Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New York City: A Wintertime Dream

By far one of the most amazing 3-day trips i've ever been on. There was snow, there was rain, there were warm beverages, there was laughter, and there were moments of just being in awe at how blessed I am. It was the most surreal experience. New York in the wintertime with people you love is the perfect balance between "wow" in the "I must be dreaming sense" and "wow" in the "we are just really this blessed" sense.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Duality: Joy and Grief

I was sitting in a classroom observation today when the incessant vibrations of my phone continued to buzz against my lap. At first, I tried to ignore it, but then I figured it would be best for me to pick up (thankfully, the class my friend was teaching was on it's break).

All I could hear was my mom gasping for breath in the middle of sobbing as she tried to tell me that my grandpa had died. I had just talked to my mom probably a half an hour just to catch up, so getting this phone call with her in the described condition caught me a bit off guard. Though we've been expecting this for a while, there's nothing that can really prepare you for the loss of such an amazing person. My mom was impacted doubly seeing as how she and my dad were going to visit my grandpa tomorrow. 

When I first got the news, I had no option but to keep it together. I was with students and a colleague. Having gone into automatic mode, I was able to stay that way until probably an hour after class was over. As I was driving home, I broke down into tears for the first time. I have no doubt that these little bouts will continue to come as the truth of it really settles in.

Unable to focus on my work, I sat and prayed for a while. Part of my spirit is so excited to know that my grandpa is home with his Maker. He's is finally home! I can only imagine the celebration that happened in the heavens today as he was ushered into the presence of our God. The other part of my spirit is experiencing a certain level of grief, and then the Lord gave me this:
"The humanity that I know so well is that which causes Me to grieve as you grieve in loss, but My glory is also the glory that rejoices as one leaves the earthly and is ushered into the heavenly."
Yes, there is celebrating today, but the truth of it is, I can also find solace in the fact that Jesus understands my grief. He too experienced the duality of the situation, and I find great peace in that as I'm reminded how much He understands everything that we go through. This aspect of who God is reflects the depth of His love for us. 
Praise you, Father. Our lives are best lived in Your hands. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kiddos Galore

The older I get and the older my friends get, the more we become surrounded with kiddos. At this point in my life, i'm surrounded by theirs, of course :). I'm humbled to know such amazing couples who are also amazing parents. I'm so thankful for how honest these friends are as they are constantly learning to become better and better parents.

The other day, I had the opportunity to hang out with my friend Katy and her two lovelies--Selah and Sophia. It was pretty hilarious; Katy and I were running all over the place just to keep the kids out of the street in order to get some pictures of the kids doing what they do best--be themselves!

Lethally cute:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lexical Landscapes: How we paint our worlds

"There are many things, in an unknown place, that you won't know how to look for, shapes you won't recognize, movement you won't understand. Learning the language of a landscape is the way we come to inhabit our world."

I'm using words right now to convey my thoughts to you. I realize that "duh" is probably the first thing that came to your mind, but that was just a prime opportunity demonstrating how saturated with words our worlds are. Even when I'm thinking to myself, i'm thinking in the form of words. When you're annoyed and yelling at someone internally, when you're admiring how beautiful someone is, when you're going through to-do lists in your mind, reading road signs, writing letters, receiving text messages, apologizing, saying "hey"--you're interacting with words. There's no escaping them!

We've heard that a man (or a woman) is only as good as his word. In some ways, I feel as though we've veered off from this and adopted the notion that words are fleeting, so it doesn't really matter how or where we invest our use of them. Typical language today consists of sentences strung together by the choice adhesive of the F-bomb or something of that nature. I'm not necessarily condoning or condemning --i'm just simply saying that we have come to a place in our society where we choose lackluster words to paint our landscapes. We forget the power that is connected to our words and have settled for much less than what we were intended to experience. 

Words can hurt or harm, but they are also incredible catalysts for love and life. It's ultimately a matter of volition and surrender that allows us to bless others rather than curse them with the words that come out of our mouths. In order to use words that give life, we often times have to get over ourselves. For example, saying "I'm sorry" and really meaning it requires us to embrace a posture of humility; saying "I love you" can require sacrifice; and calling someone out requires us to acknowledge that love isn't always comfortable. 

Words aren't just the things that come out of our mouths. They are the very thoughts and complexities that find their very roots in our spirits and manifest in different forms. The charge here is that we take with open arms the gift we've been given rather than sowing seeds of death and destruction. It could be as simple as saying, "Hello." It could be as powerful as saying, "I forgive you."

