Steve Jobs: iSad.

On Wednesday, the news came as complete shock. My boyfriend and I were getting ready to turn on one of our favorite shows, when he opened the internet browser on the computer just for a minute. Across the top was a bar:

BREAKING: Steve Jobs died.

He read it aloud to me, “Steve Jobs died.”

In that exact moment, my stomach dropped and I felt an aching feeling run through my entire body. Then there was shock. “What?!” was all I could say. But then again, we all knew of his public battle with such a deadly form of cancer, and the fact that he had so recently stepped down from his title at the company he started literally from nothing.

But that sickness I felt was just that — sickness. Like I was going to throw up. As a former roommate of mine put it when I told her the news of her ex-boyfriend passing, “I know how you upset you get about death, and I hope you’ll be okay.”

When she told me those words, it was like my exact feelings that I had never spoken aloud to anyone were finally verbalized. I do get upset about death. Especially when it is someone that I know, or even once knew. But truthfully, what upsets me the most about death, as a Christian, is feeling absolutely helpless just knowing (or believing, rather) where that person could be, forever.

I have never considered myself a judgmental person, despite my Christian beliefs, that are often mistaken by others for nothing other than judgment. I have always tried my hardest to listen to everyone, and take in what they say. If I meet someone who has different beliefs than me, I ask questions, I listen, and I try to understand where they are coming from. Because the truth is, we all believe what we believe for a reason. Everyone has gone through different experiences in their lives to shape them into who they are today. So, if you tell me that you don’t believe that God exists, I respect that, and honestly want to hear your story. There is no right or wrong with religion–because the fact is true for everyone: we all think that we are right.

And maybe we are. Maybe Christians are right. Maybe Atheists are right. Maybe Buddhists are right. The truth is: no one knows who is right or wrong as long as we live on this earth. So I can sit here and tell you until I take my last breath on this earth that Christianity is the only “right” in this world, but honestly I will not know until I die. We all hope that we are right, but we also have to acknowledge that someone will be wrong, but at that point, it is “too late” because we are dead. And no one can come back after they die, so who knows?

So, back to Steve Jobs. When I heard of his death, immediately, I was sick. (I guess I’ve established that three times now.) Because to me, as a Christian, learning about the death of someone that is so publicly a believing and practicing Buddhist, makes me so sad. It makes me upset. It makes me angry. It makes me mad. And in that moment, all I can do is what I believe is right–pray. Pray that God somehow intervened in Steve’s finally weeks, days, or hours. Maybe that he sensed the end was coming for him, and realized that forever is just that–for ever. And once you die, that’s it. There is no second chance.

Perhaps you understand the one statement that I am skating around but will not say publicly because those don’t share the same beliefs as me may get upset, but hopefully you do understand what I am saying. And when you stop and think about it–that one statement–it is absolutely, undeniably, ridiculously terrifying.

There’s one thing that we all can agree on despite our religious beliefs and differences: Steve Jobs was the definition of brilliance. He was undoubtedly blessed. (In my opinion of course), the Lord blessed him with an amazing, literally one-of-a-kind mind that was capable of so much success. The reason I am able to type all of these words out right now on a laptop is because of that man and his brain. He transformed so much of our world and I believe he absolutely deserved his success. The Lord does not choose to bless all of us with a mind like Steve Jobs, but He blesses each of us in other ways. (For me, I like to think that He blessed me with writing, but that remains to be seen!)

What saddens me to the extreme about Steve, and again I am not judging when I say this but am merely making an observation, is that I wish so badly that he could have credited God for his success. That maybe he could have believed that none of what he did would have been possibly without Him, because God made him that way for a reason. But of course, not everyone thinks that way, but I ultimately wish that he could have attested his brilliance to God. If that were the case, I don’t think I would have felt so sick learning about his death.

Regardless of Steve’s beliefs, or spirituality, or personal life, he is still a person. He is still a human being. And he is still a life. I feel a huge weight of sadness for his wife, who is now a widow (at a relatively young age), and for his four precious children who now have to live their rest of their lives without a father. It is a tragic story no matter which angle it is viewed — Christians, Atheists, Buddhists, Agnostics. No matter what, this brilliant man has left this earth way too soon.

Maybe he is right. Maybe he died, and his family is at peace with his death because he will be reborn into another being, such as an animal. Maybe others are right and he died, and he’s just … gone. Maybe Christians are right and he stood before God (our ultimate and only Judge) and was asked why he should be allowed into His eternal kingdom. Whatever the case, we have lost someone who has changed technology and the world as we knew it; we have lost a human being who has done so much good; we have lost a person with a beautiful and now grieving family; and we have lost someone who will continue to inspire me, to truly never give up on your dreams.


