Sunday, July 29, 2012

sunday getaway || life

This past week was such an emotionally draining week, but it ended well. Today, with a few precious friends from church, we went to Elora Gorge to relax and have fun. This is one of my favorite spots to go to in my area. It's just unfortunate that it hasn't rained a lot this summer so the water isn't swimmable.

It felt like a getaway even though we were only there for a few hours. I love nature's ability to recharge you. It's like you're literally breathing LIFE when you're so close to rocks, trees, waters and wildlife (dragonflies count!).

Monday, July 23, 2012

greater things ahead || life

I looked out the window tonight and saw this. The clouds were unreal. So big, so captivating, so beautiful but so far away. Sometimes life doesn't make sense to me. More often than I like, I feel if I let go of something I'll get something worse in return. I don't know if I'm having some quarter-life crisis, but I've never been so introspective of my life until now. 

Thank you C.S Lewis for your words of wisdom and hope. The future has yet to be written so nothing is set in stone. The possibilities of where my life will go are endless. I'm mentally drained from fighting myself everyday. 

Surrender || I'll try
Trust || who?
Love || Impossible
Be free || how?

I can't be the author of my life anymore. 

God, knowing that you are Lord over my life should make this easier right? 
You're a better story-writer anyway. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

voice of hope || faith

Did you know we're at war? No one told me this, but when I look around me it's pretty obvious. We're caught up in a war where darkness seems to be winning. We can't go a day without hearing about some  sort of injustice and brokenness. 

We're fighting for hope in a very broken world. 

hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen

When we're faced with trials and tragic circumstances we have two options. We can either hope for the better or fall into the trap of hopelessness.

Hope perseveres. Hopelessness gives up.
Hope trusts. Hopelessness is skeptical. 
Hope leads to life. Hopelessness leads to death. 

I'm a pretty pessimistic person. I try to be very logical and realistic about the realities of life so it's pretty difficult for me to be positive when my seemingly unfair circumstances are constantly dancing in front of me. 

I have scoliosis and it looks like I'm not getting better. It's hard to hope when the realities of my x-rays tell me this is impossible to heal. 

I'm single and have been for my whole life. I feel like I'll never get married. It's better to sul about it than to hope I'll meet someone. 

I'm running in circles in regards to my career and I can't see anything practical in the near future. I'm at a tipping where maybe I should just settle for a safe job rather than go after my dreams. 

I like to protect myself from any disappointment. Isn't it better to prevent any further pain when you're already hurting? I like to think so. 

Yet, the message of hope seems to be telling me otherwise. I think of Jairus from the Bible. His daughter was dying and he comes to Jesus hoping that Jesus can do something. He was desperate. But while Jesus is on his way to see the girl, there's a roadblock. A woman, also desperate to be healed, touches Jesus and gets healed. Instead of continuing on with his journey, Jesus stops to communicate with this woman. If I were Jairus at this moment, I'd be so anxious and annoyed. I'd be so worried that with every passing minute my daughter would be closer to death. 

While this is all happening, someone from Jairus' house comes and says, "Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more." Voice of hopelessness. Voice of reality. What amazes me is how Jesus responds. On hearing this Jesus replies, "Don't be afraid; just believe and she will be healed." Voice of hope. 

What the? She's dead. She doesn't need healing! She's dead. That's it. It's game over. Jesus' words don't make sense. Jesus speaks hope against the voice of hopelessness. There's such a sharp contrast between these two voices. Jesus looks at the overwhelming odds and works against it. 

The enemy is constantly trying to overwhelm us with odds. What he's forgotten is that we are a people of living hope and truth. We don't live in reality and statistics, but we are fighting for hope. 

Listen and hear his gentle voice of hope. It's going to sound ridiculous. It won't make any sense. It might even make us angry. Hope wins against all odds. Always. Even when it seems like we're losing, his truth is always victorious. 

Who are you listening to? 

