Monthly Archives: April 2014

Broken Promises

Have you ever made a promise to yourself that you thought God would help you keep? And when you didn’t keep it, did it make you angry at God? If it did, who did you run to? Who helped you get back on your feet and fulfill that promise? If you didn’t get angry at God, how did you respond?

I answer these questions for myself with a tame mind, though still fully aware of my own “broken” promises, the promise to give up Facebook, the promise to have a clean room. This is probably one of the rare moments when my Facebook page isn’t up, but most of the time, I feel as though I slipped back to old ways, the ways I felt so much better without.

Now, whenever my mom walks past my room, she’ll see my five million statuses (and a few selfies) on my Facebook page…unless I can hide it right away. When she comes in, she’ll step over a million pieces of dirty clothes, clothes that I “promised” wouldn’t even touch the floor. So much for keeping my promises.

So here I am, listening to worship music, Jeremy Camp singing about God’s promises. God never broke His promises. In fact, He never actually promised to fulfill my promises to myself. He promised to love me unconditionally, though not without problems. One of my problems is overcommitment. How can I be mad at God when it wasn’t His fault that I overcommitted?

Somehow, I’m not angry. I’m on the fence of blaming myself and letting it go. I have the mentality that if I can just stay connected to God and use Facebook “in moderation,” that promise might seem broken, but it wasn’t meant to be made in the first place. I’ve never looked at it this way without anger before. Whenever I broke promises to myself, I’d beg a friend to give me advice. Maybe I’m not angry now because of the amount of prayer easing my mind, or the beautiful worship music…or most important, maybe it’s God’s message to me that those are just two promises that I made to myself and they weren’t meant to be kept. So I should just trust that only God’s promise will remain fulfilled.

That being said, maybe it’s okay if I forgive myself for using Facebook too much. Maybe I can just set goals to keep my room straight and eyes off Facebook instead of promises to prevent myself from overcommitment. Maybe God already blessed me with less commitment to reduce my anger and anxiety. Maybe He won’t fix anyone else’s broken promises to themselves, but He’ll find some way to bless their honesty in those broken promises and free them from frustration.


Being Called a “Prisoner of God”

I’ve been told by some people that I was living like a “prisoner of God” just because of the decision to replace some modern-day pleasures with heavenly pleasures.

Whenever I heard this, I was caught completely off-guard. But it didn’t anger me at all. Momentarily, I would wonder…SHOULD I be offended? Did I say the wrong thing? The sources of this type of comment didn’t really know my life. They knew pieces of my life, but not my whole life. Maybe the problem was that I said too much too soon, or maybe I just wasn’t being clear. Maybe I should have held my tongue and prayed about the messages that I wanted to get across.

After all, the comment that I was like a “prisoner of God” made me see how we can easily misinterpret words and stories from people we don’t really know. But then, I thought about how much of this misinterpretation is our fault and how much of it really matters for religious purposes. The ways we talk about ourselves and our beliefs say a lot about how we view the world, whether we accept it (with love) or reject it (with hate, even if we have seemingly “rational” reasons).

Our beliefs aren’t just based off of “pleasing God,” and what we say isn’t necessarily bad, but it should be honest. While most Christians that I’ve talked to know a lot of scripture, not all of them go by the whole Bible. They deal with everyday life based on their given circumstances, no black-or-white solutions to problems.

Recently, I talked to a Christian friend about how to talk about faith. Lately, I’ve been more straightforward with my beliefs, not afraid to speak up about them. But my friend said that she thinks it’s best to just be yourself and do what you’re comfortable with. So I thought…maybe that was why some people thought I was a “prisoner of God.” Maybe I seemed like a 5-year old trying to earn a present for being “good.”

The truth is, I wasn’t just trying to “please God.” I needed to rely on my faith to stay positive. It helped me cope with daily challenges. If I talk about my faith like this with people who don’t really know my faith, I can understand why I would seem like a prisoner of God. I’m not ashamed about my beliefs. However, I am sorry if I seemed to offend people by coming off as condescending and/or closed off about my personal beliefs.

