Sunday, January 11, 2015

He Speaks to Me.

So, I'm a little behind, but it's still January, so it's still valid to write a blog about the new year, right? lol. 

I was sitting in my chair on New Years Eve morning, watching the Today show. They were doing a countdown of all the events of 2014. The music started playing and before the video started rolling, I started bawling. Not just tears streaming down my face, but like crazy lady crying. It came out of the blue. I guess as I had begun thinking about 2014, I started thinking "What a hard year!" I don't want to go through one of those again.
When your world gets flipped upside down - even if it was by choice, you have two options you make the best of it and see your new life as an adventure or you do like me and fall apart. I don't recommend the latter - it makes it really hard to move on. Maybe if I was a better Christian, I would have done better. Maybe not, maybe this girl needed to fall apart, so that God could do some major work in her life. 

Anyway, I had hoped that Christmas vacation would allow me to pause life so I could get back on track, but mostly I sat at home sinking further into a dark place, not understanding how I had let myself get to this point. I enjoyed my times with family and friends, but when I was alone it was pretty bad. I couldn't motivate myself to do anything. Finally, I just cried out to God asking Him to help me, because I am a wreck and need Him to pull it back together. 

You know what happened? He did, he started putting the pieces of me together. He started showing me what the real problem was, He started speaking to me. It started at Sunday school. I had barely made it in time, because I was struggling that morning. We talked about depression, not the clinical kind, but the kind that many people go through. We talked about how most people in the church shy away from the topic because Christians are supposed to have it all together. That day, I began to realize that God was telling me that I needed to stop pretending like I was doing good, when in reality, I was falling apart. 

Then in another church service my pastor began talking about the new year and how as a believer we should not make resolutions, but we should make a New Year's Revolution. Not just a small change, that probably wouldn't amount to much, but a life altering change. Christ wants to revolutionize my words (be warning others and encourage others), my walk (be a helper and be a patient leader), my will (seeking God's will toward other's and show forgiveness), and my worship (true worship requires prayer, thanksgiving, testing, obedience, and openness.)  
This sermon really helped me to think about this past year, especially the past six months. I am in this place because God has called me here, yet I've struggled to really live. Maybe because it hurts to let go of the past, maybe I don't want to become attached, maybe I'm afraid, maybe I am focused on myself too much and am not focusing on God and the people to whom He has called me to serve. 
This morning, after another struggle filled day yesterday, I made myself sit down to do my devotional, It reminded me of the hymn, The Love of God, which says 

O love of God, how rich and pure!
  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.

 This has been the theme of my day today, after a night of tears and stress about money, Don't fear, because God loves you. He will care for you. (The cover of our church bulletin today had a bird on the front, with the verse about the sparrows - God cares for even the little sparrow, how much more will He care for you... (Loose paraphrase, lol))
Then again our Sunday school lesson and sermons today were like God was speaking directly with me. I'm so thankful that He does speak. I'm so thankful that He knows my struggle. I'm so thankful that I'm not stuck, but rather being molded and made into a better version of this messed up child, one that is more like Christ. I'm thankful He speaks clearly. This morning, I had that song in my heart, tonight we sang it at church. Think it is a coincidence? No? Me, either. 
Listen to the song here. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Settling in...

Tonight, driving home from church, watching night quickly roll in, I had this moment of disbelief that I was here in Arkansas in September. Not visiting, not home for a funeral, but home in Forrest City, Arkansas. It feels unreal that this is home now. At first I was unsure. I kept asking God why He sent me here. Sometimes I still wonder. 
As summer dwindled and prep for school began to become my main focus, I was left with little time to wonder about God's plan. He began to remind me through different avenues that His plan, His purpose for my life was good. It didn't matter if I didn't understand it. It didn't matter if I liked it or not. His plan was good and my job was to be obedient to Him.
School started and I met the ten kids who would eventually consume most of my thoughts throughout the day. Like any normal teacher, I also began to think about them at home, too. How can I help them? How can I not get so frustrated? How can I fix our crazy afternoons, so that we stay on task? What can I do to be a better teacher to these ten rambunctious, chatty, silly, forgiving, loving, helpful kids? I also began thanking the Lord that He only gave me a class of ten. 

