Feb 13, 2018

Dear Romantic | Rewriting Love

Dear Romantic,

To tell the truth, Valentine's Day never meant a lot to me.  I grew up dreaming of a Prince Charming who would sweet me off my feet.  I longed for the bosom friend who knew my deepest secrets and Loved me just the same.  But it was a distant dream, something I could only hope for.

I thought feeling alone was natural.  No friend can be with you every moment of the day.  So you hold things in.  The special moments linger inside you with no one to share them with.

And Valentine's Day was just another box to cross off the calendar with a shrug of the shoulders.

Last year, all that changed.  While reading a book, God opened my eyes to who He truly was.  And I realized my error - I was seeking an earthly hero when I already had a heavenly Prince.

My thinking changed.  I began to read Song of Solomon as Love letters between me and Jesus.  The promises in Isaiah became more real.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
...I will be with you...
Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored;
And I have loved you.
Isaiah 43:1-24

For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.
Isaiah 54:5 

I was a princess, treasured and Loved by my Prince.  As His Love began to touch every area of my life, I recorded the beauty of His Love through a story that meant much more than a story in my life.

What's the point of me telling all this to you?  I want you to realize the eminent beauty of His Love.  I want you to not accept less than the wonderful plan He has for you.  I want you to see yourself as a princess who is Loved by a Prince, despite your flaws and weaknesses.

A friend shared Isaiah 58 with me recently.  One verse stood out specifically to me.

‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?'
- Isaiah 58:3

So often as Christians, I believe we see our faith as a list of works we need to complete.  We fast, pray, read our Bibles, and go to Church because it's something we're supposed to do.  If we don't, we'll feel guilty.

But God has so much more for those who Love Him.

He's a loving Father who wants us to be willing to sacrifice anything because we Love Him that much.  But that's not the point of being a Christian.

Isaiah 58 continues on to say what God's really seeking after.  He wants us to truly Love others - to loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that we break every yoke.  (verse 6)

And then the glory of the Lord will surround us.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'
- Isaiah 58:9 

He's waiting for us to call out to Him.  He's the Friend we've been longing for.  He's our Protector, Lover, and Savior.  He knows all our secrets and doubts and fear and Loves us just the same.

Being a Christian isn't about living as a slave.  It's about loving Someone so much that nothing else matters.  And through all the trials we face, He'll be by our side giving us victory, hope, and a future.

We'll have hard times.  We'll have to sacrifice ourself.  But we'll be delivered.

Dear Romantic, Jesus gave us the most beautiful Love story.  He will never leave us or forget us or fail to hear our prayers.  He gave up what was most precious to Him to save us - that's real romance.

I challenge you to give your Valentine's Day to Him.  Live it for Him.  Say "yes" to His prodding.  And remember that His salvation will be forever.  (Isaiah 51:6)

How are you going to give yourself to your Prince?  What are practical steps you can take to rewrite Love and be set-apart for Jesus?  Let's live this out together.

I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.
Song of Solomon 6:3

'For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,'
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
- Isaiah 54:10
photo credits: Pexels

Feb 6, 2018

Dear Blogger | Give Your Blog to God

Dear Blogger,

Each of us embarked on our blogging adventures for a reason.  I don't know what yours was.  Were you wanting to change the world and give hope to the hopeless?  Did you want to make new friends while sharing your heart in words?  Or was this a simple idea that began to grow into something beyond your imagination?

If you're like me, you can look back on your early days of blogging and shake your head.  Young me knew so little.  I could have never imagined where I would be 2 1/2 years later.  God used this blog to change me so much.

I learned, I changed, I grew.  But I also sighed, grew discouraged, and wanted to give up.

I'm getting off track here.  This letter is for you, dear blogger.  So, if you have a place on the internet you see as home, here's what's on my heart.  I want to share two things - a challenge and encouragement.

The Challenge

This has always been my biggest struggle with blogging:


Yes, me.  I started off my blog for Jesus.  It was to spread His story of love to the world.  More specifically, God called me to start this blog from a single verse.

I will...talk of Your deeds.
- Psalm 77:12

That was it.  Just talk of His deeds.  How simple right?  Wrong.  It's been a battle at times - a battle between myself and Him.

Myself doesn't blog to lift others up.  It blogs to get more comments.  It blogs to see the follower stat rise.  To promote myself, to please myself.

I still fight this mentality.  It's hard to blog because of Love.  It's hard to keep from turning people into followers.

But when we do that, we miss so much.

Dear Blogger, we can't blog to promote ourselves.  And we absolutely can't see beautiful people made in God's image as mere numbers to boast about.  Our reason for blogging must be so much more.  When we became Christians, we gave up "self" to live for Christ.  He should be the focus of our daily lives.  And do you remember what He says about others?  (see John 13:34 and Philippians 2:3-4)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God;
- 1 John 4:7

My goal in blogging is to show Love to you and to God.  The number of followers, comments, and stats doesn't really matter in light of eternity.

