Update, to be explained later

Many good things are happening inside my soul right now. The last thirteen months have been very hard, but I think God finally forced me to grow up more than I would have otherwise. I’ve been able to face things about myself that I never wanted to face.

Yes, I’ve been having panic attacks and heartpain, but even this feels like the last bit of necessary surgery. Out of weakness, I have to collapse on God himself. No other coping mechanism of mine works any more. And that is good.

I have peace about things I never thought I would have peace about. I feel like I’ve been climbing a mountain that just kept going up and up (and still is), but that from the trail through the trees and the crags, I’ve just caught a glimpse over the ridge of the valley shining below.

God is good. God is very, very good. He demands all our dreams, every single one. It’s easy to give up the dreams you didn’t really want, but it’s bitter to surrender the ones that you REALLY REALLY want. But surrender to Him is better than fulfillment anywhere else. After all, He created both starlight and the deepest poetry from which all other beauty springs. He alone can be trusted with all things.


Tips for first-time smartphone owners using a Samsung Galaxy Express Prime phone

Congratulations, Samsung Galaxy Express Prime smartphones are the best deal on the phone market. This is the middle-quality model, whose purchase price runs around $85~$99 and is far superior to the crashing $40 smart phones and far far cheaper than the flashy $700 phones. I’ve also found the touch-screen to be more dependable than the LG’s that were at a comparable price.

First things first:

1. Purchase a CLASS-10 (not 4!) micro-SD (not SD!) card
for 64 Gigabytes. This should run around $20, here it is for $20 on amazon. Class 10’s have a read/write speech of 60-100 mb/s which is what you need if you are using it as an extension of your phone. A new re-branding of Class 10s is calling them “U-1” or something, and it will look like a logo of a boxy U with a little number 1 sitting in the inside.

2. Put it in your phone (it usually slides in under or over the SIM card inside the phone — there should be a slot for it in there. Tutorials on youtube will be helpful here–just like cars, find one with your exact model, and then it will be a breeze.

3. Your phone will only ask once–so when you slide the microSD card in, and put the cover back on, and turn on your phone, it will ask you if you want to format as “external” or “internal”. Format it as “internal memory”. This means that your phone will treat it as a part of your phone, so voila you now have a phone with 80 GB. This is a real time-saver because if you were a fool like me and formatted it as external (so that I could in theory, pop it out and put it in my netbook like a memory stick) it means that I have to CONSTANTLY move my apps over to the external memory card. And then every time android updates an app (usually about every 10 days) it automatically moves it back to my slim 16 gb of internal memory, which fills up and crashes and then I have to move everything over via the app manager by hand again.

4. You are going to have two sets of software installed on your phone already Samsung Software (the maker of the phone) and Google Android Software (the maker of the OS) — most of it is bloatware you can delete, though always research something before you do so, as it *may* be important.

I recommend Samsung’s native apps for “Music”, “Calendar,” “Clock”, “Gallery”, “Print Service Plugin”, “Voice Recorder”,  and “Calculator”. Their “Internet” (a purple logo) isn’t bad either.

BUT I do not recommend Samsung’s “Email” app for gmail. Since android is made by Google, you might as well use their native GMAIL app for GMAIL, it runs *seemlessly* and is the best thing about having a smartphone. (And if you ever want to reload emails you may have missed, just open the inbox, pull down and hold for a second, and the page will re-load). Also, google will have all your gmail information anyway because it is google.  I assume you are using GMAIL as your native email anyways, so use their own GMAIL app for it. (it should also be pre-installed to your phone, the logo is a red M on a white envelope). Obviously other pre-installed google apps that work very well are Google Maps and Youtube.

5. If you do want to ‘remove ads’ etc and pay for the “pro” versions of apps, there is a way to do it low risk. First of all, never pay more than $5 for an app, most will be $2 or $1. Also, don’t link your payment information to your google account (Android will pester you to, but it can lead to dangerous impulse buys). RATHER, just buy yourself $10 google play giftcards at the grocery store, then go on your computer to play.google.com, log into the gmail you used for your phone, punch in the gift card code, and voila, instant budgetting of apps.

6. Here is my top list of useful apps (you will install them through the Google Play store). They are all free to install (some may need small payments to remove ads, but we will get to that later. As a rule of thumb, I never pay to install an app without using it. All the good apps will let you install them for free, usually with ads or a trial period.). Also — alot of stinky software folks will steal a free good app, add their own weird ads to it, and then repackage it and try to get you to download theirs. So make sure you check to see which one it is (they will make it look similar, name it similar, etc).

Forest: Stay Focused (by forestapp.cc)




Streams in the Desert Daily Devotional (by Tap Tap Studio)


Atmosphere: Relaxing Sounds (by Peak Pocket Studios)


Viber Messenger (by Viber Media S.a.r.l.)


