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Appreciation: The Dying Art

Appreciation: The Dying Art
Free-Thoughts Thursdays
Olivia of KingdomClothing

This compilation of Thursday thoughts seems to be bursting out of me. We live in a world of both instant and constant gratification. We’re therefore a bit lacking in the appreciation department. It sucks. I see it at work, at school in my little kids, at home, in the attitudes of my friends, in relationships, in myself. We’ve become a thankless society. And you know why? Because we never have to live without. We’re never really without anything we need— or even anything we really want. It’s just there. No need to be thankful for something that’s always around, right? That’s the attitude. That saying, “You don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it” is remarkably true and so relevant today. We’re so lost. So wound up in ourselves. No one is thankful just for breath anymore. I’m guilty too; I’m not exempting myself. We’re lost. It’s that inward curvature of the heart. Sometimes I think everything that’s wrong with us can be rooted back to self-centeredness. Pride. Pride kills a lot of things.
Please remember also that this is too true where I live. You may live in a completely different corner of the earth where appreciation and thankfulness are woven into every moment, and that’s wonderful. But not here. Here, it is a dying art. And I miss it.

Passion Fruits

Free-Thoughts Thursdays: Passion Fruits
Olivia of KingdomClothing

Hello all friends, old and new. For whoever still reads, enjoys, follows, and comments, THANK YOU. I took a long hiatus for so many different reasons, but the root reason— the real reason— is that I wasn’t committing myself fully to this work. And by “this work”, I don’t mean just writing here in this blog arena, but I mean I wasn’t fully committing myself whole-heartedly to my passion, which is my business (www.etsy.com/shop/wanggukclothing).
Today’s post is going to be about this kind of devotion to our dreams and why I think some people, like myself, shy away from pursuing their dreams fully. If you have been following us from the start (again, thank you), you know that this blog was intended to be a kind of sister-site to my shop on etsy (wanggukclothing). Here, I share a bunch of my passions with others who like the same sorts of great things: KPOP, fashion, fashion history, occasional brief free thoughts or opinions, and culture questions. This week, as I was staring at my instagram account profile, I noticed my press website (this) was still in my profile, and I felt a tinge of guilt mixed with my usual anxiety triggered by things I feel like I need to do but haven’t, and I thought to myself, ‘Why haven’t I written in so long?’
Well, the surface answer is simple: I’m busy. We’re all busy. We all have “things to do.” In Southern California, where this blog takes place, this is even more true than most other pockets of Earth, I feel. Busyness is a drug for people, coupled with an obsession with productivity. But what I’ve noticed, sadly, is that a lot of our busyness doesn’t really result in productivity. A lot of people, especially here, think they are the same thing: busyness and productivity. But they aren’t. You can be busy with anything. Being busy doesn’t equal being productive. For example, I could be really “busy” eating chips on the couch so when someone texts me and says “sushi?” I have to tell her “sorry girl, i’m BUSY tonight.” I could also be busy painting my nails or shopping at the mall for things I don’t need or trashing up my room and not cleaning up my mess or looking at stupid (or non-stupid) videos on instagram for hours. I could also (as a rather more extreme example) even be busy out slicing someone’s tires or egging a house. Are any of those things directly productive? Minus some arguable grey area, NO. None of them are. But I could be busy doing any number of them, possibly for hours. Many people refer to time as they do currency: spending it, wasting it, saving it. But what I think is the missing ingredient for so many people I observe on a daily basis is enjoying it— making it really worth something.
And don’t get me wrong, wasting time sometimes and not being so productive is healthy. It’s good to just forget about building and kind of just let yourself be for a moment. Days like that are good for us. (Note: days, not whole stretches of time where we do absolutely nothing good with ourselves). And also, sometimes we have to be busy with things that are productive and do matter, even if we don’t enjoy it that much…like a day job that we have to work to pay our bills. That contributes to busyness as well, and it may not be enjoyable 100% of the time (or sadly, for some of us, even 10% of the time), but it’s a necessary busyness.
But I have noticed, in a lot of my friends’ lives after we got out of school and joined the “real” world, they didn’t really enjoy what they were doing. Not all of the people I know are like this, but honestly, a vast majority are. They either accepted the job they’re at now because they liked the benefits, the “security,” the paycheck, the convenience. But when I meet up and have lunch with some of them, they never sound like they actually love— or really even like— what they’re doing day-to-day. I’ve been at jobs like that too; I know what it feels like to be making money or to have some sense of “job security.”
But here’s the thing about lots of money or employer-provided benefits or “job security”… none of it really means security. You can still lose it, your bank can still fail, natural disasters still happen, and benefits most of the time only go so far. Yes, if you have a family already and you’re providing life for someone other than yourself, then you really do have to think a little bit more about your job than just “hmm, but do I like this?” But, if you are still wondering what to do with yourself and you’re tempted to choose a job just for the paycheck or the supposed security you’ll be reaping, I’d advise you to not do it; at least not before you’ve considered what loving your job really feels like. No, I don’t spring out of bed in the morning at 6:30, ready to mold minds at school or drive all groggy to go shoot photos for the shop or help my friends with disabilities. I don’t wake up without an alarm (or 5). But once I’m there, I’m loving myself for choosing my jobs based on how they make me feel inside instead of the steady fatter paycheck I could be making.
The fruits of our labors should be more than just money, benefits, or supposed security. If you’re not absolutely loving what you’re doing or loving the difference your job makes in the world, why do it for years upon years? I think some of us just get stuck. We get comfortable. Whether it be financially comfortable, comfortable within a certain lifestyle or routine, comfortable enough to think “yeah I don’t really need anything else.” I’ve been there too. I know what it feels like to be just comfortable enough not to change. But that kind of comfort is dangerous because it leads to complacency. And then it’s really hard to change your lifestyle, or job, or whatever, once you’re there.
I know I’ve talked about chasing passions in the past, but I kind of want to reopen this conversation. I’m also planning on talking about this again in my next Free-Thoughts Thursday or on future Tuesdays where I kind of just talk about whatever I want. Chasing dreams is a subject that I think a lot of people think about and maybe even talk about, but that the realities of which are sadly overlooked. What do you guys think? Leave thoughts, if you please ❤ 🙂

