I Won't Give Up

For those who have been walking with me personally for the past year know…
I have been in one crazy season.
It has been crazy and nothing like I have ever experienced before in my faith journey with God.
But I believe it has been the most authentic and transformative season.

There were many times I’ve questioned God.
Many times I’ve cried to God in anger.
Felt defeated, frustrated.

There were many times I wanted to give up.
Many times I wanted to be like “eff it. I’m over it. I give up.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose.” 

So, whatever. I will do what I want. You going to use it for your good anyways right?

But every time things got hard, I felt something anchoring me.
To the point where I get pissed at the anchoring.
A heavy weight that is undeniable. When I was really consider crossing over that line
and doing it my own way, my own time, I would always hear:

“Don’t do it. You know what God said.”

“ You will regret it. Do not forfeit what God has appointed and called for in your life.”

And I am beyond thankful for my close friends who could say the same thing and provide the divine accountability that would keep me in the will of God. 

But this pressure from people, my own fears and insecurities, the reality of life,
is too damn real and too hard.
If this pressure, this journey, was something created from my own desires and will,
then take it God. I don’t want it.

…. Wait a  minute… I think I heard someone say that before or something similar.

41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. Luke 22:41-42.

Jesus knew the pain he would have to endure. He knew the mockery,
the humiliation he would have to endure.
He knew he would have to die and bear the sins of the world, be separated from the Father. 
For the first time, he would experience rejection and the wrath of God.

I am not surprised Jesus said what he said. This is not worth it.
The only thing that makes all that worth it… is if it is your will. If it is for your glory.  

As I come back into the presence of God once again, possibly for the thousandth time.
I was convicted once again. I decided I can’t give up yet. I won’t give up.

Not only because I don’t want to forfeit what God has appointed for me in my life
and I want to see his promises come to pass
But for his people. That maybe through me, 

That people can come to experience the perfect love of God and come to know Christ. 
That people may come to encounter the promises and miracles of God in their present life.
That people may have the faith to believe in the word of God as truth. 

That they ultimately encounter the living God and know that He is God. 

He is real and alive. 

So if that means my faith has to be challenged, so be it.
If that means my pride has to be destroyed, so be it.
If that means I will be exposed and vulnerable to people, so be it.
If that means I am standing alone in this season, so be it. 

Whatever the cost is, if it is your will. If it is the bigger picture for your kingdom and people. 

Then I will wait on God. I will wait and obey. 

Not Qualified

I was that person.

You know, the person who sits in the congregation and judges pastors.

When a new preacher comes or I go to a new church, I think,

“okay let’s see what this person is going to teach me.”

And when someone asks me how service was, I answer, “it was okay.”

“what do you mean okay?”

“you know, the sermon was okay. It seemed a bit all over the place,
transitions were not that solid, didn’t really feel like it connected with me.
I’m not going to go to that church. The pastor was alright.”

Then I became a pastor. I was now the one standing in front of everyone.

It was that feeling…when  sports fans watch a game and criticize
how this player should have done this and that.
How the coach should have made a certain call. 
But it’s one thing to watch the game but another to actually play on the field. 

I know that feeling… praying and wrestling on a passage with God the entire week.  

I know that feeling as Sunday draws near, you feel more and more less qualified
and not sure if this sermon is good enough.

I know that feeling right before you are about to preach or do an event,
you pray to God because at this point, there is nothing more you can do.
You did all that you could.

I know that feeling when you hear the whispers and judgment even after all that work and prayer.

I know that feeling.

Pastors are not perfect.
Some are great communicators but not relational.
Some are extremely relational but not structured and all over the place.
Some seem like they got a little bit of everything but something is still missing.
Some seem… like there are no words.

I have been in church long enough, been in ministry for some time,
to have seen the shortcomings of my pastors in different seasons.
I’ve disagreed, doubted, and judged my pastors around me.

But  I have also seen my pastors in their alone place.

I saw our leader praying alone, seeking God before he gave his sermon.
Seeking His wisdom and Spirit with the weight of an entire ministry on his shoulder.

