Saturday, November 10, 2012

mornings

There is just something about mornings that make them irresistible to me. Most people don't understand it, but mornings just feel so fresh and exhilarating. There is so much I could do, so many people I could talk to, so many sights to see! They hold so much possibility.

Mornings are peaceful. Waking up for the sunrise every Saturday is probably the quietest time of day in the city. That's how I like the city best.

A few months ago, Pastor Bryan preached a sermon on Mark 5, where Jesus raises a dead girl by taking her hand and saying, "Talitha koum!" The NIV translates this saying into "Little girl, I say to you, get up!" But Pastor Bryan explained that this was a poor translation, as it doesn't take into consideration the cultural connotations. He painted the following picture: Jesus goes into the little girl's room where she is laid on her bed, takes her hand and sits on the edge of the bed and speaks gently to her what would be today's equivalent of "Sweetheart...sweetie, it's time to wake up."

 This image is so much more powerful to me. It just shows how tender Jesus' heart is for his children! And it may sound crazy, but when I'm awoken by the sun peeking through my window blinds, I feel that's God gently, tenderly, sweetly calling me His and awakening me. It's a powerful moment, and the same image I had of Jesus raising the girl from the dead has popped up in my head every morning this past week.

Lamentations 3:22 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!"

Saturday, October 27, 2012

sight

I don't see things the way most people do.

I experience life in a movie scene of flashbacks. When other people see street signs and landmarks, I see the time my roommate and I picked up ingredients for chocolate chip cookies at a 24-hr grocery store at 10PM and spent the night laughing about life with friends. I see memories made with people that are no longer here.

I experience through emotion, not vision. I remember how I felt all those late night drive homes. I remember the sense of freedom I felt when I first came here; that warm night at Grover Beach for a bonfire, with that feeling of anticipation and the knowledge that my life was about to start. I even remember how I felt the last couple of months in town, impatiently expectant for my life to start.

I miss those days, and I miss those people. I'm not sure if it's a comfort thing, but I miss waking up to the sunlight streaming through my window, hearing my roommates puttering around, deciding which of my favorite places to eat at around town and who I wanted to hang out with that day.

I miss the ease with which I lived in community and the joy I felt when I got to walk around downtown on a bright, sunshiney morning.

I'm not sure if it's a comfort thing, but every time I come back here, it feels like a grand homecoming.

Monday, September 10, 2012

discontentment

I have been re-reading a book that we studied in Bible Study a couple years back called "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23." I will preface this blog entry by saying that I think Psalm 23 is one of my absolute favorite chapters in the entire Bible. The imagery is so evocative and serene, but when combined with practical knowledge of raising sheep, it adds so much more depth and insight to the Father's heart.

"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want..."

The author talks about a sheep who was gorgeous-one of his prize sheep. But she constantly desired to escape his care and his pasture. She would find holes in the fence to escape, even though the author had the best pastures in the area, and escaping meant that she would be grazing on lower quality land. He likens her to the Christians who still flirt with earthly desires, even though they have the best care provided for them. They long to get to the other side of the fence, because they are not content with what they have. They have no peace.

Although I have come a long way in learning how to manage money, I think the Lord has so much more that He wants to train me in. It has been extremely humbling to realize I have been caught up in finding a job, caring too much about my potential salary or job status; basically, things of the world. I have been flirting with the notion that I need to be independent, so I can show everybody that I'm a success. That I've made it. That my $80,000 diploma was worth it.

But who really cares? I literally have all the riches of the world, because I have a place in God's kingdom. Surely that should be enough for me. He will provide for my needs, and if I really take the time to think about it, I'm reminded that I actually desire a simpler lifestyle.  The city has a way of distracting and warping God-given clarity sometimes.

Surely, I shall not be in want. I require nothing more than what Jesus has already provided for me. I think I need a heart change. I don't need a job; I need peace. I don't need money; I need joy and fulfillment.

Most of all, I need the daily reminder of God's great love and care for me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

ouch

My feelings. They hurt.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

nowhere

I feel like I don't belong here. Not just a physical, geographical place. But here, at this point in my life, surrounded with people around me.

I don't fit in. I think I take everything too seriously. Things that don't bother other people constantly overwhelm me. And when I bring it up, it's always because I've noticed the little things that have bothered me that others would just let go of, and so I am perceived as high maintenance or needy because other people are always "wronging" me.