In order to prevent non-believers from assuming that Christians are “prisoners of God,” it would be helpful to consider the difference between personal and religious beliefs and then define what a personal life is. According to, personal is defined as, “of, pertaining to, or coming from as a particular person.” defines religious as, “of, pertaining to, or concerned with religion.” Now, you’re probably thinking that seems like obvious information, but that’s not always the case. When someone seems really dead-set on religious beliefs, the personal beliefs seem irrelevant to the person’s life.

Listed under the title “personal,” defines a person’s personal life as, “relating to, directed to, or intended for a particular person.” So when we’re talking about a personal life, we’re talking about that person’s hobbies, goals, careers, experiences, etc. Religion is important for a personal life, but even personal events can trigger a change in a person’s life, thus changing personal beliefs.

If there is a good balance of conversation between the person’s religious beliefs and personal beliefs, it will be easier to convey how they are different. It will be easier for other people to see how the person’s personal life is affected not only by religious beliefs, but also by personal beliefs.

That being said, when I tell people that I pray every day, I should emphasize the point that it doesn’t just have to do with religion. Yes, religion is part of it, but so is my personal life because prayer brings peace and hope to my life, especially when I need it the most. Also, when I say that I don’t drink, it’s not just because of my religious belief that it’s “not in God’s name.” It also has to do with my lifestyle and personal preferences, all of which make up my personal life. Since my personal life is so dear to me and I fulfill it the best I can (for myself, not just God), I am not a prisoner of God, but a lover of both God and myself.

Works Cited:

“Personal.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 23 Apr. 2014.

“Religious.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 23 Apr. 2014.

You or God?

“How do you know if God’s speaking to you, or if it’s just your own voice?”

My friend’s question woke me up in the middle of the night. I had been wondering how to answer this for days, occasionally asking myself the same thing, then asking God for clarity.

To my surprise, I found myself awake at 4:30 a.m., writing a drawn-out explanation about my God-given epiphany. I didn’t find out how to express it when I wanted to. I wasn’t going to wake up before 5:30 a.m. I needed sleep, and then I would wake up and read. But my friend’s question begged to be answered! It would not let me sleep! I prayed to God for sleep, but He would not let me. I had the answer to my question right in front of me the whole time, and it only became clear during dreamless sleep. That’s when I realized…God wakes you up (literally) to get a message out or fulfill a calling.

By “wakes you up,” I don’t mean that you’ll wake up with reluctance saying, “Oh, dang! Now, I can’t go back to sleep! Way to ruin my day, God! Fine. I’ll just do this so that you’ll let me sleep.” I mean, you’ll wake up saying, “I was going to sleep, but so many things are pressing on my heart! Okay, God! I’ll do your will right now!” You’ll wake up with something more than obedience, but EXCITED obedience. You’ll find yourself using knowledge in God’s name.

Now, I’ll be honest. At first, I thought I was just waking up to write all of this down so that I wouldn’t forget about it. But I already knew that if God gave me a passion for writing, I could come up with something after my alarm goes off. Yet, I’m sitting in front of my computer screen RIGHT NOW, half-asleep in my mind and fully awake in Spirit. The Spirit woke me up to write this.

Think about what you’ve been wanting to do. Has it ever woken you up at night? Have you ever thought, Although I hadn’t planned on doing this now, there’s a great reason I am? That’s the Spirit waking you up to tell you, “This is what I want from you. This is your gift. Use it, and I’ll make sure that it’s in my name.” Then, instead of having doubts about whether it’s ALL your own will, you’ll realize that God led you to do whatever it is at a time when you didn’t think you’d be doing something. By the time you’re done, you’ll be surprised at what you accomplished and know that the Spirit was guiding you the whole time.

Some of you might still be convinced that it was all you, something in your mind telling you to accomplish something. But what about your heart? What’s in your heart? Your mind is mostly you. It holds earthly emotions and some knowledge.

Unlike your mind, your heart is inside of you with something that keeps it beating for something more than earthly life, but life that lives on after you–your Spirit. God is inside of your heart. Some people just follow their minds, but minds are misleading. Your heart lets you know that you have a reason to strive for something, and even though you can’t physically see God, He works through your heart when you do His will.

