A Reason for Every Season

Right before Christmas break, we got news of the news we have been dreading to hear – Matthew is deploying. We’d been expecting it for a few months but to get the final word that it’s really happening still left me in……shock. And in lots of tears.

Let’s be real. Dealing with deployment is stinkin’ hard and it is just about as difficult as you’d imagine it to be to hear that someone you love is going off to fight for your country. Matthew and I have been through quite a few transitions in this last year – Ranger School, Airborne School, his move to Fort Drum, starting his PL (Platoon Leader) time with his battalion – but deployment definitely takes the cake. Sometimes I have so many thoughts and feelings that I don’t know what to do with myself. Sometimes I find myself spontaneously crying a lot or wake up crying or fall asleep crying. In short, I’ve been a hot mess. But I adamantly believe that God allows all things to happen for a purpose and despite the mess, I am determined to figure out what God’s reason for this season of life is.

So here’s a few things I’ve learned about myself and about dealing with impending deployment over the last several weeks.

Knowing isn’t the same as experiencing

No matter how much I mentally prepared for this moment, actually hearing Matthew say the words “I am deploying” still hit me like a ton of bricks. For awhile, I felt so frustrated with myself because I was taking the news poorly. “Common Christine – you went into this relationship knowing this was the path he was going to take. You knew this was coming sooner than later.” There are even people I’ve shared about deployment with who have said to me, “Well what did you expect? Since you knew this was going to happen, you just need to suck it up and deal with it”. A lot of people have simply said (I believe with the best of intentions), “Just trust the Lord and give it over to Him”. Great, I totally agree but….practically, in this present struggle….how. do. I. do. that?????? There is a huge divide between knowing how to respond or knowing what you should do compared to how you actually live out that knowledge.

And you really just don’t know until you get there. There is no way to prepare yourself to go through something like deployment. There is no way to prepare yourself to mentally prepare yourself for any challenging situation until the Lord brings you to it. And then by His strength, He will bring you through it.

I am a human being with imperfect feelings.

It is quite impressive the range of feelings I’ve in such a short period of time. Sadness, despair, frustration, anxiety, fear, loneliness, confusion – just to name a few. Sometimes all my emotions get me into trouble. I’ve really wrestled with how I should feel about this whole situation because knowing all the things I know about dating vs. marriage and emotional boundaries and all that jazz, I couldn’t figure out if it was a sin to care so much or be so sad over someone I am dating, but not married to. Is this wrong? Normal? Acceptable? I have felt uncomfortable being honest with people about how I’m really doing in fear that they’ll judge me for feeling the way I do or just feel sorry for me.

In times like these, I am really thankful for the sisters that God has put in my life. Again, having a sister tell me “It’s ok to be sad, don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re trying your best to figure it out and I think God see that,” was all I really needed to hear to remember that God is so gracious to me even when I am not gracious to myself. God gave us feelings for a reason and they aren’t always going to be perfect feelings. I am not a robot. I am a human being and part of that is learning and growing as I make mistakes, work through my feelings, and figure out how I can master my emotions and take my thoughts captive so they ultimately all point back to Christ. But…..I am still getting there 🙂

It’s ok to not be ok. Sometimes.

It’s the strangest thing. I never realized how much I hated feeling or showing weakness until dealing with my feelings about deployment. People know me as Christine-the outgoing, extroverted, always busy, always has it together-Christine. And for some odd reason, even in a situation would understandably make anyone bonkers, I still feel the strong compulsion to convince everyone that I am ok. Even to convince myself that I am ok! But sometimes (and lately, more often than not), I am really really not ok. I am sad and scared of potentially losing someone I care about. I am frustrated that I don’t even know when or how often I will get to talk to my best friend. I am worried about what the next 9 months will hold and the new set of challenges our relationship will have to go through. I am, very honestly, frustrated that our relationship always seems so much more difficult than everyone else’s and I wish that we could just be a normal, boring couple. And sometimes, I am just sad and I can’t explain it and I just need a second to cry.

And that is ok. Until….

I stop trusting in the Lord. Until I let my sadness become a result of my lack of control over the situation. Until I let my anxiety undermine God’s sovereignty and good plan for me and for Matthew. Until I let sorrow or worry drown me in a sea of my own self-pity. I am slowly and painfully learning that yes – there is a time to grieve, but there is also a time to pick myself and speak truth to myself about God’s overwhelming love for me. He would never allow anything to happen outside of his plans, He would never give me more than I can handle, and He is always in control no matter how seemingly chaotic life is. I am learning that I must fight for joy daily instead of letting sadness or anxiety overcome me because I must remember that my ultimate joy and hope lies in the Lord.