I saw our college pastor persevere and serve his students wholeheartedly
even when you can tell he is dead tired.

I saw our youth pastors be the life of their ministry… laughing and smiling…
even when I know deep in their hearts, they are desperately clinging on to hope.

I saw our children pastors give their 110%
even when they question, “is anything I am doing or saying getting through.”

Someone asked me once, “what makes a good pastor?”
My answer is someone who genuinely fears the Lord.

Humbled enough to submit before God and understand that they are not qualified but called.
Someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit and seeks the face of God daily.

Sure, does your pastor’s sermons suck? Maybe
Are they even seeking God or being led by Him? Could be questioned
Are they not qualified for that position of leadership? Possibly 

But I wonder… did God put someone like him, like her, in that position to teach you humility?

To teach you to love your enemies.
To teach you to have the audacity to honor the leadership placed before you.
That the pastor was never meant to replace the original teacher and be the source of your growth
but instead, be the vessel that simply points you back to God.

Maybe not for you, but for me, yes to all the above. Every time.

If your leadership is below par, then God will take care of it.
Trust me, he was aware when he brought them into that position.
He was aware of what kind of person they were, what kind of leader they would turn out to be.

He knew Saul would disobey,
David would commit adultery&murder,
Moses stuttered, and that Gideon was a coward.

You know, maybe it is never really about the vessel but the God who can do all things.
The One who uses the least qualified, the lesser of these, to  show the world that He is God. 

When I see a pastor’s achievements and glory, I am reminded of the divine power and presence of God.
When I see a pastor’s shortcomings and failures, I am reminded of the grace  and love of God.

So next time you see your pastor, may your heart be filled with compassion.

And maybe,  it will lead you to say a kind word of encouragement.

Because it helps a lot 🙂

THE FATHER’S SACRIFICE

August 31, 2019 

That day marked the last day of my parents working at the Boys and Girls Club in Ballad as the night janitors.

30 years ago, my father picked up this side job along with his full time job, in hopes of making a little more money for his family.

No matter how tired they were from their day job,
no matter how much their bodies were deteriorating,

If it meant sending their kids through college
Buying them whatever they wanted
Putting a roof over their head, food on the table,
and getting them the latest gadgets

It was all worth it.

So when my father called me, saying it is finally done.
30 years of working two jobs was over.

I broke down into tears when he asked me, “I did a good job right? I was a good father, I did everything I could.”
Because he is the best father any child could have asked for.

The immigrant life is not easy. My father dreamed of becoming a successful lawyer and my mom was an established accountant.
But the two decided to sacrifice all that.
With the hopes and dreams that they could give their kids the life they never could have.

My father couldn’t go to school in the US because no one would support him financially.
His dream was shattered and now he was in a foreign country with a wife to care for.

My father told us growing up that he was working this hard so that money will never be the reason
why we couldn’t accomplish our dreams and goals.

And so,

Daniel and I had every Gameboy, the latest computer and cellphone.

We lived in a million dollar house so that Daniel and I could have sleepovers and show off to our friends.

My first car I drove was my mother’s Lexus.

Daniel came out of Cornell without any loans and is now pursuing to be a doctor.

And I am living my life to the fullest without fear and such great joy.

Daniel and I swore that we would make our parents proud in our own way.
So that their sacrifice would not be in vain.
We would make them proud in all that we do.

You never know how long a person has on this earth, so every day is precious.
So I told my dad, we are going to on many vacations.
We are going to see the world. Eat like kings and try new things.

Thank you for your sacrifice. I will never be able to pay you back. 

So, I will live my life to bring you happiness and honor.

Thank you for the sacrifice Jesus.
Thank you for your sacrifice Dad.
Sincerely, your precious daughter.

The Voice Within

Everyone has a voice.

God intended us to use our voice to produce life and to be life.
There is great power and authority in our words.

So, how old were you when your voice was taken away? Damaged? Told it was insignificant?

Me? I was in elementary school.