I could say so much more. Though, I feel as though i'm already rambling. I do want to bring everything full circle with this: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." It's no surprise that we can't escape words. If we as human beings are made in the very image of the Most High God, than our very tapestry consists of words (the Word). Having the Living Word in us is proof that we were created to be vessels that cultivate love and life, that encourage, that spur on, and live in such a way that His Word is evident to those around us. 

I know I need to be reminded of this constantly, but I also realize that it's insanely humbling to know what kind of power we've been given to love (What better way to inhabit the world, right?) :). 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ESL Survey: How Much English Do you Speak?

Students, thank you so much for taking the time to take this survey!  

[Note: This survey is made specifically for our ESL students. Please do not take it if you are not an ESL student :). Thank you.]

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Some pictures from the Identity and Inheritance Conference in Isla Vista--it was an amazing time of fellowship, worship, and being in the presence of our Jesus :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


[Some reminders and gems from the Conference I went to last weekend]

We often forget who we are. We often forget the men and women God has created us to be.

At the core of our being, we are sons and daughters of the King. We are heirs of His kingdom, which means we have rights to the Kingdom of God. God delights in us living in His Kingdom--as active participants. To live freely means to live knowing our identity and our inheritance. If we live out of a wounded identity, that means that we are experiencing a void of the Father--not experiencing covenant love in that area in our lives.

We need to have the right understanding of what it means for God to be Father. The Father does not withhold anything from His children. He is a loving Father who has called us into adoption--a relationship and a bond that can never be broken. He is approachable. Jesus came, gave His life, and was raised up from the grave, so that we could come boldly before the Father. May we experience more of what it's like to sit in Abba's lap--listening to His heart for us.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We are "kalein." Yay-uh!

In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning says that, "The bending of the mind by the powers of this world has twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal, small-minded bookkeeper."

How do we break from this idea that our relationship with Jesus is one of great freedom and deep affection rather than one that paints the picture of a business transaction: "Ok,, Jesus. I'm going to make myself perfect, and then we'll hang out. Cuz i'm pretty sure that you wouldn't want anything to do with me otherwise..."  

How do we break from religious bondage into spiritual freedom? We break from bondage by knowing who we are and Whose we are. It seems to always come back to those two truths.

The lies are that we have gone too far, waited too long, or not done enough to receive love. The lies then tell us that we have to make up for lost time, earn rights to or somehow work hard enough to be received and accepted. 

For all the lies that there are,they are countered by one truth: That's just it: we can't do anything. We can only be--be who He has invited us to be. We are His beloved children, honored guests at his banquet table, and heirs of the kingdom. Nothing we do creates distance between ourselves and Jesus. It's our flesh that tells us there's a rift. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us...always.

In the New Testament where Jesus was known to dine with sinners and tax collectors, the word kalein is used--the Greek word for invite. The craziest thing about this word is that it implies that these were guests of honor. Honor! Those considered outcasts and scum of their societies in that their time were invited as honored guests in the presence of Jesus.

Let's be honest here. Grasping the depths of this is freakin' hard. We can and will spend our whole lifetimes being blown away at the ginormousness (yes, I just used that) of His grace. 

We are not ostracized from the grace of love of God; we are guilty of ostracizing ourselves when we believe the lie over the truth. Not only does He pursue us, He takes joy in doing so.

"Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted."
-B. Manning


Monday, October 25, 2010

Irrevocable: No Take-backs.

True love (and by this, I mean agape love) is unmerited. We do nothing to deserve it. It is beautifully bestowed upon us for no other reason than for the truth that we have been chosen. Agape love is a sacrificial love that demonstrates one's volition to pursue someone, accept someone, and serve someone even though there is nothing that is inherently worthy about the one who is being loved.

Though a beautiful and weighty truth, this is one of the hardest things for human beings to accept. How on earth is love freely given? We live so often by the concepts of earning, buying or having to work really hard for something before we can attain it. Simply put: This is yet another backdrop for the subversiveness of Jesus Christ: His love is just that--unconditional.

My flesh desires to strive, to earn and to make myself good enough to deserve something. The reality is that there is absolutely nothing I can do in the sight of Christ to make me more lovable, more acceptable, more whole, or more ready for His love. It is without condition. Truly, there are no strings attached. This is insanely counter to what we know as humans.

More often than not, our flesh experiences conditional love. We're loved until we do something wrong or don't meet expectations that others have put up for us. The idea that we can be loved less by someone because of our own fault is, in some ways, more believable and more of a reality than the fact that someone could love us despite everything we've done.