1 Peter 1:3  
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seoul Time Lapse || video

I miss Seoul a lot. This video is amazing. A lot of people still don't know where Seoul is or what kind of city it is, but check it out. I still can't believe I lived here, with 10 million others, all on my own without any family. It still boggles my mind that I did this. This was my home. All the lights, cars, peoples, subways, food and history. It was mine. I've been to NYC, Chicago, LA, Mexico City and Toronto... but nothing is like Seoul. I love it and can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

my life worth nothing || undone series

In the past few months I had this feeling in my stomach that God would do something in my life where I knew I'd have to become completely undone for him. I didn't know what that meant or how it would look like, but I knew it was coming. The word undone was being highlighted all throughout June and I'd have glimpses of what it meant, but was still seeking. Sometimes an image of an altar call, someone kneeling and sobbing and crying out, "I give it all to you God" appears. Other times I got nothing when I asked God and myself what it meant to be undone. 

I had so many different posts written out for this series, but I decided to scrap them all. I think I'm going through that painful and refining process of coming undone before the Lord. It isn't the first time and it definitely won't be the last. I wanted something, someone, but sometimes you just don't get what you want. I know that. I think I'm very familiar with the way this all goes. 

But exactly WHAT have I been putting my time and value into? Maybe I've lost sight of how good God really is. Maybe I've forgotten the most difficult yet most rewarding calling I have from my Lord. 

Last week at the Jesus Culture conference and Hillsong Manhattan church Banning Liebscher spoke about giving up my life for the cause of Christ, choosing him over anything this world offer me and being consumed by the ALL-consuming fire. I came into agreement with it all but also asked God, "why me?" Why can't I just be that Christian that goes to church on Sundays, does her devos and listens to worship music on her ipod? Why can't things just be normal, safe and simple? But no, God's plan for me is to take my life, mess around with it like play-doh. It's not fun but I know he's going to make it into something beautiful. But right now it doesn't feel like that. It feels messy, ugly, uncomfortable and not-so-fun. 

As much as I want to take control, plan and navigate through my life I can't. Everything has been pointing and leading up to this and it's time to really LET GO and just GO. Move forward and see what is in store for me and this world. There's far too much at stake for me to dwell in my own misery. Too much. I guess becoming undone before the Lord is completely letting go of your life and sometimes it's going to look and feel really messy and ugly. It's not fun. It's painful, but I am always reminded of the cross. 

Jesus came completely undone before his Father, it was messy and humiliating, but the result of it was and IS eternal and beautiful. My God is someone who redeems and it only happens when we become undone before Him. 

Acts 20:24 
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

I lean not on my own understanding
My life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven

I give it all to You God trusting that you'll make something beautiful out of me

There's nothing I hold on to
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open
Climb - Will Reagan

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

inside and out || undone series

I've been really blessed to get to know Natalie through her blog over the past few months. She's got golden nuggets stored up in her heart and mind and is always willing to share. She blogs over at Heart Stirrings and whether you're a guy or girl you need to keep up with her blog! I'm so thankful that she was willing to write something for my blog. I hope it blesses you as much as it blessed me!

Undone. For me, being undone is about being vulnerable, raw, blunt, to-the-point... transparent. I think we all struggle with being undone as Christians at times in our relationship with the Lord.

I used to pray cookie cutter prayers. Prayers that stayed in the lines of what I thought was "appropriate" to say to a Holy God, who I was taught deserved the utmost reverence. I followed the A.C.T.S. acronym (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication). I worked hard to say all the right things, to use popular prayer lingo. But I didn't feel all that close to God. There's absolutely nothing wrong with using A.C.T.S., and God is Holy and deserves the utmost reverence, but I hadn't brought my affections with me. I was so focused on doing it the "right way" that I'd put aside what was really going on inside my heart. I wasn't undone before the Savior who loved me so much that he died on a cross for me, I was... plastic. And in doing so I'd sorta thought of God as being unapproachable and distant, therefore I didn't pray about what was really going on with me.

