Friday, December 30, 2011

mobile



So inspired by this mobile!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

collarless

Fashion trend that I'm slightly obsessed with: collarless jackets. I have one from J Crew (that I'm wearing right now!) that I absolutely adore. I'm on the hunt for one in black. This one from Asos took my breath away, but is sold out in my size.



I think the collarless neckline is SO effortlessly chic and really pulls an outfit together. Plus, it provides the perfect backdrop to highlight a brightly patterned scarf, my favorite accessory choice ever.

Monday, December 5, 2011

wait

I will wait for you, Lord.

Even though it's hard, even though I hate the waiting period.

Psalm 130:6 "My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning."

I'm waiting because I know it will be worth it.

I'm not going to cheapen it with any of my ignorant interruptions. I will let it play out in your hands, according to how you've planned it.

Now this is not the same as giving up-no, this is an act of surrender. This is an act of faith, of hope and trust in you. I am a living sacrifice; may I be a pleasing aroma to you. This is my life as an offering to you, and it's not without trepidation and anxiety that I turn this over to your hands. Obedience takes sacrifice.

Psalm 27:7-8:
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, "Seek my face."My heart says to you,
"Your face, LORD, do I seek."

PS-God, please don't let me down.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

hopeless

Sometimes I just feel so overtaken by the rawness of the pain in the world. So much suffering.

I guess that's the curse of having so much empathy. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to offer encouragement and support to hurting people on a level that is deeper than what most others can reach. But it's also so hard when the only thing you can do for someone is watch and pray.

I am so thankful for Jesus Christ, and the hope he gives me when I feel like I cannot take one more second of this wretched life. When my heart is about to burst and my soul feels too heavy to move. The only thing that can combat hopelessness is surrender. The moments where I am convinced that the darkness hasn't won over the light are when I get to sit and offer my life as a living sacrifice to the living God that is real and hasn't given up on me or on anyone else.

I wish I could sit at His feet and worship Him all day.

Ps 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Being with Him is the easy part; He offers rest and relief to the burdened. Being in the world is the tough part.

Friday, December 2, 2011

take

  1. Take my life, and let it be
    Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
    Take my moments and my days,
    Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
    Let them flow in ceaseless praise.


  2. Take my hands, and let them move
    At the impulse of Thy love;
    Take my feet and let them be
    Swift and beautiful for Thee,
    Swift and beautiful for Thee.


  3. Take my voice, and let me sing
    Always, only, for my King;
    Take my lips, and let them be
    Filled with messages from Thee,
    Filled with messages from Thee.


  4. Take my silver and my gold;
    Not a mite would I withhold;
    Take my intellect, and use
    Every power as Thou shalt choose,
    Every power as Thou shalt choose.


  5. Take my will, and make it Thine;
    It shall be no longer mine.
    Take my heart; it is Thine own;
    It shall be Thy royal throne,
    It shall be Thy royal throne.


  6. Take my love; my Lord, I pour
    At Thy feet its treasure-store.
    Take myself, and I will be
    Ever, only, all for Thee,
    Ever, only, all for Thee.


Here am I. Lord, send me. Take my life, it's all for Thee.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

hacked

So I'm pretty sure Satan hacked my phone.

Yesterday was a tough day for me. Lately I've been feeling attacked with all these thoughts of "no one likes you" and "you're all alone" that have been echoing in my head. And yesterday was really hard, because I was reaching out to people via text, via facebook, and nobody was responding. I was planning on spending time in the evening being with friends because I had recognized that it probably wouldn't be healthy for me to just be alone. But nobody texted me back, so I stayed in and watched TV and let myself feel sad and alone.

And then literally this morning, I woke up, opened my eyes and prayed, "Jesus, I'm sorry about yesterday. It was a really hard day for me, but I know that You love me and that's where I need to be deriving my worth from, not everybody else. Help me to believe this truth." My prayer was then interrupted by the sound of my phone going crazy! I got a stream of 20+ texts all from yesterday that hadn't gone through to my phone at all! They were all from my friends asking me when I wanted to hang out or where, or just some encouraging words for me.

How silly of me to believe I was all alone! And Satan, stay away from me. And my phone.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

learning

Being at home this Thanksgiving break has given me a lot to process through.

First, I've realized that my family severely lacks in grace. I think this is one of the biggest tragedies about my family. This is also what makes it so unpleasant to be around my family for any extended period of time. It is very sad to see how people function when they are not accustomed to grace.

The way my parents raised me was very justice-based. If my brother or I did something wrong (or if they thought we did something wrong), we would get punished. Except the punishments rarely fit the crime. In retrospect, I got punished for a lot of things that I didn't know were wrong. They never took the time to explain it anyways. So I grew up very confused and always walking on eggshells, because I didn't know when I was going to get punished for something. And I never knew what grace looked like, because it was never displayed to me.

