Persecute

I tried to pray for someone who has betrayed and deeply hurt me. Someone who constantly lied to me despite the many times I gave my trust over and over again. Someone who bad-mouthed me behind my back and right in front of my face.

With great pain and sadness, I asked, “Why?

And then I heard:

[…] “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

He asked, “Who are you, Lord?”

The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. […]”

-Acts 9: 4-5 (NRSVCE), The Conversion of Saul

I felt a sense of peace as I came back and recognized the Eucharist in front of me.

How I studied for the EIT Exam

Like most people, I am definitely not a very good test taker, especially when it comes to exams like the EIT.

For those who do not know, the EIT (Engineer-In-Training) exam is basically the first step to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer. We need to pass this 5.5-hour exam before being eligible to take another 8-hour exam. (NOTE: This post applies for 2017 until the next big change). In recent years, the EIT was renamed to FE (Fundamentals of Engineering).

I had to take the FE Civil exam twice:

  • My first attempt was in March 2017, which was unsuccessful.
  • My second attempt was in September 2017, which was successful.

I will be sharing with you what were the 5 key differences that might have helped me pass the FE exam (at the second attempt).

  1. Getting enough sleep
    1. March: I literally did not sleep the night before at all. I was extremely tensed and worried about the exam. In addition, I talked to someone who constantly stresses me out a few hours before I went to bed (to try to sleep). [Not a good decision]
    2. September: I probably got around 3 hours of sleep in. I ended up passing the exam.
    3. Lesson Learned: Get some sleep even if it’s just a little bit.
  2. Do practice problems
    1. March: I reviewed material in the FE Civil Review by Michael R. Lindeburg, did a few practice problems in the FE Civil Practice Problems by Michael R. Lindeburg, and went over the official NCEES practice exam just twice or so.  
    2. September: I went over the two most recent official NCEES practice exams as many times as I could and did a few Practice Problems from the FE Civil Practice Problems by Michael R. Lindeburg.  
    3. Lesson Learned: You are studying to take and pass an exam, not relearn everything you learned in school. Therefore, just do practice problems!
  3. Know the Reference Guide
    1. March: I was comfortable with the Reference Guide.
    2. September: I was an expert with the Reference Guide.
    3. Lesson Learned: Know where exactly a certain formula/information you need in the Reference Guide! Doing practice problems and using the official Reference Guide helped a lot. For me, I brought a hard-copy of the Reference Guide and tabbed it as necessary.
  4. Be chill
    1. March: I was a nervous wreck when I took the exam. My hands kept shaking and I felt like I couldn’t breathe until the next day. Yes, I was still on adrenaline after the exam (9+ hours).
    2. September: I was more calm about it. In fact, my attitude was more like, “If I pass, I pass. If I fail, I can take it again later.”
    3. Lesson Learned: When I was nervous, I was more likely to misread the question or mark a wrong answer. Being more relaxed allowed me even allowed me to have extra time after the morning session. I had time to go over my answers two more times, which gave me the opportunity to find errors in my calculations and fix them.
  5. Stay sane
    1. March: I stopped going to TNTT for about a month to coop myself up in my room to study. I barely took any mental breaks and did not catch up with friends.
    2. September: I was still going to TNTT. When I got tired of studying, I would take a nice long break. Once in a while, I would catch up with a friend.
    3. Lesson Learned: Take breaks by allowing yourself to have fun during the period of time (weeks or months) of studying.

Ultimately, I believe that it is simply important to put the exam as a priority and just try your best. Do not be too hard on yourself if you do not pass the first time. Passing the exam the first or second time does not mean you are a good or bad engineer. Everyone’s journey to becoming an engineer is different.

To whoever is taking the FE exam, I wish you the best of luck! Happy studying!


Study Material:

FE Civil Practice Problems by Michael R. Lindeburg

https://www.amazon.com/Civil-Practice-Problems-Michael-Lindeburg/dp/1591264405/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540329840&sr=8-1&keywords=civil+fe+exam

FE Civil Review by Michael R. Lindeburg (older version of this)

https://www.amazon.com/FE-Civil-Review-Michael-Lindeburg/dp/1591265290/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540330032&sr=1-2&keywords=FE+Civil+Review

NCEES FE Civil practice exam

https://account.ncees.org/exam-prep/324

https://www.amazon.com/Civil-FE-Sample-Questions-Solutions/dp/1932613420/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540330032&sr=1-14&keywords=FE+Civil+Review

NCEES Reference Guide

https://account.ncees.org/exam-prep/359

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Confession

I was urged to have confession and so I did. It was the first time I was having confession at this church. The line was so long. When it was finally my turn, I said everything that I was advised to confess. The priest in the confessional questioned my sins and basically roasted me for my sins. Confused and filled with rage, I cried. I did not understand why the priest was making me feel worse about my sins when I had already felt terrible about them. I cried for a long time in the confessional and continued having tears in my eyes and tears rolling down my cheeks as I walked out. I finally understood why some people only have confession with a specific priest.

I don’t know if I ever want to have confession ever again.

A couple of weeks later, I had confession with my spiritual director during the 4-day Ignatian Silent Retreat. I specifically chose him to have confession with because, by now, he knew me and I figured he probably would not roast me (or at least not as badly) as the previous priest.

This confession was vastly different from my previous confession.

He did not roast me at all.