Expectations are the worst.

And boy, do I have a lot of them. First – I have a lot of expectations of myself (as you can probably tell from the rest of this post). I have expectations of how I should handle this news. I have expectations about how I should support Matthew. I have expectations of how I should be the most perfect girlfriend and sister in Christ at all times.

Then, I have a lot of expectations of Matthew. I expect him to respond to me and comfort me in a very specific way when I am feeling sad about deployment. I expect him to prioritize time with me over everything else since our time left together is short. I expect him to share all his feelings with me because I, as an external processor, share all my overflowing feelings all the time. I expect him to acknowledge all my feelings and tell me it will all be ok and cry with me like they do in the movies.

Lastly, I have a lot of expectations about our relationship. I expect us to deal with all our conflicts flawlessly and immediately. I expect us to hold our heads up high and brave through deployment without wavering. I expect us to acknowledge each other’s emotional state and always put the other person first. I expect us to read together and pray together every time we talk like the godly couples do. Or else it means that we are failing.

All these expectations lead to disappointment and more frustration when they aren’t upheld. Frustration leads to anger, anger leads to selfishness, selfishness leads to fighting, and fighting leads to sadness. All because of expectations I shouldn’t have had in the first place. Too often, I think of myself first and how Matthew should attend to my needs first (and even if I attend to his needs, I expect him to acknowledge me for being so wonderful!) instead of thinking about how much more challenging this all must be for him. I’ve become so inward focused and all of my expectations have become so, too, and that draws our attention away from thinking through how our relationship can glorify the Lord in our present circumstance.

His power is made perfect in our weakness.

It’s easy in the day to day to forget how desperately we need the Lord. One thing I am overwhelming thankful for through all of this is how much it has reminded me to cling to Christ with all I’ve got. I have become so self-sufficient and sinfully comfortable with life that God has become more like a bonus than the real prize. But in my weakest moments, when I am all cried out and I still feel like I don’t have a single thing figured out, God reminders me that He is enough and that I can do nothing by my own strength. And that’s a beautiful thing.


2015-04-03 09.17.34.jpg

From happier days when we got past Ranger School. Getting past deployment will be even happier!

Ok let me super clarify that I am still working through all of this and still need to process through this to remind myself of what God has taught me on a daily basis. But God’s mercies are new every morning and every morning is a new opportunity for him to teach me something new through my hardship. Praise God for his grace that covers me when I forget to trust in him. Praise God for his grace that restores me when I fail to respond in a way that glorifies him. And praise God for his grace and his love that heals me when I feel most broken.


Rangers Lead the Way

So Matthew left for Ranger School yesterday and to be honest….I am a mess. I’ve cried so much the last few days that I think I’ve literally run out of tears. As much as we talked about it and I mentally prepared for this day to come, it’s still surreal that it’s all happening and that we will be spending the next 2 to 4 months in silence. But times like these continue to test the foundations of our relationship and ultimately our faith to see how our response is rooted in Christ.

Naturally, to deal with my copious amount of feelings, I have decided to channel them into a blog post about Matthew leaving for Ranger School. Bear with me…there are a lot of feelings to be felt! To make it easier for those reading, I’ve broken up this post into two parts: a general Ranger School outline and my personal thoughts/reflection leading up to this point. Both, I feel, are important pieces of this chapter of life God has given to us and I hope that both can be give you clarity on what it’s like to be an army relationship.


A Ranger School Breakdown

Ranger School is approximately a 2 month course where soldiers are pushed pass their limits and then some. Any soldier can get a slot at Ranger School but it’s pretty difficult unless you’re a part of the Ranger Battalion (basically means you are or are going to become a Ranger) or you’re in a heavy combat arms branch, like the Infantry. For Matthew, being an infantry officer with no Ranger tab pretty much means you get zero respect and we can’t have that now can we? So he’s gotta brave through this treacherous course and prove that he’s got what it takes to keep up with the toughest of the tough.