I began to pray for each of them. I prayed for their families. I prayed for the best way to help them succeed in the classroom. I prayed that I would love them like I loved my kids in Korea. The good news is that God is opening up my eyes to the beauty in each of them. I see a boy so joyful and looking for the good in everything. I'm seeing another boy who has quite a creative side, he just needs to know how to use it. I see girls who love to help me (even though they don't want their mothers to know, lol.) I see a girl who struggles, but put a sweet note on my desk today. It said, "I'm stupid... but I'm glad that you care about me." I see a boy who struggles, but loves to give gifts. I see a group of kids that LOVE to sing and if you know me very well, you know it's one of my favorite things to do, too.  I see students loving to learn new Korean words. Each day at lunch we 기도합시다 kee-doe-hap-shee-da ("Let's Pray") and they know the phrase 앉아 ahn-jah (Sit DOWN) better than any other. It makes me smile. 
I also began helping as an assistant volleyball coach for the three teams (Elementary, JV, Varsity). I didn't know what to expect, but I have been blessed by the the sweetest group of girls and their kind and encouraging parents. I'm looking forward to another season of  Lady Eagles Volleyball. Only this time, I yell Go Red instead of Go Blue (which I did yesterday during the game... lol) 
Lastly, I joined a church on Sunday. I've been visiting for most of the summer. I struggled with the decision, not because I felt called to another church, but because it meant letting go of the two churches that I have loved so dearly over the last 10/15 years. My church in Korea was one of my favorite places to be, I loved teaching youth Sunday School. I loved being a part of the praise team. I loved my family there. It hurt so much to leave them. I also had to let go of my church in West Memphis. I love FBC WM dearly, but it's just a little too far for me to actively be involved. After prayer and God giving His peace, I now call Ridgewood Baptist Church my home. I'm excited to be a member and more excited to see how God will direct me to serve there. I love church and it's the day of the week that I generally look forward to the most. I'm thankful this one is close by and for the wonderful people I'm already getting to know. 

So, you see, God is good. His plan and His purpose is not only for His good. It's also for mine. I miss Korea, I miss my kids, I miss my church, but I am beginning to settle in and I am thankful for whatever it is God has planned. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

He Goes Before Me (Details)

So, in my last post (in January... terrible I know...) I was beginning the process of "Letting Go." It was pretty terrible. Even though it was hard, I was able to spend quality time with the people that were such a big part of my life. I'm so thankful for those precious times. Playing basketball with some of my favorites (you know who you are #'s 1 - 4), "Senior trip to Seoul", Church praise team, dinners with friends, and so much more. Saying goodbye or "see you later" is no fun, but it is definitely a part of the letting go process. As the school year, wound down my heart broke more and more thinking about saying goodbye. At the same time, I didn't know what the future held for me, so of course that added to my wandering thoughts. I finished school moved out of my apartment, moved away from Korea, went to Hawaii for a glorious vacation and time to relax. We got home on Saturday. Since then, I've been to church, helped hand out flyers for a missions event our church is hosting this week. I've had 2 interviews, signed a contract for a job, signed a contract for a rental house, and signed a contract to purchase a car. I've also been involved with a 3 day Block Party/Backyard Bible Club/Church outreach event.

Many of you have wondered about the details of this new job, my house, and car so here goes.

February - I applied to teach at a local Christian school.
March - Still no reply from that school, Went to the Philippines for Spring Break Missions. The night I left the Philippines, I received a facebook message from a friend. I had noticed that she moved back to the area, so I sent her a message to ask what she was doing and where she was teaching. When she wrote back she told me about the school in which she was teaching. She asked if I was interested in teaching there. I said, maybe, I applied to another school but they never responded. So, she put me in contact with her principal and I've been in communications with this school since then.
When I read the job openings, I was a bit in awe of what was available.
Brief Rundown of my job experience:  My degree and certification is Elementary Ed: Preschool - 4th Grade, but I've been teaching Middle School/ High School Science for the past 10 years. I've also taught Elementary Computers and PE, and secondary PE. I coached at different times and different levels for the last 10 years volleyball, basketball, and soccer.
The job openings that were available were: 1st Grade, 4th Grade, MS/HS Science, Athletic Director, Basketball Coach. I felt like this was definitely of God. Then after talking more with the principal, I found out that the science program used the exact same curriculum that I had been teaching for the last 10 years. Another amazing thing.
Anyway, I found out in May that they had already offered this position to someone else, but they really wanted me to come there to teach, so they asked if I would be interested in teaching 4th grade for the school year and then possibly could move into the secondary the following year if I was interested. I wasn't so excited about teaching elementary, even though that's my degree, because I have absolutely loved teaching MS/HS students.
I was willing to give it a try though, because who knows, maybe I'd still like it. So, I said I would consider it.
I've been waiting for a final interview with the school board since that time....
House info: during this time, my parents heard about a friend who had a house they were trying to sell in Forrest City, I wasn't looking to buy, but ask my parents to go check it out in case she wanted to rent. They went to visit, but the house wasn't in good conditions or in a good neighborhood. The neighbors who had the house key shared with my parents that their church had a rental house that they rented out to people - although it wasn't listed. They were picky about renters. Anyway, mom and dad went to check out this house and they loved it. It's a little 3 bedroom with 2 bathrooms. The lady who showed them the house was on the church rental committee, so she said they would consider reducing the rental cost. Mom said we'd contact her when I got home.