Because of my life circumstances and the people around me,
I learned to just keep my opinions, thoughts, feelings, ideas, and words to myself.
That is why I started to express myself through writing. 
And with that, I took my voice, put in a box, and kept it locked away.

As I got older, there would be situations and people that would cause me to go back to that little girl state:

Where I feel paralyzed, anxious, and have no words to say.
There would be a disconnect between my voice and my heart because I would be unbearably overwhelmed with anxiety. 

But God is so good.

In this season, he pointed at that box and said, “It is time that comes out.”
Because the truth is, that was never meant to be in a box.
Damaged, broken, even dead? Humans and the enemy can do that to your voice.
But God says, “I can heal that. I can fix it. I can bring it back to life.”
Not almost as new, but as new and more.

So, with the help of therapy and the Spirit of God,
God has made me realized that
I am not a child anymore. I am an adult, a woman of God.
Not a helpless child who can’t make sense of her situation or not respond properly.

But a woman of God who is empowered by the Spirit of the Almighty God.
A person of God who is greatly loved. A woman who is wonderfully, fearfully made.

I don’t deny, ignore, or belittle my past.
But who I am is not defined by my past, but by the God who created me.
Because He looks at me with a smile and says, ” If I am for you, who can be against you?”

“haha no one God. No one can be against you.”

So, God has been providing opportunities for me to “exercise this muscle”
And one conversation after another, one confrontation after another
Every time I feel my anxiety rising, I turn to him for some help and guidance.
He gives me the strength to get back up every time.

So now, every time I hear myself say, “it’s not a big deal. Don’t speak up.”
I also hear, “Your voice is a big deal. Trust me and stand up my child.”

And with that,

I began to hear my voice once again.

The Role of a Child

What is the role of a child? 

I had my therapist ask me this question when I was sharing with him my childhood.

 I grew up thinking that my role in my family was to protect and save them.

Growing up, I even had leaders tell me that I was given certain gifts and was placed in this family because God was going to use me to save them.

Then he asked me, “So let’s say one of your students came up to you, a 9 year old, and revealed that she was in a similar circumstance/situation and proclaimed, ‘ this is my role pastor, to save and protect my family.’ What would you say to her?”

And then my mind went blank…

Because I imagined I was looking at my younger self.
A child, trying to make sense of the situation.
Trying to make sense of her parents’ dysfunction
the brokenness of this world. 

“No… I would tell her that is that is not her role.”

A child’s role is not to be the provider.
A child’s role is not to be the teacher.
A child’s role is not to be the protector.
A child’s role is not to be the savior.
A child’s role is not to be the emotional support/marriage counselor.

So what is the role of a child?

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Due to life circumstances and my parents’ hardships and brokenness,
I was trained to think I was the provider. I was the teacher, the protector, and the savior of this household. The only thing I couldn’t do was bring in money. But everything else, I could do. I had to do.

I realize now that this understanding grew into an adult who constantly asks what she could do. A person with this need to feel needed and to be the constant support. That in all things and anything,
there is ALWAYS something I can do.

But as I wrestled with this question, wrestle with this idea… God revealed his truth:

I took on roles that were never mine to fill:

I was never meant to be the head of the household.
I was never meant to be the protector of my family.
I was never meant to the emotional support for my parents.
I was never meant to be the wife for my father or the husband for my mother.
I was never meant to be the mother for my brother.
And ultimately, I was never meant to be the replacement of God on earth.

One of the main roles described in Scripture is “Father and Child”
He is our Father and we are his children.

Doesn’t matter how old you are, doesn’t matter how mature and how “adult” you are, God calls you His child even at the age of 100.

Some of us think we can outgrow our parents and some of us take on the responsibility to care for our parents. As our parents get older, the roles seem to flip.

But do we outgrow God? Now that we are adults, does our roles flip with God as well?

Since we know more than before
We are more wiser and confident.
We’ve lived this life a little longer.
We know what is best.

