Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 9

So it's Day 9 into the Reloaded Coffee Purge! Just had breakfast at Starbucks. I'm not yet quite off caffeine yet, admittedly, but I have been off coffee since this weekend. Today's breakfast was a bagel (w/ butter) and ... chai tea. So yes, I'm still drinking caffeine, but I'm moving towards a more natural source of energy. I've been also waking up with a lot more energy.

Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 9
Consecutive Days without Coffee (including today): 4

Monday, August 30, 2010

Workout: Aug 30, 2010

So it was 11pm, and we just had a little mini-committee meeting. Afterwards, I wanted to shower, but felt like I had to earn it. So I decided to try this workout I saw on YouTube, courtesy of ICE1CUBE (I'm a big fan btw .. good workouts and relationship advice lol). Here's the link to the original workout (Click Here).

So here's the workout:
- Swings (using a kettlebell, dumbbell, "ghetto-bell", or whatever ....etc)
- Pushup Burpees
- Squats (using the same weight as the swings)

1 Round Consists of doing each exercise for 40 sec, and resting for 20 sec. During each 40 sec interval, you aim for as many reps as you can. Tally up your reps and post your score.

Post up your weight (for the swings) and your final score. Here's mine:

Swings (25 lbs)


Squats (0 lbs)

23x7 + 11*7 + 35*7 - 1
= 161
+ 77
+ 245
- 1
482 (final score)
NOTE: My scores for the squats were very high since I didn't use any weights. My apologies and thanks, Jireh, for the correction! I'll re-do this workout with the weights as soon as I can and re-post. In the meantime, this workout (without the weighted squats) is still pretty challenging ;)

Avenues of Joy

The past year, I was volunteering at Sick Kids, playing with kids and having fun. I really enjoyed it, but had to stop since this upcoming year is going to be pretty busy. I really miss the kids and the people I work with.

Yesterday, I was at church. After Sunday School, the prayer meeting was getting started and I was lingering reading some books. I overheard that the Children's Ministry was still in need of help. I didn't think much of it, nor did I need to sit in during the service before I decided. I picked up my feet and went downstairs to find the Children's Ministry. I found the leaders and said I'm interested in helping and can do whatever: sit-in, cleanup, help around, set-up, ... teach? sure, anything!

During my time there yesterday, I had a fun time with kids, got to know a few of them, and learned some powerful lessons through Children stories and songs.

Playing with kids has been one of my joys in life. Maybe it's from being an older brother. Maybe it's because they're so cute and fun. Maybe because they're just awesome. Having ended my term with Sick Kids, I was despondent. But now, I have a potential opportunity to invest my life into kids again! I get to reconnect with one of my avenues of joy: kids (:

Do you have any avenues of joy? I'd love to hear your stories too!

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 8

So, here's a quick update: I made it through the weekend without coffee!

- met a friend at the Green Beanery and had Jasmine Green Tea
- went to work later that day and had Milo

- no coffee ... did my best to fight, but really, my attempts to fight have failed so many times ... this success I 'blame' on God's grace
- ah yes, I had tea (Dim Sum etc)

Monday (today):
- went to Starbucks this morning and picked up a multigrain bagel and my drink that I'm now drinking ...
- ...Tazo Awake Black Tea =)

Some people have said that my new approach is a cop-out, and perhaps they're right. To that I say, however, that my goal isn't to get off coffee through cold turkey, but to eventually get off it, period. So I'm taking one step at a time, in it for the long haul. Let's go.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two Rings

Two rings rest on my right hand. One on my ring finger (purity ring), and one on my pinky finger (iron ring).

Both of these rings are "promise" rings. The first is a promise to my family, my future wife, and my friends. A promise that I'll strive towards purity of mind, words, and action. The second is a promise to society and those I serve through my role as an engineer. That I will work with diligence and integrity.

The past I cannot change. Where I have fallen short of these promises, be it in body, mind, spirit, or heart (4 dimensions). Pure of heart. Working honestly. However, I live in the present moment, learning from my past, and being moved by a vision for the future.

These two rings reminds me of my two calls in life:
1. Follower of Jesus Christ (Purity Ring)
2. Transportation Engineer (Iron Ring)

As I stare at my purity ring, I am reminded of the Cross. And of what He has done for me. I am reminded of the body of Christ, broken for me, and the blood of Christ, poured out for me. As I reflect on my iron ring, I am reminded of my call as an engineer (the exact oath ... top secret!). But this iron ring reminds me to work diligently, to do my best, and to work wholeheartedly.