Not a Tale of That Day, but a Story of How I Feel TODAY

[I meant to write and post this on the more appropriate day, which was in fact, yesterday. But some extenuating circumstances with my internet left me unable to write yesterday, so just pretend like I am writing this yesterday–September 11, 2011.]

As I sit here, in Florida, thinking of my life exactly ten years ago, I feel utter sadness, emptiness, and anger. But at the same time, I feel hopeful. I feel grateful. And I feel blessed. Is it possible to feel all of those emotions at one time? Given the events of this day ten years ago, I would say that it definitely is.

I’m not going to sit here and recount my story of September 11 and rehash where I was, or what I was doing, or even begin to try to put into words my feelings and thoughts during that time. You can read my story here, which is a tale I’ve spun many times over the last ten years. Now, enough is enough. You know where I was. You know how I felt (or at least had some sort of idea). You know that I love my father and shortly after that day, I realized why God chose not to end his life (or at least one of the reasons). But today, I’m not sure if anyone knows how I feel about it all–at this exact moment in time. Because today, I amaze myself at the apparent maturity I’ve developed over the last ten years.

Let’s rewind. Here’s me, approximately one month of after the events of 9/11 took place in my very town of residence:

I had just turned 14 years old. I had braces, had just received surgery extracting four permanent teeth from my mouth, leaving me looking like a jack-o-lantern come Homecoming my freshman year. I had never loved another male before, and had never even kissed one (turns out, I still had four years to go before that changed). My dad and I fought all the time, were in and out of counseling for most of our lives, and pretty much–I was going through an extreme awkward phase like most of us did at this age. But one thing is for sure: I had no realization of the exact magnitude those events had on thousands of individuals in my country, state, town, and even school. Yes, people died. Yes, the people who hijacked the planes were evil. Yes, we will never be the same again. All of those were facts that I understood, despite almost loosing my father–but I never really felt super emotional about it.

In college, I watched the movie “World Trade Center” when it was on HBO in our townhouse my junior year. I was 20 years old, and I was sobbing at the end of the movie. My mom happened to call at that moment and I answered the phone crying and she had no idea why. All I could say was, “All of those people, Mom. All of those people!” It amazed me that, at the end of the movie, when those two men were being carried out, hundreds, and possibly even thousands, of people were there to help carry them out. Two people were coming out and so many people came to support and help them. People they didn’t even know! That, right there, was total and complete selflessness that was visually demonstrated to my 20-year-old self.

Though it’s been only four mere years since I watched that film and cried (which I can name on less than the amount of fingers of one hand how many movies I have cried watching), I am still in many ways still a selfish young adult, but I am beginning to see myself coming out of that in the recent months. How do I know this? I can recognize selfless acts that other people do, and am also beginning to *attempt* to do them myself. (Nothing like rushing into a burning people to save people, but you should get the idea.)

I watched this special edition episode of Dateline that aired on Friday. While it was difficult to watch, it was, to me, a very moving and powerful tribute to that awful day. Although we’ve all see the footage unfortunately more than we care to admit, a few things really struck a chord with me as I was watching this episode.

One thing that struck me as selfless and amazing were the videos and images of firefighters and policemen responding to the the first crash, and even after the second. People were running through the streets of New York, running for their lives, as far as they possibly could from the towers, and where were these brave firefighters and policeman going? TOWARD the incinerating building shooting out debris like a torpedo. How incredible is that? Sure, firefighters are trained to go inside burning buildings as a profession, which they do, sadly, but there is absolutely no amount of training or experience that could have prepared them for what they faced with when they reached those buildings.

Dateline reported that the width of the stairwells inside the towers were “wide” enough for two people to stand side by side and that was it. Therefore, there was enough room for two lines of people to go down at one time. Or, as these firefighters put it–one line going down, and another going up. People were running down these stairs, single-file, fighting with the firefighters telling them not to go up there. But no, they had to get up there to help those that were trapped. And sadly, I’m not sure how many of those that did actually go up to help ever came out alive. That is absolutely, completely, the most heroic and selfless act any one person could possibly carry out. To go into a building that frankly, no one knew would be collapsing, to help people that they didn’t know–complete strangers–is so admirable.

