd looking appearance, but like most people, I also have bad days and am extremely self conscious about it.

I’m learning that dealing with Alopecia Areata is quite tricky because of the nature of the disease. It is a complete unknown factor. Medical reports are unsure of a cause or what triggers it. There is also no known cure. This hair falling episode can last for months to years. My hair may grow back in 12 months, or it may be permanently gone. More hair could fall out and I may go totally bald. The uncertainty has made this very difficult to cope with. If I knew my hair would regrow again, I would have fewer bad days dealing with it. If I knew my hair would all fall out, I could at least start processing that reality. But nothing is certain with this, and I’m just left in the dark, not knowing what’s to come and deeply unsettled.

So how then, am I supposed to “deal with it” when “it” is completely unknown? My first step was to refuse to hide it. I contemplated growing my hair out to cover up the bald spots, but decided against it. I like my hair short. Always have. Hiding our problems may make us look better to the world, but it doesn’t address the issue. I’m not advocating that sunlight exposure on my scalp will generate hair regrowth, but I don’t want to live in hiding. I don’t want to always be thinking about my hair, if it’s hiding the bald spots and if anyone notices. That is too exhausting of  a life to live. So here you are world, I have bald spots on my head! Deal with it!

My second step was to come to grips that no matter how much I try, I am not in control of my life. Once I was diagnosed, I’ve been trying multiple treatment options to both slow the hair loss process and the regrowth. None of them are a guarantee and none of them have worked so far. I attempted them knowing that, but was hopeful that just one of them might help. I don’t think that’s necessarily unusual to try treatment options, but deep down I knew that I was trying everything because I desperately wanted control back in my life again. But each day is met with more strands of hair falling out, with no sign of any regrowth and the reminder once again that I am not in control.

What’s comical about the situation is that I’ve never been in control of my own life to begin with. God orchestrated when I was born, where I would live, how I would look and every other facet of my life. Intellectually, I’ve always acknowledged that. Yes, I know that God is in control of everything but that hasn’t seemed to have made the necessary emotional connection to my heart until now. Intellectually I can acknowledge that having God in control of my life is the best thing for me and everyone. But emotionally, it’s very unsettling to fully realize that my life is entirely in the hands of someone else… but I am dealing with it. 😉