I still think about calling and where I'm going in life. While I haven't figured it all out yet, I shouldn't be paralyzed from doing good, from doing justice and loving mercy. These two rings remind me of my identity, of who I am and where I'm going.

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 5

So today I had coffee. Yes. Fine okay. I had a Monster drink last night and stayed up till 4am (Thursday, i.e. Wed night). Working. Okay, life's been a bit tough the past few days, but that's okay.

Today, I had a conversation with a friend about this coffee thing. We were at Seor Ak San - the best k-food place ever! And this time, two of the coffee police were there... and I didn't have much good news to report. One of the coffee police (Lorraine) mentioned how I should try to find a replacement. We were brainstorming for a bit, trying to find the root issue. But it's hard to replace coffee... It's so.... *sigh..

Then walking home, I was chatting with my brother (Jonathan). He showed me this drink called Milo. It's some malt / chocolate thing. It was quite tasty AND it's an "energy" drink. They sell it at Lucky Moose. It's also good value for money. So I'm going to give this a try. I'll let you know how long this keeps me off coffee.

So, to summarize: during Day 5 of the Coffee Purge Reloaded, Josh found Milo! Haha :)

First goal: make it through this weekend on Milo (and not coffee -- nor caffeine). Lots of water. Fruits. Good stuff. Then we'll worry about the week. Okay... fight!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 2

Yes, it's Day 2. I just got into the office and poured myself half a cup of office coffee (with a bit of half and half to offset the acidity). My goal for today is to drink no more than this one cup, drinking plenty of water, and snacking on my packed meal of oats / quinoa / chicken.

I feel really good today. This morning I had my usual struggle waking up. It was a stupidly hard fight to get up and have been having a weird time breathing in the mornings the past while. Anyways, after the little wrestle, I put on some running gear and went for a run (around 7:30am). It's been a while and I was feeling quite out of shape. But the thrill of being able to run again was indescribable. With my ankle almost healed, the run was liberating. I feel I can smile again. I think I'm starting to get hooked on a new drug (moving from caffeine to endorphins).

Christian Hedonist. That would pretty much describe me. In pursuit of pleasure and believing that the greatest joy, if found, comes from God himself. We're often too easily satisfied. Cheap joy. Anyways, this term, "Christian Hedonist", I borrow from John Piper. So along these lines, I've also been too easily satisfied, settling from the bag of stale chips when there's an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet 5km down the road. One example has been my energy. I've been "satisfied" with caffeine. But the kick from endorphins is natural and so much better. The flip side is ... it requires hardwork >< So for me, this means, kicking myself and getting up in the morning, focusing on work during work, cutting distractions, working wholeheartedly on the task at hand.

Romans 13:14 says, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." My "flesh" has many desires, among them being slothfulness and laziness. I find that in fighting these small battles in life, I become better prepared to face the larger fights in life - be they in relationships, personal struggles, or stupid stuff that come up in life.

At the end of Proverbs 24 -- I love this! -- it says: "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man."

I remember the Josh of the Past ... smiling and excited for life... working with diligence ... resolved to quit coffee ... turned the gym into his second home ... and I see this in my heart's reflection ... my body, mind, soul, and heart awakening once again to my call in life.

It's time to finish what I started -- be it big or small. Let's do this (:

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Coffee Purge Reloaded: Day 1

Day 1 starts today. I had a large Timmy's double-double today, but keep reading ;)

I was having a conversation with a friend (James) and he was telling me that it's best to gradually cut your intake. When you're down to about 1/2 cup a day, you don't even need it anymore.

So I'm redefining the Coffee Purge. During this coffee purge, I can drink coffee! Haha LOL! And instead of restarting the count everytime I start drinking again, the coffee purge will be a log of days that trace my journey to being coffee free. How will I know when I'm truly free from coffee? All I know is when I'm truly free, I'll know.

So in my posts on coffee (mixed in with my posts on fitness and reflections on life), I'll be completely open about the caffeinated drinks I consume, how I feel, where I am and where I'm going. So join me as I start this journey afresh.

Epilogue (LOL)

Why today? Anything special about today, Aug 23, 2010? Nope. I was re-reading my old post on strength. While I write for others as well (what I blog about and what I journal about are different), I am realizing that I have much to learn from the Josh of the past (: So, I decided to just do it. Today. So get yo game face on and let's do this!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Steadfastness: It's time to just do it

Proverbs 19:22

What is desired in a man is steadfast love ...