Then I saw this picture in my Newsweek that arrived in my mailbox last week. While usually flipping through the magazine, not really stopping to look at a lot of the pictures, and skimming through articles, I stopped and starred at this photo for a good five or ten minutes. I had never seen this picture before, and the fact that it covered two pages in this issue made its statement even more powerful.

If one picture could represent September 11, 2001 forever, it would not be one of the plane hitting the second tower; it would not be one of the buildings falling or people jumping; it would be this one. Because I believe this picture embodies so much of that day and shows what our country is all about, to this day. Look at the picture for a few moments and what do you see? People, covering the streets of Manhattan (a rarity, to be in the middle of the usual grid-locked yellow taxis that litter the streets as much as trash litters the subway lines). These people are white. They are black. They are Asian. They are Middle-Eastern. They are young. They are old. They are middle-aged. One is wearing a suit. The other is wearing a t-shirt and probably jeans. Another is wearing a wind-breaker jacket (and facing the opposite direction, for whatever reason). Another is wearing a dress shirt and tie. Some have glasses, some have grey hair. Some have long hair, some have short hair. Some have no hair. Some are married. Some are single. Some are engaged and some are widowed. Some live in Manhattan, others in the Bronx or New Jersey. Some work on Wall Street, others work as a dishwasher at a restaurant on Water Street. Some are from New York. Others are from China. Some are from Queens, some are from Brooklyn. But two things are the same with every last person in this picture. Their expression, and the direction of their faces. Though there’s so many differences in the people–what they look like, what they’re wearing, where they’re from–they all have the exact same reaction to what they were seeing with their naked eye. And, to epitomize this picture of America even more, there is conveniently a Starbucks in the background. 😉

This picture makes me believe in the good of mankind. It makes me believe that though there are sick people out there, there are also good. There are people who know right from wrong, people who care for others, and people who are willing to risk their lives for others whether that be a policeman, firefighter, or member of the military. That makes the evilness that we see every day happening in this world–the sin and destruction–whether it is murder, rape, theft, adultery, cheating, or even just mean words, seem like it is rare. Because pictures like this make all of the bad people in the world just… fade, even if it’s only for a moment.

But then I remember who is responsible for the reactions of those people in that picture. Who brought those expressions to their faces? “Evildoers” as the Bible says. Sadly, this was an act of bin Laden, who has since been brought to justice, but also led a big organization capable of trying to destroy our country as we knew it. He and his organization took thousands of lives “all for the sake of Jihad” as they frequently stated in the book I read earlier this year about bin Laden, titled, “Growing up with bin Laden,” written by bin Laden’s first wife and his second to oldest son. He took innocent lives and in the end–lost, though his organization still believes otherwise.

Innocent lives like the father of a girl I met in Manhattan at a bar nearly two years ago, who still feels so much pain. She is engaged now and will not be walked down the aisle by her “smart, loving, and intelligent” (as she put it yesterday) father. She read his name, along with dozens of others yesterday at the anniversary ceremony. What a courageous woman she is.

Or another innocent life–like the one of my dad’s precious co-workers at the Pentagon, Jerry. I still remember his name to this day, and I’ve thought and prayed for his family so much over the last ten years. I remember my mother telling me that he had a daughter my age, who attended a nearby high school. And that daughter never heard from her father that night, and I remember praying feverishly that he was just trapped in the rubble and would be rescued alive. But he never was. How easily could this have been my own father’s fate? It wasn’t, praise God, but it sure could have been. And because of that, I feel pain for these two girls. And the 3,000 others with the same story of their fathers, or their mothers, or husbands, or wives, or even–children.

Characteristic #12 of a Healthy Relationship

12. Both talk and demonstrate care and concern for each other.

Disclaimer: I am not a relationship expert, doctor, or counselor. This is a review of a class I took in college. Please read the series introduction for further background.

If you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s almost a given that you care deeply for that person and are concerned about their well-being and happiness. After all, that is why we are in a relationship, right?

This characteristic is what deep companionship means to me–having a deep relationship that is not only based on trust and honesty, but also knowing that there is someone that cares for you and is concerned about your happiness and safety. We can say that we feel this for the other person all day long, but do we act like it in a way that demonstrates it to the other person?

It actually worked out that I held out on this post for as long as I did, because a great example of this happened to me just last night actually. My boyfriend and I were at a restaurant in my neighborhood where we frequent almost every week for trivia. We are there so much, and sometimes even bring Cal, that we have made some friends and now have formed a trivia team with them. Both couples are all attorneys so naturally, they fit the stereotype of being loud, argumentative, and never wrong. One of the questions that we got wrong last time we were all together for trivia was a true or false question, and it supposedly cost us placing third overall that evening.