Even more sadly, the way my parents interact with each other and their own family show a lack of grace as well. I mean, a life without grace? How does the Gospel even have any relevance to a life like that? I can understand the attraction one would have towards it, but I question how real the impact is if it doesn't change their day to day interactions.

I think college has taught me a lot about grace. When I entered college, I was like a poorly cared for animal-easily spooked, distrusting, independent to a fault. I had a very limited notion of what living out the Gospel could look like. I wasn't accustomed to living or dealing with people who gave grace, so I didn't know how to give any to others. However (and I thank the Lord above for the way He dealt with me), God placed some amazing people in my life who had had encounters with the Gospel, which allowed them to give me grace for being ungracious to them. I've learned a lot from them.

Second, I think I have a guilt problem with spending money. Did not see that coming, lol, especially considering my pre-college spending habits. Shoot, I would FLY through my money. And now I feel guilty when my parents or my grandma give me money. And telling them what I want for Christmas? Oh man, I feel almost embarrassed about telling them, even though they ask!

I think I'm striving for balance right now; my work/life balance and my saving/spending balance. I've simplified my life a lot since freshman year of college, and I'm much more mature with how I spend my money. So why do I feel so guilty spending money on myself? I mean, I tithe, save and invest diligently, so why can't I enjoy my spending, too? I think there's a lot more here to process through, and I'm interested as to what I'll uncover.

Third, and somewhat unrelated to being at home are these verses from 1 Samuel 22-23:
"Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
23For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry." (emphasis mine)

Whoa. To obey is better than sacrifice? I feel like I've always valued sacrifice. Especially because the importance of Jesus Christ's self-sacrifice for the sake of humanity is constantly emphasized (and rightly so). But I've never really given thought to the fact that Christ's crucifixion was as much about (perhaps even more so) obedience than sacrifice.

I found this passage to be very convicting for me. If obedience is valued more than sacrifice in the eyes of the Lord, then am I being obedient to the God I swore to give my life to? What areas in my life do I struggle with obedience? And do I even take the time out of my day to listen, really listen for what He has to say to me? I can't obey if I don't listen. How fruitful are my quiet times?

Lots to think about. So thankful for the Savior that came down to Earth approximately 2000 years ago to save me and the rest of the world from an eternity spent apart from God. So thankful for the life He's given me and the places He's placed me to do His calling. So thankful for the way He continually pursues my heart.

My God is good. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

sobering

Dear __________,

I heard about what you did today. It broke my heart.

If I could tell you anything right now, my hope would be to convince you that God exists, and that He loves you, He truly loves you. More than anything, I pray that this would become a reality for you.

You may never know how much I desire for you to know Jesus Christ for yourself, but I hope that my pleas to the Lord on your behalf will pay off.

God is real. He loves you. You can trust Him with your life. He has created you for so much more than you think you're capable of. He has placed huge passions and great vision for your life for a reason. You know those moments where you're spending time with your family or doing the stuff you love and you just feel so alive? That's because God created you for those moments. When you're in touch with the eternal and you feel full of purpose and exhilaration, that is reality. The world's pessimism and obsession with depravity? That is the illusion, no matter how real pain feels in the moment.

We were not created to live without hope. You know this, because you feel the despair and the darkness when hope eludes you. I know you're no stranger to pain and twisted love. I know the thought of God as your Abba Father freaks you out. You have been given many reasons to distrust fathers because of experiences with yours. But I fear that you will miss out on eternity of life because an imperfect man distorted your view of the perfect God offering His perfect, healing love.

I can see it in you when we talk. You want, so badly, for the Gospel to be true. You want there to be a God that can love you perfectly and completely purely. You want Him to care.

This letter is written to tell you that this Gospel is absolutely, 100% true. This is good news.

But you don't have to take my word for it. If trusting Him with everything is too much for you to handle right now, offer up a part of your life and ask Him to prove that He is trustworthy. He loves getting the opportunity to romance us. :)

I conclude this letter with the hope that one day I will be able to read this letter to you in Heaven; that you would know how intentional God's call on your life was and how strongly Jesus Christ wanted a relationship with you.

Blessings to you,
Sarah

Monday, November 7, 2011

friendship

Today, I am very grateful for my friendships.

I've been feeling very worn out lately. Between work and school, I'm probably pulling 50+ hour weeks.

Today was one of those days that I left home at 8:15AM and didn't come home until 11PM. And halfway through my day, I was definitely feeling it. I felt unmotivated, stressed by school, panicked by my apathy, and I just wanted to curl up in bed.

My yucky mood was totally cheered up by my friends. To end my night on a high note, I'm going to recount my happy little anecdotes.

-I texted two of my EPIC UCSB girls asking for prayer for my stresses and bad moods. They sent me back encouraging texts with tons of love and smiley face emoticons. :)

-I gchatted with Bandy about how I was feeling, and he sent me Mt 25:14-30, the parable of the talents, and encouraged me to keep going

-I was sitting in a classroom, waiting for the class to start, when my friend walked by and saw me. He came inside just to give me a hug and ask how I was doing.

