Thursday, January 31, 2013

confidence in His love.

the cute and spunky girl who hands me my newspaper on my way to work calls me "boo boo" or "babycakes." as trivial and silly as it sounds, these terms of endearment brighten my mornings and make me smile. multiple times throughout any given day, my parents- especially my dad, tell me how strong, wonderful and beautiful i am to the point where it would be odd if a day went by without them verbalizing how much they love and adore me. i didn't notice until just recently the extent of how much i'm affected by words of affirmation. (it's one of my top 2 love languages- maybe this is a sign of deep rooted insecurities, or just human nature, but i feel validated and like i'm on top of the world when someone is consistently paying attention to me, offering up sporadic compliments or genuinely asks how i'm doing. i think my downfall comes when i come to rely on the exhortation from people more than Jesus. in short, i'm a sucker for sweet talk.
in my small group last sunday, we were discussing our calling and purpose in life. regardless of where we are in our walks with God, it's what everyone is inadvertently or very attentively searching and yearning for- the meaning of life and where i fit in. when that big question mark is answered, it liberates and launches us like nothing else has the power to do. so as i was spending some quiet time w/ the Lord on monday night, i got to thinking about my purpose and direction. my head was filled with so many questions and requests- God, am i on the right track? can you please give me some sort of confirmation? should i move? what's the next step? ugh. it was all pretty overwhelming, not to mention, confusing.
then something kinda spectacular happened that i still haven't been able to fully grasp. i got this massive revelation that the primary purpose of my life is simply to love and worship God. my main calling is to fall madly in love with Jesus and be transformed into His image from glory to glory. whoa. it's still blowing my mind and resonating in my heart as i'm typing this out. my unadulterated and uncomplicated identity is to be a worshiper and lover- beyond what i can do for Him, as if He really needs my help anyways. as conceited or self-centered as it sounds, i realized no one else sings to Him the way i do. no one shares the same inside jokes or intimate conversations that are just between us. so am i carrying out today what i was eternally made for, or am i still waiting for a sign?
what's even more amazing is that we are only able to respond to Him with love b/c He loved and chose us first.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 
these are not just empty, fluffy words. one of the greatest struggles that i'm facing right now is that the most profound and shattering truths are watered down with familiarity. instead of such revelations unfolding and impacting my life with time, it just becomes as inconsequential as the newspaper girl calling me babycakes. what if i truly believed that i was created for extravagant love with a perfect and almighty God? how differently would i live each day if i knew deep in my soul that Jesus is enthralled by a single glance in my direction? would that be enough to validate me or will i keep searching for more? i wonder what would happen if all the other voices were silenced and there was no one around to affirm me. one thing's for sure, i'd be desperate and would do anything to hear God's voice. it feels like i'm in that place...& it's really, really hard.
i believe what makes me a good daughter is the fact that i'm fully convinced of my parents' commitment and love for me and i'm able to live in that reality. in many ways, their love justifies me and gives me confidence to boldly love them back w/o fear or worry that they will disappoint. i have zero doubts that they would do absolutely everything within their means and ability to make me happy and provide for all my desires.
i need this sort of confidence in Jesus's love.
i remember when i literally used to blush when i would think about God's love for me. it was overwhelming and too good to be true...and i believed it.
take me to that place again.

let love win

Monday, January 28, 2013


i confess i can be such a brat sometimes, maybe more often than i'd like to admit. last week i caught myself talking back to my mom, retorting with some know-it-all comment, immediately regretting that i don't follow her lead by speaking more lovingly to her. i don't recall what i quipped back in passing or even what the context was, but i do remember feeling like an absolute jerk b/c the only things that ever come out of my mom's mouth are full of grace, love and wisdom. to make me feel even worse, although this obviously was not her intention, i came home a couple nights later to discover that she bought me a new coat, just because- icing on my undeserved delicious cake. whether it's due to my birth order or b/c i was a spoiled kid, or maybe the serpent and eve from the garden are to blame, but i have such a rebellious spirit. whenever anyone in authority asks me to anything or tells me what i should do, my response is automatically "no" or "maybe later." goodness, it's like reflex. the stranger thing is, i usually always end up doing it. i'm like the first son in Matthew 21-