God’s Mercy and Humble Prayer

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91.14-16.
I used to think that prayer didn’t really matter. I mean, I still did it. And I still believed that God heard me. But I could never square with both the understanding that God already had a plan and that God answers prayers. If His plan was perfect and He already had it, what difference could asking for something, even in prayer, really make? Especially if that something didn’t fall into His plan. I just figured it was something we do. And when people said, “Oh, the Lord answered my prayer; look!” I was always like ‘yeah I don’t think so; it apparently just so happened that whatever you asked for was already part of His plan.‘ A wonderful coincidence at best.
Half a year ago, my boyfriend broke up with me. I was miserable. Not because I thought I couldn’t find anyone else to enjoy my time with and not because our love had been this perfect thing, but because I had lost the best friend I had ever had. I didn’t feel empty or void without him, like a piece of me was missing or any of that. I just felt sad. I still had an amazing life without him; I had a lot going for myself. But whenever I would enjoy something, I couldn’t help thinking ‘yeah, but I would enjoy this more with him‘ and I’d wish I could share things with him and I no longer could. And again, it’s not like I thought ‘this is it‘ and that I couldn’t find anybody else to be with who I was compatible with. I knew I could. That isn’t really a question— everybody can find someone else to be content with; it’s a matter mostly of choice. I had been in love before; I knew it could happen again. I just didn’t want anybody else. I wanted him.
I spent a long time thinking about this. And at that point, most of my friends were feeding me lines like ‘you’re better off without him‘ or ‘I never really liked you with him anyway‘ or ‘girl, he left YOU; go out and find a man who’s gonna shower you in everything you really deserve‘ which of course always came with the best intentions but were never truly helpful. It just made me feel worse. I hated when people told me he didn’t deserve me. People don’t deserve other people; they choose other people. But inevitably, after hearing it so much, I started to think that maybe he didn’t deserve me; that he had given up but I had remained loyal. I had that devil on my shoulder sneering, ‘go demand what you deserve; preserve yourself.‘
But I couldn’t give in to self-preservation. I couldn’t just give up. I had always had this feeling that we still had hope, that we still had some unattained remaining potential to be unlocked, that we were special. And I couldn’t give up on that. So I started praying for it. Timidly at first, because I was used to thinking that God already had a plan and things happened for a reason in a certain way, and it appeared that this thing had already happened and I didn’t want to be asking God for something that was against His will. So I was afraid at first. I also had doubt in the back of my mind dictating all my thoughts while I was praying. I’d pray for us to be brought back together, and a thought would hiss by: ‘you can ask, but this isn’t God’s will so you’re not gonna get it.’ All my prayers at first were tainted with this doubt. I was so sure I was asking for something that could not happen. That it was futile. That prayer always was.