-My classmate offered to study with me for our midterm AND bring me noms.

Amidst my world-weariness and burnt out attitude, I am still so grateful that I can call upon my brothers and sisters to help carry my burden and keep me going. I am so thankful that I never have to be alone, and that God sends along just what I need to keep my spirits up.

I feel very humbled by His grace, and the undeserved love of my friends.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

everyday

Tonight, I got prophesied over by the pastor and some of the church members at Everyday church in Oceana.

I really appreciate it when God affirms me in multiple ways.

For instance, I've been anxious about my future after graduation; and I work really hard in the present to open up more opportunities for myself in the future. However, I've been questioning if all the time and energy I put into investing in my future now is going to be worth it in the end. I mean, I trust God to provide for me, but I do feel like I need to be proactive in achieving my career goals. So anyways, I've been questioning my workload in my life lately, and over the past week, I've had multiple friends of mine tell me that they think I'm the hardest working person in EPIC. Additionally, Pastor Mark prophesied over me tonight and told me that God was very pleased with me, and He sees my hard work and commends me for it.

Seriously, what could be more reassuring than that? God has my future planned out, and He is completely pleased that I'm working so hard to allow myself more opportunities in the future to go through the doors He opens for me. I feel very comforted and blessed right now.

Pastor Mark also said that God loves that I've learned to release my emotions to Him, but now He wants to release His emotions, name His love, onto me. I don't know what that exactly looks like, but I'm excited to experience it.

What an encouraging night. :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

don't be offended

I know that there are lots of secret lurkers on this blog; both people I know and don't. To both groups of people, I want to issue a disclaimer about this post:
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and that fact pervades through every aspect of my life, finances included. I've tried to shy away from posting too much about my faith, but I realized I can't be all that personal about my personal finance without referencing it somewhat frequently. I realize that this post may come across as 1. annoying 2. cult-like and 3. pointless if you do not share the same beliefs as myself. If that describes you, then I hope that you can refrain from making any mean comments directed at my faith and instead, take new insights on how people of a certain religion handle their money.

That being said, let's get into the thoughts/rants that have been swirling in my head the last few months.

I really hate how churches handle the topic of money and finances. In fact, I think a lot of churches mismanage their money. I greatly dislike that churches will talk about money maybe once a year, and the sermon consists of explaining the Biblical reasons of why we should tithe, followed by a call for tithes and offerings that ends up leaving me feeling a little manipulated and guilt-tripped into giving away my money. I wish churches had more transparency. One of the things I love about the church I normally attend is that my pastor will welcome the congregation every week and specifically tell guests and newcomers to not give a tithe. He explains that he'd rather them keep their money and instead receive Jesus Christ's teachings. And then he addresses the regular churchgoers and asks them to please give, because it's a blessing for the church and the Lord commands it. He finishes with a summary of exactly what the money is going towards (a larger facility to accommodate the large and ever-growing size of its congregation).

While this is a start, I would love to hear a sermon on tithing. But not about the traditional tithe of 10%. I want to hear a message on the topic of generosity. Because while 10% is commanded in the letter of the law, a generous way of life is what is preached in the spirit of the law.

The other day, I was convicted of being too legalistic. I'm a financial management major hoping to become a certified financial planner. It's probably not too much of a shocker that I keep a fairly detailed budget. (insert shocked gasp here) I even have a category for tithing/giving (I use the term loosely). Last month, I had already given away the money I had allotted to give away, when I was walking with a friend through downtown and saw a homeless man sitting on a bench holding a cardboard sign that read, "Hungry. Any help would be appreciated." I felt compelled to buy the man a sandwich, but instantly I remembered that I had already spent my giving budget. And then I felt horrified with myself; that I would let something as small as going over a budget get in the way of loving my neighbor in a tangible manner. I bought him that sandwich, and left to process through my internal struggle.

The Bible tells us to give 10%. I think what God wants is for us to live generously. Why was I so bothered that I went over that 10%? For a moment, I forgot that all money is God's money and got too swept away by the sub-categorizing of my budget.

I feel like this is a sentiment echoed by a lot of Christians, whether they're aware of it or not. I was chatting with one of my friends, who happens to be devoted to full time ministry. In order to do that, she needs to raise support every year. Asking people for money can be a very hard thing (I had to go through the same process when I went to Hawaii on summer project, although I had to raise a much smaller amount), and there are moments of great discouragement. She told me that she hates it when she asks for support from people and they say, "I'm sorry, but I'm just not able to give right now." It's not the refusal that bothers her; it's the attitude. She would be fine if they said, "I'm sorry, but I can't give to your ministry right now, because I'm giving elsewhere." But claiming that you can't give shows a lack of faith or trust in God. Hasn't He told us He will provide for us? Yet do we really trust Him? Are we living our lives in a way that aligns with what we proclaim to believe?

Our comfortable, middle-class American lifestyle has become so safe that we no longer need to trust God to provide for our everyday needs.