But I always seem to forget the obvious truth about God:

He is GOD.
Not a human. GOD.
Not some elderly Spirit. GOD.
A divine, supernatural Spirit we can’t figure out or understand.
A divine, supernatural Person who adopts us, calls us his own, hold us with great love

Because we are his Child.

So let me ask you once again, what is the role of a child?

In this season, God has been redefining and restoring these roles for me.
As I come to recognize, now as an adult, the sovereignty of God;
what it means to be a CHILD of God and He is my FATHER.

Scripture says:

  • He will lead you, guide you
  • He will teach you
  • He will discipline you
  • He will help you. 
  • He will provide all your needs
  • He will protect you and give you rest.
  • He will rescue you, save you.
  • He has plans that will prosper you and not harm you.
  • He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

Why? Because that is what the Father does. This is who He is: A Good, Good Father. It is who He is.

And I am a child of God.

ALL OF ME

I’ve been attending church my whole life.
I’ve been believing in faith since I was a kid
I have surrendered my life multiple times.
I have lifted my hands in worship.
I have told God repeatedly,

“My life is yours.”

2019 was going to be a year to remember. And it was.
I knew it is going to be pivotal before it came.
That when I share my testimony, I will mention 2018/2019.

Because it was the time,
where I literally laid everything on the cross.
Took a step back and said,`

“God… I give you everything. I give you all of me. I give you my heart.”

I’ve “laid everything before the cross” before too.
But this time was different than the other times.

Because what you don’t know is towards the end of 2018, I had everything.
The dream job I’ve always wanted.
The career title I’ve dreamed of.
The relationship I desired.
The comfort and security of people.

I had everything I’ve ever prayed for.
All the blessings I dreamed of when I was a kid.

But God interrupted all of that and asked me, ” Can I have your heart?”

“God, What are you talking about? You have my heart.”

And then he pointed at all those things I have just listed and asked,
“then can I have all those things back?”

Here’s the thing about God.
He doesn’t want your things. He doesn’t need them.

He wants your heart. He wants all of YOU.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

I was exposed. He saw where my treasure was,
thus where my heart really was.

I didn’t understand. I cried many nights, begging that if it is because of something I did wrong to please forgive me. But don’t take these things away God.

I know what many leaders and people would have said to someone in this moment,

“God has something better for you. 
“What God has planned for you is better than what you can imagine.”
” You hold on to something so small when God wants to give you the world.”
“Just have faith and trust God.”

We say that so easily. Until God asks YOU
to sacrifice the deepest treasures of your heart.

Because true worship requires sacrifice.

That dream
Your children
Your career
Your family
Your marriage
Your finance
Your desires
Your pride
Your reputation
Your security
Your comfort
Your time
Your service
Your addiction

And once again, you might ask yourself,

” Is this worth the sacrifice?”

Because after I surrendered all those things to God,
I wondered what do I have left then…

  1. Me… as I am.
  2. Jesus Christ.

I went from a list of 10+, now down to 2.

Then I wonder… what if the secret that Paul finally understood in Philippians 4:11-13, the secret of being CONTENT was…

Being content IN GOD.

That Christ is sufficient and his promises are more than enough.

I guess you will never really know if Christ is sufficient,
more than enough…

Until He is all that you have.

MORE THAN THIS

MORE THAN THIS

Have you ever wondered 

If there was more to life than this?
You may be asking what is “this”. 
“This” is your life right now at this very moment.

I started to ask myself this after I got ordained.
And I couldn’t seem to shake it off. Still can’t.

So one day, I stopped and prayed,
“is this it? Is this all that God had planned and desired for my life?”

Now, don’t get me wrong.
At that moment, I believed I was beyond blessed.
And I still do.
I had everything I ever wanted or dreamed. 
But at least for me, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was more.
Not only in my calling in ministry but also in who God is.

That it seemed liked Jesus Christ didn’t die on the cross just so I could live a good, comfortable, stable life. Get a good job, get married, have kids, retire, boom dead. To simply just exist.

That there has to be more. More to what God desired. More to how much God wants to show me. More to what God wants to do in me and through. 

