Sunday, July 31, 2011

Taking Hold

We all know those times in our life when we hit a peak spiritually and we feel like our relationship with God has hit it's pinnacle and we are just on fire to impact the world and dive deeper into what Christ has for us. And we also know those times when our footing slips and we plummet into a valley so deep we doubt that we'll ever emerge. Sometimes, these valleys manifest themselves in our physical, everyday lives and other times, they come about just through doubts or stresses that cause us to have problems with and within ourselves. But here's the thing: sometimes we have to fight. Actually, there will almost always be a struggle. Christianity is no walk in the park but there is a ray of light: we have help. When I say help, I'm not talking about those around us (even though they were placed in our life for a reason and they're great too), but God. He will never leave our side no matter how many relationships come and go, how many illnesses we suffer, or how many times we stab Him in the back. God's love never fails. However, in His unfailing love, He intentionally leaves us the room to grow on our own. That's what the valleys are for.
See, I'm the type of person who, when I fall from my peak, I mope and wallow in my low state until God sends something or someone along to literally drag me from my state of distress. But it dawned on me today as I felt myself physically and emotionally begin to stumble, that I didn't have to even let myself slide. Jesus is always throwing down a rope and I have been failing all along to look up and take old of it. Today I did and while the suffering is still there, I know that the hope I cling to now will sustain me and pull me from my descent into the cavern.
Now that I've read over that, it sounds pretty simple. But it takes a lot more work then one would expect. The thing I personally must remember is that the hard part is not being pulled up, it's taking the time to realize that the rope is there. And that means that at all times I need to strive to keep God as my focus so that when I slip, my natural reaction is to reach up and take hold of the rope of Christ's unconditional Love.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Power in Being Powerless

You know those times when you just want to curl up in the corner, snuggle up with something warm and soft, and just cry? Those times when you feel like the weight of the world has just crashed down on your shoulders and the only thing to do is sob until you can't breathe anymore? Well I know these times all too well.
Tears can represent so many different things to me; they can be tears of joy or tears of sorrow, painful tears or angry tears, and sometimes they can just be tears. But what is the purpose of them? The times I cry the most are the times that I'm a wreck--a big ball of jumbled emotions just waiting to explode in whatever way they can to release the pressure on my heart. And I always feel the aftermath of these random emotional breakdowns: red puffy eyes, dehydration, loss of appetite, shakiness, and fatigue...not pleasant things, in other words. But when I'm broken is when it's the easiest to reach me. When I'm completely run-down and have no idea where to turn, when all I can do is cry because I don't know what to do other than fall apart; these are the times when my life is most effectively changed. 

"What if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you're near?
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?"

I've always been told things like: "As women, sometimes we just need a good cry, because we have a lot of pent-up emotions." But I've never really contemplated the power in tears until this morning when I heard "Blessings" by Laura Story. "What if your healing comes through tears?" I've never thought of that. I've always just let tears flow when they need to, but I've never thought about them as a blessing. There are always going to be valleys in life, and as much as we'd all like to say that we can "do all things through Christ who strengthens [us]", we can't always expect to be able to stand tall and weather every storm that comes our way. This is a huge struggle for me especially, but it occurred to me today that maybe instead of asking God to give me strength or courage or patience, maybe it's time to just let myself break down and allow God to carry me through the valleys so that I'll have the strength to climb the mountains.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

You know those days when you just feel like you've lost a part of your life? Well, I do. And the past week or so have been lacking in a sincerely vital part of human existence: SLEEP. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, 'tis just a fact that sleep is needed. But between exams, job searching, exams, prom, exams, drivers' ed (yeah, I know, it's late), exams, plays and their parties, exams, Ghana Rock, exams, and other things such as exams, there isn't much time for vital functions such as eating and sleeping.
However, in this hectic few weeks before my summer officially begins, I've been reminded of a few things.
First, patience and self-control are very good things to have not only to deal with others, but also with one's self. Without them, you'll do silly things like allow yourself to become unnecessarily stressed, and possibly contract Shingles. Lemme just inform the world right now: no matter what anyone says, having Shingles is not a fun experience.
Secondly, just when life seems the darkest, is when it is bound to become the brightest. Perhaps I'm wrong on this one, but the way the world works is that the dark comes just before the why wouldn't life work the same way? I'll admit that in this case my analogy might be a bit skewed, but bear with me...the darkness in my life is my personal "calm before the storm". Why is this, you may ask? Because think about the power and beauty behind a thunder storm. Have you ever really taken the time to sit through the cool, whistling breezes before a storm? If not, take the time to, and then sit back and watch the skies unfold and the clouds roll as thunder, lightning, and rain strike the earth with a terrifying strength. In my opinion, a thunder storm is a divine display of our Savior's ultimate power. When I see a thunder storm, I can only imagine God's thought process...I feel like He must have a stunning smile on His face as His power is displayed in some of the most powerful forces of nature. In short, I believe that a storm is a huge tool for God to show Himself.
And that's what I want to be; I want to be God's "thunderstorm". I want to be someone that He can use to display His supreme power and beauty; and, if that means going through a few rough patches (the "calm"), so be it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Everyone's heart can be related to a location of some kind. Whether it be an open field, a house, or a fortress, everyone's heart has its own qualities, residents, and security measures. But if each and every human heart is, in reality, some form of fortification, what does it mean to be broken-hearted?
According to Webster, to be broken-hearted is to be "overcome by grief or despair", but I don't believe this definition to fully encompass the meaning behind a truly broken heart. As I was reminded on Sunday morning, the only way for someone to break another person's heart is for that person to break through the heart's "security", and become rooted in it in order to break it down from within. After having their heart broken enough times, a person begins to become hardened, as they are forced to refortify the guard around their heart. When someone's heart is broken by someone or something around them, it is a hard and tedious process to rebuild the guards around it without hardening themselves to another situation or person. All that said to state the obvious: a broken heart is a negative thing.