God has called us to give. Not give when we're in a place of financial stability; not give when we have a higher paying job; not give when it's convenient for us, but simply, to give.

And I think the whole "I'm a college student with no job and my parents/loans/grants are paying my way through college so I can't give because it's not my money to give" is not an excuse either. Ten percent of earned income is not just God's money. All money is God's money. If He has provided you with money to live, whether it be from a job, your parents, a bank or the government, give thanks and praise to the Lord and obey His commandment to give.

Giving should hurt. It should take some kind of sacrifice. That's how you know you need to rely on God to provide for you. If what you're giving doesn't hurt, you're probably not giving enough. I've been reading through the Old Testament, and the story of Moses and the ten plagues. For the final plague, Moses instructs the people of Israel to kill a 1 year old male lamb without blemish for the very first Passover feast in history. While most people talk about the symbolic significance of killing a lamb without any blemish, let's take a look at the socioeconomic effects of this act. A 1 year old male lamb without any blemish would be a highly valued asset in Biblical times. A perfect lamb like that could have been bred to produce more fine sheep, sold for some serious money, or used to produce fine wool. But instead, they were commanded to sacrifice it. You've got to sacrifice in order for it to be a sacrifice.

A cool story that I like to share with people is a really good example of sacrifice and God's provision in my life. Within my community, summer missions trips are highly encouraged. This means that every March, I get bombarded with tons of letters from my friends, asking for support as they go on missions. To avoid giving away hundreds of dollars in just one month, I started socking away money every month to give away in March. When March rolled around, I had about $400 that I had set aside to give away to missions. After prayerfully considering the people and places, I ended up promising God that I would just give to anybody that asked me for support. It wasn't too long until I had given away the entire $400 and was faced with several letters that trickled in at the end of the month. I decided to trust God to provide for me in my everyday needs and continued writing support checks. I gave $200 more than I had budgeted for. Let me just say, as a college student making $10/hr, $200 seems like a lot. I really had to trust God to provide food for me (food is my main expense every month; my parents pay for rent). I figured He would simply send friends to make me food or treat me to dinner and have leftovers or something. But no; instead I got an email a little while later, asking if I would be interested in a survey. The compensation amount? $150. Sweeeeeet. So I found out my assigned time and logged in, ready to participate. Unfortunately, it looked like the survey was down or there was some kind of technical failure. Disappointed and hoping it didn't mean I couldn't participate anymore, I emailed the company and logged off. The next day, I got a reply saying that there had been a glitch in their system, but it was working now and if I was still interested, to email them back ASAP. I responded quickly saying I was, and they thanked me and told me that for my trouble they would be giving me...an extra $50. The delta I had from trusting God was given back to me in the exact amount of $200. Praise. God. There really is no reason to doubt His faithfulness.

PS- For all the extremists out there, no I'm not saying you should sell all your possessions and give it to the poor. Heck, I want to be a financial planner. My future livelihood is dependent on helping people steward their money well. I don't think that everybody should take as drastic an action to live as a penniless monk/nun, although I still believe the Lord would provide for your needs should you actually sell all your possessions. But the point is, you should have a heart that is willing to, if the Holy Spirit moves you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

why

People always want to know why I keep trying.

It's because I'm not afraid of looking like a fool to other people, so long as I remain steadfast and upright in the sight of the Lord.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

harassment

There is a guy that works at the supermarket nearest to my house that totally creepily stares at me when I shop there. When I'm at his register, he will noticeably give me the up-down glance. One time he even so much as bent forward to show me something on the credit card machine, but my friend and I saw him look down my shirt.

Who are these weirdos and do they really think that they can look at girls like that and not get noticed? I feel so uncomfortable whenever I see him working.

Anyone have any advice as to what to do about these creepers? I'm usually pretty outspoken if I feel like someone is saying or being inappropriate, but not when all they do is just stare.

Friday, August 26, 2011

laugh

In the last couple of days, I've had multiple people respond to similar situations in the exact same way. It's given me a chuckle.

"I'm going back to Hawaii in December! I can't waittttt!"-me
"Again?! You're going back to WHO in December? What's his name?!"-everybody else

"I'm going down to Santa Barbara this weekend!"-me
"Santa Barbara? Who's in Santa Barbara? What's his name?!"-friend

Sunday, August 21, 2011

scattered

Random thoughts from this weekend:

I've written about how I feel like I've lost a sense of boldness in my ministry. That my love for people is expressed in a much more reserved, some would say timid, manner. I was reflecting on it yet again, and wondering if I was being a selfish Christian by focusing more on myself than on pursuing others. As I was having a quiet time, I felt like Jesus was assuring me that it was okay that my focus have turned inward. Instead of trying to make others feel loved, now I'm getting to experience God's love. I'm living out what I want others to have. It is so comforting to have that revealed to me.

