The world survived 2012.
We as a world survived natural disasters, senseless tragedies, fiery demonstrations, notable deaths, a presidential election, gridlock over a fiscal cliff, underground and publicized human rights violations, a misinterpreted Mayan prophecy of doom, USC’s devastating football game loss to UCLA…
We as individuals survived relationship conflicts, uncertainties, loneliness, and whatever daily struggles we face.
We survived 2012.
A few weeks ago I read back a journal entry I wrote in December 2011. I write a list of prayer requests every December. They’re a little different from New Year resolutions, because they’re not goals or desires I aim to meet out of my own sheer will and determination. They’re prayer topics that have built up over that year, as I discover things about me that I need to renew or improve. I believe they are also things that God desires.
So by the end of the year, I compile these prayer requests by meeting my desires with God’s, and asking God for the strength and wisdom to make the necessary actions needed to become more like the person He wants me to be.
Guess what. God answered every single prayer request I wrote on that December 2011 journal entry—even things I threw out on a whim.
It’s astounding and miraculous how God answers prayers. Some people believe being a Christian means to restrict and suffer. Christians seem to bound themselves in “biblical” laws. They struggle to follow a list of Christian “do”s and “don’t”s, and the momentary liberation they allow themselves is quickly crushed by guilt. They’re damned either way.
But every year, I discover that God wants the same thing every parent want out of their kids: He wants us to be happy and independent, while reaching our best potential as unique individuals. And He desires the same ultimate desires we have, too. He gave us particular interests and talents for a divine purpose.
One of my 2012 prayer requests was for God to provide me with a good summer internship. By May, I hadn’t applied to any summer internships except for one journalism conference in New York City, to which I was accepted. I planned to take it easy that summer, to just do a few freelancing on the side while enjoying a whole summer in Los Angeles.
I forgot the prayer request I wrote about the summer internship. But God didn’t. During my time at the journalism conference in NYC, I was offered a summer internship out of the blue. And it wasn’t just any summer internship. It was a paid print journalism internship at a magazine that I respect. I even got to spend a whole wonderful month at the editors-in-chief’s home in Asheville, N.C. I met beautiful people, and clarified my vision for my career as a journalist.
God even answered some of my silliest prayer requests. I blush as I divulge this, but I asked God to let me “fall in love” this 2012.
Gag! I still don’t know what possessed me to throw that request into my 2012 list. Honestly, I was half-joking when I added that in. I just freaking wanted to understand what my friends are talking about when they discuss “butterflies in the stomach” and all that sickening lovey-dovey stuff. I always felt so out of the loop when it came to those matters. I hadn’t had a crush for more than 10 years! At age 24, I still held that “boys have cooties” attitude. It was getting pretty worrisome to me and my friends.
I didn’t “fall in love” this year. But God, in strange and mysterious ways, opened up my heart more to the possibility of it. So yeah…be careful what you wish for, because it might be a joke to you, but God might take it seriously. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I have been saying this to pretty much everybody I care for: 2013 is going to be a freaking great year.
How can I be so sure? I know because 2012 was better than 2011. 2011 was better than 2010. 2009 was better than 2008, and 2008 better than 2007. Every year, it just keeps on getting better and better.
Not that bad things aren’t happening. The world is getting more and more complicated, and hideous atrocities will continue to happen in 2013—probably in uglier and denser levels than the previous year.
But each year is getting “better” in that every year, we improve. We learn. We experience. We feel. We grow as human beings, as daughters/sons, as friends, as husbands/wives, as citizens and neighbors. We all have our “worst” years. But if we look closer into that “worst year,” we just might discover that we grew the most during that year. And in that sense, that year may not have been nice, but it was…great.
That’s why I’m so excited. So many great things are awaiting us in 2013. I can’t wait to reach December of 2013 and recognize God’s fingerprints in my year’s path again.
And so I greet all of you, dear readers, a Great New Year. Don’t be too surprised by all the great things that will hit you this year…which for me will come in exactly 2 hours as I type this.
We had a simple, bellyful meal of huo guo/steamboat/shabu-shabu.
Here are our fixings:
From top left to bottom right: Fish balls and meat balls of various kinds, lotus root and corn, Japanese mountain yam, and more fish balls.
Also some brisket for quick dipping, shabu-shabu style…
And fresh shrimp to infuse the soup with some good old crustacean flavor…
More seafood-based cakes…
And fibrous vegetables to let it all go through smoothly tomorrow morning.
Enoki mushrooms and taro.
What we do with the taro is prepare it beforehand by pan-frying it so it cooks faster. Otherwise it takes forever to cook!
Every family has their own dipping sauce. Ours is very Korean:
Soy sauce, vinegar, shit-ton of garlic, green onions, and sriracha sauce.
For our broth, we had a simple Korean broth based on dried anchovies and seaweed:
Burst of flame…
…let the broth boil, dump in the contents your heart desire, and that’s it!
This is a super-easy, super-fun, super-social meal that many Chinese and Japanese families enjoy, especially when the weather is chilly.
Nobody in my family really cares about double-dipping. We just dip our chopsticks and ladles right in and fish out whatever we want.