let us then with confidence…

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.                                                                              – Hebrews 4:16

Already 3 weeks into 2018, I feel like I forget about God’s grace as I retreat to my own survival mechanisms. I try to sleep 30 more minutes instead of jumping out of bed to pray and read the Word. Do I forget where my strength comes from? Am I relying on myself or God? I forget that I can confidently approach God’s throne at any time to receive mercy (compassion, forgiveness, deliverance from judgement) and find grace (unmerited favor, undeserving kindness and blessing) to help in time of need. I can ask God for help, and He will not only forgive me and withhold me from judgement from my sins, He will also extended unmerited favor, undeserving blessing that I will never be deserving of.

So even as I reflect on this past week and see my sins of self-reliance and laziness and comfort so clearly. I can still confidently draw near to the God’s throne this morning without condemnation and receive forgiveness and His blessing.

Jesus, it is easier sometimes to just try to float or survive. It is a fight against my flesh every second and every day. Help me to seek you first every day. Lord, help me to see what you are doing around my life instead of me trying to cling onto whatever I desire. What do you desire for my life? What are you doing Lord? Give me eyes to see. 

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entering into 2018

It’s so strange to me to think this year is over, and I am entering into a new year.

Some part of me feels not ready to start 2018, but another part of me is really excited to see what this new year will bring.

2017, oh you have been lonely at times, challenging, dark, pressing, isolating, tearful, joyful, hope-filled, bright, basking with light, and yet so so good. I started 2017 renewed from a youth winter retreat I went on with my brothers. I met a great pastor there who was very encouraging of my future endeavor as a teacher even though in the present I was working at a restaurant. I was filled with hope of what God would do and that hope was what I clung onto as I worked at that restaurant.

In one year, I went from working as a server to being unemployed again to being a grad student and an assistant teacher. I went through a season of wilderness, harvest, and then the wilderness again.

Learning to embrace my many new identities. Failing altogether as I do a poor job of juggling, but God’s grace being more than enough. Grace that covers me as a grad student. Grace as I teach and make many mistakes. Grace as I learn what it means to care for God’s sheep. Grace as I learn that I have lots of room to grow in terms of relationships.

A year filled with God’s many blessings. He blessed me with the opportunity to live with my family when I wondered where I would live. He blessed me with great coworkers who are passionate and adorable students who are easy to love. He blessed me with continued relationships from college and church as I got to know people on a deeper level. He blessed me with a new relationship which was so unexpected, but one of the greatest blessings of this year. And always God was there. He was with me. Even as I worried and fretted, and was fearful. He was there. He gave me strength and loved me constantly and consistently. Even when I chased after many things but not Him. He waited for me always so patiently.

And now 2018. What will you bring?

My biggest prayer for this next year that I will not allow my past insecurities and lies about my identity hold me back from stepping into everything God has called me to do. I pray that I will be more fearless of man and more fearful of Him.

let my words be few

I’ll stand in awe of you Lord.

Yes, I’ll stand in awe of you God.

And I’ll let my words be few.

Jesus, I am so in love with you.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2nd Corinthians 4:17-18

Our affliction at this moment is light and momentary. May we have patience as we wait for an eternal weight of GLORY that is beyond everything we have seen. So even though it is easier for us to look at our current situation with our narrow view, we must look to the things that we cannot SEE with our own eyes. Anything we are going through in our life right now will only last for a short time in comparison to an eternal life we will have with Jesus. May we be patient as we wait on the things we cannot see.

Lord. I confess that my motivation in my life was to make myself the best version of myself that is possible. I wanted to be able to one day receive praise from man and feel complete in front of man. I wanted to be able to boast that I am capable and that I am talented. I wanted to be able to create something or say something that I could take credit for. But Lord more and more as I live this life, I realize nothing I have in my life is mine. I realize there is nothing I can boast in that I can say I did this on my own. Everything God is from you. So Lord starting today, I want my greatest motivation in life is to wait on you. I’m sorry God that even though I say this now, that my heart will change again and will be fickle and try to take the glory for myself. Even then, Lord bring me back to you. 

I stand in awe of you God.

 

sweet surrender

This past Sunday, I was humbled when I entered Anna’s home. Right when we entered, she was so hospitable and loving. When we told her, wow this food looks amazing, she said, “Awh, thanks to God. I was praying the whole time I was cooking that it would be good. I think, He wanted us to have a good meal together.”

I try to think of times when I am literally speaking prayers to God as I am doing something like cooking a meal for friends when I need His help. Usually when there is something that I am scared about, I will pray the week leading up to it. But during the event where I really need God, I usually forget and I do not pray. Many times I worry and get confused and rely on my own understanding. Anna’s example was really humbling to me, it made me realize that this posture of total dependence on God was something I could translate to all aspects of my life. Especially as I am in school right now, there are many assignments I am confused about and I do not understand how to do. But I can pray to God for discernment and wisdom as I do the assignment, I can pray before, during and after. Or when I feel like I am slowly losing control of a class while I am teaching, and I don’t know what to do, I can pray. Any time I feel tired or feel like I am about to grab a piece of chocolate for solace, I can pray instead of relying on sugar. Or when my mind is itching to go on social media to look at pretty pictures, I can pray and ask God to fill my heart’s desire instead.