What is up with people thinking it is okay to invite themselves along to everything they hear about? Seriously, people. Let others extend the invite to you, or just suck it up and realize that just because you're not invited along to that one thing doesn't mean you're not a friend anymore. And on the flip side, people who continually talk about events in front of others who aren't invited, realize what an insensitive jerk you're being and feel the atmosphere in the room.

It was literally a breath of fresh air to have an old friend come visit me for a week. There's just a level of comfort and ease that isn't always there with my college friends, who have really only known me for a handful of years, albeit important and transitional years. Having someone who really understands what I've been through and where I've come from takes a lot of pressure off of me to try to communicate my emotions clearly. It makes it so much easier for them to understand my reactions and thoughts of present situations. It was nice to not have to explain myself, and yet still feel more understood than if I had explained it in the first place. I felt like his advice for me just meant a little bit more than anyone else's.

And lastly, I realized that I've become much more introverted over the years. Though I am still very sociable, I've found that in general, the larger the group, the quieter I get.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

redwoods



There is nothing sweeter to me than seeing the redwood tree forest.

I can't quite explain it, but a sort of irresistible joy, peace and sense of safety falls over me. I have this urge to stop and stare at and maybe even hug the trees. It's like being a camper all over again. I wish I could stay there forever.

The redwoods have been a symbol of God's love for me throughout the years. Every time I come back to the redwoods, they stand tall and straight and majestic as ever, even though I've changed and grown and experienced so much life. Those redwoods represent the Lord's steadfast and never-changing love. When I was 10 and ecstatic to be back at summer camp, the sight of the trees along 17 made me squirm with anticipation of a week of childhood fun. When I was 16 and heartbroken by the death of a friend, those trees offered me comfort and hope. When I was 18 and my last time as a camper at Mount Hermon, those trees gave me courage and strength to leave the people I knew to make a life for myself in SLO. Now that I'm 21 and I've been away for a while, the redwoods reminded me of God's faithfulness and devotion to me.

Those redwood trees are God's way of romancing me. He makes me swoon sometimes. The tenderness with which He interacts with me is better than anything I could have ever asked for.

Standing in front of the redwood forest today reminded me of how great His care is for me. It reminded me that just as the redwoods are always in the same place, God's always there for me, but while I'm going through my life in SLO, I'm not always present to sit and enjoy Him. But when I take the time to meet with and enjoy Him, He will always be there and there is always peace and safety in His presence.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

progress

Sometimes I feel like I don't know how to love, because I spend so much time trying to protect myself. I don't necessarily like it, but it's how I've learned to survive.

I've experienced traumatic moments and have seemed stoic, robotic and cold, even. This is how I learned to cope. Emotions come later, or maybe never at all, if I'm really good about pushing it down.

I know that I have a long way to go with learning to love people. But (and this is what gives me hope), I don't ever stop trying.

I fall off the wagon sometimes, because sometimes it costs me everything I have to just feel okay. Sometimes I just need to get through stuff, you know? But I want to love deeply and genuinely. And that desire is greater than my desire to keep my fragile heart safe. Most of the time, at least.

I think it's hard for the people around me to see me grow and fall stagnant, time after time. But we all have our own learning curves. Unfortunately, mine is a little slower than others at times. I need grace for that; and I need people to trust that I'm still trying. I haven't given up and I'm still fighting my own stubbornness.

I also think that sometimes it's hard for me to feel even qualified to care for others, when I have such a lousy track record. I've hurt a lot of people, inadvertently or otherwise. I think that I'm learning that I don't need to love perfectly in order for me to still love. I think that's one of the most beautiful things about this life. We don't need to love perfectly; in fact, we can't love perfectly. But love despite our imperfections is what makes us beautiful.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

hard

This may be the most frank and detailed post I've written about so far.

Usually, I try to keep my blogs at least somewhat vague, so as to minimize the characterization of the people I encounter and to keep the focus on me (hey, blogging is inherently selfish; hate the game, not the player), lest the very person I'm writing about stumbles across this very blog.

I don't know why it has changed with this particular post, but I just want to be real, and I want to stop feeling like I have to protect the people that hurt me. Their actions should stand alone and they should take credit for it.

I often say that I have "Daddy issues." Most people wonder what that means. This may give some insight into my situation.

The last time I was home, I got accused of putting a scratch in my mom's car. When I tried to stand up for myself and say that it hadn't been there 2 days ago, when I thoroughly inspected the car before coming back to the bay, I got interrupted, yelled at, cursed out, and made to get out of the car so my dad could "show me" how to drive.

No joke.

It's hard for me to feel like a family is a safe place to be myself. It's hard for me to believe my family when they say they love me, when hours ago my very father screamed "Fuck you, bitch" to my face. It's hard for me to rely on myself for emotional support, even when I've had to do it all my life. And it's hard to write this blog and post it in a public place, not knowing the faceless readers who will sit here and judge me/my family without appreciating the complexities of imperfect Christians living in an imperfect world.