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."

During CCF Elections, someone asked each person what we'd like to improve upon. For me, I answered, "Steadfastness".

By "steadfastness", I mean developing the character to stay fast. To have staying power. To be constant. Like a rock. This applies in all dimensions:
- Body: Rock solid. Disciplined. Control over diet and fitness.
- Mind: Unshakable resolve. Unswerving dedication to mastering your art
- Spirit: Spiritually solid. Grounded. Rooted.
- Heart: Emotionally stable. Reliable.

Steadfastness and stagnant are different things. Being steady and boring are also different things.

Proverbs talks about steadfast love being desired in a man. Okay, well maybe this doesn't apply to everyone, but I know I want that. To have a kind of love that doesn't change. To be steady. Solid. Reliable. Oftentimes, emotionally-driven love can be amazingly amazing, yet also exist on the other extreme as well. This is not to say that steadfast love cannot have emotion - in fact, it must have emotion. Steadfast love cannot exist without emotion, but it cannot be emotionally-driven.

Jeremiah tells of the best thing to boast about: knowing God. Knowing that he practices steadfast love. God is love (1 John 4:16). He loves because that's just who he is.

This kind of love, I still do not comprehend. This discipline. This staying power. It seems to escape me everytime I pursue it. Trying to break free from coffee, trying to discipline my life (eating healthy, working out, etc...). What is the secret? To simply say the answer is God would be naive of me. Or for that matter, to give any answer would be naive of me. ... if my life remains unaffected.

I have this dream of helping as many people smile as possible. To have them smile because they can start taking control over their lives. Whether it is helping them start businesses, helping them build homes, treating illnesses, showing them Jesus.... I want to see as many genuine smiles as possible. In pursuit of that dream, I need to start taking control of my own life. I need to let my life be under God's control, and not by my natural instincts (be they laziness, pride, selfishness, or whatever).

If I cannot coach myself to become stronger, how can I possibly even entertain the thought of coaching others to their personal best?

So, enough of the words. Despite the difficulties, it's time to just do it. To just:
- take up my cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-24)
- go to the gym
- eat healthy
- manage finances / house
- work diligently

It's time to just do it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aug 17: Meals for the day

Eating healthy at a reasonable price can be a challenge. This morning, I made 3 tupperwares of food. Packed it in my lunchbox. And am good to go!

Tupperware 1 & 2:
- Purple Yam
- Green beans
- Mushroms
- Orange Peppers
* The vegetables were washed then lightly seared in a pan. The yam was boiled until soft

Tupperware 3:
- Quinoa
- Chickpea salad (with diced vegetables)
- Spinach
- Chicken
* Everything was leftovers, except quinoa, which I just boiled until it was ready ... a bit over 10 min.

I definitely welcome advice on nutrition, questions on lifestyle, etc.

Over time, I hope to eat out very infrequently, and ... well, drink coffee just as often ;)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Today's lunch (Aug 16)

Nutrition accounts for at least 50% of meeting your fitness goals. Whether it is to build muscle, lose fat, improve performance, the quality and quantity of what you eat plays a major role in this. You are what you eat. Garbage in, garbage out. And so on ... (insert cliches here).

In an effort to eat out less and to eat healthier, I went home for lunch today. Here's what I had:

Chickpea salad (with other vegetables - leftovers from last night)
Chicken (2 drumsticks)
Spinach (about a cup?)
Purple Yam

I'm still feeling full and happy. My general philosophy of eating is this:

The food I eat should make me happy, both emotionally and physically. I shouldn't feel too bloated, nor should I be hungry shortly after. This encourages slow digesting foods, foods that are colorful (packed with nutrients), and a diet comprising mainly of vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Food should make me smile (but not just when it is going down ... but after too!) And today's lunch did just that!

Epic Weekend!