The image that paints the best picture for me is the that of adoption (as it is used in its original context). Adoption implies that the child is chosen--for good. Once that child is adopted, he or she cannot be returned (How harsh does that sound?), given over to someone else, or exchanged for someone who is better. He or she is chosen forever--no questions asked. In essence, the parent says, "I choose you--no if's and's or but's."
This choosing is done forever. The parent will always choose the child. It's not a one time thing. If that is true, then not only is it a continual process of being chosen, it's a continual process for the child to to receive that love and to claim his or her identify of being child.

This is what I continue to learn more deeply every day. I am in great need of His grace--the grace that enables me to receive His unmerited love and to claim my true identity in Him. I am a daughter of the King--fully loved, fully received, and given life to be experienced in the fullest.

May His grace abound in us, so that we can really live this out.

Poor blog attendance.

I've been absent from this blog for a while. In the midst of going to school and finishing up my program as well as teaching, I've found that spare time is minimal, and when I do have some, the last thing I want to do is sit on my computer some more. I am slightly bummed though because so much has gone on, and I wish that I would have been more intentional about keeping record of it via this blog.

Since I can't sum up everything that has gone on, I can leave you with a friend's post that gives a glimpse into how i'm doing. I'm doing really well, God's teaching me a lot, and i'm excited for what the future holds.

My friend Rosina took some pictures for a teaching website that i'm starting, and this is the post that she featured on her blog. I love how she takes pictures. She is not into posing, which is great because I can't pose to save my life. Here is what we ended up with during a morning coffee date I had with her:

Here's one of the pictures she took while we were at breakfast.
 By the way, if you haven't eaten at Starling diner in Long Beach, you are missing out!
I highly recommend it. They've won awards for their delicious french toast and converted me, a non-french-toasting eating gal, to one who almost has to split an order every time i go there.

Monday, August 23, 2010


is when he was born :).

Though it may not appear this way in the picture, he was still crackin' jokes when we went to visit him. Dave got to meet grandpa, which was such a blessing. We got to laugh, pray, and share stories of old.  So rad.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To have His mind... my prayer for all of us. May we have the mind of Christ.

I'll leave you with this excerpt from Mr. Chambers--good old Oswald.

Come unto Me." Matthew 11:28

God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God's will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.

Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one - "Come unto Me." The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come.

I love the emphasis on the fact that freedom, healing, and experiencing love have so little to do with what we do--but rather Who we come to. May our awareness of Him--His love and grace move us. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I started to write, but nothing seemed to suffice. If you've read the last few posts of mine, you'll remember that I wrote a blog about my grandpa. He's in the hospital again. Last Thursday he told my uncle that he was experiencing severe stomach pains, and the doctors informed my uncle that his stomach is shrinking. Eating is essentially impossible, and if anything is swallowed, it's excruciatingly painful. The doctors are giving him about 72 more hours. He is SO ready to go home. I also can't help but think that my grandma is so excited to be able to see her man again after 9 years of being apart :).

I'm in the midst of a Beth Moore Bible study and came across one of her poems. When I first heard it, I was immediately swept away in the posture of worship that it facilitates, but when I read it again, the only thing I could think of was the way it fully reflects my grandpa's life from the moment he met Jesus until he takes his last. I'm fighting back tears as I think about it, but you have to know that these tears are the kind that I can feel with my whole body--the kind that are bit required for healthy grieving but mostly comprised of deep, deep joy and celebration. He's about to be ushered into the Kingdom of Heaven by His Maker. I can think of no greater joy. He is going to be so welcomed!

I'll leave you with the poem. I hope it causes you to go to your knees, or to lift your eyes to the skies in wonder, or to raise your hands in adoration. I hope it stirs a holy joy within you.

River of Delights

I want to drink from your river of delights.
I want to dance before Your throne.
I want to chase You to the depths and the heights.
I want to live all my way home.

I want my eyes to be open till they're close,d
and faith gives way to that holy sight.
But while I've the dust of Earth between my toes,
I want to live with all Your might.

I want to shout hallelujah while I can,
Living life in the abundant and beyond.
Splashing in Your Spirit and lifting up my hands, 
I want peace life a river, not a pond.

I want to drink from Your river of delights.
I want to dance before Your throne. 
I want to chase You to the depths and to the heights.
I want to live all my way home. 

Grandpa's currently in San Jose, and I'm hoping to make a trip up there on Friday. Grandpa, wait for me, please.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Group Effort.