 28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

in my defense, albeit not a very good one, i'm almost always eventually obedient. in the meantime i'm reckless, i make lots of mistakes, i learn lessons the hard way and i'm stubborn. the first two weeks of the new year were largely spent in bed, unable to do anything productive b/c of the flu. i did, however, reflect a ton on what expectations and desires i have for 2013. i'm deeply grateful for the experiences in my life that brought me to exactly where i am now, but i believe a lot of the pain and heartache could have been avoided and lessened had i been compliant and agreeable from the start. oh, my wandering heart, please be tame. this is no time to mess around. there is too much at stake and more of Jesus i need to behold. i have one more week until i enter the big 3-0 and i'm actually really looking forward to shaking off all the dirt from my twenties to pursue hard after God with more clarity, passion and obedience. first let's fall in love. then we'll change the world. first things first. 

I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said,
    “I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
    you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
    I was dismayed.
To you, Lord, I called;
    to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
    Lord, be my help.
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 30

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

YOLO...for eternity

i know it's way overused & kinda annoying and drake wants royalties from it, but i love the acronym YOLO- you only live once. it motivates me to be more daring, run & work out more, check off adventures on my bucket list, and forgive quickly & love deeply. it reminds me that life is indeed so short and we have to take advantage of each day and opportunity b/c we never know when it will be our last. while we're young and healthy, we all believe we're invincible and nothing can hold us down. nothing can touch us. we rarely stop to realize that we don't have an unlimited number of chances to make the right choices or take risks for the things we have faith in and are passionate about.

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure. Psalm 39: 4-5

being that i'm risk adverse and a creature of habit, i feel safe and secure with routine and familiarity. i do not respond well to change unless i'm in control of it and it's meticulously plotted out. i kinda hate this about me. although i talk a lot and always encourage others to dream big and have a vision and purpose that is beyond our wildest imaginations, i confess i'm easily pleased with so little. i get comfortable and complacent and i'm way too willing to just settle. not to give him too much credit, but i think one of the enemy's most tragic schemes is to keep us from greatness & glory by punking us to be satisfied with just enough- to the point where we don't even have an appetite for more.
last week i was chatting with a friend about how our days were going and i said something to her along the lines of, "i'm really busy today but i'm so glad b/c the day is going by so fast." oh gosh i can't believe i said that. before you know it, a lifetime will pass us by with the busyness of our elaborate schedules filled with brunches, meetings, and dates made in vain. idleness will leave its ugly consequences if passion doesn't shake and overwhelm us.
for the past several years i've been pondering eternity. the natural progression of my thoughts always leads me to examine my life- what excites and consumes my heart, what i'm investing my time in, and what compromises i am making. pretty heavy stuff. i've concluded that what i'm living for, or not living for, impacts more than just me and those i surround myself with right now. whether i like it or not, my daily actions have implications for my future generations and furthermore, my eternal outcome. ok talk about conviction.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19: 21

this is either humorous, pathetic or extremely liberating and reassuring (depending on one's perspective, i guess) but nothing ever seems to go my way. (stop planning, jini). naturally i get disappointed at first but given enough time and hindsight to understand, i'm utterly relieved to rediscover that i don't hold the master plan. not even close. yeah, i make choices b/c i'm not a robot and my decisions will lead me to journey down one path or detour through another. but my ultimate destiny, the awesome and glorious calling and purpose that the Lord has on my life, is not under my control and i can't run away from it.
i'm reading through genesis and i'm discouraged by so many things- generational curses, the perpetuation of sin throughout history, the innate evil in humans, the harshness of God's wrath. but more than all of those, i love the redemption, the fulfillment of promises- however delayed or prolonged, and God's furious commitment to us that takes us out of darkness into eternity with Him. forever. and ever.