Ranger School is essentially divided up into 3 phases: Benning, Mountain, and Florida (Swamp). During Benning Phase, the first week is called RAP week (Ranger Assessment Phase) and it is where 30% of people fail. Why is RAP week so hard? Very simple – they try hard to smoke you out. Within these short 5 days, soldiers are expected to complete the following: a RPFT (Ranger Physical Fitness Test) consisting of push ups, sit ups, and a 5 mile run; a 5 hour land navigation course, the Malvesti course (just imagine the hardest obstacle course conceivable); a 12 mile ruck; and unending missions practice. And if that’s not enough, they only get 3-4 hours of sleep a night with just enough food to keep them functioning. If you fail RAP week, you get kicked out and have to wait until there’s an opening in the next class of soldiers going to Ranger School.

Once you’ve passed RAP week, you only have to repeat each individual phase if you don’t pass. This is called “recycling”. You can only recycle each phase twice before you get kicked out of Ranger School. This is why it can take up to 6 months to pass Ranger School – very few people make it through Ranger School in one-go because most repeat or recycle each phase at least once. Some other ways you can leave Ranger School is for medical reasons or if you get peered out (or voted out by your fellow soldiers).

The nice thing (army girlfriends and families, you will be overjoyed to know this) is that they actually have an 8 hour pass in between each phase (if they pass) where they are able to leave the training grounds if someone picks them up and takes the home. While this means a sweet reunion for loved ones, for our soldiers it means getting laundry done, supplies replenished, and as much sleep as possible on an actual bed. But it’s definitely better than nothing and offers a little bit of hope to get you through to the end. Soldiers can also receive mail & care packages throughout Ranger School, but they don’t always get them until the very end and it’s pretty hard for them to write back. BUT you should absolutely write to them, encouraging them to push through and reminding them of how much they are loved. You have no idea how much a simple letter can mean.

[If you would like to send Matthew mail or a care package during Ranger School, please reach out to me and I will get you his mailing address.]

As you can tell, Ranger School is pretty hard core. The one piece of advice Matthew got over and over from soldiers who have already been through the course is to bulk up as much as possible before you go because apparently, guys can lose up to 30 pounds during their time there. It ain’t pretty. This isn’t completely accurate anymore but if you wanna see a small glimpse of Ranger School, check out this clip from the show, Surviving the Cut. You can find the full episode here.

Oh and I forgot to mention – Ranger School only has a 48% graduation rate which you better believe Matthew will be a part of. Rangers Lead the Way!


The Girlfriend’s Perspective 

Before Matthew and I even started dating, I knew that our relationship would not be an easy one and that difficult seasons like this would be inevitable. Yet I made the decision that this fine fellow was one worth taking the risk, trusting in the fact that our sovereign God knew what he was doing. There were times when we would sit down to talk about the reality of what’s to come and I would freak out because seriously – what girl wants to be told that their boyfriend and potential husband will have to spend months at a time away, could very possibly be absent at milestone events in your relationship, and might go to war but not come back? No girl, that’s who! But a wise sister in the faith reminded me that God gives us sufficient strength for the day and when the time comes, he will give us sufficient strength to overcome whatever He gives to us. And so over the past year or so as we prepared for what was ahead, God taught me how to continually cast my burdens on him, to give my fears over to him daily, and to trust in his sovereign plan for me and for my relationship with Matthew. Now, I need to remember that more than ever.

As the day drew closer, the reality of what we are about to endure through started to get the best of me and it became nearly impossible for me to hide how I was feeling to Matthew. It was like a waterworks show every night for the past week -_- I can’t even imagine what Matthew must be going through as he prepares to leave for Ranger School but in our last conversation before he left, he said to me, “We’re going to be ok. We’re gonna make it through this together. Remember the joy you have in Christ who will never leave your side.” SERIOUSLY? He’s comforting me and reminding me to persevere and to cling to the truth as he is about to leave for possibly the hardest course of his life. I am a lucky lady to have such a loving lad.

But he’s completely right. The way my response to this difficult time differs from others is a huge testimony to how as a Christian, my hope is found in Christ. To remember that there is a great joy to be had in the face of struggle because Christ is greater than these passing days and his unwavering love compels me to seek out a greater purpose through it all. Yes, this I know. And this, I hope one day very soon I will be able to share with you that are truths I can personally attest to. But in this present moment, I am quite frankly having a very hard time. Please pray for me to know with my heart and not just with my mind the hope that I have in my sweet savior Jesus who always provides a joy unmatched by anything on earth.

