the joy of receiving

As Christians, we’re taught to give and serve… and I believe with all my heart that God blesses us so that we can bless others.  I’ve often been a recipient of many people’s generosity.  In fact, I’ve blogged in the past about not living a life of being indebted but graciously accepting people’s generosity.  Well, when you’re on a service/missions trip, it’s hard to receive because you go with the mentality of giving and serving the less fortunate.  Two weeks ago, a team of 29 Americans went to the Dominican Republic to serve the children of Compassion International projects.  We went with the mission of sharing the love of Jesus with the kids… and to pass out 2,000 Operation Kid-2-Kid backpacks and bookmarks decorated by children all over the US and Canada along with Nuevo Testamento en español.  We visited total of eight projects over four days.  With each project we visited, we were greeted with a special program they had prepared for us.  We were told that they rarely get a huge number of visitors all at once, and it’s a big treat for them.  The special programs usually consisted of songs, body worship (is this just a Korean-American term?  if it is, it’s dance to praise worship.  see below), drama, and one project even gifted us souvenirs to remember DR by.  At each project, we felt that we were given the special treat and blessings!  We shared many hugs, photos, conversations in broken Spanish, and laughs!

This is my fourth OK2K trip, and each one has taken a huge piece of my heart!  It just never gets old… Well, as I started to think about how blessed we were by the special treatment we got from these children and projects, there was a tinge of guilt… wait, we came to give and serve, but we feel like we’re being given and served so much more!!!  What is wrong with this picture?  Well, what IS wrong is that by feeling guilty, I was robbing the joy of the project leaders and kids who had prepared so hard to share their expression of worship and gratitude.

I love finding the prefect gifts for the people in my life… but if they don’t receive it with joy, then my feelings are hurt.  In the same way, I realized that there is so much joy and blessing in giving/serving out of generosity… and when the recipient doesn’t receive this gift with joy, that giver is robbed of their joy.  The kids at the projects couldn’t bless us with material things, but they gave us their hearts and shared the love of Christ with us… the greatest gift!

I think pride gets in the way of receiving with joy… We talk about how we need to give and serve… and don’t get me wrong.. I think we can all do better in that area.  However, we rarely talk about receiving with joy and allowing others to experience the joy of serving!  On a related note, I think we also lack in receiving God’s grace with joy… but I realize that this topic is for another blog.  Soooo… this is one of my big lessons from my trip to the Dominican Republic.  There are a lot more… and those blogs will follow (trust me!)

Coincidentally (actually it’s God’s timing… total God Sighting!), my devotional on the day I left the DR spoke right into my heart:

Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don’t deserve to be so richly blessed.  This is nonsense-thinking because no one deserves anything from Me.  My Kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it’s about believing and receiving.  When a child of Mine balks at accepting My gifts, I am deeply grieved.  When you receive My abundant blessings with a grateful heart, I rejoice.

I may not have a lot of money but I consider myself one of the richest and blessed person in the world!  Gracias a Dios!

Advertisements

Is God Messing with Me?

Ever feel like God is messing with you?  I don’t mean to sound heretical.. and of course in my head, I know that God doesn’t do that.  But that’s how it feels.

For the past four months, I’ve been asking God for direction.  And I’m very thankful that opportunities have been presented to me… and while each one of them sound amazing, there has always been a huge “BUT…”  I’m trying to seek God’s will and calling for the next phase of my life, and I don’t want to just settle into a ministry out of convenience or comfort.  But the past month has been a crazy one… just when I think I’m close to making a decision, something else pops up and throws me off-course!  There’s been so many curve-balls thrown my way this past month that it almost feels like God is totally messing with me.  It makes me feel like I’m going crazy…

As I read through my devotional, I haven’t been able to get past this page:

Taste and see that I am good (Psalm 34:8).  The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of my goodness.  When adversities strike, the human instinct is to doubt My goodness.  My ways are mysterious, even to those who know Me intimately.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways and thoughts higher than your ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Do not try to fathom My ways.  Instead, spend time enjoying Me and experiencing My goodness.