When you use your mind, it’s easy to think that you’re just accomplishing things out of your own will. But when you use your heart and receive “excited obedience,” you are obeying God by fulfilling His will for you. When you make it a lifestyle to use your heart instead of your mind, you can be sure that God will use it in His name. Therefore, you will hear more from him, and you will have more certainty that it’s His voice instead of your own.

Messages From Selfies

After Lent, I went back on Facebook with the intention of sharing my faith. When I looked back at old photos, I noticed that 99% of them were selfies, all of me looking happy and “dolled up!” Not only that, but some of them were edited. Why? Well…maybe I didn’t think about it at the time, but it was probably self-praise from competition. It’s almost like saying, “Oh, God didn’t make me as good-looking as that person on my friends list! Well, that’s okay. I’ll just change a few things. There. Now, I’m good. I win.” It was probably social insecurity.

With social insecurity, editing a selfie naturally requires editing our faces, not our hearts. So much for analyzing the right thing! I look back at my old photos, aware that the mood was always right. But who was on my mind and heart when I took them? How long did I spend trying to “fix” myself, and for whom?

When I went onto the JCLU website to buy a T-shirt, I saw a lot of “Deny Thy Selfies” shirts. I wanted to buy one. But then, I remembered my selfie addiction. Sometimes, to get rid of the guilt, I rationalized the addiction with, “I was bored.” But was I really bored? I was in college when I took most of those photos. I could have been spending that time talking to people from InterVarsity or church. I could have been making more connections to bring more people to Christ. I could have been spending all of the time I was “praising myself” to bring healing to another person’s heart…if I had looked less at my face and more at God’s desires for my heart.

Today, when I took a selfie, I decided to do it with purpose. Yes, I did take longer than I wanted to, but the point of it was to draw attention to a necklace that I bought at Family Christian Store. The necklace says, “Fully Rely on God.” In the photo, I was extending my arm out to emphasize the message. My head was angled so that I was more focused on the necklace than on my face. The whole message was shown while some of my head was cut off. I was wearing makeup, but because I was more focused on the necklace, it wasn’t important for the photo.

That photo probably took about as much time to take as any other photo that I’ve actually edited, but the editing was done to reveal the message that God is more important than my face in a selfie. From now on, when I take selfies and put them on Facebook, I want to send the right messages by focusing on the right aspects of the photos.

God’s Timing

Some people say, “You’ll never be able to do that!” or “You’re not ready for that” or “You’ve tried that a THOUSAND times, and it STILL hasn’t happened!”

I’ve thought about this issue a lot, and I’ve blamed it on lack of faith from other people. But what I found is that they don’t know you, and they don’t know how God works in your life. No one really understands the concept of effort and time. A lot of us don’t realize that effort and time don’t always link together. We don’t always remember that faith doesn’t always make things happen in our preferred timing, but it does give us hope, which gives us the will to try.

I’ve talked about where I am in life. I’m living at home at 23 years old with a part-time job. This is not where I’ll be all my life, but to some people, maybe it is. Are they right? Am I right? No one really knows…except for God.

There are nights when I walk outside just to get out of the house. Without a license, I can’t go very far. The longer I’m home, the more I FEEL like I’ll never go very far. BUT I KNOW that I could very well be wrong.

I have tried driving with my mom, and there have been a few good experiences. It feels as though the bad experiences have outweighed the good experiences.

One morning, I prayed about driving to work before I actually tried it. I had a really good feeling about it. The problem? I didn’t ask God, “Is now the right time?” I just said, “Okay, God. I WANT to drive to work. Make this happen!”

The outcome…was awful. I had so much pride and confidence that I couldn’t stay focused on what I was doing. I missed the spot when I had to change lanes. So when I changed lanes too late, I nearly ran into the car beside me. My mom FREAKED OUT…with good reason! My reaction was completely out of line.

“MAYBE IF YOU HAD A LITTLE MORE FAITH IN ME!!!…” followed by swear word after swear word after swear word.