And people wonder why it is so hard for me to trust.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

becoming

You know, amidst all my internal struggles, many of which I share on this blog, I think I'm becoming more and more okay with not being perfect. Not in a complacent way, but in an accepting, optimistic way.

It's hard to feel like I'm not being judged when I talk to people who have read my blog, because I bare so much of whatever is on my heart at the time, Godly or not so much. But I don't regret it. No, this outlet has become a diary that I can look back on, sometimes cringing, sometimes smiling. Many times, it has started off as an emotional release and become a prayer. It is evidence, however feeble, of my ever-deepening walk with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

I like that I can be an open book. Looking back on situations where I thought I was never going to forgive somebody, or where I was stubborn and foolish aren't exactly fun to relive, but it keeps me humble. It reminds me of how God tenderly disciplined me, much the way a father does for a wayward child. It reminds me that I'm not alone and that my life isn't a finished novel. No, it's simply a part of my life. All the things I've written about are a part of me, but they don't define me.

For all of you who read these words, know that I am a sinner, in need of grace. Sometimes I struggle to accept that I am in sin, sometimes I struggle to accept grace offered to me. Please be patient with me.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

longing

I've been rereading Brennan Manning's excellent book, The Furious Longing of God. It's been a few years since I've last leafed through it, and it is such a reminder of God's reckless, raging love for me.

I remember when I encountered it for the first time; when the Gospel came to life inside of me. I was sitting down and tears kept springing to my eyes, and no amount of self-consciousness would keep them from falling. It was like my entire world had attached itself to this one truth; that I was my Beloved's and His desire was for me, and that was all that mattered. The words kept echoing inside my head, that I was so loved and that He wanted me as I am, broken and crippled and uselessly pathetic.

It still makes my heart skip a beat when I reflect on His glorious and relentless love for me. What could be better? Sweeter than honey and infinitely more satisfying. It's times like these that I wonder how I could have ever hardened my heart to the majesty and tenderness of the Gospel.

Every fiber in me longs for those emotional moments; where the Gospel is real to me; more real than anything of my physical world. I know that God's love is not just a feeling, but it's those emotion-driven moments that sustain and revitalize my commitment to Jesus Christ. That's when I feel most at home, most safe and most complete.

Those moments are when I can understand how one would choose to spend one day with Jesus than 1,000 elsewhere. I want to dwell with Him forever and ever and ever, as if the concept of eternity isn't large enough to hold the vastness of my desire for Him.

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

challenge

accepted.

No more makeup or skincare products until I completely finish 5 products. If you see me at Sephora, smack me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Samuel

I've been going through the book of 1 Samuel lately. I love this book, because we get introduced to King David, one of the best and most Godly men that ever walked the Earth.

I'm in chapter 26 right now, where God showed favor to David while Saul was hunting him, and allowed David to cut off a piece of Saul's robe while in a cave and later take Saul's spear and a jug of water while he slept. Both times, David's men told him to kill Saul, because God had given him an amazing opportunity to kill his enemy. But David wouldn't hear of it, because God had anointed Saul as king, and he had more reverence for God's anointed than he had of his own well-being. He was so trusting of God to deal with Saul and himself according to His good and perfect will that he wouldn't harm Saul at all.

Side note: this is going to be a long post, I can already tell. Sorry.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my friendships. About how many of them won't last following graduation. About which ones will truly matter. And it's actually been kinda depressing, because of the hundreds of friends from high school that I had, I really only keep in touch with about 5. Not a very good track record. It makes me want to give up on current friendships, because I don't think they're going to last much longer.

But reading about David's faith and conviction that God had anointed Saul to be in the position he was in made me re-think my friendships. Maybe all of us are God's anointed, and He has hand-picked us to be exactly where we are right now, with the people we are with, right now. And if that is so, then who am I to sever ties with the people God has placed in my life and ordered me to love? Why should I worry or even fear the future, because God's plan is so sovereign and perfect.

And I have to trust that even though heartbreak is real and hard, God is still good. Even if friends fade away over the next few years. Because I will see every one of my Christian friends again anyways. For eternity.

Monday, July 18, 2011

need

I have two jobs this summer; I work on campus and I intern downtown. In both my offices, there's a person who brings their dog into work (sometimes my campus job has 2 or 3 dogs!). This has made me realize something-I need a dog! They just instantly brighten my day. They're cute and cuddly and loving and happy, and they make me soooo happy! And they are so, so worth the allergies that come along with them.

Every single day, I've been watching videos of puppies and looking at pictures online.


Who doesn't need some love in their life??



Cavaliers are my favorite, but are 20 times more likely to contract heart disease and have a shorter than average life span. It's like the girls that are always attracted to the bad boys-they know they shouldn't because they'll fall in love and end up heartbroken.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

lesbo

Controversial title, I know, sue me.