The hardest part, I think, of being an army girlfriend is the complete uncertainty of what to expect. Sure, ultimately everyone is uncertain of how their relationship will play out in the future and to a certain extent, we can only plan so much. But in an army [and really, any military] relationship, you have so little control over what or when things will happen that it gets hard to plan even practical decisions in a relationship. During IBOLC, we didn’t know if Matthew would have to go to Ranger School right away or if he would have a break to come back and rest. As we prepared for Ranger School, we had to plan with no idea if he would actually pass each phase or how many times he may have to recycle. Even now as I am mentally trying to prepare, I have no idea if I have to wait patiently for 2…3…4 months…or longer until he finishes. And after that, we don’t know how many speciality training schools he will be placed in before he goes to his station. I literally don’t have any answer for anything but as mind-numbingly frustrating it is, I know that this is exactly how God is answering my prayer to trust him more. To entrust him with all that I have and to not rely on my own strength or plans. To live one day at a time, not worrying about tomorrow but being diligent with what God has given to me today. The pruning hurts, but the fruit will hopefully be much greater.


Now the countdown begins. Only 68 more days until I can see my best friend again. But for now, I remember and am thankful for the happier times we’ve had and I look forward to a joyful reunion ahead.

And if anyone wants to be a friend and eat away all my feelings with me, holla.


Over and Out,


[Dang Yang] An IBOLC Graduate!

The last 16 weeks have been the most insane roller coaster of events but praise the Lord for His faithfulness because Matthew has graduated from IBOLC! 


Seriously, what a stud. I lucked out. 

IBOLC, or Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course, is the first step in a long line of schools that any aspiring Infantry Officer must complete in order to officially become a part of this elite group. The 16 week course is designed to train these soon-to-be infantry officers every thing there is to know about effectively leading their men and also preparing them for what lies ahead at Ranger School. Matthew has had to endure everything from early morning physical training to practicing Operations Orders to long 12 mile rucks in the middle of the night. He has gotten used to having bugs and creepy crawlers as bedtime friends, 5 miles runs as a warm up, and 90F weather with 100% humidity as a “nice day”. IBOLC has indeed pushed Matthew past what he thought his limits were and has proven that it is not for the faint of heart.

There were quite a lot of officers at this graduation and I have never seen so many military men in uniform in one place! Without a doubt, the most organized graduation I’ve ever seen and after hearing so much about different people in IBOLC, it was nuts to see the whole company together. What’s a company, you say?? A company consists of everyone in Matt’s class, which is about 120 guys, and then each company is broken up into 3 platoons. This is a picture of Matt with his platoon!



It should be pretty easy to find him but in case you’re having a hard time, he’s the only Asian one in this photo. In the middle. Yup, right there.

Then, each platoon is broken up into 4 squads, which consist of about 10 guys, and that is the group you spend most of your time with, whether it’s conducting missions, working on projects, or just waiting around for hours on end. Matthew was able to get really close with some of the guys in his squad and had opportunities to share the Gospel with them as well as bring them out to church.

It has by no means been a straight line to the finish but because of all the insanity and uncertainties, God receives all the more glory. There were times where we’d be on the phone with no clue how he was going to make it through the week or how he was going to be able to physically accomplish a task that proved too daunting but God remained faithful to Matthew. When he was able to finally get through it, we both knew that it wasn’t because of his own strength but only by the strength of the Lord.

In fact, here’s a snazzy little video to give you a sneak peak at what it was like to be in IBOLC! Matthew had to go through all that and much more so you can imagine how tough it is. Look out for Matthew right around 2:55…..

One of the coolest things, I think, is how God has been able to use Matthew to be a good light and witness to his fellow officers as they brave through difficulties together. As I’ve shared before, Matt’s entire purpose of going into the military is to be a missionary in a field that is very hard to reach. Sharing his faith with people who have never even heard the Gospel and quite frankly, don’t want to hear it has allowed him to see the reality and gravity of salvation. It has forced him to ask himself – Is it really necessary for me to share this Gospel with these guys? – and God has continually reminded him YES. Nothing matters more. It has been a constant encouragement for me to view the environment that God has put me in (although much more calm and far less intense) as a missions field and a battleground of spiritual warfare where opportunities to share of God’s love are endless.


 So What’s Next?

Lovely question. As always, we think of this more as a “If Life Went The Way We Dreamed” answer, but the general gist is 2 months of Ranger School, 1-1.5 months of specialty training, and then off to Fort Drum, New York! The reality of it though could be more like 3 or 4 months of Ranger School with some breaks in between but we really won’t know until it happens.