Where can I go to get away with feeling like I'm a burden, nag, or an annoying little sibling? I hate it when people think I'm spoiled, but I also think I give them a lot of reason to think that.

I think it's really hard for me to find balance between independence and being overly needy.

But I think my biggest challenge is learning how to hold things loosely in my hand. I had a chat with a friend, and the recurring theme in his life right now is the posture with which he approaches his future. Heavily relying upon His promises and faithfulness with hope, but holding his life and his future loosely in his hand.

I think that's the place that I need to go. Constantly fearing for my future is exhausting.  Constantly fearing negative perception is exhausting.

I'm looking for a place of abundance.

Monday, August 6, 2012

faith

Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

This whole move has been an exercise in faith. By faith, I've moved to SF, expecting God to provide for my needs, both financially and spiritually. But how do I live in the meantime? In the limbo stages, where I've taken a step, but don't currently have any prospects in front of me? 

I'm learning how to actively live by faith, and I think it starts with my attitude. I may not know exactly why I'm here in SF, but I know it's because God has called me here for a purpose, and it is for my good. I need to change my attitude from fearful to expectant, reminding myself of all the amazing ways God has provided for me thus far.

Friday, June 29, 2012

transition

This blog is long overdue for an update. I've been meaning to sit down and write out my thoughts and life experience, but I simply haven't had the time to!

In short, my life has been incredible as of late. God has been working in huge, visible ways in my life, and I feel very encouraged and joyful with my relationship with Him.

The longer version is this (be prepared, I did warn you of the length): Throughout my transition from college to "adulthood" (whatever that means), I can honestly say I've never had to rely on God more to provide for my everyday necessities. I think because I've never given God so many opportunities to show His provision and sovereignty in my life, I've never seen God so active in my life before! It is truly amazing how much faith we lack! Here in America, by and large, we do not worry about being hungry or thirsty or where we're going to sleep at night. Attending college which my parents were footing the bill for, I never had to worry about paying rent on time, or paying for gas.

Being financially independent was a huge jolt into adulthood. I realized that come July, I would be over budget by $320. In August, I would have to start drawing from my savings to pay for my rent and living expenses each month. Worried, I prayed that the Lord would provide for me.

Backing up a little bit, when summer project support raising began, I had, as usual, saved each month over the past year to be able to give to missions. This year, I had saved about $500, a little more than last year. However, I still ended up writing out more checks than I had planned for. I realized that even though my budgeting for charitable giving was great, I never felt like I was truly trusting God with it until I was giving to the point where I was uncomfortable.

It's not just the act of giving. It's our posture.  

"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."
-Mark 12: 41-44 


This passage is so humbling for me. I am constantly reminded of my own pride when I plan out my spending so meticulously, including my tithe, without realizing that my heart is much more of a Pharisee than of a woman willing to give everything for the sake of the Lord. I want a faith like that.


I ended up giving a few hundred more than I had originally intended. Hence, my $320 deficit for July. So I prayed that the Lord would provide for me. I started looking on Craigslist and Mustang Jobs to see if there were any local jobs I could take on for the month of July, as I would be moving up to SF at the end of the July. Unfortunately, pretty much all the jobs were looking for people who were in SLO through the whole summer, until September.  But the very next day, my senior project adviser called me in to talk about my senior project. I was not happy, because I just knew he was going to give me more work to do with revisions, and expected him to say I needed to do more work before he could give me an A. Instead, he told me that it was a great paper, I had gotten my A, and he wanted to hire me to be his TA for a personal finance class he's offering this summer. To make it even more perfect, he only needed me for the first half of the class-which happened to be through the month of July. Wow.

On another occasion, a couple days later, I needed to pay my rent for the month of July. I'm subletting from a friend, and she gave me a great deal by letting me stay for $200. Of course, money is still really tight, but the professor that I dogsit for was going out of town for a week and needed me to dogsit for her. We don't have an established rate; so I prayed that she would pay me enough to pay for my July rent. She ended up giving me all that I needed plus some extra! And she didn't even know that I needed it!