Fast Forward to This week.
We flew in Saturday afternoon. Monday I had an interview, I thought it was supposed to be with the school board, but instead it was with the principal and another administrator. We met for quite a while. They asked me to come back Tuesday to meet with the school board.
Tuesday Mom had the day off, so she went with me. While I was meeting with the school board, she contacted those people about the house. So after my meeting and we had lunch, we went over to look at the house. It is an older home, but it's nice and small perfect for one or two people. They told us that the committee had agreed to reduce the rent for me, because after they met my parents they felt like this house was meant for me. They reduced the rent to $300.00 a month. That's totally unbelievable, because most apartments are renting for over $400.00 a month.
Not only that, but were going to give me two couches, a refrigerator and a stove to use for no charge.
I hadn't received a contract yet, so I said if I get the contract tomorrow, I will definitely rent from you.
Wednesday (Yesterday) I went back received and signed my contract. Then I contacted the rental people and I met them, payed 6 months in rent (Thanks to the Korean Gov't. for sending my pension so quickly!) and then drove back to C'ville. On the way I stopped at two car dealerships, looked around got some prices and then went home. Once I was home my dad took me to another car dealership, where he knows people, and while looking around, I found the perfect car for me. Because I had my pension money, I was able to put a big chunk of change down, making my car payments pretty feasible. So, by the end of the day I had a new job, a house, and a new car.
What a day.

Yesterday my mom was telling people at her work about my situation and one of the guys said, man she moves quickly. Mom's reply was "No, God went before her." This is so true. His hand is written all over this, His provision has been evident from the moment I chose to follow Him and "Let Go" of the place I absolutely love, Korea. It hasn't been easy and I know there will be hard days as I adjust to many things (like being an American again, teaching elementary, living "at home, but not at home", etc...) but I know He is with me each step of the way.
P.S. as of this moment I have been given (offered) these things for my new home: 2 Couches, 3 Recliners, Dryer, Kitchen table and chairs, 2 desks, dishes and other kitchen things, and so much more. God is good. I'm thankful for the friends He is using to help me. Amazing...


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Let It Go

So, I just got back from watching the newest Disney movie, Frozen. I heard it was a great movie from many different people. I totally agree. I've been walking around singing the main song from the movie, Let It Go thanks to Michelle, one of my basketball players, who was randomly singing it while we were eating lunch after a practice. Anyway, they got that song in my head and as we got closer to the release of it here in Korea, that song started popping up everywhere. So, I had a pretty good grasp on the chorus before I even saw the movie.
We had talked about watching the movie as a team (their idea), but the girls bailed on me, so I took my friends' daughter. She's a 2nd grader at our school and part of my "Korea" family. Knowing that we will all be leaving Korea at the end of the school year, I've been trying to spend some special time with each of their youngins. So, Abby and I went to watch Frozen tonight. We got to see the 3D version, which was even more fun.
When it finally came to the part where Elsa sings  Let It Go, I was ready to sing and dance my way through it. Anyway, after I got home and settled in for the evening, I couldn't get that song out of my head. So, I went over to good ole' YouTube and found the song. After listening to it (repeatedly), I began think about one of the major themes (I'm no scholar, but this is what I took away) in the movie, "Letting fear hold you back from living your life."
Many people live their lives in fear. Fear of the unknown future. Fear of people's opinions.  Fear of failure. Fear of death, sickness, injury, loneliness, loss, poverty... the list could go on and on. For me, I find fear (aka worry) likes to creep up often. I try to keep it at bay, but if I'm not careful my mind likes to take trips to the fear factory. I can't be the only one who struggles, because there are so many songs, movies, tv shows, books, and scripture references that deal heavily with this topic. I had the thought, I wonder how many times the Bible says 'Fear Not' or 'Do Not Be Afraid', I tried to do a quick search, but after scanning through www.Biblegateway.com, I was overwhelmed, so I just googled it. Unfortunately, the results from Google were just as overwhelming. Maybe someone with more knowledge and patience can answer that question for me. Anyway, it's pretty big number. Clearly, God knows that we are fearful and need to be reminded often that we aren't supposed to fear.
We aren't supposed to fear, because God is in control. He is good. He has a plan. His ways are way better than our own. We can have freedom in Him. Freedom from fear, Freedom from Hell. Freedom to live our lives. This freedom comes from knowing Him and seeking Him daily. Many people think that following God has all these limits and rules. They think that following God with our lives is boring.  They are sadly mistaken. Following God and trusting Him with my life has been the best decision I have ever made. It isn't easy to follow, but it's always worth it. Following Him doesn't guarantee wealth, riches, and an easy life. However, it guarantees the best life!
Personally, I am going through a time, when deciding to follow is not easy. It means leaving a place that I love. It means saying goodbye - maybe forever - to people that I have grown to love as my family. It means stepping out into an unknown future. Who knows where God will lead me. Who knows how long I'll be in America. Who knows if I'll ever get back to Korea or the mission field. Who knows the future? I sure don't. But I trust that my God does. I am letting go of the fear that holds me back. I'm letting go and jumping into the storm ready to go where He leads.