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

the last time i felt this stirring in my heart and hunger for more, i ended up in hawaii and israel for 6 months. i wonder where my desires will take me this time ;)

Friday, January 11, 2013

for better or worse.

i've been known to voluntarily & happily sit through and intently watch multiple football games back to back of teams i don't even know. college, nfl and once in a blue moon, even high school football- if it's on tv, i'll most likely watch it. this being the case, and as obnoxious and outspoken i am about my love for the jets, it's kinda strange that i can't remember the last time i watched an entire jets game, staying tuned in long enough to see the final score (as abysmal as it has been). these past couple seasons, my love/hate relationship with the jets has veered toward the latter and turned sour. while i watched them play, i think i legitimately got palpitations, headaches and  high blood pressure from the stress. lesson learned. nowadays, as soon as i sense them losing with a zero to slim chance of a comeback, i immediately change the channel and try to forget that it's happening. yeah, in my heart of course i'm still a fan and wish for a dream franchise qb and for us to be newsworthy on espn for more than just rex's rumored real or fake tattoos. i can't imagine jumping on the bandwagon of another team just b/c sanchez/tebow/rex disappointed this season. 
my most familiar solution for when things go wrong is to just quit, shake off the loss, and start over. i mean it's harmless when this is my remedy for trivial things like sports or sudoku. but if i'm accustomed to running away from hardships concerning matters so closely knit to my heart (relationships, calling, desires), i should know i'm bound to have to face the harsh reality sooner or later. when all we wanna do is give up and forget asap, it's God's grace that gives us the strength to actually stay & rough it out. 
as i digress to something very mildly related, i've always raised my glass to "true love" every chance i got together with my girls. while it sounds wonderfully delightful, i don't think i've ever really thought about what i meant when i used the term "true love." more than just toasts and well wishes, i've also prayed to be a woman who exemplifies Christ's love and that i would love the way Jesus does. i had no idea what i was getting myself into when i prayed that, but in true form, of course, God had grander purposes in answering my request. while i prepared myself for butterflies and exhilaration, i instead got lots of pain. for 2 years i just hurt all over. i rarely stopped to recognize that those experiences might be molding my heart to love deeper and greater than i ever could on my own initiative. like each time i didn't lash out and say nasty things in the heat of the moment, the culmination of those intentional choices were making me more like Christ.  i don't want to brag and claim that i'm like this perfectly loving & kind person now, but if i'm going to boast in anything i want it to be in my confidence that He's making Himself known to me so i can be more like Him. if only we knew and believed that God is truly plotting for our good even in the midst of all the bad, it would save us a lot of heartache and tears. what greater reward or redemption is there for our suffering than to behold more of Jesus? He's the ultimate prize.  
i'm so thankful. there is fullness of joy in my life and peace in my soul that had been missing for a long time. "true love" is dying to yourself, loving selflessly and serving others, even your enemies- not quite the image i had in mind during all the "cheers!" with my wineglass. but i don't regret a thing and i wouldn't have it any other way. as He's expanding my heart, He's increasing my capacity to receive even more of His love. as cheesy as it sounds, it's better than the jets miraculously winning the superbowl. speaking of which, i won't give up on them. #ganggreen. through thick and thin.

This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
    or the strong boast of their strength
    or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 9:23-25

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


“God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything he knows” 
― Timothy Keller

there have been countless times when i prayed very faithfully for certain situations and circumstances that never panned out the way i had wishfully anticipated. in retrospect, i usually just chalked it up to not being in God's will or bad timing. plus, i'm typically pretty good about getting over disappointment quickly and moving on so it's always worked in my favor, i suppose. for me it's far and few between that i will pray so specifically for something that is completely out of my control, stocked full of minor details and even exact dialogue. but like i mentioned in my post "praying your tears" there was a request i just couldn't shake off. after about a year of wrestling with the Lord, and right before the new year, He answered precisely everything i asked for. i was always afraid to tell anyone else the extent of my prayers or admit how much hearing just a few simple words would liberate and heal me because i never wanted to give someone else that much power over me. in my mind, i wished for an outcome that seemed impossible. even still, His desire was to be faithful down to the exact timeline and setting that i wanted. within just a few moments i let go of all the offenses and years of hurt and anger making room for so much peace and restoration. it wasn't even hard, to be totally honest. it just happened so effortlessly. this was worth the risk and waiting patiently for & i'm so glad i didn't forcefully attempt to vindicate myself based on my own limited strength. even now, i feel almost selfish and embarrassed to realize i got everything i prayed so long for and i can't stop telling God, "thank You. so much." words fall so short but they have the power to make a world of difference. i guess this was His intention all along- to bring more redemption and freedom than i dared to hope for, even when i was willing to settle for much less. You really are amazing grace. You must have glorious plans for me this year ;)
i am so humbled and so thankful. thank You, once again.

2013 is gonna be wild. it's gonna be great. it's gonna be full of You.