I spent six months praying for something that people told me was a lost cause and not something I should ask for. And this month, he and I are together again, for the first time in seven months. I’m not sharing this to boast, because the only thing I could boast in is God’s power and grace. And I’m not sharing this to sound like a Nicholas Sparks novel. I felt like I had to share this in order to say that God is mighty. I wrote it to praise Him for what He’s done. God works in such crazy mysterious ways, we have no idea what He’ll do. And if you feel some kind of pull to pray for something, even something that seems crazy, DO IT. Through this whole ordeal, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s to not put the God of the universe in a box. To not assume that He won’t do something. If you love Him and serve him truly, He wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37.4-5). We forget that He has said Ask and you shall receive. But at this point, I do want to say that I’m not telling you that God will just toss us miracles like candy. Some things we ask for He isn’t going to do. And we just aren’t going to know why. And for many people, in many different circumstances that come to this end, this will be extremely difficult, and I understand that. I don’t want to sound like I’m saying “oh just ask for it and God’ll give it to you, no biggie” because that’s not how it is. And that’s not how I prayed either. I was a slave to prayer. I begged for it; I laid down my everything to Him when I asked for it. I said I’d do anything for it. I was desperate and relentless. But I also remembered that I was me and that God is GOD. If the King of kings didn’t want it to happen, I knew that it wouldn’t. But when I prayed, I also wasn’t a slave to my fears or doubts that it wouldn’t happen. At first I was, but eventually I moved to praying against the grain of my fears. I prayed through the doubts. And I believed that God would do this even if people told me He wouldn’t. I waited for Him to act when I felt like I should and I trusted Him to be faithful and He was. I believed in a Holy Power that was beyond me.
I hope this helps at least one person who comes across it. I’m in no way saying that if you’ve broken up with someone and you want them back, that it will happen exactly how it did for me— it won’t. Every case it different. I’m just here to say that I believe in the power of a humble prayer, because I’ve witnessed the God of the universe work in it. I’m also not claiming to know a ton about this mysterious God of the universe— I don’t. A year ago, I didn’t even believe in God anymore. All I can really offer you is my experience. And my experience is that I prayed humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, and God had mercy on me and answered me.

If you’re stuck in a rut right now, not sure if God answers prayers, these verses really helped me (along with the verse at the beginning of this article from Psalm 91) :
Daniel 9.23, Jeremiah 31.9, Isaiah 65.24, Matthew 21.21, Genesis 18.14, 22-33, 19.29

The Orchestra

The Orchestra:  the Kingdom as Song
Olivia of WangGuk

I have been really behind on posts here lately; please forgive that.  Life gets so complicated sometimes.  Instead of a Fashion-Review-Monday, this is just a general post that I meant to post yesterday because it’s more of a Kingdom-Thoughts-type post.
Over the weekend, I was able to drive down to LA to visit my family— one of my cousins is a really talented classical musician and I got to watch him play as a part of a local orchestra.  It was an awesome experience for a lot of reasons— I’ve never seen him play classical music before, so that was great, and I got to see my family and that’s always awesome.  But as I was watching him play, I started thinking about what playing as part of an orchestra actually means.  At first, I just watched my cousin playing, since he was who I was there to see and support.  But as the music flowed onward, I started looking all over the stage at each of the different players.  It was amazing to me that each one of these people was so gifted, so talented on their own— yet each of them was also part of a bigger picture.  Each one of them played a different part, but each one of them was necessary for each song.  Each player’s part was unique and different, but each was necessary and each was beautiful.
I think the Kingdom is like this.  We are each talented in different ways, but when working together, we suddenly become this bigger picture, this greater good.  And each one of us is vital to that greater good.  In an orchestra, if one person is missing, the other players feel the loss, even if the audience doesn’t know the difference.  And each person plays a separate part of the same song, but when meshed together perfectly, all of the different melodies makes a masterpiece.  In life, we each have different roles, but I think in a perfect, working Community, each person’s unique role fits perfectly into the web with everyone else’s special role.
Another thing I noticed while watching the orchestra:  if someone messed up or played a wrong chord, there was no discord to be noticed.  Everyone simply moved on and kept playing, for the sake of the song.  I think this is how the Community should be as well:  if we focus too long on any one mistake made by either oneself or another brother, how will we finish the song?  We need to keep moving forward so that we can finish the masterpiece, keep running the race.  Mistakes will happen; they are inevitable, they are necessary— and choosing to move forward after mistakes are made must be necessary too, for progress’s sake.  If we each keep playing our unique parts and keep holding each other up after mistakes, we’ll be part of a big beautiful song— how awesome.
The Kingdom is our Song.  And God’s the best Conductor I can imagine:  He’s there to remind, He’s there to suggest, He’s there to guide and encourage— but He won’t force a player to play right.  He will strengthen, but we have to want to keep playing to make the Song a reality.  I think that’s a pretty cool working, breathing Kingdom— a Song perfected is what to look forward to on this beautiful Earth.