Yet again, there was a separate incident where the Lord materially provided for me. As many of you know, moving costs a fair amount of money. So I've been trying to save up some money to offset those costs by squirreling away graduation money, etc. One of the main expenses I've been planning for is the cost of buying a new bed. You see, beds are absurdly expensive! For a cheap twin-size bed frame and mattress, it costs about $600-$700. For a cheap bed! So far, I had been doing really well with planning out my savings so I could afford to purchase a bed. Then I got an invitation to my friends' wedding. It would be in San Diego, which means the costs of transportation, food, a gift, etc would probably be about $200 for the whole event. Not wanting to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime event, I decided to suck up my frugality for one weekend and go for it. However, a verse that I had read recently came to my mind:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6



Though I made a conscious decision to be there for my friends' wedding, the financial planner in me still had to deal with the fact that $200 would significantly take a bite out of my savings for my big move. So even though it seemed a little silly to pray for this, I prayed that God would provide a means for transportation to and from the wedding so that I wouldn't have to pay a dime. My mom called me a couple weeks later, and let me know that they had left a twin-size frame in the apartment for me. This meant a savings of about $300 for me! :)


Now fast forward to this week. On Monday, Karla was moving out of the house and back down to SD. We grabbed some dinner and she told me that she was really nervous to drive home, because her car was so full, she couldn't see out the back window. She said, "I just really wish I could leave my (twin size, memory foam) mattress here! That's what's taking up so much room in my car!" My eyes widened, and I pretty much said something like this, "Ummm, oh my gosh, can I have it?! We might be an answer to each others' prayers!!!!" I ended up saving another $300 by taking her mattress, thus making the wedding completely affordable, and she was so relieved to be able to see out the back of her car again, and made it home safely the next day. 


Once again, God provided for me in a creative, unimaginable, tangible way. I have been in complete awe at how small my faith is, and how I've always put God in a box. God is so, so much bigger and better to fit into a box of my creation. 


At the end of the day, I find myself marveling at the mystery of the cross, that I would find myself given a status as special and as intimate as His daughter. Wow. Just wow.


Disclaimer: God is not a genie, and just because His answers my prayers lately have been "yes," it doesn't mean that I pray to get what I want. Although I know that the Lord enjoys giving gifts to His children, I'm convinced that these blessings are just exercises in faith. If I can trust the Lord to provide me with the smaller things, how much more can I trust Him with the big things in my life?

Friday, May 25, 2012

offended

"And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”  In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” - Luke 7:20-23
 
I love this passage. At this point in Christ's ministry, people are still not sure what to think about Jesus. They see Him doing miracles, but they don't know if He is really the Messiah they've been waiting for or not. When John the Baptist sends his disciples to find out, Jesus responds with testimony to what He's done and what He's preached.

And the last line convicts me. "Blessed is the one who is not offended by me." In a society where it is culturally acceptable for the rich to be corrupt, the religious to be self-righteous and separate from people of poor economic means or physical illnesses (does this society sound familiar to anyone?), Jesus comes and preaches a message of hope and safety, or of radical change and uncomfortable accusations, depending on where you stand on the social ladder.

Let's not mistake socioeconomic status or physical health for indicators of our hearts. But it's such a convicting reminder that how we respond to messages in church or from the Word indicates our attitudes in our relationships with God. If I'm feeling offended, it's because the Holy Spirit has called me out on my apathy, or my foolishness, or my pride. If I am humbled and in desperate thirst for my Jesus, His message comes like thunder in the desert, tasting sweeter than honey.

Even though Christ's identity was at the center of this passage, I think it has way more to do with our identity in Christ than anything else.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Jeremiah 17:7-10

I just love this passage I came across while reading Jeremiah last week.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

recover

After an extremely emotionally charged weekend, I spent all day today just recovering.

I think that I feel really sad for myself. It's like I'm viewing myself as another person and I'm empathizing with myself...is this what they call self-pity? Ha. But I think I feel really sad at the thought of me believing that my current state of mind is how I would define "good" and "healthy," when really, I am anything but. I am so, so broken. And it makes me sad to think about the treatment I've received from people that have led me to the place I'm in. I'm sad that people would treat me so carelessly. I am sad because I think I know that in the depths of me, I know that I was created to experience relationships so much more fulfilling than this. I'm sad thinking about the degraded love I've become accustomed to and eventually accepted as normal. I think there is just so much more fullness and richness that the Lord desires to show me, and it's sad that I almost don't believe in it.

I'm also sad that, somewhere along the past 21 years, I think I've started believing that my worth is correlated to how people treat me. I'm sad that I don't ever feel like I'm safe to be me without the fear of rejection.

This is an ongoing process for me. I can't wait until I see God's redemption.

