Bitter but Blessed: 2017 Year in Review


Hello, dear friends, it’s been awhile. As you might have noticed, I took a blogging break this past year, but I’m striving to restart blogging again this new year. For now, let’s recap 2017!

My top 3 nursing stories: (A teaser of what’s to come..)

3. Running and freedom

2. My first day on the *new* job (I became an OB nurse!)

1.  “You saved a life.” (hearing these words minded me of this time that I did CPR…)

Top 3 characteristics I learned about God:

3. He is my helper. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”- Psalm‬ ‭121:1-2‬ ‭

IMG_57622. He is holy. “Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory.”- Psalm‬ ‭97:3-6‬ ‭

1. He has shown me unrelenting kindness. “…Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” – Romans 2:4

Due to chronic sleep deprivation (aka newborn parenthood), I spent most of this past year complaining, feeling tired and bitter. Just recently did I realize that my bitterness hurts others and hurts God, because Christ has been sooo kind to me and shown me so much grace. (I’m hoping in 2018 I will show Christ’s kindness, regardless of how many hours of sleep I got!)

Random 3 photos of treasured memories:

IMG_37043. Dear Hong Kong, your dazzling city skyline captivates me every time, how the skyscrapers tiptoe in the clouds, how the tower windows carry messages in lights, how the neon signs glimmer in the harbor. You are as spectacular as I remember, and it’s so good to be back!” June 2017

IMG_32032. Being in costume brings out camaraderie and silliness I can’t describe. =) Last year I was devastated when many of my long time students quit dance, but then I gained 4 new students and was so encouraged by their eagerness, humility, and diligence. May 2017

IMG_51771. Admired the green mountains of Vermont, during a road trip to Montreal. How does God paint those hills in quiet layers like that, across them plains and into the sky? It’s surreal. Sept. 2017

Top 3 personal stories: (a teaser of what’s to come)

3. Life before and after “First They Killed My Father” (the book by Loung Ung, film directed by Angelina Jolie)

IMG_57812. Mourning and Milestones in the Mountains

1. Survived our first year of  parenthood

Top 3 films/dramas/shows (not new films, just ones I watched this year):

3. Goblin: The Lonely and Great God (2016)– this supernatural kdrama explored “fate,” immortality, love, death, and sacrifice. The character development was superb.

2. Hidden Figures (2016) – a film about the incredible African American women who led a vital role in the NASA program in the early years of space exploration.

1. Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia – a haunting and riveting symphonic piece, fusing traditional Khmer music with a Western orchestra, plus film, to portray the tragedy & healing of the Khmer genocide. My mom cried a lot, but overall we both really enjoyed it. (maybe a blog post on this too…)

3 books I read:

3. Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa Jo Baker – During my baby’s first few months, I read all these newborn parenting books, but wanted to fling them out the window! My baby didn’t follow any “rules” and I felt like a failure of a mom. But reading this made me chuckle and realize I’m not alone on this humbling journey of motherhood.

2. At Home in Exile by Russel Jeung – the author writes about his years serving and living among Khmer refugees in California during the 80’s, with a challenging lesson on what it means to truly deny one’s self and love others as Christ as called us to love.

1. First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung – a child recounts the horrors of the Killing Fields. I put off reading this book for sooo many years, but finally sat down to read it. I am so glad I did. (Blog post soon…)

3 new things I did in 2017:

IMG_47923. Started sketching again.  This one I sketched in real time during a chat with Gu Ma and Gu Jeung at a traditional Chinese dessert cafe in Hong Kong.

2. Attended the first Cambodian American Writer’s Workshop. I was so encouraged in meeting other Khmer and Khmer American writers there. Also got a lesson on Khmer poetry (dude, the rhyming and syntax… its intense!).

1. Began reading the Bible in Khmer with one of my friends at church. Reading the Bible in English is already challenging, but in a different language is 100x harder!! Though difficult, it is expanding my vocabulary beyond everyday talk and spurring deeper conversations.

3 random awesome memories:

3. Donning solar glasses, we took a break from the busy clinic to peer into the sky to view the eclipse. It wasn’t the crescent moon that was exceptional, but the shared moment in greeting coworkers outside, learning new things, and laughing like kids.

2.  Inspired by the harmonies of a string trio at our friend’s church, I was renewed with a sense of purpose- to start teaching music again (specifically, to kids in our community who don’t have access to music classes) in hopes that one day our tiny church will host a worship band with musicians playing their hearts out to God.

1. Receiving so much love from our “village.”  I never imagined raising a child to be so difficult, and we could not have come this far without our families, church family, and friends who cooked countless meals, prayed hundreds of prayers, and helped us carry/rock/sing to our baby thousands of times. To each of you, our sincere thanks. And to all the other parents out there, y’all are amazing! Please share your secrets on how to survive parenthood! =D

3 things I hope to do in 2018:


3. Continue learning Cantonese. (Listen to at least 1 podcast or watch 1 lesson per week)

2. Finish 1 scrapbook. (I never did finish one last year. This time is for real.)

1. Blog more. 1 post a month. Not sure who still reads my blog, but for the few readers left, I can do it, right? =)

If you’ve read this far, you’re awesome. (Check out my 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 year in reviews!)

Thanks for coming along for the ride, and let’s embrace 2018 with courage and conviction. =)


15 thoughts on “Bitter but Blessed: 2017 Year in Review

  1. I find it very difficult to imagine you being in a bitter/complaining state of mind. On the other hand, if anyone could pull that out of someone, it would be a newborn, haha. 😉 You should ask your mom if you were like that when you were a little one, or if hubby is to blame. 😉

    Nice recap blog to start off the New Year. One of my goals last year was also to blog at least once a month. What would happen is time would get away from me and then I’d be in the final week of the month and then I’d force myself to publish before the month’s end…hence the many posts near or on the final day of the month. =)

    • hhaahah its funny you mention it, because my mom said i was a really difficult baby. its definitely my fault! lol.

      i’m glad to see you’re still blogging even though the xanga days are over. (what is up with xanga anyway…?) it’s good you set goals to post once a month, even if you’er posting at the end of the month. better late than never!

  2. It sounded like quite a bit happened for you in 2017. Sad to hear some of your dance students leave, and it’s always hard when people leave. Great to hear you picked up sketching again and getting more into reading and the writing side of things. Do more of what you love, the more you will feel connected to yourself.

    I like how you have just a few resolutions for the year. Good luck with them. I don’t have anything set in mind for 2018…let’s see where this year takes us 🙂

  3. I’m still reading your posts, girl! Keep it up 🙂 Congrats for being a mom… Keep drawing strength from Him and may His blessings overflow through you to those around you!
    – Em

  4. I’m going to check out the book “First They Killed my Father.” Good luck on getting back into blogging! I think lots of people are returning to the “real life blogging” that seemed to disappear a bit over the past few years. The blogosphere needs more real life voices!

  5. yes you can do it!! 🙂 maybe i need to reflect on my 2017 too. it all went by in a blur, I barely remember anything about it. oh man.. i can’t imagine trying to read the bible in korean. it goes by 10x slower haha but i do like that there are words that you can’t quite translate in certain languages that capture the essence of something better

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