Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A New Leaf

Autumn has always been my favorite season. The leaves turn red and yellow, the air is crisp; bye bye summer dresses, hello layers. It also has my favorite childhood festival - Mid-Autumn Festival, and the anticipation of Christmas.

For me, Autumn always feel like a time of change. It’s the last straw - signifying that summer is finally gone. 

This Autumn is a little different for me. It is the first time in 4 years that I am no longer a full-time Catholic campus missionary. I still go on campus a lot, but it is a little weird not to be a missionary or an undergrad. Instead, I am taking part-time graduate classes for my M.Ed in Clinical Counseling.

The transition was a little difficult at first. For one thing, I don’t live on campus anymore, so I have to learn to plan my day ahead and commute. I am also living by myself for the first time - the first couple days were a little tough, but I am used to it now, and I do enjoy the freedom of living alone.

The toughest thing so far is to find my new mission. When I am working as a missionary, no matter how tired I was, how frustrated the day turned out to be; I seldom felt discouraged, for my mission is clear - to bring Christ to the lonely hearts of college students. There is no question, no doubt in my mind that I was doing exactly what God is calling me to do. 

Now, it’s a little different... In the midst of moving, getting used to living alone, taking classes, and job searching, it is really hard to discern the will of God. In the mundane of day-to-day tasks, it is easy to doubt or to have second thoughts - is this really what I am supposed to do? What if I have made a mistake? Should I still be a missionary?

I feel a little lost. Yet, while I was talking to my friend and grumbled about the hassle of finding a job, he reminded me, “Don’t you worry. Remember, God already has a plan for you”, and go on to tell me how he know of many friends who all found their perfect job at the last minute when the time was right. 

It was such a great reminder for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that one should do nothing, sit at home, and wait for a job to drop from the sky. But why worry? Perhaps what God is calling me right now is not to engage in any glorious mission or big paying job, but simply be patient. 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Looking back, almost all of the best opportunities I had in the past were providential. God has always taken care of me in the past, why couldn’t I trust that He will take care of me now?

“Each day, every day of our lives, 
God presents to us the people and opportunities upon which he expects us to act. 
He expects no more of us, but he will accept nothing less of us;
 and we fail in our promise and commitment if we do not see in the situations 
of every moment of every day his divine will.” 
-- He Leadeth Me, Fr. Walter Ciszek, S. J. p. 139

It is hard lesson to learn... the divine will of God does not lie in the future, but today. There is not need to worry about the future because God is not asking us what we could do for him tomorrow, but what we can do today. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

- 1 -
This is my first 7 Quick Takes Friday in almost a year, it’s good to be back :)

- 2 -
What are you up to this weekend? Next Monday is going to be the last day of classes for us at the University of St. Thomas, which means things are going to get hectic real quick! I am going to enjoy this weekend as the calm before the storm.
I’m planning to go to a Taize Evening Prayer service with a few of my friends tonight. Have you ever been to one? It is very similar to praise & worship, but instead of singing Christian worship songs, you sing traditional chants. Most of the chants are repetitive, so you can have a meditation while singing.
Taize prayer service was originated in France, and it is very popular in Europe and some South Asian countries. I haven’t been to one since I moved to the States, so I am really excited :)

- 3 -
I really love Joanna Goddard’s blog “A Cup of Jo”. A while ago, she had a post on dinner etiquette complete with cute illustrations. It’s pretty awesome - you can find it here.

- 4 -
Yesterday night, my boyfriend made the best burger I’ve had in a while. While he said the ingredients & spices he used are top secret (or it could simply be a culinary accident and he had no idea what he put in it), he did put a cube of cheddar cheese in the middle of the patty, so it’s very similar to a “lucy-juicy”.

Anyway, I was watching Nate Berkus' show today, and I would love to try this Korean mini-burger recipe!

- 5 -
The unexpected downside of cohabiting before marriage - I came across this article via Facebook the other day. 
As a Catholic missionary, of course I do not support cohabitation. But regardless of my faith, I still do not think cohabiting before marriage is a good idea. When you discuss this topic to a non-believer, it’s easy for them just to say, “Oh you don’t agree with this only because you’re Catholic.” So how do you explain the downside of cohabitation without necessarily talking about God?
I think that’s where science and research comes in. This article is a great read. It might give you some good points on how to approach this topic in a secular standpoint.
- 6 -
Currently reading: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I started reading this book because I really really want to watch the movie, and I am afraid that once I watched the movie, I won’t be interested in reading the book anymore. 

I am only 40 pages into the book, but I love it so far. My boyfriend doesn’t like it as much, but I think it’s because of the writing style. Most of the book is told through the eyes of a 9-year-old boy named Oskar. Naturally, Oskar's narration kind of went all over the place, but I found his voice very endearing. 