For now, Matthew is scheduled to leave for Ranger School on September 7th and unfortunately, that’s about all the concrete details I can give you.

I’ll post another blog soon detailing what Ranger School actually looks like as well as major prayer requests for Matthew so be on the look out for that! In the mean time, Matt still has about a week until he leaves so please call him, text him, email him, and pray for him!



Congrats again, Mr. Second Lieutenant Yang! You deserve it and I couldn’t be more proud of you 🙂


Over and Out,


Working Woman!

Goodbye [f]unemployment and hellloooo once again to the working world!

I am very excited and thankful to say that after many months of being jobless, God not only blessed me one job opportunity, but TWO – a part time position with Beloved International as their Operations Master [working title!] and a full time position with Spark Program as their Redwood City Program Manager. Both of them are amazing non-profits that work with children and both of them are working hard to make a difference in the community!

It’s been awhile since I’ve been working full-time, whether that’s at a job or even with my busy college schedule, and I’m a little nervous but also extremely pumped to start doing so many things again. Granted, it’s going to be quite the transition though especially since my mornings will now start at 6AM and not 9AM…..and I will now have to share my gym space with the rush of other people ending their work day. Boo. But all good things must come to an end so that new good things can begin 🙂

So on my very last day of freedom before I get back into the work force, I’ve been reflecting on what it’s been like these past few months, what I’ve learned, and what I’m excited for in this next chapter of life. It’s pretty nuts to see how abundantly God provides in His perfect timing and how he does not waste a single thing – not even unemployment!


God’s Sovereign Timing 

God really really knows exactly what I need and exactly when I need it. I mean, I was looking hard core for 5 straight months and nothing! But now that I have a job and other things in my life that are happening at the same time, I see why the Lord withheld work from me until now and dang, am I grateful. Being unemployed gave me time to spend with Matthew before he left for military training and allowed my schedule to be more flexible in being able to talk to him during his variable training. Being unemployed allowed me to consider finally moving home, be closer to family, and ultimately look for [and find] a job up here in NorCal. And now, just as Matthew is about to leave for Ranger School where we will have about 2-3 months of complete silence, I am able to focus on these new job(s) and have something to distract me from the lonely reality of life haha. Totally kidding but also a little serious. Hang out with me, guys.

I gotta admit that there were times that I grew very discontent with the season I life I had been given, and at times even discontent just from trying to understand why I was discontent! But it is so reassuring to know that the Lord’s plan are infinitely better than my own and that He knows why He kept me in that period of unemployment.


God’s Abundant Provision 

The Lord owes me nothing, not even a job, but the fact that he would provide two amazing jobs is beyond me. God could have easily given me an a job that had nothing to do with my career and that would have been sufficient, but instead he abundantly provided me with jobs that are both with non profit organizations working to resolve issues in our community that I am deeply passionate about. Even my position within each of these non profits is exactly the type of work I want to. Again – God’s very abundant provision!!

In a society that tells you your success in finding a job is based on how hard you work or how good your resume looks, I thought that the more presentable my resume was and the more jobs I applied to, the more likely I would find a legit job. But I literally sent like the exact same resume to I think over 50 companies and didn’t hear back from any of them except Spark. What was the difference? I believe that it was the Lord. I believe that He kept those other 49 companies silent so that His plan to have me at Spark would unfold and ultimately, all the glory would go to Him because it belongs to Him.


There is More to Life Than a Job. Or Whatever It Is That You’re Looking For. 

I can say this confidently because I remember clearly what I felt when I was still looking for a job and know how I feel now that I have secured a job. I thought that once I found a job, I’d feel more secure, more confident, more content. But as I’m approaching work, I still have a lot of fears, uncertainties, financial concerns…you name it. Honestly, not that much has changed because my purpose in life – to make Christ known and to reach the lost – has not changed one bit. The way it looks or the environment may be different but God remains the same and his calling for us as believers remains the same.

It’s not just a job though. God has reminded me time and time again that only his love is able satisfy completely and only when we are living our lives according to the calling He has given to us will we really feel complete. I learned that through relationships, through school, and even through accepting my own body image. There is much more to my life and your life than that next thing you’re looking for, I promise 🙂


There is Joy in Every Season

Regardless of the circumstances that the Lord gives to you – whether it’s joy or hardship or uncertainty – there is great, great joy to be found in the Lord simply because He is the Lord. Just like how people can always magically find the bad in every circumstance, when we have Christ, we are able to find the joy and the hope in every thing because we know that ultimately, it’s not about us but it is about Him.