ESV Bible (by Crossway)


Instagram (by Instagram)


Jesus Words Meditation (by Apposaur)


KakaoTalk: Free Calls & Text (by Kakao Corporation)


Notebloc – Scan, Save & Share (by Notebloc)


Still Very Good Apps, but maybe less universally useful

AnkiDroid for Flashcards


30 Day Fitness Challenge


AppBlock – Stay Focused


Book Catalogue (by Evan Leybourn)


My Library (by Julien Keith)


D Notes – Smart and Material – Notes & To Do Lists (by Damian vd Berg)


Learn Japanese, Korean, Chinese Offline & Free (by LingoDeer)


If you travel:






If you are into amazon content:
Audiobooks for Audible
Amazon Music
Amazon Kindle

Thoughts while drinking orange juice in the back yard after a panic attack

Oh God… here is my scrappy dissertation, in all its lurid details. I wanted to write about generic ideals, and I ended up writing about specific sins. But this is how you redeem the world…isn’t it? Bit by bit, every little thing, not one bit of it too unspeakable for you. You have redeemed and you are redeeming, and will redeem, each small piece at a time, each little sinner, small and ashamed in his shabby sins. It is always in the small things, isn’t it? You’ve saved the world already, when you hung on that tree outside of Jerusalem. It was dusty then, as its dusty now.

Oh Christ. You knew. You knew the pain I’d be in, this moment, now. You were in the same pain, when you were here. It wasn’t long ago either – how speedily time races on!

I see a cardinal and a robin, happily sharing the yard at the moment, searching for bugs and other unfortunates. Their colors are so bright! Bird’s lives are beautiful, and short. It’s been five years since we let Squeaker go – he is most certainly dead by now. Mockingbirds – like all songbirds – have short lifespans. I know we both loved Squeaker. My heard couldn’t have broken like that if you hadn’t put a a love in it. The love that burns till it hurts like that is from you. So it must have been yours. And you heard my prayer that time.

Shall we not accept evil at the Lord’s hands, as well as good?

Job said that, so many years ago, to his devastated wife, on the graves of their children. That is life. And you promise that you love, loved then, love now, and always will.

You are in every green leaf, every sparrow’s flight. And the sunlight. Or at least – your breath is. I feel it is so.

Because only You are life. All of it is of You and from You.

And you are Holy. And we desire your holiness, we yearn for it, we faint for it – even when we do not know for what we thirst, and faint for.

Let your holiness come to us. For without holiness, none shall see God. And we long to see you. For your voice is sweet, and your face is beautiful.


The Holiness of God is a terrifying thing, a consuming fire, a whirlwind of judgment, a voice crying out in the wilderness, the roar of mighty waters.

But it is also, deep down, what we all so desperately need, just as we need air and light and water. In fact, the last three are most likely symbols created into this universe, to remind of holiness itself.

God is Holy. He created us to be Holy.

And everything else must pass away.

Not all tears are evil

Sorrow is a part of life. A very important part. With sorrow, comes love, acceptance, gentleness, acknowledgement of worth, and a treasuring of heart.

I love that her face conveys compassion, judgment, challenge, comfort, and sympathy … all at the same time. More than anything else, this is what we deserve. Everything and nothing. Fury and fire and gentle cradling. That is the love of God.

The little things will save the world

Now that I’m in my 30’s, and at the eve of a major life transition,  I’ve been thinking a great deal about my 20’s. Like most of my millennial cohort, I thought, as an earnest 18 year old coming of age in 2006, that anger would save the world. We called it different things — “passion” or “empathy” or such things, but it was anger. Strident righteous indignation, argumentation, those slogans that were our bread and butter — “this world needs your passion!” “let your voice be heard!” etc etc. Us earnest, self-righteous, social-crusading millennials did pretty much live up to our stereotype.

To be fair, it wasn’t always strident anger, there was also the occasional,  weeping gentle-anger, but it was still an earnest upset-ness: that earnest empathy for the abused, the abuse described in graphic language as we stood with our little memorial march candles, sorrowing with the righteous fire of indignation still smouldering beneath.

Unlike most of my millennials, I was the conservative traditionalist version — while they cheered Obama I was signing petitions against the One Child Policy, and writing angry emails to foreign governments about old ladies and small babies. But we were all the same underneath. It’s a sort of melodramatic earnestness. The Post-mils are, of course, resentful of the earnest drama we have inflicted upon them, and they have been frenetically shitposting offensive memes with sixteen levels of irony ever since. It’s all a cycle really.

Sometime in my late 20s, I finally admitted that anger will not save the world. Honestly, when you count up the number of social evils solved by angry petitions, it isn’t much. Most great social evils (e.g. American Slavery, Holocaust, recent genocides) are not actually solved by emotional protestors, but rather by solemn killers. It’s the soldiers in the wars, with their guns and their PTSD, that actually stopped those things. The cost of freedom, of basic human decency, is always high and dreadful, with plenty of mess in its wake. But as President Abraham Lincoln said, standing on the field of Gettysburg recently cleared of its human carnage: “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

And while soldiers’ self-sacrifice may hallow the ground, it does not save the world either. It merely stalls the destruction of it. It is a tragic, last-ditch effort to stop great evils that have already spiralled out of control and claimed so many lives — and must claim even more, before the dust clears on the field.