"Break my heart for what breaks yours..."
So why is it that as Christians, we ask God to break our hearts? For some, it's just an impulse...we enjoy that brief spiritual moment when we feel broken over something God brings to our attention. But for others, it's so much more than that. For God to truly break our hearts, we must be willing to let Him through the walls and allow Him to take root in our lives, captivating us and breaking our hearts completely in the process.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What if Everyone...?

A very thought-provoking question, and one most people ask quite frequently.

What if...

What if everyone served their community in a practical way. Take a moment to think about it. What if everyone took the time to attempt solving a piece of the world's needs. Perhaps I am mistaken, but the domino effect works anywhere it is powerfully applied. Imagine for a moment that the need in the world is equivalent to a game of Jenga. Every time one person pulls one block from the tower, it becomes weaker until finally, it collapses completely. Sure, there are parts of the world that are significantly poorer than others. But if one place can be affected, are those peoples incapable of spreading their newly acquired resources to other less fortunate peoples? On the did America become a super-power country? Were we always a world power? We fed off the successes, desires, and passions of a few people, and ran with it from there. What if everyone took the same passion that some have for reaching the world, and applied it to themselves. Imagine...this should be a world-wide vision: to inspire everyone to serve humanity.

Friday, February 11, 2011

One Step at a Time

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. 
~Victor Hugo~

The past 3-4 weeks have been the definition of insanity: insane people, insane schedules, and insane amounts of work. And as I came out of the month of insanity today, I realized that it is not over. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We cannot expect to change other people, or the way they see us, or the things they say to/about us. There is only one thing I know I can change without a doubt: myself. Does this mean that to stop the insanity, I have to change myself completely?
On the contrary: in order to handle the insanity, I must remember to keep my focus on God and God alone.  And rather than sit here in my bedroom fuming day after day about the fact that I cannot find the solution to life's insanity, why not get up, get out, and live my life taking one careful step at a time?

Don't let the momentary trappings of this world hold you down, but cast your anxieties on God, and remember to "go to sleep in peace" because His mercies are new each day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"...nothing...except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

Every human seeks wisdom.

Whether this desire for wisdom stems from a power-hungry mindset or simply a servants' heart, wisdom can be just as dangerous as it can be helpful. Wisdom is formally defined as: "accumulated philosophic or scientific learning" and is commonly held as synonymous to words such as "knowledge" or "insight". However, what is biblical wisdom?
As much as I would love to say I have the answer to this question, I do not. However, I do have an opinion.

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith may not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
~I Corinthians 2:1-5~

Perhaps I am misreading this verse, but this is my take on it: let God's wisdom speak for itself. And do not always be quick to speak out of your experience or wisdom. Wait for God to use you and speak through you. And when He does, give him the glory for it!

In this way, you not only draw others to God (rather than your own sufficiency), but you also draw yourself closer to God in knowing "nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified".

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Broken & Poured Out

"The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want."
~Mark 14:7

I have read the above passage many a time, but never truly taken the time to dissect it and really focus on each verse, sentence-by-sentence. When has there been a time in history when everyone on the planet has been well-off and lacking the need for help? Never. We may not be able to physically throw ourselves down at His feet on a day-to-day basis, but I think the command in Mark 14 is quite transparent: help the poor. In doing so, we are not only providing for and blessing other mortals, but we are also bringing glory to our Savior.

"She did what she could."
~Mark 14:8

The woman in the story reflected in her own mortal way what Jesus did for all mankind on the cross. He gave all he had, broken and poured out to save us from eternal damnation. Shouldn't we do all we can for God?
Forgive the sport reference, but one thing I tell myself and my teammates before a basketball game is to give 100% and leave everything out on the court so that each and everyone of us can say that we gave our all, win or lose. I firmly believe that this also applies to our lives as Christians: give 100% of yourself and your resources to God, and "leave it all on the court".