I challenge you to give your blog to Jesus.  Let Him use it.  Let the words you type be typed through prayer and out of the outflow of your relationship with Him.

The Encouragement

There's another side of the follower dilemma.  When we look at our stats and are unsatisfied, we can often feel like we aren't making a difference.

I can't give you answers.  I can't say if you are or are not making a difference.  And guess what, I can't say that about my own blog either.  But I've realized something.

More than 14% of the page-views on my blog have been from a single Asian country in which I don't know a single person.  While this might seem unnerving to some, it gave me an interesting idea.

What if people read our words who we'll never know about?  What if in that Asian country, in which being a Christian is unpopular, there was a fellow believer who was encouraged by something I said?  What if God's using my blog in ways I'll never realize?

I don't know who reads the words I write.  I don't know if they go in one ear and out the other or if they're really making a difference.  But it doesn't matter.  Because if I'm writing for God, isn't that enough?

My friend, you don't know how God's using you.  So press on.  Write for His glory, and give your blog into His loving hands.  Even if no one comments or if it seems like no one cares, let Him do the work He's best at - changing the world.

Live to hear Him say these words,

Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.
- Matthew 25:21

Keep writing!  Keep living for our Savior!  Don't let anything distract you from what matters most.

Who knows how God will use your life if it's completely dedicated to His will?

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.
- Luke 16:10
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
- 1 Corinthians 2:2 

photo credits: Pexels

Jan 30, 2018

Dear Girl | Embrace God's Plan

Dear Girl,

I wasn't originally going to write this.  I was planning on only posting about reading/writing related topics.  But then I remembered that there's so much more to life.  Let me explain.

Last week, my family went on a trip to Iowa.  We drove through endless fields of soft, brown hues.  We watched windmills spin, white in the light of the sun.  We passed rolling hills, arching bridges, and cities that stretched up into the sky.  During those long hours of driving, I had several goals of what I could accomplish with a seat-belt strapped around my shoulder.  My goals always consist of three things.

I have three areas of life I focus on.

I'm a Christian - I strive to have every area of my life reflect the love of my Savior.  I try to love Him with all my heart and tune my own dreams to reflect His plan for my life.

I'm a writer - I have writing goals such as finishing projects and keeping up with blogging.  I also read to help my writing abilities grow.

But I'm also a girl - I have relationships and a family whom I devote myself to.  I have hobbies and work that I try to keep under control.  I have emotions that go crazy, a room to keep clean, and a schedule that drives me nuts.

So if you're a girl, here's what I want to tell you.

Life's crazy.  It hurts.  It confuses us.  We face decisions and deadlines.  We try to balance a million things.  We're horrible at juggling, and sometimes our lives show that quite clearly.

Some of us are depressed.  Some of us are broken.  Some of us are afraid.

But dear girl, it's okay.  God's got this.

In Psalms 18, He gives us so many promises.  He promises to deliver us from our enemies because He delights in us.  He promises to support us.

For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.

God's in control of our life - victories and struggles.  Yet we also can't accept less than what He has in store for us.

He has an amazing plan for our lives.  It might not have the glitter or comfort we're hoping for.  His plan might include poverty or persecution or peril.  But it's an epic adventure.  Why wouldn't we let the Author of history write our own life story?

My friend, the One who lead David to battle and Esther to go from peasant to queen wants to use YOU.  He has plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).  But those plans won't come to those who dilly-dally and dance through life living for themselves.

I don't want to be a Christian who lives in the lukewarm atmosphere that's only too common in our churches.  I heard that the name "Christian" was a term that non-believers gave to those who radically lived for Christ.  They were so different from the rest of the world that even those who denied the faith noticed their passion.

I want a faith like that.  I don't want to call myself a Christian.  I want it to shine from every area of my life.

I hope you want that same radical fervor.  Life wasn't meant to be lived half-heartily.  God has an amazing story specifically for you, but sometimes you must be willing to let go.

It would be nice to know all the answers and decisions in life.  And yet, that's the beauty of it.  God is directing every part of our life for a specific reason.  Maybe one day, we'll finally be able to see the "why"s.

But if you're wanting that set-apart life for Jesus, He's given us some hints at what He expects from those who love Him with everything.

You will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Dear girl, if you want to find Jesus and let Him consume every area of your life - writing, reading, relationships, and more - are you willing to let go?  Are you willing to pray to Him and seek Him with all your heart?

I know you have so many things begging for your attention.  I do too.  It's hard to balance everything.

Yet, I also know this.

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.

As you face life, remember that you're never alone.  You are loved.  Treasured.  And He has an amazing plan for your life.

The question is, will you let go and let Him write your story?  In every area of life?

Let's be radical.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.