What really saves the world is what happens after. It is in the littlest of things, the small acts of kindness, little everyday kindnesses, small acts of love.

I drove through a neighborhood today. There were a bunch of elementary-school-aged children playing in the street. Boys and girls, of different races. I weaved past them gingerly at 3mph in my big truck, and I could see some of them smiling. I could hear them laughing and talking, completely un-self-consciously.

They don’t know it yet, but they are saving the world.

till death do us part

Love hopes all things, Love believes all things, Love endures all things. Love never fails.

We must hold sacred every human soul if we are ever to find our own. We must honor everyone else’s marriage vow if we are ever to hope that our own love may burn as a holy fire, that many waters cannot quench and the floods cannot drown out.

That might mean sorrow, self-denial, sacrifice.

But that is never in vain.

The One who wheels the stars in their courses watches our every small oblation poured into the earth. We wait, empty, with Him, as the stars turn through the watches of the night. None of it shall be wasted.

My dream last night

Image result for schonbrunn palace

We were in this fancy hotel thing with hundreds of people–it was supposed to be a UN meeting, but there were families there, and courtyards. It was more like a fortified housing complex but the front looked like the Schonbrunn. Everything was very international and polite, some sort of negotiation was going on, this was supposed to be temporary. As nice as the building was, I was looking forward to going back home when this formality was all over with.

Then, outside the gates, I saw an dented, dingy white semi-truck drive up to the gates with the North Korean symbol painted on it, I was rolling my eyes about how hipsters romanticize communism and think they are edgy for sporting symbols of actual oppression—-when out of the truck jumps some REAL communists, with a ray gun bomb detonator that they had obviously rigged already inside the complex. I realized this had all been a trap.

I tried to sound the alarm but no one believed me over the phone. There were a lot of polite blonde people who thought I was just being dramatic, and “it can’t possibly be that bad.” So I was driving around, desperately trying to find some law enforcement or allies to help me, but I kept running into communists blocking me in with their cars, stalling me while pretending it was all in my head.

They succeeded, and the bomb went off in the Schonbrunn building (I could see the smoke from where I was at, and the ground shook) and I knew they were taking over the citadel. So I tried to flee, and even though I knew my family was still in the building (the cell phone calls weren’t going through) I abandoned them to their fate and fled into the woods. I ran and ran and found a mossy bank, and an old house full of ancient books (damp and cold now, with no heat). There were about five other refugees there and a crazy old professor who kept his goldfish in the toilet bowl. No one spoke (they were shaken up), and we hid under piles of old papers scattered about the study (things were in disarray, all damp and wet with the windows blowing open). I didn’t realize his goldfish were in the toilet, so I used it and then accidentally flushed and so all the goldfish died and they were beautIful — deep red and orange and gold  and purple. They died in so much pain, twitching little things, and I felt so bad. Then the communists showed up and went after us. They knocked me down—and I never saw what happened to the other refugees, or the confused old professor. I never saw them again.

I was back in the compound, it had been a year or so, and they had mostly brainwashed all of us, especially all the blonde UN people, who were now chanting slogans with frozen smiles and glazed eyes. The Schonbrunn was now shabby and full of war damage but we were making do. Everything was ashen and grey, and bits of falling plaster. The bits of sky we could see through the boarded windows and the holes in the walls were grey and overcast. And there were overseers everywhere. There was alot of marching and chanting. My sister was there with her five kids and her husband. They wanted to escape because their little bright-eyed son — so earnest and forthright — couldn’t navigate this thought-controlled world with all its nuance and obeisances, and so he was in danger.

I found a hallway that they could run away from the commies but then our old brainwashed blonde UN friends showed up to stop us. One woman with a bob was particularly insistent, speaking in a flat tone, “this is what the whole world is like, it won’t be any different anywhere else.” I screamed for my sister’s family to run, and I grabbed a brick from the rubble and stared smashing the UN brain-washed people on the heads, clubbing them to knock them out as they tried to stop us. My sister and some of her kids had already climbed through the rubble to the hallway, I was trying to stop the UN friends from catching them. As their bodies fell unconscious around me,  I didn’t check if they were still breathing — I didn’t care. I got about 12 of them, and it felt so natural. I wasn’t angry, I just felt numb, left with no other choice. My sister and her little son and daughter had gotten away, but then the guards closed in on me. I didn’t know what happened to her husband or the other kids and the baby.

I was hoping they would kill me but they didn’t. They took me back and reeducated me. I became obedient. The years stretched on, everything was grey and rigid and cruel— and then we heard the sound of singing. There were pro-freedom Koreans on boats sailing up the river and surrounding the compound (a deep blue river was suddenly all along one side in the back of the Schonbrunn-building). The Koreans on the boats had guns bigger than our side. The sun was gleaming on their overwhelming force, the wind was blowing their hair. They were singing to us. Our side surrendered.  I just started crying and crying, as the numbness started to thaw, all kinds of feelings returned to me. Suddenly everything was in color again.

And the people on the boats were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.