Instead, he showed me God’s love and mercy. As he spoke, I felt God comforting me. My spiritual director treated me with kindness and compassion. I cried not because of shame or anger this time, but because my heart was touched by God’s loving embrace. My spiritual director gave me a penance that no other priest had given me before and the penance was one that revealed God’s love.

I think I only want to have confession with this priest from now on.

But I know that’s not possible. 

Easter 2019 Drawing

It was honestly quite difficult for me to come up with an “Easter” drawing. When I hear “Easter,” I think of eggs, grass, and pastel colors. However, in the context of Catholicism, I see the cross with a shining bright light behind it. That’s it? I can’t just submit a simple drawing of a cross. So I pondered what did the cross on Easter mean to me.

Easter is the season that comes after Lent. The season of Lent is the time Jesus spent 40 days in the desert. Likewise, we spend 40 days in the desert, either by giving up something for Lent or by doing something good more for Lent. Whatever we do for Lent, it should be something that can help us become closer to God. When Lent ends, we emerge from the desert and head towards the Easter Triduum.

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Original Lineart

In my art piece, the Nghĩa Sĩ girl and Ấu Nhi boy are finally coming out of the desert and towards three crosses, the middle cross with a piece of white cloth. (The white cloth is to represent Easter.) The three crosses represent Good Friday, the day Jesus died for us on the cross for our sins. When I think of Good Friday, I think of the 14 Stations of the Cross, which has a very special meaning to me that I also do not fully understand myself. During the silent retreat in January, my spiritual director told me to pray and meditate on the crucifixion. The 14 Stations of the Cross has had a special place in my heart ever since my first silent retreat in December 2014 and have become more obviously important to me after this recent silent retreat. The only thing I know for certain is that my feelings on the crucifixion are indescribable.

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Colored with color pencils

The Nghĩa Sĩ girl is walking towards the three crosses. Nghĩa Sĩ is the age when you are first learning more about yourself and establishing yourself from your peers. This is the life stage when you want to be a unique individual, but at the same time, fit in and have friends. It’s when you navigate through high school and all the confusion of who you are. The Nghĩa Sĩ girl is walking towards Jesus, towards hope. I hope all kids in Nghĩa Sĩ find themselves turning to God and know that God is always with them, despite the doubts and questions they may have.  

The Ấu Nhi boy is holding onto the Nghĩa Sĩ girl’s arm. He is confused and is depending on the Nghĩa Sĩ girl on where to go next. She is leading him as an example. I currently teach Ngành Nghĩa Sĩ at my Đoàn and I hope that they all know that they are often looked up to by the younger kids, Ngành Thiếu, and Ngành Ấu. In addition, the Ấu Nhi boy represents innocence, which contrasts with the Nghĩa Sĩ girl’s faith journey. When we are younger, it’s so much easier to pray because we have not seen the horrors of the world. When we are older and have been through so much pain, it could be difficult to pray. Despite this, the Nghĩa Sĩ girl still turns to God and the Ấu Nhi boy follows. We should all follow her example. When it is most difficult to pray, that is when it is most important to pray.

I imagine the two as siblings. Whether as blood-related siblings or brother and sister-in-Christ, these two are close to each other.

This concept was the first one that I drew and came up with. At first, I was unsure of what the meaning was and did not like how hard for people to understand its meaning (if it even had one). I drew up other concepts, which all stopped mid-way because I didn’t have any clue of what I was trying to draw. In the end, I came back to this original concept and just embraced it. I trusted God that this idea was the one that should be published.

I had hope that God will lead me on the right path with this drawing. I hope you all feel a sense of hope when you look at this art piece.

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Coloring with Adobe Photoshop CS6

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Song of the Cross


Song of the Cross · Susan HooKong-Taylor · Ana Da Costa

Love lifted on the cross for me:

my Lord, my God, my salvation.

Love lifted high to set me free:

my Lord, my God, my salvation.


When I first heard this song, my heart ached. I was not sure why.

I saw myself kneeling below the cross at Golgotha. Was it because I was finally bringing the burdens of my heart to Jesus?

Involuntarily, tears began to fall. There were no words to describe my feelings.

Spiritual Director

A long time ago, my uncle once told me that the rosary is your “weapon.”

At first, I thought it was meant to be a “weapon” against external evils. Now, I know that it could also be a “weapon” against the voice that tells me that I’m not enough.


Any kind of personal growth is very difficult to measure yourself. Thus, it was very helpful when my spiritual director told me that he sees the changes in me. The growth from the day he first met me, the first spiritual direction meeting outside retreat, to the meeting on my birthday. Each time he has seen me, I have healed a bit more.

I trust my spiritual director. There are times when I get so impatient with myself, but he reminds me that I am still healing, especially because of the traumatic events that have happened not too long ago. He pulls me back onto the boat so that my faith can grow stronger before I go walking on the water.

But for now, I am more than enough.

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25th Birthday

These are just a few of my friends who have shaped me.

All of these women have at one point or another made sure I did not fall flat on my face. Literally and figuratively.

I wouldn’t have gained the confidence and strength to be who I am today without these beautiful and strong women. Thank you for making my 25th birthday memorable. 💛

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What do you pray for?

“When you pray the rosary, what do you pray for?”

“… I always pray for Fr. XXX and-”

“Fr. XXX XXXXXXXX?” he asked, almost surprised, leaning in to be sure if he heard correctly.

“Yes.”

He withdrew, put his head down, held his hands together, and said with a very gentle smile, “Us priest really appreciate prayers.


It’s moments like these that I am reminded of how important prayer really is.

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