The crazy thing about this is that God knows us inside and out, fully and completely. He knows everything about us: "O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether" (Psalms 139:1-5). Why would we not talk about anything and everything that's going on in our lives and how we feel about it? Why would we not want to be undone in His presences, affections included? 

Over and over again we see the Psalmist being raw, gutsy, and honest before the Living God: I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes - it also has gone from me. -Psalms 38:8-10 ESV

I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. My eye wastes away because of grief... -Psalm 6:6&7 NKJV

Do we pray like this? Because I don't know about you, but when I read verses like these, I don't hear a hint of indifference in them. They're genuine and honest. It's laying it all out there. And that's the kind of divine dialogue I desire in my relationship with Him. A sincere, raw, ongoing conversation through the heights and valleys of life, void of fear of saying the right things and watching my p's and q's. This is my encouragement: Be real in your prayers. Be undone in His presence. Don't be fake, and don't be plastic. It doesn't make sense since God sees right through it, so why waste time giving lip service rather than lifting up honest pleas, confessions, worship, and thanks? Bring all your affection and heart into your prayers regardless of what season you find yourself in. Be undone. Be transparent. If we desire to walk with the Lord deeply we mustn't shy away from conversing with Him deeply. My friend David put it perfectly:

"It is a chance for us to be vulnerable before God. Transparency is dangerous because it is very much out of our control, the other person sees everything and not in the neatly packaged way we would normally have it delivered. But prayer is not delivery to God - do not try to pray right, that’s trying to mold your heart with your mouth and that’s backwards. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt 12:34). When you pray, pray honestly (Matt6:5,6). God does not want to hear about what you should want or how you should feel, he’s God and his standards are higher for yourself than yours will ever be. He wants the dirty transparent truth because he cares about you right where you are right at this moment." -From God Cares About What You Care About (Emphasis Mine)

Monday, July 9, 2012

get naked || undone series

I announced a while ago that I'd be doing a small blog series on what it means to be undone. I have some guest blogs and a lot of my scattered thoughts somewhat organized into blog posts. I want to introduce you to my friend Melody. We met in Korea while attending the same church. She was one of my first friends and has an amazing ability to make you feel like you're the most important person in the world. She has a billion friends, but you never feel rejected or abandoned with her. My blog was inspired by her commitment to her blog. Here she is with her thoughts on what it means to be undone. Enjoy!

“If you want to destroy my sweater…”

Catchy way to start a guest blog post, eh? (I feel as if a lot of my audience here on Hannah’s blog is going to be Canadian, so I wanted to fit in). Grand prize goes to the first person whom can comment and tell me the song title and artist that fits with that quote… okay, just kidding--- I will tell you. Later.

When Hannah asked me to contribute a blog post to her “Undone” series (uh…ahem, a month ago? oops… soweeee girl) I had an unusual feeling. Many days later I was able to label it: “Writer’s Block.” It was terrible.

I took the time to pray and seriously reflect on what it meant to “become undone” before God. The first thing that popped into my head? A Weezer song. I was utterly confused until I hummed the chorus of the song (okay, the only part of the song I really know) in my head… “If you want to destroy my sweater –whoa-o-o-o-a-a-ohhh- pull this thread as I walk away (as I walk away!) watch me unravel, I’ll soon be naked (lyin’ on the floor!) lyin’ on the floor, I’ve come undone.”

Getting to the part in my head about being naked caused me to pause. Being naked to me, means being vulnerable. In my mind I automatically connected that coming undone before God means being vulnerable. Even though God knows everything, he wants you to tell him everything. We (me and- you know- the rest of the Christian population who believes what I believe) call it a personal relationship, the one we can have with a father. The most successful relationships are the ones when you communicate, and tell each other everything--- even if you hang out all the time and you know what’s going on… see where I am going with this?

Weezer had it right, when you are naked, you come undone.

