View from my apartment window.  Baku, Azerbaijan.

View from my apartment window. Baku, Azerbaijan.

I am soooo excited about 2013! I love New Years because it’s a time for clean slates. I feel like I’m being given a new chance, a blank chapter that awaits to be written.

Yesterday, during Sunday service, J preached about expecting the best from God and giving our best to God. He quoted one of my life verses: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As I lift these prayers to Him for the coming year, I’d like to continue to declare that I only expect the best from God. I know that I am His daughter and He loves cherishes me. 2013, bring it on!

My prayers–

1. That I will continue to walk with Him each day. Relationship is not about ticking off my prayer time and bible study time with God. It’s not about going to Sunday service. It’s about DOING LIFE with Him, which means having him as part of EVERY area of my life.

2. To be part of a happy family. I wasn’t sure if I should write this or not because these days, admitting that you want to be married and have children is something people don’t want to hear. It’s embarrassing. It’s something frowned upon and scary. I feel judged for wanting something so natural. This is the culture we live in. It’s anti-family, anti-children, anti-responsibility. One more time I hear, Just be grateful for what you have, I am going to absolutely scream!

This is really the one thing that’s in my heart. I’m praying that God will give me the chance to be a good wife and mother to a man who loves Him and will cherish me. I’m praying for a man who has good intentions and wholeheartedly wants a family and children. I’m not expecting perfection but I pray that God will bless me with someone who can lead a family, love through words and actions and persevere even through the dark valleys which are inevitable.

This year will be the year of dating again and getting to know new people. I’m nervous because I’m an introvert but I’m also excited to see how God writes my story. 2013, bring it on!

3. To continue building meaningful relationships. I’m blessed with my parents and friendships. There have been trying times and I’ve learned that people fight. It’s inevitable. But cutting off relationships is not a solution. I’m reminded about how Jesus equated anger with murder and how he commands us to reach out and make peace with others before making an offering to God. I’ve taken this to heart. I’ve seen how true forgiveness, which means literally giving another a blank slate, can save relationships. And I’ve seen how anger and silence bludgeons them. I’m happy that some people who I didn’t expect to still be are around are by my side. That’s true friendship. I’d like to continue building these old friendships as well as cultivate new ones. I also want to have the strength to pray and love those who’ve cut me off from their life. That’s what Jesus did when I cut Him off from my life. I want to be like Him.

Phew. Two thouuusand thiiirteeeen, bring it on!

4. To continue being passionate about teaching my students. I’m so blessed with my twelve angels and it looks like I’m going to have one more. I just want to continue giving my best to them.

5. To eat healthier and continue taking long walks everyday. I’ve been eating rice for only once a month now and I’ve been walking 5 to 10 kilometers a day. Tomorrow, it will be time to limit sweets to once a week.

6. To learn Russian 10 hours a week.

7. To continue exploring Baku, take photos and blog. To continue reading and going to my book club.

Now reading "Snow" by Orhan Pamuk  So far, so good.

Now reading “Snow” by Orhan Pamuk So far, so good.

God, I can’t wait to see how you answer my prayers. 2013, bring it on!!

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Prayer and fasting ended a couple of days ago. An “aha!” moment was during Sunday service when Pastor Kevin talked about planting a seed, which bears fruit, and in turn, produces more seed. It was a very encouraging message because I know that just as long as I plant seeds that are led by the Holy Spirit, they will grow, flourish and multiply. This also helps me focus and say “no” to doing things that aren’t aligned to planting seeds.

Here are five seeds I’d like to plant, and five hopes I’d like to reap:

Seed 1: Praying to God and meditating on bible verses.
What I hope to reap: A deeper relationship with God.

Seed 2: Spending quality time with B.
What I hope to reap: A deeper and more joyful relationship with honey 🙂

Seed 3: Writing, taking photographs, blogging, giving constructive feedback on blogs and learning HTML.
What I hope to reap: Inspiring, uplifting others and improving my craft.