Magic Johnson is a member of the NBA Hall of Fame.

If you know my boyfriend, you know that he is, in a word, obsessed with all-things basketball. He lives and breathes by that game and knows every team, every coach, and every player by heart. So of course he knew the answer to this question right off the bat. “False! There is no NBA hall of fame.”

Well, it turned out that the host had a different answer in mind. True, he is a member of this alleged “NBA Hall of Fame.” So, last night, he started talking about it with one of the lawyers, trying to explain that there is one hall of fame for basketball and that is the Naismith Hall of Fame. It’s basketball as a whole–no separate “halls” for NCAA or NBA… they are all together. So yes, Magic Johnson is in the Naismith, but not the “NBA Hall” because that doesn’t exist. He pulled out documentation on his phone and had her read it and she was absolutely adamant that there was an NBA hall of fame and that he was wrong. She wouldn’t listen to him and kept shooting down everything he said. I could see the frustration on his face and read his body language, and I felt like he was upset with her not wanting to listen or even say something unheard of, like “you’re right, I agree with you.” My heart sank for Ryan as he gave up on trying to convince her. I told him that I of course believed him and agreed that the question was poorly worded.

After we left, I told him that it upsets me to see him feel upset, or defeated even. If he is upset, I am upset because I care deeply for him. He told me not to be upset because he didn’t care about it, but it was more of a situation of a strong-willed girl (and attorney) not wanting to back down and admit she’s wrong. He said he didn’t take it personally, but I certainly did because I could see it on his face. Maybe it’s different for men since they don’t internalize as we do as women, but I certainly felt hurt last night and I didn’t even add one word to the conversation.

How do you demonstrate care and concern for your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend?

Characteristic #11 of a Healthy Relationship

11. Equality

Third post in a row! I’m on a roll! PS: I am not a relationship expert, doctor, or counselor. This is a review of a class I took in college. Please read the series introduction for further background.

The 11th characteristic of a healthy relationship is simply one word: equality. This one word holds so much weight in any relationship. To me, equality means that each person within the relationship is seen as equal to the other. No person means more, or less, to another in the relationship. They are each the same to each other. Their feelings matter the same to one another (which should actually matter a lot!). And they are on the same team, so to speak.

This is something that my boyfriend and I are currently working on in our relationship. It’s no secret to him or my family that I can get defensive during an argument or disagreement (no matter the cause or subject matter) and then it becomes almost like a battle between each of us standing our ground and being stubborn together. Not to mention my typical feeling during a disagreement–feeling as if it’s me against the world, or so I’m told. So, with all of these personality traits combined, our disagreements turn into a battle. Once we both get over it and apologize to each other, I have found myself saying more than once, “We are supposed to be a team. Not against each other, but with each other.” We don’t disagree or argue often, but when we do, it’s upsetting to me that I automatically go into defense mode and cause an even worse fight.

So, with that said, equality is something we are working on, big time. We need to see each other as part of the same team. We need to not view each other as battle opponents or in the “versus” one another mode, but with each other. And though I am strong-willed (again, not a surprise to those that know me), I have to remember that as the man, he will become to head of the household and I still have to submit to him as my husband.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:24)

Further, the Bible also points out how a man should treat his wife.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life. (1 Peter 3:7)

A relationship contains two people. Two people with different personalities. Two people that were brought up differently. Two people with different feelings. And two people who should be thought of as equal to one another. Neither person is more important than the other, nor are the feelings of one person less than that of the other.

Do you think your relationship has equality? Why or why not?

Characteristic #10 of a Healthy Relationship

10. Keep the romance alive.

I’m happy that I am posting the tenth characteristic today, because I have had this draft sitting in my “to be published” file since January 31 of this year. Let’s see if I can keep this up and finish this series by the end of next week!

Characteristic #10 of a healthy relationship says to “keep the romance alive.” This is actually a more difficult task than people think, as more time passes while in the relationship. Of course, it’s easy to do romantic gestures in the beginning of a relationship when you’re both on that “high” of a new relationship that’s unknown and exciting. But what about after years and decades pass? Are you still feeling that tug on your heart when that person walks into the same room as you? I feel as if a lot of couples I know that have been together (or even married) for a long time would answer that with a “no.” You just get so used to the person, and they’re always around, that perhaps that feeling just sort of… fades.