- 7 -
I wanted to end with this video

Have a relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

So Long...

Photo from Habitually Chic

My dear friends, I just realized today that it has been almost a year (!!!) since I last updated my blog. 
When I first started, I didn’t really think a whole lot on what I should write about. After all, English is not my first language, so if you’re looking for deep philosophical discussions or musings on the meaning of life, you have came to the wrong place (by the way, there will also be occasional frequent grammatical mistakes, so I hope you don’t mind). 
What I do know is (1) I love God; (2) I love my job as a Catholic missionary and all of the students that I get to meet; (3) I desire to bring Christ to others one soul at a time; and (4) I love life - nature, art, beauty, architecture, food, etc. So really, this is what Cor ad Cor Loquitur (Heart Speaks to Heart) is about - a simple space where I can babble about my love of God, beauty, love, food, art, and life* 
Most of the time, the things that I post would be random. Probably there will be a lot of pictures about nature, people, food (I love taking pictures of my food before I eat them, it’s weird I know, but I can’t help it); books that I am reading, inspirations, people that I get to meet, and the beauty of our Catholic faith. 
Truth be told, even though I am publishing this into the mysterious world wide web, I have no idea if people will actually read this. I didn’t even tell my friends about my blog, I just feel that if it’s meant for someone to read it, then someone will.....

So if you’ve stumbled upon this by chance, welcome :) 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Inspirations Monday

What’s better than starting the week with some beautiful pictures from the web?
This reminds me of a Parisian tea party

My inspirations of a girly Parisian wedding


All images above are from BHLDN's new decor line

Anthropologie has also released their new Summer 2011 catalog.
The photography is simply stunning!

Oh, I'd love to have one of those in my backyard

For my roomie's wedding, I got a set of Anthro's monogram coffee mug. 
Look, they now have new ones! They are so adorable.

Last, but not least, this yummy picture is taken from Cannelee et Vanille

What are some of inspirations for the week?

Friday, May 6, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

-- 1 --
Happy Friday! Announcing the birth of little Benjamin, 10 pounds 9 ounces :)
Nope, that’s not my baby. This cute little gigantic baby (you should see him with other new borns in the nursery, all the nurse who saw him exclaimed "wow") is my boyfriend’s nephew, who arrived this morning at 10:22 a.m. There’s nothing more wonderful than awaiting the arrival of a newborn, what a great way to start Mother’s Day weekend ;) 
-- 2 --
Currently watching:    Food Inc.  
I would never consider myself to be particularly “food conscious”. And by that, I don’t mean simply being conscious of  our food’s nutrition value, but also where it came from, how was it being processed, etc. 
Growing up in Hong Kong, I went to the market with my mom all the time. We have vendors selling fresh vegetables, fresh fish that was caught or brought in from the fish farm that day, butcher selling fresh meat & live chicken; so really, what you see is what you eat. Fast food chains are, of course, everywhere. Yet, the interesting thing is, they are never considered to be cheap (we don’t have $1 meals in Hong Kong). At least for my family, fast food meals are for special occasions, like getting a 100 in a test, or a special treat.
When I first came to America, I was surprised by how “convenient” everything was. You can get everything - meat, veggies, fruits - all cleaned, boned, and packaged into a nice, clean, little container! Seeing all the live stocks at the market in Hong Kong, I certainly know that meat don’t just ended up nice & clean in a package on its own. Obviously, someone will have to process the produce in a factory somewhere. But what surprised me in Food Inc. was how inter-connected our food industry is to some of the problems in this country - health, disease, employment, even immigration. 
Food Inc. is a very well-made documentary. At the end of the film, the producers even provide you with a list of  practical things that you can do to help. As consumers, we pay for all the food that we put into our mouths every day, if you’re interested in learning more about the food that you eat, you should really watch the film. It’s pretty mind-opening.
-- 3 --
Currently reading:    A Thread of Grace by Maria Doria Russell

The truth is, once you’re out of college and get a real job, it just gets more and more difficult to find time to read. At least that’s the case for me - I used to read a ton over school breaks, but now it takes me FOREVER to finish a single book (except for Harry Potter, ha).
Anyway, I’ve been reading A Thread of Grace for a while now, and I only have a few more chapters to go! I’ll definitely share more once I’m done :)

-- 4 --
Remember the Royal Cupcakes from my last post? In case you wonder how did they turn out, here’re some pictures!