Seed 4: Eating healthy and exercising.
What I hope to reap: Good health!

Seed 5: Tithing, saving and exploring investing.
What I hope to reap: Financial abundance.

How about you? What seeds would you like to plant this year? What do you hope to reap? Would love to hear from you!

“We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.” — Jeremy Irons

My instinct is to forget.

I’ve been in Mumbai for four days. My fridge is full. I’ve gotten into the groove of cooking and blogging. The new school year awaits.

But my memory is calling. Whispering. Cajoling. And so are the draft documents in my WordPress blog, reminding me, taunting me, pushing me to develop my seed ideas, while wagging it’s finger at me. Preserve. Preserve. Preserve!

But this is a food blog!, I fight back.

It’s also about being healthy and growing. You talked about emotional health in one your entries! You said that it was healthy to remember!

So here I am. Struggling. Wrestling. Trying my best to do the impossible. Describe Freeze one of the most beautiful places on earth. Lewis County.

It starts with B driving. Car ride from Cortland to Croghan. We enter the highway. Route something. I’m not from the U.S. so I never remember.

We pass Syracuse. Exit. Right into what looks like a suburb.

Then the unfolding starts.

Blue skies. Clouds running to greet us.

The perfect vanishing point.

A windmill appears out of nowhere.

Then another one. Another one.

Other ones.

I sigh. Whimper. Unsure of whether to drive through this moment using my naked eye or lens.

I try to do both. B tells me to see with my eyes.

I’ve trekked the Himalayas with my Dad. Taken a camel safari in Jaisalmer. Snorkeled in the coral-filled aquamarine waters of Palawan.

But, well perhaps. This feels a little bit. Like home.

It’s a perfect day.

B and I have a tradition every Saturday morn. We sleep in, take a shower and then drive down for brunch to–

AJ’s is located downtown in Port Watson Street. It’s clean, the service is quite prompt and the food has nothing much to do with being healthy. So I call these Saturdays our cheat days! 😀

B always orders the special and I end up choosing the worst item on the menu!

B's order: mushroom and feta cheese omelet, deep fried potatoes, and raisin bread drenched in butter

My order: AJ's special pancake with bacon!

But the best thing about AJ’s Family Diner is their freshly ground and brewed coffee!

I’ve also been mulling over the concept of health in the past few weeks. Choosing health is a commitment, and it’s not just about eating healthy and exercising. It involves choosing to feel and express our emotions in healthy ways. It means choosing relationships that make us grow and smile. It means choosing to walk with G every day. It also means letting your hair hang down once in awhile and staying away from the measuring cup. So I would argue that having a cheat day once or twice a week is actually healthy!

I’ve also been thinking about photography and writing, and how human beings have a desire to capture special moments, whether through a Facebook status update or mobile upload or blog.

It’s almost the end of my summer vacation, and therefore my last day in Cortland. It is also my last day to be physically with B for the time being.

For many years, I’ve learned to shun memories, whether sad or happy. It’s painful to remember, and perhaps (I’ve convinced myself) futile too. I’m the type who gives myself a day to cry, and then I move on, walking into open doors that lead to the unknown.

But today, I feel different. I’m sad that I’m leaving Cortland tomorrow, but I’m happy that I’m with B. I’m happy with many of the memories we’ve made, whether they involve cooking or walking or going to church or watching “The Office”. I’m happy with the fourth of July weekend we spent together and the drives through upstate New York counties, which could’ve been yanked out from an Edward Hopper scene. (But more about our fourth of July weekend in a future entry.)

I can’t help but remember that many months ago I walked into a door and had no idea what was in store for me. This time, I want to stay in this room. I don’t want to walk out and move on.

And thanks to the compact memory machine that’s secured deep within my purse, I’ll able to somehow preserve these moments.

And just as long as G writes our story, it looks like we’ll have many more. Love you, B. (Even if you and Jessica Fletcher are a package deal. ;-D)