More also in the sense as in “wider”, “bigger”.
More to ministry that I knew, more to his kingdom and power.

I am not expecting that each day of my life would be
a “splitting of the Red Sea” kind of day.
But each day shouldn’t pass us as “just another day”
as if this was all that there is. 

I guess… what I am starting to desire more of is
to experience the Spirit and love of God everyday. 
To witness His power and movement everyday.

God didn’t create us to just live.
He created us to live in purpose.
So what is that purpose?
What is God’s purpose for me?

I guess that’s the million dollar question for all of us. 
At least for me,  something I’ve come to realize is this:

1. It is bigger than I can ever imagine but narrower than I can understand.

Because what if God’s purpose for you was not a specific career, a specific something where if you aren’t doing that, you are just not in purpose. 

but the purpose is to do life with him and for him.
Bigger than what we imagine like a specific career path.
But narrower than we can understand  because living a life with God and for God is not an easy path.

I think that’s where I am.
I declared this for 2019 and I am declaring it again for 2020…
For the New Year, I want to live faithfully seeking God.

I want to live with God and for God.
I want to live life to the fullest, being intentional each day.
I want to grow stronger, deeper.
I want to meet God everyday, experience him everyday,
know him a little more than I did before.
Seek him with all my questions and wondering,
knowing that there is no end to the mysteries and truths of God.

And watch as God blessed me so that I will be blessing to his people,
To be a vessel for His kingdom.

IS IT WORTH IT?

Is it worth it?

This Christian walk with God. Obeying God… living for Jesus.

Is it worth it?

I’ve asked myself that question multiple times.
In college, in seminary, and last year.

I usually found myself wrestling with this question when I was

In a season of wilderness,
In a season where it calls for me to be faithful, to still keep sowing.
In a season where God told me to wait on him.

Many times, you can’t help but compare.
You see so many people having a great life without God.
Who are doing fine, better at times it seems than the believers.
It is not uncommon for Christians to give up on their faith.
Turn their backs and walk the other way.

Late one night on New Years Day (2019),
I came into the presence of God because at that moment,
I was defeated.
I was tired.
I was at the end.

I visualized coming face to face with God. Just me and him.

“God, is this worth it.
A life obeying you, surrendering to you, being faithful…
is it worth it?”

 with my eyes closed and tears streaming down my face,
all I saw was Jesus just looking at me

smiling

And with that, I ended up smiling too.
Because he knows and I know,

That it is worth it.

That’s the thing about living a life with God and for God.

You begin to love, forgive, and serve
not by your own strength but from an abundant source that is
divine and majestic. A love like no other.

You are able to wake up each morning with hope and strength
even when the weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders.

You find joy in the mist of your pain and loss.

You find peace even when everything around you is in chaos.

You are able to step out in confidence into what God’s calls you
even when it doesn’t make sense and outside of your ability.
Despite your fears.

You have faith for the impossible. Expecting instead of wishing.

You find a sense of purpose. That this… a life with God…
was somehow the way it was always meant to be.

So, if you are in that place, know that you are not alone.

I am right there with you.
More importantly, God is right there with you.

So, come back to the presence of God.
As you are.

Broken
Frustrated
Confused
Ashamed
Afraid
Lost
Done with everything.

And let the Love of God surround you and His Grace empower you again.
To walk another day with Him and for Him.

I AM NOT NEEDED

I AM NOT NEEDED

I am a Type 2 on the enneagram, also known as the “The Helper.”

As described on the website,

” Two are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed.

At their best: unselfish, altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.”
Our basic fear: of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
Our basic desire: to feel loved

Towards the middle of November of 2018,
I started to feel a deep sense of emptiness.

At times, I wouldn’t be able to sleep or would wake up in the middle of the night because I would suddenly get emotional out of nowhere.

I started to find myself getting annoyed with God. Frustrated with the silence, fearful of the uncertainty.

If I can’t run away from God, then I am going to run at full force towards him.

“God, I know why I am in this season. I get it. You are trying to teach me something, you are trying to produce something in me and through me. I GET IT GOD. But if I am honest, I am beyond frustrated.