This weekend was pretty awesome! At a glance, it looked something like this:

- Work: went to the office to fix some errors, only to find more :P
- Wedding fail: was supposed to go but plans fell through
- Committee meeting: we listened to worship music, and listened to a brief message from Paul Washer on salvation (click here), spent some time in prayer, then had a productive time with planning.
- Committee baking: we then baked 3 cakes - double chocolate, blueberry swirl, and apple crumble for Kelvin's surprise farewell ;)
- Committee Jam: we played worship music with a bunch of random instruments ... and it slowly transformed into a quick violin lesson .. which was so fun! I forgot how much fun it was to play and to teach. I couldn't stop smiling (:

- Breakfast with Justin = awesome. We even made a trip to Tim Hortons
- TCBC: service was pretty cool. A medical missionary from China came to talk about her work and open our eyes to the need and the opportunities and what was being done in China. Very inspiring and compelling.
- Lunch - HK Bistro
- Surprise Party for Kelvin (photos on facebook): creamed him and got him some farewell gifts
- We also turned it into a double surprise for Crystal's birthday! haha lol! So epic-super-awesome-fun-sauce!
- Went uptown with a few friends .. had a chance to talk about my dream :)
- Chilled with family and had the best dinner ever! So healthy and tasty! (I even took a photo on my phone)
- Watched a cool movie then had family prayer which was awesome
- Got a ride back downtown and here I am now =)

There is definitely a better way to communicate this (paragraphs, photos, etc...) But it's now 3am, I'm tired, but have a lot on my mind. So for those following / reading, hope you enjoyed this random brain dump =)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Josh's Recipe for the Perfect Woman

1. A full measure of love for Jesus, causing her to be so lost in Him that I'd have to chase after Jesus to truly find her.

2. An overdose of smiles, and a general positive outlook on life rooted in the joy of the Cross.

3. Seasoned with a strong scent of inner beauty, with an infusion of grace and compassion, catching my heart before catching my eye.

(taken from my Facebook comments in response to a friend's note on A Recipe for the Perfect Man)

What are your secret recipe for the perfect man/woman?

Monday, August 9, 2010

No Coffee Day 9: Strength

This morning I went to Starbucks with my brother (Jon) for breakfast. Quite honestly, I was very tempted to grab a coffee. In my mind, the following thoughts were running through my mind:
"This couldn't hurt."

"Stop being so legalistic."

"You could actually use a cup today!"

Then something crossed my mind. I made a resolve to not drink coffee. Yes, I know I made this multiple times, but this time, my resolve is different. And I had the following thought, which made any urge to drink evaporate:
My success in not drinking coffee (or in anything) ... my willpower ... or rather, the willpower of a man, depends not on the strength of his emotions, but rather on the strength his resolve and commitment to his cause.

Monday, August 2, 2010

10+ things that make me smile

What makes you smile? Here's a list of 10 things to get things started:

1. Smiles are contagious
2. Hanging out with friends
3. My brothers and sister, especially when we joke around
4. Running (especially barefoot in sand/grass or along nice trails)
5. Colorful food
6. Freshly brewed coffee
7. Beauty (nature, art, an elegant proof :p)
8. People passionate about their dreams
9. Old couples holding hands and smiling
10. Fond memories

Okay, how about you?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, harmony;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may no so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Crushing Pride with the Weight of His Glory

Leadership. It's cool. Or so I thought.

"Hey Josh, Congrats on being Chair!" someone would say.

I think to myself, a bit confused. Having barely started, I wonder where the praise comes from. A few years back, I thought it would be so very cool to be Chair of CCF. I greatly admired the past chairs and wanted to be admired myself. Pride. Yes, I was quite arrogant (and am still working on this).

More recently, my perspective on this whole endeavor has changed. By signing up for this position, I'm committing to "take up my cross", to following Jesus Christ with complete dedication. It wasn't easy for Jesus to take up the cross, to bear the shame, to receive our sins and the pain, to suffer and to see his best friends betray him. It isn't easy for today's Christian leader to take up their cross, to be wrongfully accused, to face disappointment, to be open to attack, vulnerable. It's really tough.

I'm not immune to pride. It's something I still wrestle with. However, with my particular calling as Chair for this upcoming year, any pride that may have risen has been crushed by the weight of God's glory. Yes, I'm proud to serve God and feel quite honored to serve in this capacity. However, I'm painfully aware of my inadequacies and weaknesses. And scared of the path that I must walk. To truly take up my cross and follow Jesus, wherever He leads me.

The call to leadership is heavy. As time passes, I'm growing more aware of my responsibilities to God and to others.

I will close this post with the Jesus Creed:
"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself." There is no commandment greater than these.
In this next season of my life, I need to be wholeheartedly devoted to loving God and loving others, truly. I will pursue this with a single-minded intensity.

P.S. Today is Day 1 of N of No Coffee (Day 1 = Aug 1, 2010). Guess N. Do you think N can reach 365?