Filling the cupcakes with jelly is probably the most complicated step.
We used the old school ziplog bag method

The strawberry filling inside was definitely the best part! 
-- 5 --
And speaking of Royal Wedding... for those of you who’ve seen this picture a million times, sorry, I just have to post it in here. The newest member of the British Royal family is simply too stunning.
-- 6 --
There Be Dragons. Who’s excited about There Be Dragons opening today? I AM! Our FOCUS team is going to bring a group of students to watch it next Wednesday. I’ve heard nothing but good reviews about this movie so far.... soooooo excited!
-- 7 --
Last, but not least... check this video out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Countdown to the Royal Wedding

The countdown for the Royal Wedding has begun! I was watching the news after women’s rosary & mass this morning, and everything on TV was either about the Royal Wedding, or of course, the weather.
Since we’re still in the wonderful Octave of Easter, I’ve decided to make Royal Wedding Champagne Cupcakes for my Bible Study tomorrow. My student disciple, Emilie, is going to come help me, it should be fun1
Here’s the recipe from Lisa Thiele’s blog With Style & Grace

Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling
{Recipe Adapted by BHG}
PRINT Recipe
  • 6 eggs, separated (4 egg whites and 2 yolks)
  • 2/3 cups butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, or 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup champagne
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup raspberry, strawberry, or blackberry jam
  • 2 1/2 cups shortening
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoons almond extract
  • 10 cups powdered sugar, split
  • 1/4 cup champagne, plus 2-4 tablespoons additional
1. Separate eggs. Discard four yolks. Allow remaining yolks and whites and butter to stand a room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line (or grease) your cupcake pan, set aside. For vanilla bean, use a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from vanilla bean halves; set seeds aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Set aside.
3. Using you electric mixer, beat butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in the reserved egg yolks and the vanilla seeds or vanilla extract. Alternately add flour mixture and champagne to the butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold half of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten; fold in remaining egg whites.
4. Use an ice-cream scoop to fill the muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full.
5. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the centers and if it comes out clean, it’s ready. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.
6. Place jam in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Insert the tip into the top of each cooled cupcake. Squeeze about 1 teaspoon of the jam into the center of each cupcake.
In a large bowl beat shortening, vanilla, and almond extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Gradually add 5 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Add champagne; beat to combine. Gradually add 5 cups additional powdered sugar, beating on medium speed. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons additional champagne until frosting reaches spreading or piping consistency.
I’ll let you know if mine turned out to be as cool as Lisa’s

Amadeus ("God's Beloved")

I didn’t have time to update as much as I’d like lately. The end is near! As we get closer to the end of the semester, everything just got crazier. Our team is planning our end-of-the-year dinner to honor our graduating seniors and student leaders this Saturday, so we’re all busy running around, trying to make sure that everything will be ready by then.
Yesterday night, I went to see Amadeus with a few students. The plot was so rich, yet so funny, which was such a pleasant surprise. And of course, the acting was simply amazing. I really enjoyed it.

 A convoluted tangle of jealousy, rage, and fear, Amadeus the fictionalized story of the personal rivalry between Viennese court composer Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As a virtuous, Catholic, and talented composer, Salieri greatly admires Mozart’s heavenly music - until he meets him. Repulsed by the profane and boorish Mozart, Salieri is unable to reconcile the idea that God would bestow such immense talent on so unworthy a man, while Salieri, who is always faithful and a gentleman, has almost none.
Ultimately, the contest in Amadeus is not between Salieri and Mozart, but Salieri and God. Not only does God create Mozart, He uses him through his music. Salieri in contrast find himself facing an uncaring God, who fails to grant him his wishes despite of his faithfulness, and is indifferent to his inner suffering.
At the beginning of the play, I really identify with Salieri. He is an honest, righteous man, who earnestly prays to God for the gift of music. Mozart, on the other hand, is rude, childish, and petulant, yet God has chosen to touch souls through his genius music. It almost seems unfair for such a thing to happen. Yet, we later find out that underneath the surface of a seemingly moody and childish Mozart, is a young child who yearns for the love and approval of his father. He is also the only composer of his time who really “gets” music. In one of the acts, he complained how no one tries to compose an opera about “real” characters or creates music with a deeper meaning. Beautifully, he described how he thought God must have looked at His people like they’re musical notes, each unique and different in their own ways, but together they form a miraculous piece of music; He speaks to souls through music, that’s why it’s so important to compose good music - music that is “real”. Mozart proclaims, “as composers, this is our job!”
So really, while one might easily believe that God has done an injustice by granting Mozart such an undeserving talent, at the end of the day, who are we to judge what’s right and wrong? God works in mysterious ways. If He could die for our sins - us lowly beings who are so undeserving of His love and mercy - why couldn’t He uses the talent of a foolish, undeserving composer to glorify His name?
Sir Peter Hall said, “all Peter Shaffer’s major plays are about the quest for God: if He exists, why is He so uncaring?” I guess that’s why Shaffer’s plays are so intriguing - the existence of God - isn’t this one of the most important questions that we all have to face in one way or another?