No one was happy. I pulled into the nearest parking lot to let my mom drive, my heart really sad and guilty for what I said. Plus, I ruined my goal of not letting anger get to me. I knew that none of what I said would be true hours later, but in the moment, I was angry because I lost my pride. I thought that driving to work (no matter what happened) would make it a GOOD day. I wasn’t prepared to go to work crying. I wasn’t prepared to feel like that one bad driving experience would determine my future.

Looking back, I think my mom had faith in me, but she probably had more faith in timing and God’s plans for me. Some people have pointed out that she’s a realist, and I’m a dreamer. That’s where the conflicts start. I have all of this hope that I feel the need to share because, deep down, I FEEL like it’ll make a difference. Other people, like my mom, bring a good point that things don’t always go our way. It doesn’t always have to do with effort, and it doesn’t always have to do with faith. It really is God’s pre-determined plans for us.

They say that “With Christ, all things are possible” and “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” But a lot of people only think about the first part: “I can do all things…” Where does God come in? Better yet, where does God’s PLAN come in?

God already set the road He wants us to walk. With our efforts to get to Him, he guides us, making sure that we don’t slip. There is ONE thing that we can be SURE of: God has our best interests in mind. HE will never fail us. People will fail us, and we might feel like we fail ourselves. But with full trust in God, we will see abundant blessings, blessings that we may not have thought we wanted. Even if we are disappointed at certain moments, we will not be disappointed forever because God has amazing ways of revealing himself. We just have to wait for His timing.

5 Tips for Shopping at a Christian Store

I’ll be honest. I’m not good at coming up with lists of “do’s and don’t”s. I usually just let my mind wander. During those times, my thoughts seem disorganized. But every once in awhile (like when I go to the Family Christian Store), I realize that it’s easy to come up with a list of things that you should do. So here’s a list of tips for shopping at a Christian store.

1. Become a member.

This was honestly a decision that I made without having to think twice…and I’m usually very indecisive. If you’re a church member, it makes sense to become a member of a Christian store. When you have that card in your wallet, you’re more likely to take it out and say to yourself, “I’m going there!” Besides, unlike most of the other stores, this store actually has items with meaningful messages, messages of faith that people don’t always take the time to think about. When you become a member, you can get “members only” items for $5, like books and CDs that you would usually have to pay more for at other places.

2. Overspend.

Very rarely do I say this (because I like to save money), but when you’re buying something to reveal your faith, it’s worth the cost. It’s not like you’re buying pints of ice cream that will be gone in two seconds just to relieve depression. You’re buying items that will remind you of God’s unfailing love not just today, but every day. If you decide to buy several items that seem expensive, think about how much your heart needs them, not your mind. When you rely on your heart instead of your mind, it’s easier to make decisions quickly without having regrets.

3. Talk to people.

When you go to a Christian store, it’s pretty much guaranteed that other Christians will be there. If you like a saying on a person’s shirt, talk to them about it. Tell them what it means to you. If you overhear a conversation about God and you have a question about something, don’t be afraid to speak up. Chances are, the people you talk to have already discussed the topic with a million other people. They can always use your insight, and theirs can be helpful for you.

4. Write down prayer requests.

If you’re going to a Christian store and a cashier is talking about prayers, write down a list for the person. Do it whenever something comes to mind. Do it before you start shopping. When you do, the cashier might be able to give you suggestions on what to buy. In addition to that, you might have a prayer partner or at least someone who will pray for you that day.

5. Listen to the music.

You won’t hear anything explicit or negative at a Christian store. If you’re looking for healing, you won’t have to worry about hearing Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey or Let Her Go by Passenger. Instead, you’ll hear something like Overcomer by Mandisa, which will help you find healing faster. The music that you listen to at a Christian store will make you want to come back. When you go home after shopping at a place with positive music, you’re more likely to make that positivity part of your home and your life.

Sharing Testimonies of Faith

Some people say that their testimony of faith is too personal for them to share. For most of my life, that was my way of thinking. I didn’t think anyone could understand my testimony if they couldn’t understand my situations. They couldn’t understand my desire to meet my birth parents because I was adopted. They couldn’t understand my learning disabilities and how I had to fight to get through them. They couldn’t understand how hard it was to lose my dad at 17 and try to live like a “normal”, fully-functioning human being. So how could I get them to understand why I still had faith and how I applied it to my life? Why would I share my story with so many emotions building up? I thought all of my struggles had to be shared with an attitude of faith, not a lifestyle. THAT was where I was wrong.