I'm teaching a Culture class for some International students, and we were discussing various quotes on education. I wanted to share some that I like, and I wanted the students to leave me with some that they have from their own countries or some they've gathered along the way. Here's what we came up with:

"The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn--and change." --Carl Rogers

"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't." --Anatole France

"Education would be so much effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and gril should know how much they don't know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it. --Sir William Haley

"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." --Oliver Wendell Holmes

"You learn something every day if you pay attention." --Ray LeBlond

"Teachers open the door, but you enter by yourself." --Chinese Proverb

"Education is not just the answer to the question. Education is the means to answer all questions." --William Allin

"The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live." --Mortimer Adler

"Keep learning until you die."

"If you nap, you will dream; but if you study, you will interpret the dream." --a Taiwanese quote

"Complacency is the enemy of studying." --a Taiwanese quote

"Cleverness depends on hard work. Talent depends on the accumulation of the hard work."

"Learning is like rowing a boat upstream. If you don't try to move further, you decline."

"Education is from birth to death."

Do you have any others that are your favorites? If so, please add to the collection by writing them in a comment! Thanks! :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Absent. Present.

Maybe he's just late, I thought. Typically punctual, he was nowhere to be found. Confused and curious, I went on with my day and just waited to find out what the explanation could be for his absence. Fast forward to the following day. Out of breath and apologetic, Masato hurriedly came into class explaining why he wasn't there the day before.

Teacher, wallet...lost. I take bus--first bus...lost wallet. 

"Well, Masato, how did you get to school?"

Call my host family...pick me up. No pass for money. Nothing. 

"Oh no, Masato! I'm so sorry! That's terrible!"

Gathering my thoughts and shuffling papers together to continue on with my lesson for the day, I listened intently to the conversation that was taking place between Masato and another student of mine, Hussein.

Once Hussein had heard what had happened to Masato, he looked Masato square in the eyes and said, "Money. Do you need money?" Shocked and slightly embarrassed, Masato quickly gasped "No! No! So-k!" Hussein--still insistent--replied with this:

"Please. If you need help. Ask. Anytime. We are family--like brothers."

These students have been together in class for about four weeks. Hussein is from Saudi Arabia (where most of my students are from) and Masato is from Japan. Though their English is limited, these two had an incredibly weighty exchange. What lacked in eloquence and impressive vocabulary was made up for in honesty, generosity and loyalty to one's brother. Hussein meant what he said, and I was moved, challenged and inspired.

I realize that this brief anecdote sheds light onto a number of cultural implications, but at the root of it all, I was reminded how we are put on this earth to love God and love others--bringing glory to His name. Do we put each other's needs before our own? Are we being intentional about staying aware of our surroundings so that we can meet the needs of those around us? Are we selfish or selfless in our day-to-day?

That simple yet profound response to a brother's difficult situation has stayed in my head for days: We are family--like brothers. Even if we only understood a morsel of the power behind this statement, our lives would be much richer as we get to experience a bit more of the heart of Christ.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Long Overdue: A Ugandan Thank You [Afoyo]

Friends and Family,

With the semester over and summer here along with time for me to process and pray through my experience in Uganda, I've finally been able to write a letter of thanks: 

It was a six-hour drive from the city of Kampala to the village of Gulu. As we traveled across the unpaved roads of Uganda, I found myself staring out the window of our 16-seater bus for 5 of those hours with my mouth wide open in sheer amazement or with eyes full of tears—overwhelmed by our Creator. The experience of deep worship for those hours returns to me now as I reflect and share about my sweet time there. Looking at the endless skies and vast expanse of land that seemed to go on forever covered in the most stunning splashes of color, I couldn’t help but marvel at the work of God’s hands—thanking Him for filling this earth with His art that we might partake of His beauty. As I thanked Him for all I was seeing, He spoke to me in a most loving voice: Do you see how amazed you are at all that you see—the nature, the clouds, and the trees? All these things I have made are beautiful, but YOU [all of my children] are my favorite. You are the most beautiful and most precious of all of my creation; I’m amazed by you. For the remainder of the trip, He wanted me to see the depth and breadth of those words He had spoken. He also wanted others to experience the power of those words, and for reasons all stemming from His indescribable love, chose me to share them. I’m forever changed.