I know that God is good.  I know that His ways are better than my ways.  I know, I know, I know… and I believe… but it doesn’t stop me from going crazy trying to discern where God is leading me… I keep telling myself to just enjoy my time with Him… but much of my days are consumed by thoughts of trying to think through where God wants me to go next… this is ONE tough journey, and I know that when it’s over, it’ll have been an amazing one… but right now, it feels like it just kinda sucks!

Cluttered…

De-Clutter Mind Map

In the past 2 hours, I have stared at a blank word document page… and now I have 150 words written down…  I have an article that is due tonight, and while I’m excited to be writing this article, my mind is so cluttered that I can’t seem to focus.  In the past 2 hours while I’m suppose to be writing, I’ve thought about my grocery list, my plants, my upcoming trip to the east coast with my dad, my upcoming trip up north, my business, my finances, my future plans, my future plans, and my future plans.  No wonder I’ve only managed to write down 150 words (one paragraph) in the past 2 hours.

I realize that I’m self-absorbed.  I keep thinking about me, me, me, me, and more me.  I need to clear my head.  I had started the day by opening my computer.  I decided to go back and catch up on my devotional.

Spending time alone with Me is essential for your well-being. It is not a luxury or an option; it is a necessity.

Instead of scanning the horizon of your life, looking for things that need to be done, concentrate on the task before you and the One who never leaves your side.  Let everything else fade into the background.  This will unclutter your mind, allowing Me to occupy more and more of your consciousness.  Trust Me to show you what to do when you have finished what you are doing now.  I will guide you step by step, as you bend your will to Mine.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”  (Proverbs 19:21)

This is like a vicious cycle in my life.  I clutter my mind with a lot of “what-if’s” and thoughts of the past and future rather than focusing on what’s here and now (especially nowadays).  We’ve all heard that “today is a gift.”  How often do we really live in the present?  How often do we go through the day with cluttered minds?  I, for one, need to de-clutter and focus on what’s in front of me.  Alright, time to go back to writing!

Don’t Run Away…

Doesn’t Amy Grant have a song called “don’t run away?”  haha…  well, now I’ve come to a point in my life where I need to seriously pray about some major decisions in my life.  As I’ve looked back upon my life, I’ve had to make few major decisions that may have altered the course of my life… In hind-sight, I can clearly say that God was at work in every one of these situations… but at the time, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

For example, I think choosing to go to UC Berkeley over UCLA was a big decision.  My dad and I fought over this decision for weeks.  Although I was being defiant, I wanted to prove to everyone that I WAS UC Berkeley material… My dad kept insisting that I go to UCLA so I could be close to home (which made me want to go further away even more).  The night before “intent to register” paperwork was due, inside I felt like I had to go to UCLA because I hadn’t sent anything in anywhere… but the stubbornness in me kept telling my dad that I wasn’t going to go to UCLA EVER!  That night, my dad gave in and said that ultimately he wants me to be happy, and that he’d be proud to have a daughter who goes to UC Berkeley.  This was the craziest thing I’ve seen my dad do–we went to the airport the next morning, bought tickets up to Oakland, and turned in my “Intent to Register at UC Berkeley” in person!  Wow…  I think back to that time… I really was just being stubborn and defiant… and I really didn’t know what I was doing… but that decision changed my life in a huge way!!!  I think being at Berkeley really had a huge part in shaping me to be who I am today (some would say for the worse.. haha).

I’ve had to make few other decisions since… some good, some bad… and although I don’t feel stressed, I do feel the anxiety of having to make possibly life-altering decisions soon.  I feel schizo at times…

DO NOT RESIST OR RUN from the difficulties in your life.  These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth.  Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them.  View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me.  Most of the situations that entangle your mind are not today’s concerns; you have borrowed them from tomorrow.   “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young

I’ve read those words over and over and over and over again…  everything sounds so good and holy… and while I’m trying to put everything into perspective, I can’t seem to get rid of this anxiety that I feel.  And for all I know, I could be premature in feeling all this anxiety for nothing.  However, bottom line is… I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I do need to make some major decisions… and while it sounds exciting, it also sounds daunting…

I keep telling myself, “don’t run away…” and “find peace in God.”

