Mix It Up: Spring Tunes

As the cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the days get longer and spring approaches, we start to wait in anticipation of warmer weather and sunshine. Being from California, I am not the least disappointed that winter seems to have been cut short this year. Oklahoma permits limited outdoor activity with cold winters (ok…not as cold as most states) and blazing hot summers (now this one is not an exaggeration), so every second of that perfect 75 degrees must be taken advantage of.

With the seasons changing, there is one thing that always seems to help with the ebb and flow of life and that, my friend, is music. In the words of Victor Hugo, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” Now while most of the music I listen to does have words, the sentiment remains. Often time, music is a bridge connecting our thoughts and ideas to our hearts and emotions. When I’m at a loss for words, songs (instrumental or not) find a way to express what I’m feeling.

Music also contributes to one of our most basic needs – connection. Whether it’s connecting to another human being who understands what you’re going through or a time for you and your friends to dance around and be silly, music brings people together. As a Christian, it is easy to take advantage of service after service where worship is just another 20-minute ritual. But it’s during those special moments of worship, when one forgets about time and the to-do list, and just enjoys being with God. This is what music does: it helps us connect to our Savior.

So with music being such an integral part of life, I would like to share with you some of my favorites! And with spring at our fingertips, these are sure to brighten your days.

|| Spring Tunes ||

Brand NewBen Rector One of my favorite artists to listen to in practically any mood. He cares about his lyrics, but tends to be on the lighter side, which is good for a Cali girl like me. This is probably his most famous song, but you can’t go wrong with anything Ben.

No Matter Where you AreUs the Duo From their six-second vine videos to their first album in 2012, you cannot help but love these two. It was as if God created their voices for each other, and we are all so glad He did. To top it off, they have the cutest love story that is its own kind of fairy tale.

Steal My GirlHearts and Colors Yes, I did like 1D and may be currently obsessed with Nial Horan. And while their version of this song is fun to sing along with, this cover is a favorite. Enough chill for a relaxing drive and enough pop that it may get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I stumbled upon this band the other day, and can’t wait to see what they release in the future.

Hearts Content Brandi Carlie I recently watched Safe Haven with some friends and was reminded of how much I loved the sound track. This song in particular is a personal favorite, but I encourage you to go download the album onto your Spotify for your next road trip or study sesh.

Something BeautifulTori Kelly My girl right here, now she knows how to brighten up a rainy day. Her pop/R&B embodies all things Cali and really makes you want to role down those windows and welcome that salty breeze. She paved her way into the industry and is making her mark while staying true to herself. All I want to know is when she is releasing another album!

Hope you enjoy these feel good artists! What are some of your favorites to welcome in the spring?

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Read, Run, & Rest

It was the end of January before I realized that I still hadn’t made any New Year Resolutions. I kept pushing it off by making excuses of how busy I was adjusting to work life and “adulting,” but we were rounding the second month of the new year and I still had not set any goals for the year (and if you know me, I’m the goal setter/achiever). After such a spiritually and emotionally intense winter, you could say the last thing I wanted to do was set goals where I knew I had high chances at failing.

 

But after must introspection and some back and forth with Jesus, I knew goal setting would be necessary for this next season in life. Recently, I discovered that I really don’t like not knowing things, I don’t like failing, and I don’t like not having control. These are very real feelings most people have, but they have been my reality particularly in the past few months. While I know setting goals to combat these feelings will never truly eradicate the problem, I do believe these goals will help counterbalance my feelings with the reality that my Heavenly Father does know all things, never fails, and really is in control.

 

I had set these goals in the beginning of the month, but I am publicly proclaiming my yearly goals today, February 19th (better late than never, right?). So without further ado, my mantra for this year will be to read more, run more, rest more.

 

Read More.

If you’ve read any of Allie’s posts (click here), you will know she’s not only a great writer, but she’s also a ferocious reader. She’s a walking inspiration for every bookworm. While it would take me decades to get on her level of book absorption, I love that she has a passion for knowledge as I do. So this year, I hope to read 52 books. I was given a brilliant brain with a voracity to know more—why not put it to good use?

“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
Luke 12:48

 

Run More.

When I ran my first half-marathon, people thought I was crazy. It was my junior year in undergrad; I was taking 18.5 credit hours in a mentally taxing major (pun intended), I was serving in head leadership for an academic program on campus, and I was doing interviews for internships every other weekend on top of my on campus job. How could I possibly have time to fit in running 10+ miles a week? Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it, but I accomplished it. During the process, I realized that I liked everything else I was doing, but running was a form of slowing down the busyness for me. After long days of classes, meetings, and working, I could spend 30 minutes running and instead of thinking about the burning pain running through my legs, I would chat with Jesus. Running was literally my way of spending time with Jesus and it helped motivate me to stay dedicated to such a goal.