When you look at life through an introspective lens, every piece of faith looks like they’re all about how you react to your situations. But you should not be looking at your testimony as a collection of broken pieces. Faith, no matter how you got it, is nothing to be ashamed of, but the overall story is to be praised. Living out faith is more than an attitude; it’s a lifestyle. Life is the whole time span of your personal events on Earth–tragedies, celebrations, everything that happens to you. An attitude is just a display of emotion in one part of life. A lifestyle is much bigger than that. It’s the “HOW” part of life–how you live your life and all of the moments, good and bad.

Having faith is just a part of your testimony. Faith fluctuates, but you should always share it. Even when you’re not burning with faith, it’s okay. The more you share the times when you’re not on fire with God, the more those parts of your story become part of your lifestyle. Being bold, striving to get people to just hear your story, becomes your lifestyle.

When I look back on my desire to meet my birth parents, my hardships to overcome disabilities, my nights spent crying after losing my dad, I can honestly say that those things became part of my testimony. It took a long time to share it without feeling awkward about it, but it happened. Sharing my faith has become my lifestyle because I enjoy talking about it and seeing how it can get people to think about God in their own lives.

I feel that I should talk about my faith because I have a lifestyle of sharing with others. It’s more than an attitude. It’s more than me saying, “Today’s good. I’ll talk about my faith. People will get it because I have a reason to have faith.” Really, when I describe my faith, I’m saying, “All of these things in my life happened to make me stronger. Some of them were tragic, really hard to talk about, and not many people understand everything. But that’s okay. I’m still revealing why I have faith. God wants everyone to do the same.” So instead of my testimony being “too personal” for me to share, I use my lifestyle to create a sense of unity with people around me. 

Hearing God’s Voice

In the briefest crack of the noise, your voice slipped through. Suddenly, the floors of my room shook, and I climbed into my bed, begged you to let me sleep. But you demanded that I wake up, listen to you while I had a chance. So I listened, and the floor stopped shaking. Everything was just quiet. When I didn’t think it was possible, my mind was finally quiet. “What did you do?” I asked. Nothing but your voice echoed in my ear. “Wake up. Listen to me.” And I listened, and I moved to Christian music. Your voice was repeated a million times in the lyrics. I listened, and suddenly, I was on my knees. I didn’t want to get back up. At every song that had the word “weep,” I couldn’t stop weeping. My weeping just got louder as your voice got louder. We were in sync with each other. The floor upstairs shook, and the noise got drowned out by your miraculous shouts. I always thought your voice would be peaceful, but in a world this loud, it had to be louder. Still, somehow, it was peaceful in my ears. The shakes before calm repeated throughout the Bible, light and dark, but ultimately light. You are love, peace, beauty, everything that’s good, but I have mistaken you for bad before you drowned out the noise with your amazing voice.

God and Love (God IS Love)

Maybe you grew up thinking that hate would be the only thing you’ll ever know. Maybe it was because your mother and father couldn’t find love for each other. For whatever reason, they lost it when you were too young to remember. So you assumed that they hated you, too, and that would be a good enough reason to hate the world. Maybe in your hate for the world, you noticed that the world was really united in hate, not love. The lies, the gossip that consumes not only their words, but their hearts, inflame your heart as well. So you learn to love hate because it’s all that seems to surround you. When one sign of love is right in front of you, you just shove it away…and you think that no one would notice, that no one would care, not even God.

Or maybe you grew up knowing exactly what love was. Your parents loved God, and you all had the Spirit in your hearts. You thrived off of love because your parents showed you what real love was. But one day, you lost a parent. Did God have a part in it? Would that smile that was on your face have been possible if it wasn’t for love? The questions seem irrelevant in the pain because all you can think about is where the love went. Your parent who’s still living, the widow, asks God why this had to happen, why God took away love. So you finally see a reason to question God’s love. You start to follow the kids who don’t believe in anything, falling away from love and into a world of hate. Hate feels more like love because you’re at least in community.