God if there is something else you want to teach me, show me, reveal to me… I AM READY! Let’s go. Let me have it. Or if you just simply want me to wait here quietly, then can you at least provide me with some kind of inspiration in a possible hobby I can take up while I wait? Thanks.”

If you are new to Christianity and the whole relationship with God thing, here are a couple of advices that I’ve always kept close to my heart:

  1. If you seek God wholeheartedly, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). God draws near to those who are brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalms 34:18).
  2. Be careful with what you pray for. Because God remembers and will answer. 

And in a quiet whisper, God answered my prayer with this:

” You are not needed.”

And then like a rushing wind, his revealed truth began to pour in.

When I was in elementary school, I thought my purpose in life was for God and his people. Which is true but it was distorted because I thought it meant I was just a tool. To be needed and used.

And honestly, I found great joy in serving others and caring for people.
And I still do.

Sure, there were times I wished someone would take care of me and love me the same way I loved people. But I knew that not everyone was created the same and just accepted that I was made differently. So, I would go above and beyond, even when I knew people were taking advantage of me.

Because the truth was, I wanted to feel needed. I wanted to feel loved and that I was worthy of your love because I put in my whole heart and effort.

In this season of becoming, for the first time in my life, I realized I am not “needed” in all aspects of my life.

My family are doing exceptionally well by themselves.
My friends have other people in their lives who they turn to.
Everyone at church was a lot more busier than I was.
Of course I was needed at church… but not in the same way.
I was no longer in a relationship where I thought the person “needed” me.

So…

What happens when I am not needed? What now?

Then this thought dawned on me:

What if my family, my friends, my church, my future spouse, and even God, loved me not because they needed something but just simply because? What if my worth was not dictated by what I did and how much but instead by the truth that my spirit, body, and soul, all that I am alone is more than enough and worthy to be loved.

That in fact, I am loved beyond my understanding and any human love would be just an extra layer… a layer that can only add but never take away from the already overflowing cup filled by God alone.

Because my worth is dictated by who He is
and what He has said about me.

He says:
I am worthy
I am beautifully and wonderfully made
I am a child of God
I am his workmanship
I am made in His image
I am a friend of God

I am still the same person. You need me, I will be there in a heartbeat.
But now, I am at peace knowing that I might never be needed again.
At peace with people even rejecting my help and love.

Finally, I know how to love and serve without exception or from nothing but instead, to love and serve from the overflow.

All because,
I know I am wanted and I am loved.
He is more than enough.

FOR A MOMENT

FOR A MOMENT

One of the earliest memories I have of my Uncle Iain was a conversation we had at the market

“Do you ever wonder?”
“Wonder what?”
“You know, when you look at someone, wonder what they are thinking?Why they are here, what their dreams are, what their pain is, what life is like for them?”
” No…Why would I wonder?”

“Because you then realize that there is more to life than just your own.”

Ever since that conversation, every time I find myself alone in a crowd of strangers…

On the bus,
At Starbucks,
On the corner of the street,
At school,
At work

I wonder.

I wonder what she is thinking. Why she is here.
I wonder what his dreams are.
Or what dreams he use to have before someone told him it was impossible.
I wonder if they are happy or just putting on a mask to cover their pains.
I wonder if they know that God loves them.
I wonder if they know that there is more to life than they can imagine and expect.

People come and go. It’s just “life”.

But for a moment, your paths have crossed with that someone.
That moment can be for a second or for a couple of years.

Regardless, you are now face to face.

What if we took advantage of those moments?

Because it only takes a moment to show kindness.
Because it only takes a moment to give love.
Because it only takes a moment to shoot a smile.
Because it only takes a moment for God to do a miracle.

I’m not saying we walk around with halos around our head.

But have the understanding
That we are blessed to be a blessing.  

And God is able to bless you ABUNDANTLY, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

So next time…

At work
On the bus
At school
At a café

Stop and wonder.

And if by chance your path crosses with someone,

Be a blessing.