Thankful that this sweet sister provides an example to me of how I can live my life every day, and I can literally rely on God with my every breath and every strength. For He takes care of every small and big detail in our life. This posture of total trust in the Lord gives me peace even as I think about it. Isn’t what our life on earth is about anyways? Giving all our days to Jesus and partnering in His work as an obedient and faithful servant.

Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence].

-1 Chronicles 16:11 (AMP)  

small interactions

It’s the small interactions I have with students that remind me this is what I want to do. It reminds me that even though almost every morning, I want to sleep another hour under my warm blankets, I will get out of bed to meet students. Yesterday, I was just in a classroom before school started, eating my oatmeal and making an answer key, when one of my students came in. Her sweet demeanor in class and her hard work is one that I always notice in class. We talked a little about how she is doing, and how she told me she struggles in ELA because English is her second language (she came from El Salvador two years ago). I told her, she’s doing great and in a couple of years she is going to improve even more in English that she’s going to be more comfortable in English than Spanish.

The second interaction, was a student I have in my class, who stood up a lot during class and got off task. His paper was literally blank when he supposed to do work, but after having a conversation with him one-on-one, he started putting more effort in.  Today he told me good news, “Ms, I am passing math!” I gave him a high-five, and asked him what changed, why are you passing math? And he told me, he started putting 100% effort in his class, and that a little birdie taught him how to do math. I asked him, who is this little birdie, and he told me: YOU!

The third interaction, was a student who used to miss many days of school, looked sad and disengaged in class in the beginning of the school year. Now, I see her bright smile and every time she sees me in the hallway or in passing she gives me an upbeat, “Hi Ms.Han!” I think she said hi to me 10 times yesterday.

My heart is slowly melting for these sweet kids. They are so easy to love, so easy to be with. I see them working hard in class, and I want to be their advocate and cheerleader. I hope they will succeed and have opportunities. I know the road is not easy for them, and they have many things they will have to overcome and face that I never had to.

Looking through my journal from two years ago, I see how faithful God is in answering and hearing my prayer requests and my desires even though he totally did not have to, he did.

I wrote in my journal, 9/27/15: “I want to have a job that I love and love doing in a place that is chill and inviting with people I like, collaborating with who are also my friends.” This is exactly what I am doing right now. Thank you Lord.

Lord, please watch over your children. God, give me opportunities to teach them well and love them with your unconditional love. Father God, I pray that these children will know you. 

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obedience

“We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”   –Numbers 13:31 

It is easy to judge the people of Israel because of their lack of faith. The men who spied out the land of Canaan, say this because they relied on their own ability instead of God’s supernatural ability. When they spied out the land, they immediately felt like it was not possible to conquer because of the strong inhabitants there. They relied on what they saw and not on God’s promises.

But I see myself in their doubt and lack of faith.

How many times do I say things like this? How many times do I rely on my own ability instead of God’s? When do I try to shy away from the great opportunities God has for me because I am scared?

But God will equip you and me. He makes us adequate. He makes us more than adequate. When we are obedient and trusting of God, He will make us adequate. As I prepare for the the great opportunity I have to stand in front of new people and literally be judged by higher authority, I felt very scared. I knew with my own abilities and skills, I am definitely inadequate and I will fail.

This week though God changed my heart, I am not scared anymore because I am relying on God. I think He will be present, I think He will give me authority. I think He will change something in the atmosphere, and I think He will really grow me with this opportunity. Actually, I don’t think this, I know. Whatever happens, I know it is God’s divine hand working, so I can have peace and not fear the approval or disapproval of man.

Joshua and Caleb later say to the people of Israel who are mumbling and crying out to go back to Egypt:

“If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it into us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”  –Numbers 13:31 

The Lord is with us. We have nothing to fear. His power is limitless. Let’s wait upon Him and trust Him by living a life of obedience.

 

hi God

I realized yesterday that almost a small seed of bitterness was almost planted in my heart. It can happen to me when I start to think that I need to receive some sort of approval from other people I serve. That’s when I need to check my heart. Is my heart in a good place if I am constantly looking for affirmation? Am I right before God if all I seek is to be applauded before people when I didn’t even do anything? I was humbled when I saw other brothers and sisters serve with dedication and thoughtfulness. I was touched. I am sure God’s heart was touched to see how they planned the night with detail and care. I was even more blessed when we worshipped together before the Lord. Wow! To see the work that God was doing. What a blessing. All my bitterness was wiped away with humility. What did I do to prepare for that night? Nothing. I secretly did not want to go and stay at home in my comfort.

Reading Numbers this morning, I am reminded that I am no different than the Israelites. They too wanted to live in comfort of Egypt and not live in the life of adventure that God called them (not my words but from Dr. Constable). Some mornings, I wake up and wish I could go back to sleep in the comforts of my own bed. But then I am reminded when I had the time and freedom to sleep as long as I wanted to, and I did not feel very content. So, this time in my life when I am usually tired on most days, some days I have trouble remembering what I did the day before, and the days are becoming a blur; I will give thanks. Even though, there are some days that are hard, some days that are smooth, some days where I feel like crying, some days that I laugh, other days that I want to sleep; I will give thanks. Because every day I get to partner with God, partake in His work, live for Him, give Him praise, see what He is doing, and make Him more famous. Many days, I don’t think I do a good job of this, other days I forget that I am a servant of the most high King, and usually I make it about myself. But when I make it about Him, there is peace, comfort in Him, and everything makes sense even though I don’t understand everything.

 

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