Deuteronomy 31: 7-9 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Psalm 46: 1 - 3 God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present[b] help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. 

Psalm 118: 5-7 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;

    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.


Monday, December 30, 2013

RESOLUTE



In trying to come up with a title to this blog post, I began thinking about this new year and all it will hold. Then I began thinking about resolutions, which I never really make - because I never follow through. Then I thought about the root word -  resolute. Here is the definition:

I find it so ironic that the meaning of resolute is to be admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering; yet most people never follow through.
So, while I was looking up this word, I happened to be listening to The Stand by Hillsong.
How appropriate. If you listen to it you can see the lyrics. What a resolution for the new year! To resolve to stand for Christ. To live my life in worship of Him.
If you read my previous blog post you know that this year will bring about major change in my life. My prayer for this year is that I will keep my eyes on the One Who keeps me. Even though, right now, I don't know what the future holds. I can trust His plan, because He is good and He is faithful. 
I'll close with the sermon notes from Sunday morning. The sermon was titled Kept By God. It was such a great reminder and so encouraging. 
Kept By God: The Keeping Power of God - Revelation 3:10
"Since you have kept... I will also keep..." 
Faith Leads to obedience; true scriptural obedience is a product of faith! Evidence of Faith is obedience to the Gospel. 
The word Kept in Greek - Tereo - means to watch over, preserve, keep watch.
I. We are kept by God's power in order to keep the command to endure.
II. God promises to Keep Us from the Coming Great Tribulation (Rev 3:10; 2 Peter 3:8-9) 
Isaiah 38: 1-6; 17 --> 17 NIV For it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction. You have put all my sin behind your back  (This is so beautiful and precious! He kepts us from the pit because He loves us! He put our sins behind His back - they are forgiven!) 
III. We are kept by His Power 1 Peter 1: 3-7
A. How? 
i. Through the gift of the new birth
ii. Keeps our inheritance safe
iii. Keeps us through faith
iv. Keeps us through all kinds of troubles to prove our faith is real
IV. He Keeps Us From Falling (Jude 24, 25)
"24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."
a. It's a great promise
b. It's a great presentation
c. It's a Great Praise 
God is able to keep you no matter what is ahead. :) 
Such a great reminder. 
Knowing that I am being kept by God, despite what the future holds, helps me to resolve to Stand for Christ. I pray that others would take the stand and resolve to be strong through to the end! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Ramblings