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  (John 14:27)

Lacking…

This has been a super weird week… I had left my calendar somewhat empty because I’m suppose to be on jury duty… and last time I was called in, it occupied close to 3-weeks of my life… well, now that I have all the time in the world to serve, I have yet to be called in…  I took a look at my May calendar, and honestly I can’t remember the last time it looked this empty.  My May calendar currently consist of birthdays, reminder to pay bills, holidays, and couple dinner plans with friends.  I color-code everything–and May only has 3 colors… wow, when was the last time this happened?  It’s been 3.5 months since I resigned from my church.  Up until this week, I had filled my calendar with various conferences, VBS events, curriculum trainings, business meetings, personal travels, and just fun time… All of a sudden, it’s come to a complete halt… WEIRD…  In fact, I’ve been waking up each day this week thinking “hmmm… after I run my errands I think I’ll go to the beach…”  or “maybe I’ll go to the museum today…”  I’ve never had such empty schedule before.

I’m a do-er… I’ve always been a do-er… so while it’s been nice to have this luxury of time, it also makes me feel really weird.  I have this feel the need to be productive, and that is truly lacking… In fact, I’ve been cooking every meal (I even made dong-chi-mi from scratch… a korean variety of kimchi–cold, watery, & non-spicy stuff).  I’ve been tending to my plants and herbs on my balcony.  I’ve gone out to the beach twice this week just to take in the sun and read.  yes, life is nice… but it’s weird.

And to add to my feeling of being inadequate, I got a rejection letter and phone call to be a bone marrow donor.  While they said they’ll continue to keep me on their donor list, I felt so deflated when they said I wasn’t a perfect match… 😦  One more thing that won’t be going on my calendar–bummer…

Below is an excerpt from a devotional from last week… it seems a lot more appropriate this week (of course I think God’s awesome timing has allowed me to dwell on this before all this crazy emotions hit me!):

When some basic need is lacking –time, energy, money–consider yourself blessed.  This is where you are meant to live–in the present; it is the place where I always await you.  Awareness of your inadequacy is a rich blessing, training you to rely wholeheartedly on Me.  Rejoice in your insufficiency, knowing that My Power is made perfect in weakness.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.   (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Having all this time also has allowed me to THINK… THINK A LOT!!!!  This could be good and bad for me… I’ve had a lot more interesting things happen this week, but I’m not ready to share that with whoever reads my blog (it weirds me out that people read what I write… even if they’re my friends…) Although I really started blogging to just spill out my thoughts for myself, I realize that I’ve put it out there to share my random thoughts with even strangers.  And if you’ve read this far, thanks for letting me ramble on… it’s not a very well-thought out blog, but just diarrhea of the mouth…

And since I’ve been THINKING A LOT (about all sorts of things) I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot more this week…

today’s words to live by…

Acknowledge My sovereignty by giving thanks in all circumstances.  (1 Thess 5:18)

Live by faith, not by sight.  (2 Cor 5:7)

You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. (Proverbs 19:21)

Viewed from above, the obstacles that frustrate you is only a light and momentary trouble.  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

My Power flows most freely into weak ones aware of their need for Me.  Faltering steps of dependence are not lack of faith; they are links to My Presence.  (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Unpredictable Life…

“Many things feel out of control.” – First paragraph of today’s devotional, and it immediately caught my attention.

“Your routines are not running smoothly.  You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable.” – BINGO!  That’s me!  I’m all for adventurous life… but I’m a controlled risk taker… and I like controlled adventure!  One thing that’s for sure, God has thrown a lot of curve balls in my life, and my life is NEVER without a dull moment!  This is alarming for a control-freak like me… but over the years, I’ve learn to let go of things I CANNOT control, and learn to laugh through life!

“When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities.  Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new.” – This is exactly what I’ve been trying to do… but it’s a lot easier said than done.  I can’t wait to find out God’s new challenge for my life… but some days, I’m more riddled with anxiety than trust.  I shall dwell on this for the rest of the day… while life throws me more unpredictable, uncontrollable curve balls!  Learning to go with the flow, and trusting in God.

From the ends of the earth,
      I cry to you for help
      when my heart is overwhelmed.
 Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
      for you are my safe refuge,
      a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
 Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
      safe beneath the shelter of your wings!  (Psalm 61:2-4)