I was watching The Voice the other night, and it was so poignant for me to watch Beverly, the bald lesbian rocker chick, show her love for Frenchie, one of her competitors on her team. I felt like I could feel the fierceness of her affection, just by listening to the words and the affectionate tone of her voice. I could see the strength of their bond in their body language, and the way they affirmed each other on national television.

I so admire that she is able to stand up and be strong for herself, even though I'm sure her road has been rocky. I think it's beautiful and admirable that she has the courage to love people as intensely as she does, in spite of the hate she's received.

I think I used to love boldly. I think somewhere along the road, I've gotten burned a lot. I've gotten belittled a lot. I've gotten rejected a lot. I feel like my personality shrunk, or maybe just a part of me withered up and died.

I don't know why I feel like I have a sense of loss within myself, but I feel it all the same and I can't shake it off.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

comparison

I will never be good enough for you, just like he will never be good enough for you, just like nobody will be good enough for you ever.

Welcome to Doucheville, Population: you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

shell

I am simply too __________ to reach out to people, even when I need them.

Choose one:
a) busy
b) lazy
c) afraid
d) unworthy

How about e) all of the above.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

genie

If I had one wish, it'd be to have all the people that I love in the same location.

I think the hardest part of leaving is that I feel my friendships go unfinished. They get gypped because of the distance.

It's just not fair.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

stress

This ominous feeling that hangs over me. I don't like it. I don't want it. I can't seem to maintain control over it.

I just feel like life is going a mile a minute, and I'm feeling the wind from the approaching tornado.

I feel really behind on my life; like everybody else knew that life was coming and they started to get a head start on it and I just was left out in the cold. And I'm trying to catch up but it's like the developing country's production function in the Solow Growth model. I'll always be trying but I'll never get to the same place that the developed country's production function is. It's futile.

Wow, I know that's super nerdy for me to relate my emotional mindset to an economics model, but it held meaning for me.

But everyone tells me I'm doing so well, so I kinda just smile and nod and play along with their lies.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

biography

My life reads like a Psalm.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

ache

Looking at my friends' pictures of Hawaii and even just looking at pictures of the aina just makes my heart ache. Hawaii is so beautiful! I want to be there so badly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

turn

It is our natural inclination to move away from people when we see their sins. We are rightly disgusted by sin, because we are image-bearers of God, and His law is written on our hearts.

Though natural, it is still not right.

May the sins of others turn our hearts away from our sins, not from each other.

If all of us were to be judged according to our sins, no one would be able to stand.

"We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you."-John Piper

Thursday, March 24, 2011

community

These quotes sum up my thoughts on community right now.

God does not reward you for being loved but for loving. So be more frustrated with your failures to love than to be loved.-John Piper

As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a "friend of the bridegroom." When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction.-Oswald Chambers

He must increase, I must decrease.-John 3:30

Thursday, March 17, 2011

awesome

You know the saying that goes, "when your ears are burning, someone's thinking about you"?

Today, I was just chilling with God, talking to Him about life and stuff, and all of a sudden, I just got the overwhelming feeling that God was smiling at me. And all at once, I felt butterflies in my stomach and my lungs expanded with joy and I couldn't stop myself from grinning. I felt like I was going to explode a volcano of joy and peace on everyone around me!

It was awesome. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gospel

Why is the Gospel so rarely lived out?

We often share the Gospel. We meet up at Musty the Mustang and break off into guy/girl pairs and look for people sitting by themselves so we can ask them if they'd like to take a survey so we can steer them towards spirituality and hopefully share the Gospel with them. I have seen people respond with incredulity when they hear the Gospel. I have seen others astounded by it.

But I have also seen the way people respond to the simple message that God loves him/her regardless of the past, the present and the future; regardless of mistakes and insufficiencies, regardless of "every moment of sin, shame and dishonesty," regardless of our "shallow faith, feeble prayer life and our inconsistent discipleship." To all these, God responds, "I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are and not as you should be. Because you're never going to be as you should be."*

The moment people come to terms with what this means, they usually start crying. It is at this moment where they realize that everything they've searched for; everything they've yearned for is fulfilled in absolute, uncompromising, unshakable and unconditional love. They feel safe, beloved and understood.

And the best part is that we, as ambassadors of Christ, have the opportunity to bring this message to people. We have the privilege of loving God's people.

But do we?

I've realized it's much harder to communicate the true meaning of unconditional love when we feel far from it ourselves. This is why it is so important to prepare our spirits before we go out sharing with others. We must be reminded of what grace looks and feels like in order for us to effectively communicate it to others.

I am constantly reminded of how fragile our egos are. When I see people lash out, when I see them drowning in self-hatred or even pride, I realize these are all just defense mechanisms, designed to block out feelings of shame over our sin.

Fortunately, the Gospel has the power to break through our self defenses. To break though my sense of self-righteousness that I use to not feel the shame of my mistakes. To break through the self-hatred that I feel when I confront my failures. To break through all my barriers of defense until all that is left of me is a little patch of dirty and fertile soil, with the potential for life to grow.