It's already December, it's flying by... If anything, I want this year to slow down a bit. Seeing that it's my last year here (I hope only for a while), I really want to be able to take it all in and savor it. Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that, especially not here. It just seems to drive forward, whether you are ready or not. My heart hurts to think of leaving the people, places and things that I love, but I know it's time. Although I know, taking the step of obedience isn't always easy. I've taken the first step, which was hard enough, but these daily steps feel more like dragging my feet in thick mud. I've been battling fears, sadness, worry and frustration most of this school year. Everyone knows I'm a sensitive person, but somedays I feel this sensitivity is in overdrive. I'm trying to keep it to myself, as it usually makes others uncomfortable, but some days it just pours out. Not always in tears, sometimes in other emotional forms.
 Some people say that if you know then it shouldn't be this painful. Others say that you know you've truly loved a place when it pains you to leave. I'm definitely in the latter group. 
So, I'm very thankful for the Christmas season, not just because people tend to act like better, more thoughtful human beings during this time (not always...), but more importantly because I am encouraged to shift my focus from self and struggle (which I should be doing anyway) to the reason I celebrate Christmas. 
This year, I think I appreciate it even more. I've been dwelling on the name Emmanuel/Immanuel for the last couple of weeks. Sometimes, it is so overwhelming to consider that "God is with us." Not just that He came to earth to offer us salvation, that in and of itself is bewildering, but that He is with us and that He dwells in us. I am a filthy, sinful person, but because of His "Lavish" Grace (Check it out here!) I have been made clean and He dwells in me! That's incredible. The perfect, holy God, whose righteousness is without fault lives in me! I always fail, I always sin, I always make the wrong choice. I love accolades, I am prideful and I neglect my relationship with Him. Yet, He lives in me. Not only that, but He loves me. It's more than I can ever comprehend. 
The name Emmanuel means God with us. God's chosen people knew who the Messiah was supposed to be. The knew He was coming to save His people, yet I don't think they quite understood. I'm sure they were confused when the Messiah came as a child, born of virgin. How could something so small, so helpless save them? How could something so small, so helpless save us? 
We sing Christmas songs that reflect His birth and remind us of why He came. Yet, I think that often times we get caught up in the lights,  trees, and presents and forget why we are celebrating in the first place. 
This year, my thoughts are on Immanuel and I'm choosing to turn my eyes to this reminder: God is with us, He is the hope of the nations, He is the director of my life and though change is on its way, He is with me and no matter where I go and no matter what the next step is, He is right there. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Without Him, I am nothing. Without Him, I will fail. With Him my life has purpose and I find peace in that. 
If you read this far... Thanks. Please be in prayer for me amidst this change. I don't do it well. 
Here are some songs to remind you about Emmanuel: Enjoy! 






Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reach

I've been thinking about how God reaches out to us. Not only does he reach out to us, but He does so in a way that is intimate and shows His complete understanding of us. I'm sure that many of you already understand this, but this summer God began making it very clear to me.
I have been in the middle of a decision making process since about April. My original thought began to change toward the end of May, and by the time I was home during the summer I knew what decision I had to make. I fought that decision, because it hurt. I fought it because I am going to have to let go of some things and people that I dearly, dearly love. I have accepted it and I am trying my best to embrace it. However, if you know me well enough, you know that Change and I are not good friends.  Occasionally, I even feel some excitement for the future, but mostly I grieve. Some other time I'll explain this decision. For now, I'll leave you wondering. Some people, just need to find out face to face first. :) 

So anyway, this decision making process has really opened my eyes to see just how much God knows and understands me. Just how He reaches into my life and works there. It shows me how deeply He loves and cares for me. It has been good because there are times that I struggle with the belief that He really cares about the things that are important to me.
I've grown up in church, I've heard that God loves me. I know that He died on the cross to save me. I believe that He died and rose again, but for some reason there are times that I don't trust Him completely. I generally don't say that out loud. It's frowned upon in most Christian circles, but let's be honest, it's the truth. You can see this truth in the way that many Christians live their lives. For me, I have complete trust in some aspects of my life. In other aspects, I find myself gripping on to things that I think I can control. Over the years God has broken me, but has always been there to put the pieces back together. Afterwards, I'm always better because of the brokenness. 
This summer through many different resources God has been showing me just how much He knows, understands and loves me. I'm learning to walk each day in trust, knowing that I am truly known by God. This knowledge has given me a peace that I do not understand as I walk amidst change. I know that each step of the way, I am not alone. He is there. Before I even take a step, He is working in my heart to prepare me for what lies ahead. Because of His understanding and His love, I am able to take each step knowing that it's going to be okay. Looking too far ahead, I panic. Looking behind, I begin to question this decision - when I know for certain God has made Himself clear and I begin to idolize the things that I love. So, I'm going to wait for His signal to move. While I'm waiting for the next step, I'm going to keep myself in His word, studying more about Him - letting Him prepare my heart.

Ok - here is a weird science teacher analogy. We have been studying Mitosis (Cell Division) in my Anatomy Class. There are different steps during the process that basically move the cell toward division. Prior to mitosis - which is the part of the cell cycle where the nucleus divides - the cell goes through a long stage called Interphase - where the cell prepares for cell division. 
I feel like my life, at this moment, is in a kind of interphase. God did some work to get me to this point, now He is preparing me for the next phase. This interphase is important, because during this time God will teach me about Himself and myself; all the while preparing me for the next step.