With that being said, I’m choosing to run more this year. I’m already set to run a 10-K in April and by the end of this year, I hope to run the Disney Marathon with my sister.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
Romans 12:1

 

Rest More.

I’m a busy person by nature. I have always been this way—on the go, highly motivated, and never taking no for an answer. There’s a problem with this lifestyle: you get burnt out too easily, too fast. Ever since graduating college 10 months ago, I feel like my life has been nonstop and I, even on vacation in Hawaii, had a difficult time just existing. It became challenging for me to find my purpose when my life was not demanding and constantly moving. My life was about performing for Jesus and not being with Jesus—and that’s when I realized, this is quite possibly the most important part of my goals this year. Because I don’t need to do anything to be accepted into the Kingdom of God, I can rest in the fact that I am saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. And that, my friend, is the game changer for every busy-body, performance-driven individual.

Resting looks different for everyone. While I do love myself a good vacation on some beachy island, resting in this season means abiding in Jesus—fully surrendering every day and knowing that I cannot physically or emotionally please God with my performance.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

 

I’ve decided that this will be a good year. Find yourself a reading nook or go rest on this beautiful Sunday. Or better yet, go for a run, because that’s what I’ll be doing.

~ Tay Lee

I’m a Foodie & I Know It

In Mandarin, “Lee” means “we came for the food.”

Okay, so it doesn’t really mean that. But in my childhood home, that was certainly a plausible translation. It has been ingrained in my DNA to have a genuine appreciation for all things home cooked, a large portion of second-helpings, and an openness for new food. From a very young age, I can remember my dad always saying, “try it at least once. If you don’t like it, then you don’t like it. But at least you were open enough to at least say you’ve tried it.” Thankfully, I had a very gracious palette and to this day, I like almost any food I try.

Yes, I’m a Foodie, I know it, and I love it.fullsizerender-4

Being a foodie means more than liking what your taste buds are savoring. It’s not just about the combination of the perfect ingredients or discovering the newest hipster restaurant in town. It’s not even about how many food pictures I can post on Insta or the corresponding likes. Unfortunately, it’s not even about how much food you can eat at a single sitting (because if it were a contest, I’d definitely win at that.)

Being a Foodie means connecting across the table and appreciating the culture behind the deliciousness. Food is simply a doorway into someone’s home. The appreciation and the connection are the true elements that constitute an authentic Foodie.
fullsizerender-2Recently, I had the opportunity to cook a traditional Chinese New Year meal (Gong hay fat choy!) for my friends here in Tulsa. Taylor (the other one), Allie (see pictured) and I prepped and cooked for the majority of an afternoon to present an authentic Chinese meal. I made sure to cover all the basics: fried rice, bok choy, steamed fish, roast pork, steamed dumplings, egg rolls—the whole 9 yards and then some. By the time we were ready to eat, I finally had a moment to stop and take it in. The kitchen aroma brought me back to an 8-year old Taylor in her grandmother’s kitchen—tears instantly welled in my eyes. I blinked them away before anyone could see such a vulnerable side of me, but it was then that I realized how strong of a connection I had with this food, Chinese culture, and my family. I often shy away from the fact that I am Asian American and stigmas that go along with being Chinese, but that night, I embraced the longevity of my culture in full force.

As 5 of my good friends and I sat down to partake in some authentic and delicious dishes, there was a peace that settled in the room. In such a turbulent time of racism and political conflicts, there was something beautiful about friends of all different races and diverse backgrounds sitting at a unified table and honoring a long-standing tradition in Chinese culture. Despite busy schedules and governmental issues of the week, we could laugh, reminisce, and bond over a well-prepared authentic home-cooked meal. fullsizerenderThe food may have brought a Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, German, Irish, and an Asian together, but it was that connection that kept us sitting around that table with full bellies and genuine smiles long after the last crumb.
And that is the essence of sobremesa. It’s the time we spend laughing, digesting, enjoying, smiling, loving, appreciating, and simply being with each other over a meal. And it’s in those moments, I appreciate that I’m a foodie, and I love it.

Go eat something delicious this week.

~Tay Lee

“People who love to eat are the best kind of people.” – Julia Child