And I realize that all God wanted in the first place was to offer me some sustenance to see me have life abundant.

*Brennan Manning, FTW

Thursday, March 3, 2011

rock

Hug your knees and hold yourself together.

Rock back and forth. Faster and faster. If you keep rocking, you'll keep moving, and if you keep moving, maybe you can convince yourself that you're going somewhere instead of just staying in the same place.

It's just like treading water. You move and move and get nowhere at all.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

pick

In business: quality, fast, cheap. Pick any two.

In life: money or God. Pick one.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Mt 6:24

Friday, February 18, 2011

oops

It is not because of, but rather in spite of me that God's glory is seen.

Sometimes I just forget that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

deceit

I think that you do not understand still.

The Gospel can be an extremely healing experience if you let it be. But until then, you cannot hope to give correction, because that correction, however well-intending you may make it seem, is not coming from a place of sincere concern. No, it is coming from a well-disguised place of bitterness.

Let it go.

First comes love, then comes truth. It cannot be the opposite way around, because it is easy to tell when there is no love in truth. It is called anger, and it's an excuse to be ungracious to other brothers and sisters hidden under the Christian practice of "rebuking."

Accept the grace that is given to you. Then learn to extend that grace to others.

envious

I feel so jealous of people who seem to never feel like they have to work for love. They've grown up their entire lives with a healthy family and abundant love served to them on the platter of their choosing.

They never have to ask for it, and love is just there, for their taking. It never even crosses their mind that they have one of the most rare luxuries known to mankind.

Because they do not realize how rare it is, they don't worry about other people who aren't as fortunate as them. They don't think about doing something for someone else as a display of love, because they assume that everyone else has someone who will do it for them, as has happened in their own lives.

Meanwhile they just take and take and never give back exquisite, exhausting love.

Monday, February 14, 2011

SAD

(Seasonal Affective Disorder)

I think I have it.

Today, I feel sad, insecure and lonely.

Sunshine, come back soon please.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

accurate

"When a moral person is confronted with contempt, immorality, disloyalty or dishonesty, he is so repulsed by the offense that he turns away and in despair closes his heart to the offender. But the miracle of the redemptive reality of God is that the worst and the vilest offender can never exhaust the depths of His love." - My Utmost for His Highest

Story of my life.

Monday, January 31, 2011

start

Good habits start now. That is what I am learning.

In the midst of the chaos of my life which includes nonstop go-go-go action from pretty much 7:30AM to 12:30 AM every day, I lose more and more time for Jesus.

This is heartbreaking in so many ways.

I swore I would never do this. I swore I would never forsake my first love.

And yet, I find myself continually doing it. I keep telling myself that once I get a break, I'll have a quiet time, or I'll read the Bible. But every time I get some free time, I find myself wasting it instead.

Enough is enough. I have learned that procrastination gets me nowhere. The things I say I'll do "when I get some free time," I rarely ever end up doing. To cultivate a good habit, I need to start now.

Life is busy, yes. Life is hard, yes. Life is stressful, yes. But it only gets busier, harder and more stressful from here. If I push God to the side now, He will stay there forever.

I need Him in my life. I miss Him.

I guess this is my confession and repentance.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

conundrum

There's someone who damaged me beyond what I thought was possible, and then there's someone who has brought so much healing to my life, I feel humbled and unworthy.

But for the life of me, I can't figure out why I've forgiven the damager or how to love the healer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

spit

Put dirt and spit into my eyes. Let me see through a mixture of broken humanity and eternal humility.

edit: I guess a lot of people don't know what I'm referencing here. If you're confused, read this.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

thankful

You know, I have it pretty good. But I still can't shake the lingering bitterness that casts a cynical tint on all my interactions. This is my fight, my demon to struggle with.

I think what I'm starting to realize is that when I get what I asked for, I find myself all alone. And when I have no one else to run to, when I have no one left to point fingers at, all I'm left with is...me.

The funny thing about being alone is that one can't escape oneself. People who spend time in solitude either drive themselves mad or they emerge enlightened (deceived?) by some sort of spiritual truth.

I think I am starting to hate myself for my weaknesses.

But these are all just extraneous details. I am thankful for somebody who cares enough to mourn what has been lost, when all I can feel is begrudged malice.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

bows

Can I just say that I'm obsessed with bows? If you can't tell from my wardrobe, I love things that are ruffled, neutral-colored, and have bows. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's my feminine side compensating for my "male aura" that I give off, according to my roommates.

Anyways, my latest obsession:
The fittingly named Bowtied-Beauty Boots from Anthropologie. $248
"Crafted of chestnut leather, ruched at the vamp and topped with three pert bows, this pair will undoubtedly woo you with a dose of feminine charm."

Devastatingly lovely and completely sold out! :( Such is the luck. But I love these enough that they might be worth my time to stalk on eBay. Oh, Anthropologie, I had forgotten how much I love you. Hopefully this doesn't spark a new Anthro binge.