But then you have the few couples who have been married since their late teens and have two grown daughters (one of which is married herself) and the husband says in front of an entire youth group that he still gets giddy when his wife walks into the same room. Even when I heard that man say that when I was 15 years old, it was so very apparent that he still keeps the romance alive. He still does those out-of-the-ordinary gestures for her when she leasts expects it and tells everyone that she is just as beautiful as she was the day they met. (If this couple or their children are reading this, please know that I truly admire your marriage and relationship!)

And “keeping the romance alive” doesn’t just refer to the men in the relationship doing all of the “romantic” gestures–women can do it, too! This goes back to what I’ve mentioned in nearly every characteristic for one reason or another–the love languages. Of course most women love to be surprised with flowers for no reason, or a phone call just to say “I love you” or whatever it may be, but men appreciate “romantic” gestures as well. Although I don’t think a man would appreciate flowers being delivered to their office as much as a woman would, they still appreciate something in the form of their love language. Maybe a night off of doing the dishes after dinner, or helping out with raking leaves in the fall. (Both are examples of the “acts of service” love language which is in fact, my father’s) Whatever their love language is, do something that will communicate to them that you love them. Do something that’s romantic not so much to you, but also to them.

What do you do to keep the romance alive in your relationship and/or marriage? (Or if you don’t usually do anything, what will you do next to restore the romance?) 

Characteristic #9 of a Healthy Relationship

9. There is fun and playfulness.

This post has been sitting as a “draft” on this blog since January. I actually had comments from people that actually indicated that they read and enjoyed this series, but yet I stopped less than halfway through. I guess I had a break-through of ideas sometime in January that cause the screeching halt of these posts. Now, I am in another drought so I will continue this series because it is something that I enjoy discussing.

Back to the ninth characteristic. “There is fun and playfulness.” The first thing that came to my mind when learning this characteristic in the classroom was that scene from the movie “The Notebook” when Allie’s parents tell her she can no longer see Noah and that he is “trash, trash, not for [her.]”

You don’t know anything about love. You don’t look at Daddy the way I look at Noah. You don’t touch or laugh. You don’t play. You don’t know anything about love.

I tried to find the clip of this scene online, but to no avail, this exact scene was nowhere to be found. I’m sure many of you have seen this movie and can hear Allie’s overly-dramatic voice as she cried through this conversation with her parents. But what’s so significant about this scene is the correlation it has with the characteristic of keeping fun and playfulness of the relationship.

How can we define fun and playfulness in a relationship? Well, for starters, Allie defines it in her harsh words to her parents. The verbs she says are, “look, laugh, touch, and play.”
While this may seem like a childish thing to do, it actually makes sense to me when looking at it from a religious standpoint as well.

As Christians, we are called to have that “child-like faith” that is mentioned in the Bible. Having a child-like faith is trusting God the same way a child would trust his or her parents (among many other characteristics). What do young children represent? They represent purity in the sense that they haven’t been “contaminated” or “exposed” to the ways of the world. They represent an innocence that only a child can have… an innocence that allows them to view the world without the disasters such as war, murder, or earthquakes. They are just… innocent.

So in having a child-like faith, we can also have a child-like relationship. A relationship that is completely trustworthy and allows us to act as if we have not been hurt before. (When was the last time a child was reluctant to trust a parent, for instance? They always do, from the start, and they don’t know otherwise) At the same time, our relationships, however big or small, allow for so much fun and playfulness. And to keep that alive in a relationship, keeps us in that child-like mindset that can be good for us.

Second Dog-versary

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Cal!

Two years ago today, your daddy stopped by the shelter to pick you up on the way home from work. You rode on all-fours to my apartment in your daddy’s truck, and when I opened the door after I heard the knock, I saw you for the first time. Over the next three weeks of fostering you, I didn’t realize it, but I was falling in love with you as if you were my own child. When it was time to give you to the vet to have your heartworm treatment, I couldn’t bare the pain of never seeing you again. And so it was, that I adopted you as my own. The Lord brought you to me when I least expected it and I could have never imagined that I would love an animal as much as I love you. You’ve brought me so much joy, laughter, and sometimes embarrassment, but above anything else you’ve brought happiness to me. Your grandma was right when she told me, “All he wants to do is love, and be loved.” And that is you, Cal.

I love you so much and could not ask for a better, cuter dog!

Love, Your Mommy