Or maybe your life’s completely different, grounded in faith, though still not flawless. Maybe you always knew what love was, and your parents loved each other very much. They taught you to value the same love. Maybe you lost a parent, but the parent who’s still alive, the widow, is fully alive with Christ blazing through his or her eyes. Strength and love coincide. You know that one can’t exist without the other. Giving up means falling out of love, lacking commitment. Giving up on God is giving up on love because 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” What does this mean to you? Stay silent about love? Never do what God’s asking you? You can’t picture life without love. You can’t picture life without showing love by at least striving for God’s calling. You get disappointed and occasionally drift from God, but deep down, you know that He always brings you back.



I brought up the first 2 aforementioned tragedies and beliefs to emphasize on the brokenness in this world. I brought up the third faith background to show that God mends our hearts and fixes our views on love, even in tragedies. He wants those who are strong in faith to use their faith for the sake of love, even when it’s hard.

Our views on love can change in hard times, and for some of us, it’s easier to go back to fully loving others the way God wants us to because we fall back in love with Him. Why do we fall back in love with God? We know that His love was so strong, too strong for us to fully imagine. That’s why it’s so hard to love, especially in a world full of hate, especially when so many people and events give us reason after reason to do the opposite of what God says. But when we know the truth, we start to feel differently about love and our lives. Finally, all of those things that we blamed God for and all of those times when we said “Nothing ever changes. There’s only a world of hate” start to put holes in our hearts, holes that we feel called to fill. So we call on God for help, help to reach out to others’ hearts to see great changes. Little by little, the more we pray about this, the more we start to see love impact people around us. The world might always be broken, but we can be the pieces that fill it with love.

Quiet Time With God

Most of the time, I like the nice distraction of Christian rock or worship music to drown out negative emotions and stress from everyday life. But sometimes, those lyrics and the messages just don’t feel like enough. While they free my mind and ease my tension, I don’t think about what I’m really facing, how I’m facing my challenges, and how I could be facing them so much better. Christian music tells me how I should be living my life, but it doesn’t reveal God’s voice directly to my situations. Through lyrics, God speaks to everyone, not just one person who’s calling out to Him for a specific purpose.

When I listen to music, I feel happy. I feel that I have no reason not to be happy because life just seems perfect. I feel like I’m on the right track. So I forget that the real reason I turned to  worship music was because I needed comfort. I forget that if I hadn’t listened to the music, I would need something greater to fill a void. I would need to talk to someone, cry to someone. I would need to feel what’s real in my heart and reveal it to the only being who always listens to me to get true clarity.

Clarity hurts before it brings a sense of relief. It makes me realize how selfish, defiant, and lazy I can be. It makes me realize that I need to change some things to show love differently. It makes me realize that I need to look at love as a necessity to live, an emotion and an action towards others, even people who “don’t seem to deserve” it. When I get these realizations, the outside world is usually silent to most people. There doesn’t seem to be a change, and I might just look tired or lazy. But the truth is, I’m feeling and hearing the truth. When a person finally feels the realness of the truth, it can be too incredible to express on the surface. It can be too incredible to be physically seen.

Sometimes, in the silence, I close my eyes. After crying from God’s voice, after releasing my emotions, I fall asleep. It’s not always easy because I still feel that things around me can be changed, and in that moment, I can change them. But in that moment, sleep is necessary. God is showing me that I just need to be patient for peace to come. Even when it comes, I need to be patient for its lasting effects on my heart.

When I wake up in this silence, I awaken to not only peace, but to motivation and strength, good will. I am more willing to do what God asks of me, unwilling to let my challenges discourage me. God awakens me to awaken His Spirit within me. That Spirit brings me the strength that I need to do His will and make it my own, even if that will didn’t exist in my heart before.

As I write down all of these words without distractions, I hear God say that this is enough for now, that this will bring me clarity, that He wants me to just dedicate these words to Him. I feel peace reassure me that God cares, that all of my challenges and insecurities exist for a reason and they will get easier because He always comes through. He will show me miracles, and He will give me hope for new miracles. Through this silence from the outside world, the power of God and the hope from Him feels more real to me. Now is the best time to praise Him for it.