Though there are countless stories I could share about how God showed His love, grace, mercy and power and how His Spirit moved, I will limit myself (and spare you the novel) by sharing one that will forever be in my heart. Each team member was given the opportunity to give his/her testimony. My day came on the third day of our medical outreaches—in the village of Alero Cuku. The Passion of the Christ was showing when the generator shut down. In the dead stillness of night and by the light of a few flashlights, I was led up in front of 200 something gorgeous faces, staring intently at me. I had asked the Lord to make my story relevant in so many different contexts on this trip because His story is always relevant. As I opened my mouth to speak, He removed all nerves and inundated me with His confidence. It was as though the Lord gave me a script to read. The picture He gave me was of all of the children and young people (those whom I was sharing with) as gifts during Christmas time and how He couldn’t wait to open them because He knew exactly what (who) was inside. Through that, I was just able to share with them how beautiful they are, how much God delights in them and can’t get enough of them, and how they don’t have to do a single thing to earn the love of Christ. Again, the words He spoke to me on the bus became a driving force of His love. His children are His favorite and he chooses us over and over again. That night, God gave my heart the biggest gift: As Pastor Martin finished translating for me, he asked the crowd if anyone wanted to receive Jesus. Knowing that He chooses them, countless hands shot up into the air as they chose Him. The joy of the Lord saturated that village, and witnessing that number of children come to know the Lord was the realization of one of my heart’s songs. Praise the Lord.

I can’t thank you enough for all of your support; words are failing me. They can’t do what the Lord did and is doing in Gulu, in our team or in me justice (shoot—in all of us!). Through this trip, God showed me another layer of the calling He has placed on my life. I’m currently at Biola University getting my MA in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). While I was in Gulu, I learned as much Acholi as I could in a short time. In that, God showed me an ease and great joy in acquiring language—a glimpse of His provision for me to learn whatever I need to learn in the future. I ask that you would join me in prayer. I’ll be in school for another year and a half and am open to God calling me to any part of the world. Pray for clarity and discernment. Also, I ask that you would pray that my all of my schooling would be worship unto Him. I’m so thankful for the opportunity of such a rich education with professors who desire both professional and spiritual development for their students. Lastly and most importantly, I ask that you continue to intercede on behalf of the people of Uganda. God is moving mightily as He raises up outstanding men and women over there to be powerful leaders of His kingdom. Pray for continued restoration of the villages, of the people, and for greater vision of what the Lord is doing there. We trust that God has shown favor on Uganda for the purposes of advancing the Gospel to the rest of Africa and unto the world.
Again, thank you for partnering with me in the work of His Kingdom. Uganda holds a special place in my heart and I wanted to be able to give you a glimpse of that. We were there for about two weeks and 8 of those days were spent in Gulu. I’ve prepared a slideshow of some of our trip. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such beauty in my life as I have over there. With that in mind, I know that the Lord is calling that type of vision for all of us—to His beauty—in any and all of our surroundings. I pray that the eyes of our hearts are further opened. Holy Spirit, come; we want more of what You want.

With so much love and gratitude,


Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Been a While: Inspired by Inspiration

The dust is finally settling (quite literally, I swept our hardwood floors for the first time and you should've seen the results of that!) from our move from the 5th St. Apt. to Casita Termino.

After about a week and a half of being surrounded by a maze of boxes and with clutter as forced decor, Amber and I are finally settling in--or at least trying to as we're both busy with work and life. It's the first time that it's just the two of us, and we're really excited that we share the same aesthetic amongst other things. She is a blessing. This new home is a blessing. We both desire that it is a place that brings life to all who come through those doors--a place of community and a place where we witness the many shades of Love.

A friend came over today to just chat (she's a full-time mom with a knack for capturing creative moments with her camera) and was inspired by the set up of our new apartment [Friendly Snapping]. As I watched her snap away, I was reminded what a blessing it is that i'm surrounded by inspiration.

As I took in my surroundings, I was overwhelmed by God's goodness--thankful for the people in my life, the love I experience, the home I have over my head amidst a plethora of other things. As I prayed, I was reminded:

With the eyes of His Spirit, that which is already deep meets new depths, all that is color embraces new vibrancy, that which is mundane transforms into beauty, farfetched dreams become reality, all that is still becomes a dance, that which is broken is restored and all that was dead comes to know Life.

What a gift it is that He gives us eyes to see out of His vision and His reality. May we see beauty in the big things, the little things, and the things we often too quickly deem as normal.  

An ode to our new home:

Tree stumps courtesy neighbors who decided to throw them away
Sweet pot/planter-->  a find at a neighborhood garage sale
Barrel courtesy of someone's alley trash-->Our treasure
Our mustard couch-->$20 dollar find from a slightly clueless neighbor :)

One of these things is not like the other...

Goodwill finds

Courtesy alley sale-->some of them are from the Prohibition

We were delighted by the older details but slightly shocked that there's no
trash disposal in the sink

Some call it old and worn down. We call it character

Our coffee table for the time being-->A trunk given to us for freeninetynine a
few years back

Our $40 couch find with its pillow friends

Our cacti. The little dude on the right is currently going
through a growth spurt 

Well, I suppose on some level I just gave you a small tour of our home :). Thanks for coming along! 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...