About 8 years ago, my small group leader made me memorize a Psalm and to this day, the Lord continues to make clear to me in my life everything that David, the Psalmist says.

O LORD, you have search me and known me! 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it completely. 
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. 
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 
even there your hand will guide me and your right hand shall hold me. 
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day for darkness is as light with you. 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it full well. 
My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
You eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them
the days that were formed for me when as yet there was none of them. 
– Psalm 139:1-16


He knows me. He knows my thoughts. He knows His plans for me. What a comforting and beautiful truth no matter if I’m employed, unemployed, healthy, sick, rich, poor, anything!


This was a little longer than I expected…haha but I guess this was really more for me to process more than anything. Pray for me that I wouldn’t make a complete fool out of myself tomorrow and that I can continue to exemplify Christ in my workplace!


– Juang

[DIY] Baby Beluga Stuffed Animals


Happy, happy, happiest 18 months with my favorite person of all time – Matthew!!! It’s been a wild and crazy ride up to this point, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Whether it’s journeying across America, foodie explorations, movie marathons, satisfying our need for the extreme, learning the complexities of communication, or pushing each other to run towards the eternal reward, there has never been a dull moment 🙂 Long distance sure is the pits but God has been so good and faithful to us that this celebration really goes out to our great Abba Father.

I’ve been wanting to make something crafty for my main man for awhile and I figured this would be a good a time as any. Belugas are kinda our favorite animal cuz come on – LOOK AT THEM.

Belugas Shedd Aquarium, beluga whales

And so I decided to make my own His-And-Hers baby beluga stuffed animals! This was sort of a trial-and-error process after some hefty research on how to make stuffed animals. I am by no means an expert at sewing or working with fabric so if I can do it, so can you!! You can definitely make your own changes or adjustments to the patterns so that it’s a shape you are more fond of. OH and you can also make whales with these steps, too! Alrighty then, here we go!


You’ll need a couple things before you get started:

  • Felt or any other soft fabric (White for belugas, Grey/Blue prints for whales)
  • Two Black Round Beads
  • Plush Fiber Filling (for stuffing)


STEP ONE: Cut out all your fabric pieces. You will need to cut out:

  • TWO Body Pieces
  • FOUR Fin Pieces
  • ONE Complete Tail Piece
  • TWO Individual Tail Fin Pieces
  • ONE Bottom Belly Piece (not pictured)

Make sure to include at least a half inch more fabric than the intended size of your stuffed animal to allow room for the seam. NOTE: In order to make the tail a little longer, you will want to cut the end of the body piece to slightly longer than the body size and cut it at a slanted angle. Reference the photo below.


STEP TWO: Sew together two of the fin pieces to make one fin. Repeat with the second set of fins. Once you’re finished, flip each one inside out and gently stuff them with filling (Right picture is once its flipped).

IMG_3304 IMG_3305

STEP THREE: Sew the fin onto the outer side of the body piece, about a third to half of the way back from the head. It’s important that you sew it to the outer side so that it pops out once you flip everything inside out. Repeat with the other fin on the second body piece.



STEP FOUR: Sew the black beads – aka the eyes-  onto the outer side of the body pieces. It’s important that you do this before you sew the rest of the body together.


STEP FIVE: Sew together the two body pieces with the fins on the inside. Only sew together the top half down to the bottom of the face and make sure the bottom stays open to sew on the belly piece later.



STEP SIX: Take the complete tail piece and align the two individual tail pieces on top. Sew together the pieces together, leaving the inside flaps open because those pieces will be sewn onto the body piece.


STEP SEVEN: Take the tail pieces and line up the inner flaps against the tail end of the body pieces, making sure that you’re sewing it with both inner side on the outside so that you don’t see the seams when you flip everything inside out. That’s kinda confusing haha just look at the picture.


STEP EIGHT: You’re almost there! This is usually when I trace out the belly piece, lining it up against the body pieces to see how long the piece should be and adjusting for how wide it should be, depending on how fat you want it to look. Then, sew the belly piece to the bottom of the stuffed animal BUT NOT ALL THE WAY. You want to keep the side that meets the tail piece open! If you’re making a whale instead, try using a different print to spice things up!

With everything sewn, it should look something like this now.


STEP NINE: My favorite step! This is when you flip the entire thing inside out through the open flap. Now stuff that bad boy with as much filling as possible. It’s really important that you make it as full as possible because that’s how you will really be able to see the shape of the animal once everything’s done. Stuff, stuff, stuff!!