Being vulnerable before God is something I have had to work on for the past year… and it is still a struggle for me sometimes. But when I am able to come undone, to cry (to me that is the ultimate form of vulnerability in front of God, crying) and tell Him everything, my faith grows--- and my personal relationship grows.

So what am I trying to say?

Get naked.

Friday, July 6, 2012

friendships || life

I'm going to try to make this as raw and unedited as I can. There are times for planned, edited, clean-cut pieces of writing and then there are times you just have to let it all go.

I'm 25 going on 26. I'm a quarter of a century years old. I still can't believe it. Through the past 25 years I've met hundreds of people with a handful remaining in my life. There are a few I can call my best friends. We're so close we're like family. Despite having such amazing friendships I still find myself so uncertain about how to be a friend and what it means to be a friend. In the past few days I'm discovery how much I've failed, how much I lack and how little I know in regards to friendships. BUT with that, I'm also discovering that I can redeem it all.

When I was in 8th grade we had one big final project in English where we had to make "HOW-TO" projects. We had to teach the class how to do something whether it was baking cookies, writing an essay, sewing clothes or whatever. I, being the odd one, decided to do my how-to project on how to be a good friend. It's been something I've always wanted to be good at and 'master', if that's possible. We're taught many things in life, but we're never really taught how to be good friends with those of the same gender, those of the opposite gender and those we want to eventually date/marry. We just did it. While doing friendship we're learning. 

I was bullied in 5th grade and from that moment I believed a lot of lies. I believed that I was disposable, replaceable, a nobody, unimportant, insignificant and a loser. It was with this mindset that I would enter into friendships. Any friendship that happened after 5th grade, I did with a sense of fear and precaution. Out of my fear I clung on to my friends and could not grasp the concept of two people drifting apart. 

15 years later and I find myself in friendships with that same mentality. Whether we've been friends for a few months or 20+ years I've allowed those lies to influence the way I related to you. 

Recently I've had close friends and God himself strip away these lies for me. I'm in awe that I'm 25 and I'm still figuring out what it means to be friends with someone. 

I'm learning....
- when a friend is having a tough time and they say "I'm fine" you don't give up but relentlessly ask and love them. this is not the time to think, "but she might get mad at me for bothering her". That's still YOU thinking about YOU. you pursue them even if they reject you
- when you make a commitment in a friendship, you work hard at it. it isn't based on location, how you feel, what you do or how much you talk at that moment. you fight for it. 
- I need to be raw and vulnerable without any fear of rejection or abandonment because a true friend sticks around when you're at your worst
- I am not what I was in the past and neither are my friends
- it is so important to be yourself. 
- if you're upset with someone, let them know, if you love someone, let them know, if you appreciate someone, let them know. 
- communication is so important! talk things through rather than make assumptions or live out of false realities that you created in your head
- even if you find yourself going on different paths, keep loving them. love perseveres
- to understand why people react and respond the way they do so I don't take things so personally

A few weeks ago a friend did something that hurt me. I took it personally and, being the extreme person that I am, I questioned our friendship. I thought, "if we're as close as we say we are he wouldn't have done that".  So I was upset and annoyed with this person, slept on that, woke up annoyed with this person and couldn't enjoy my time with them even though we had a fun day planned. Well, not only was he oblivious to my anger I was the only one affected by my anger. We ended up talking about it and turns out he thought that because we're so close he could do what he did knowing that it wouldn't affect our friendship. Funny. We processed the event in complete opposite terms that we were so clueless to what the other person was feeling or thinking. 

I don't have it all figured out. Only because of the amazing friends that God has placed in my life am I able to be a good friend. I'm in the process of figuring it out. 

It's scary being so vulnerable with your friends. You have to strip down, become undone and be unashamed of who you are. There are many times I want to cut and run so others don't see my failures and weaknesses. I want to protect myself and be friends at a safe distance. It doesn't work. That leads to isolation. You end up sitting in a pool of lies and a broken mindset. Friends are amazing for healing and restoring our true identities. 

Proverbs 27:5-6 

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy

Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.