Ps 80:3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Ps 27:13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

open

Lately, I feel like my eyes have been opening to the reality of my brokenness. Sometimes we just get so good at pretending we're fine, that we start denying that there's something wrong in us. We get used to our lies.

I count it as a blessing that God has been tenderly bringing certain issues to the surface of my awareness. I truly believe God desires to show these shortcomings of mine in order for me to grow in my understanding of Him and His nature, as well as for me to grow as a better lover of people.

But for now, I just feel incredibly humbled, sometimes foolish, a little ashamed, and kind of frustrated with myself.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

groups

The older I get, the more I realize that I dislike being in big groups. I think it's because I never feel like my voice is heard. I feel like I start shrinking.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

classic


I will never, ever, ever grow tired of this movie. Yes, I realize how stereotypically girly this chick flick is, but I just love it!! I wish Hollywood had more wholesome love stories, without any scandalous sex scenes or anything. Letters to Juliet is just so perfectly, intoxicatingly romantic. The lighting is beautiful and bright, set in picturesque Italy. It's one of those movies that I just want to be real life, haha.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

WA

Tonight was simultaneously wonderful and really, really hard. The men put on a wonderful Womens Appreciation, but it was also the first time that the concept of leaving this amazing town with these amazing people who I've lived, loved and experienced life with for the past 4 years became real to me. And it was really hard. :(

It is absolutely humbling to hear from the men how our interactions have changed them and helped them grow and mature into better men. I think it's hard to realize that our actions actually have significance when we're caught up in day by day activities.

Man, I've been meaning to blog for so long; I have so much I want to process through.

1. Lately, I've been realizing how my desire for real, mature love drives a lot of my interactions. I think because I had a lack of it in the formative years of my life, it's something that I even struggle to believe exists, let alone exists for me to experience. I think the model of love based on my parents' marriage differs greatly from the love Christ talked about when referencing the Church as his bride. I think that I really struggle to believe that that kind of love is real; that kind of love could be real for me. No, I'm not talking about wanting a boyfriend. I mean I doubt the existence of a love that so closely resembles God's perfect love to exist within an earthly relationship. The idea of a love based on mutual respect and submission is foreign to me, to be honest. And that makes me sad. I hope and pray that one day I could encounter that type of life-changing, self-sacrificial love.

2. I think I've been maturing in the way I ask for love from others. I'm learning to ask for what I need. And, I've also been realizing that if the other person does not love me in the way that I've articulated my need, it does not reflect on my worthiness of being loved. However, I'm glad that I'm more okay with being needy, because I'm able to understand it within the context of a Biblical community instead of just attributing it to my selfish cravings for attention.

3. I have not been experiencing words of affirmation lately, and I think that's another reason why tonight was so wonderful. Even though there were no specifics, I still felt loved by the general encouragement and support. I think I need to start asking for it more.

4. I struggle with letting go of my own notions of success when considering my future. Also, I think the future has been inhibiting my ability to enjoy my last few months in SLO. I hate that my normal life consists of stress. I have begun to really hate school, and I feel really trapped. I'm praying that God would give me the strength to endure the last few months, as well as to give me a passion for my major again. I think God has a lot to grow in me within this area of my life.

Change is hard. Life is hard and unpredictable. But I'm so, so grateful that the Lord's love is steadfast and immutable.

Ps 94:18 "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' Your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

realization

My good friend from back home was randomly in town last night, and it was awesome to catch up with him. Except I felt oddly stumped when trying to recount any major life experiences from the past month or two.

I realized that I have so many responsibilities and obligations, I don't have time to really live. Everything I do is either because I have to or scheduled around what I have to do or where I have to be at.

I don't want my life to be like this! Feel like I'm drowning...

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. -Psalm 61:2

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

admission

I must admit that lately, I have just been feeling so...unsatisfied.

I work all day and then I do homework. Or I go to class all day and work during my breaks.

I'm tired of feeling perpetually broke when I look at my accounts. I want to reach my goals faster. I want to have time to enjoy the money I make with people I love.

For the most part, I am perfectly content to do the "responsible" and "mature" thing. But sometimes I just want to be normal, and I want to be okay with doing the irresponsible thing sometimes.

Too bad I was never very good at being an irresponsible youth.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

older

If there is one thing I can say about the aging process, it's that it's incredibly humbling. Starting to realize that the world is very big and I am very small. Jesus, direct my steps and pour out Your favor on me.