STEP TEN: Sew together the open flap at the very end and…voila! You’re all done!


These make excellent gifts or snuggle buddies for little ones. Def give it a try and leave a picture of your creations!


[Thankful for] a loving boyfriend // a loving God // 18 months of adventures // technology that makes long distance easier // baby belugas // learning how to thread a needle // no pricked fingers // grace upon grace each morning // summer 

As always, thankful that you stopped by! And here’s a lovely video about Baby Belugas as sung on Full House! Have a happy weekend 🙂




[Dang Yang] The First Eight Weeks


It has officially been eight weeks since Matthew left for military training. Longest eight weeks of my life. But praise the Lord, who uses all things to his glory and our benefit. While it has not been easy God has been growing us both in our dependence on Him as well as really testing Matthew in his faith!

Many of you have been asking about how Matthew is doing, what he’s been doing, and how you can pray for him. So here I am, the trusty girlfriend with an update probably more detailed than you’re expecting. But I can’t help it – I’m just get real excited about all the stuff he’s being doing! So I hope this give y’all a bit of insight into the life of Second Lieutenant Matthew Yang.


The training Matthew is currently at is called iBOLC – Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course. It’s about a 17 week course where future officers learn all the ins and outs of how to be a quality leader! There are about 150 people in his company (or his class), which is broken up into 3 platoons, which is broken up into 4 squads. He spends most of the time with his squad consisting of about 10 other officers. The structure is pretty similar to a typical school schedule – day starting around 5:30AM for physical training (PT) and ending around 4 or 5PM. Depending on the week, the day either consists of classroom time learning or on the field training. Sometimes the on-field training can be up to 4 days where he is continuously out there with no contact. Evenings and weekends he has to himself so he can spend it freely! Usually since the day is pretty packed and intense, he rests earlier in the night or studies for tests/evaluations that he has coming up.

Physical training in the morning is more intense than my hardest workout days. It switches up every day but every other week, they have to do a ruck which increases by 2 miles each time. A ruck is a run-walk at a 15 minute/mile pace while carrying anywhere from 50-80 pounds on your back. So far he’s done 4 miles and 6 miles (doing very well at both) and will eventually work up to 16 miles by the end of the course.

This is all the stuff that each soldier gets assigned and he carries the majority of it on his back the days he’s out on the field. Intense huh?


Field training has been pretty stinkin’ awesome though. I mean it’s definitely intense and difficult physically, but Matthew has gotten to do some crazy cool stuff that I’ve only ever seen in the movies!

He’s always shooting different kinds of cool guns.



Everyone gets to blow stuff up together.


And Matthew even got to use a ROCKET LAUNCHER.

So sweet.


One huge answered prayer is that Matthew got plugged into a church super quickly. And get this. His church out in Georgia is called Berean Covenant Church, aka BCC. God sure is funny sometimes….Berean is very focused on importance of the Word and sharing that Word with those who have not yet heard it. Unlike the Berean here in California though, it is a smaller church (around 50-70 people) and is predominantly an older, Caucasian crowd. So Matthew brings a whole lot of diversity to the mix!  They have welcomed Matthew with open arms and in great Matthew-like fashion, he has also immediately integrated himself with Berean. It’s been a huge source of encouragement and avenue of growth for him during this very trying season.

Overall, it has been quite the journey the past several weeks and it is only going to get more intense and grueling as the weeks continue – both physically and spiritually. As God puts us through challenging circumstances, he refines and purifies us, which is exactly what God is doing with Matthew as well as our relationship. Praise the Lord for his good and sovereign plans to make us into his image and to use us for his kingdom work!!


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1) How often do you and Matthew get to talk?

 It’s not as terrible as most people think it is. We get to talk pretty much every day, unless he’s out on the field for multiple days at a time. Usually just on the phone but a lot of the times when we webcam, we’ll watch our fav TV shows together and stuff. Nothing beats being together in the same place though so we’re still adjusting to making long distance work! 

2) How much longer is Matthew’s training?

 IBOLC will go until the later half of August and then afterwards, he’ll have a short break until he’s off again for Ranger School. That’ll be about 2-3 months of no contact training until he finishes and then goes off to additional specialty training! Then he finally makes his way over to Fort Drum, New York. 

3) Can he communicate with other people? When is a good time for me to talk to him?

