Oberly Faithful

Last week at church, our pastor challenged us to tell one person why we believe in God. I have decided to step up to the challenge in a very passive and yet very scarily public approach and blog about it. I get this strong feeling of vulnerability when I decide to talk about my faith. I'm positive a lot of it has to do with how new it is to me, but each time I do talk about it, I always leave the conversation feeling a lot better and never regretting the decision to do so.

You will recall a night in November of 2009 when Indy went into seizures and her heart stopped 3-4 times on our way to the hospital. That night was probably one of the most horrific nights of my life. Not [only] because I'm a crazy dog lady who loves her dog way too much, but just seeing any living creature hanging on to dear life that way is a little bit traumatizing. I always talk about what a horrible night that was, but if it had to happen, it happened in the best way possible. The slightest little change of detail that night would have resulted in a very different and very sad outcome. That night, I stopped believing in coincidences, and started believing in miracles.  That night, and the preceding nights, I prayed for her life as if my life depended on it and Indy is enough living proof to me that prayer works.

That following Sunday, we went to church with Eric's mom. The service was nice, it was kind of the kickoff to the holidays, and so the pastor thought he'd do this fun little game where everyone stood up, and on a projection screen was "Merry Christmas" written in a language with 4 multiple choice options and you had to pick one, and if you got it wrong you had to sit down. There were maybe 10 slides, and by the 9th slide, yours truly was still standing. Lo and behold, the 10th and final slide was "chúc mừng giáng sinh", "Merry Christmas" in Vietnamese. Now, some people might see this as a coincidence, but by that time, I knew better. Of all the Sundays in a year, of all the languages possible, of all the times I am not in Greenfield, IN, the first time I decided to go to church w/ Eric's family... it is too much to just be a simple coincidence. 

My experiences that weekend lead me to look back on my life, on times when my faith was tested and I failed to commit. There were many times in my past when I just prayed, hoping someone would listen. And that weekend, for me, was confirmation that someone indeed was listening and answering my prayers.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." -Philippians 4:6
For personal reasons, this has been a prayer heavy week for me. And with every prayer, I get a sense of peace and satisfaction-- simply because I trust in God.


13 going on 30

This is a story about lies and deceit. But most of all, this is a story about love.

If you can recall, for Christmas, Eric got me tickets to California to celebrate my 30th birthday with my family and friends. Since then, I'd pester Chi Hai about details of our California visit and my birthday party.  I was told that when we got in on Thursday (January 27th), we would have a nice little dinner with my immediate family, then on Friday night (January 28th) we would all attend a fancy OCS (Office Candidate School) reunion party with my dad and that my birthday party would fall on Saturday, January 29th. Remember these dates, as it explains how I was completely fooled by my loved ones.

Of course I was beyond excited to be coming home, so I spent a lot of time shopping for the perfect dress and chatting with Chi Hai about the party. She insisted that all I could know is that the party would take place on Saturday at my parent's house, and to be dressed at present at 7pm. 

So fast forward to the weekend where Eric and I actually get to California. On that Friday, thinking that the party was going to be at my parent's house the following day, I spent the morning cleaning the public areas of my parents' home. I wiped and dusted the kitchen countertops, scrubbed the bathroom toilet, swept and mopped the entire house. Needless to say, my mom came home beyond grateful.

Mid afternoon, I chatted with Chi Hai, as I always do, and during our chat, she asked me to ask my dad about the party that night. My dad called my mom, who emailed Chi Hai, who forwarded me the following invitation with details to my Dad's OCS reunion party:
The important thing to note here is that there is a party for Vietnamese families at 7pm at the Marriott Hotel in Fullerton. Or so I thought...

Throughout that Friday, the family was pushing me to wear my birthday dress instead of another dress I had brought, but I was being difficult because I had clear intentions to wear my birthday dress for my birthday party. My mom told me to make sure I dress nicely to meet my dad's friends since I never see them. Eric inquired about a color scheme, since my sisters and I liked to match to events. Chi Hai tried to tell me that my other dress actually matched my party theme better, so I should switch the two. The lie that finally worked was Chi Hai telling me that as a surprise, Bao bought me a really expensive dress to wear to my birthday party, and I should wear the one I bought Friday night, so that I wouldn't have had to have bought it for nothing. So now, thinking the joke is on Bao, I got Eric involved, telling him that I know about Bao's surprise and if she asks, I'm wearing this red dress so that we all could match. Once again, the joke was on me.

When the clock hit 6:45 that night, my dad was rushing us out the door, when suddenly he had this urgency to finish watching "Family Feud". We pulled into the parking lot of the Fullerton Marriott at around 7:15pm, and before going in, my mom wanted to call Chi Hai to see where the rest of the family were. Chi Hai told my mom that they were almost there and that they'd meet us inside. Upon walking into the hotel, we asked the hotel desk clerk where the OCS party was taking place, and they pointed us into the right direction.

We found our way to the ballroom, opened the door, and this was my reaction:

from seeing all of this-
all of my loved ones yelling "SURPRISE!!":

photoshopped posters:

of course, cupcakes a la Chi Hai:

Bao was the Mistress of Ceremonies and kept the party going with her 4 hour 90s R&B mix. She set the tone for a slideshow that Jackie put together (click the link of you can stand looking at pictures of me and my youth for 7 minutes), and also gave the toast before we clinked glasses full of Champagne provided by Shanielle and Carter. 

At some point, I was put on the spot to give a speech. And I am really awful about speaking unprepared (no really, I think I even declared this. And I know this has already been one long blog post, but I really want to try saying my public thank yous one more time. It really is the very least I could do.

I am still so blown away by this celebration of my 30th birthday. My imagination could never have come up with anything like this. I want to thank my friends and family for truly making it one of the most special nights of my life, but also for flourishing the first 30 years of my life with such great moments and memories. This was, without a doubt, my favorite birthday, and I have had a ton of good birthdays!

Eric, thank you for making it possible for me to be with all my loved ones on my 30th birthday. This is without a doubt my favorite birthday, and its possible because of you. 

I really want to thank Chi Hai, Anh Hai Mike, and Baoby for dedicating so much time out of your busy, busy lives to put this together. I am still in complete awe of all this, and I am so touched by the amount of time and the amount of love you have invested into making me this happen. I appreciate you and love you all so much.

To Tina, Jackie, Khoa, Shanielle, Carter, thank you too so much for your contributions to making this possible. You all are always so willing and eager to help whenever needed, and I do not take any of it or any of you for granted. Thank you guys so much!

I honestly do not have the words to express how grateful I am and how happy I feel-- I am truly blessed! If that night was a sign of things to come in my 30s, then bring it on! Because it is going to be awesome, I know it!