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Day Acceptable to the Lord? Or a Lifetime?

5 ...Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
This was a part of my reading tonight from Isaiah 58. It reminded me of some of the thoughts I shared the other day: the purpose of this fast is not just so I can say that I spent 3 weeks living in accordance with what the Lord would deem acceptable. It is to sacrifice my life and my desires for God and to hear what He wants me to do for Him which is to "loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free", to feed the hungry, shelter the poor, and clothe the naked. Once we learn to do all of those things, "then [our] light will break forth like the dawn, and [our] healing will quickly appear; then [our] righteousness will go before [us], and the glory of the Lord will be [our] rear guard".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In God Alone

Last night, I spent about 30 minutes laying in bed thinking--me thinking can be a dangerous thing. I reflected on the things in  my life that held value for me. My relationships were the first thing on my heart. And then the thought came about: when was the last time I had been truly broken?? The day my 1st dog died. As childish as this fact may seem, it's true. That was the last time I was truly emotionally undone. That dog was my first love, my favorite companion, and my first true friend. When she died, I was devastated. But another dog soon came along to fill the space Mattie left in my heart and I recovered, but did not forget Mattie.
It then occurred to me: aren't all relationships like this? As friends, we love each other, but eventually a friendship will end whether by death or altercation. Even family relations come to a fork in the road and eventually a dead end.

What happens when a brother or sister moves to the other side of the world?
What happens when a child gets married and leaves home for good?
What happens when a spouse or parent passes on?

True, the love and memories in those relationships never leave; but the other end of the relationship is gone. There is only one relationship in which this fact does not ring true: the relationship between man & God. God knows man before birth, throughout his lifetime, and, if man accepts Him, in eternity after death.

If our relationship with God is the only thing that will truly last a lifetime, should this not be the most important relationship in our lives?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

...that loves a sinner like me.

The song lyrics in my most recent post have been haunting me for the past two days as I've been trying my rotten best to hear from God. I've been complaining, thinking, "C'mon, God...what's the deal? Why won't you speak to me?"
And then it dawned on me: maybe God is speaking to me and what He's been saying just isn't what I wanted to hear! So I thought back on the past few days and the things that have been going through my head and I realized that amidst all the everyday thoughts, little words such as: "Surrender" and "Submit" have sneaked into the few empty spaces in my mind. And then, after reading the additional notes to the reading from my 21-day plan:

"During this fast, you'll have many opportunities to deviate from your commitment--especially if you're fasting alone or if no one will find out. Pray that God will give you the resolve and courage to stick to the standards you've set and honor Him no matter what."

I told myself: "okay, can totally do this. Twenty-one days. It'll go by before you know it!"
However, as soon as those words sunk into my mind, I felt like slapping myself in the face for believing them. How could I be so selfish as to want to limit the amount of time I spend sacrificing my earthly desires for the sake of honoring the Lord?
Thus, this is my resolve: every time I recognize something that is taking up my time and tainting my attitude, I will give it up for a three-week time period.
The point of this 21-day fast & reading plan is to bring me closer to God, but why save it for only 3 weeks at the beginning of the year? I want to be brought closer to God not only after these next few weeks, but every day for the rest of my life.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a God like You...

"I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak.How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe."

Today I started a Bible reading plan called the 21 Day Fast. Although the entire chapter was amazing, the above two verses really stood out to me.

"How can I, your SERVANT, talk with YOU, my LORD?"

These words were so mind-boggling to me until I thought back on a line from a favorite song of mine: "It's a God like You that loves a sinner like me..." That was the only way I could answer the question above. Only our Almighty God could see everything in all of our hearts: every thought, every word, every idea. He sees the deepest, darkest parts of us--the parts that not even we ourselves know about--yet he still loves us and allows us to approach his throne with confidence.

It's true: "There is no one else for me, NONE but Jesus. Crucified to set me free, now I live to bring Him praise."
I can't imagine anyone else I could even imagine wanting to serve and praise.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Re-Defining the Family Vacation

Many people go on vacations to make memories with their families.
They travel to amusement parks, beaches, and foreign countries together, taking pictures and writing postcards along the way. When they leave they are sad because it means they must return to work and school, or they don't want to part with the scenery. However, the saddest part about the ending of this vacation is parting from my family.
This year, we spent the majority of our vacation in transit between the Dizon & Watanabe families. And although we went to the beach all of 3-4 times and enjoyed only one formal dinner, the memories made with my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are ones not easily forgotten.
As I board my plane tomorrow night, the thing that will bring tears to my eyes will not be the fading scenery but the people I will be leaving behind.