 YES! Like I said, he has his evenings and weekends free so he can talk to people anytime then. Even though he’s all the way across the country, I know it always means a lot to him to hear from people back home. So definitely give him a call, shoot him and email, send him a text! It’s a 3 hour time difference so when he finishes training over there, it’s about 1 or 2PM in California and he usually sleeps by about 6 or 7PM in California (which is about 9 or 10PM over there). 

4) When are you planning to get married and how is he going to propose if he’s all the way over there?!

Beats me. 



  • For Matthew’s continued spiritual growth and strength. It’s been hard, especially as the weeks get harder and more tiring for him to be on top of spiritual disciplines and maintaining a cross-centered focus. Pray that he would continue to put Christ first in all things and rely on the strength of the Lord to get through each day.
  • For Matthew’s physical strength. Needless to say, military training is no walk in the park. It’s not even a sprint through the park. And this section training is only the beginning of a long road ahead of him. Please pray that God would sustain him physically – especially as some minor concerns are surfacing that we don’t want to turn into bigger concerns – so that he can perform excellently. Not for his own sake, but so that he can show his officers all the more who his God is.
  • For more opportunities to Matthew’s main purpose in joining the military in the first place is to share the Gospel with his fellow soldiers and he really sees the army as his mission’s field. He’s already taken a lot of opportunities to share, be intentional, and bring fellow officers out to church with him. There’s a lot of people he’s already praying for but pray that God would continue to give him boldness in his faith and an even greater desire to proclaim the good news!
  • For him to fit in better with the other guys in his squad/platoon/company. It’s not always easy, especially since a lot of the things the other guys talk about are not exactly uh…appropriate conversation. As a Christian, he sticks out a bit in a way that makes it harder to build relationships with them in order to share the Gospel. “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23
  • For long distance not to be so gosh darn awful. Just kidding! But also kinda serious haha please pray that Christ would continue to reign supreme in our relationship. Any one who has been through it knows that everything is more difficult with long distance so pray that we would be all the more patient, all the more considerate, and all the more reliant on the Lord in order that He would shine clearly through us.


Matthew and I thank you for tuning in and for your prayers 🙂

Over and Out,


[Foodie] Vanilla Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes


Hey there guys!

Not gonna lie, this past week has been a bit of a rough one. Missing Matthew, missing home, missing working, missing friends. It’s hard when it really gets to you all of a sudden but even in just that week, God showed me how quick I am to look to my own needs instead of to His goodness. When my eyes are focused on me instead of on the Lord, it’s insane how fast my heart grows bitter and I start worrying about everything. How silly of me to fret when I have an all-knowing, all-mighty, all-loving God who knows me and his plans for me better than myself.

I memorized this a long time ago, but I need to meditate on it more often. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalms 139:13-16

So as I’m getting over this funk, I decided to make some pancakes for dinner because breakfast for dinner always brightens my mood! Why not?! Some good homemade pancakes make everything a little better. My good friend Meghan re-introduced me to the wonder of lemon and poppy seed as a dynamic duo and I’ve been meaning to make a pancake version with them ever since.


Meghan also introduced me to the wonder of substituting maple syrup with Agave nectar – PURE GENIUS. Add some diced strawberries on top of those bad boys and you are rockin’ and rollin’!


My roomie usually responds very positively to basically all food that I make for her but when she had a bite of these pancakes, she went buck wild crazy over them. I’m talking jumping up and down, making yummy food noises, snapchatting it to everyone, making a whole stack disappear in 30 seconds – the whole nine yards.



And I gotta admit, these are one of my better creations. So grab those aprons and give them a try! They’re perfect for any Saturday brunch, morning breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert, and pretty much any occasion you can think of 🙂


Happy munching!



Vanilla Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes


  • One Cup of Flour
  • One Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • One Giant Pinch of Salt
  • Two Eggs
  • Three Fourths Cup of Whole Milk
  • One and One Half Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • Zest of One Lemon
  • Two Tablespoons of Coconut Oil, melted plus additional for
  • One and One Half to Two Tablespoons of Poppy Seeds


  1. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients until there are no lumps! We don’t like lumps. And then mix in the coconut oil, lemon zest and poppy seeds.
  4. Use coconut oil to grease the pan. Drop in about two tablespoons of batter per pancake and cook on medium-low heat. Flip the pancakes once little bubbles start popping up.
  5. Top generously with fruit like strawberries, blueberries or blackberries and agave nectar/maple syrup.