“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

 

I think this verse paints a beautiful picture and I find such comfort in it. Sometimes life just stinks. Memorial services for people who’ve left too soon. Shattered dreams. Broken promises. Lost hope. Too many bills and not enough money. I am sure you can relate but I have good news. No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, God will give you new strength IF you trust in Him.

Merriam-Webster defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something.” That’s a good definition but I would change the first “or” to “and” because we can be assured of God’s character, ability, strength and truth. He is perfection. Do you trust Him? Do you trust Him in all areas of your life? Your relationships? Your money? Your career?

If you trust Him, He will give you new strength but not human strength. He will give you more than that. He will give you strength where you feel like you’re soaring or like you can keep going forever without getting tired or faint. Have you felt that way before? When my mom had a stroke at the beginning of the year and there was so much to do when I got home, I remember thinking there was no way I’d get everything done but I felt God’s supernatural strength. Sometimes it was just enough to get through the day or even the hour but He showed up every time but I had to do my part.

What does our part look like? I had to study the Word. I didn’t always get my daily time in and when I didn’t I fueled up on praise music and prayer. Pray. The loss I experienced last week sent me deeper into prayer. I wasn’t ready to pick up my Bible for a few days but I talked to the Lord constantly. I talked to Him through the anger, the grief and the memories. God understands we’re not going to be 100% but try. Seek godly people. I am so very blessed to have so many supportive people in my life. My sisters in Christ and my pastors flooded me and my family with so much love. I am convinced that last week would have been 80% more difficult without their sweet gifts, messages and most importantly, prayers. We all need people but people without prayer can only offer you so much.

God has so much He wants to give us from eternal life to His strength. We miss out on so much because we’re too busy to stop and reprioritize our lives. This world is temporary but even here, God wants us to succeed. It’s why He gives His strength, His peace, His love, etc.

Where do you need His extra strength? Trust Him and He will help you through whatever challenges you’re facing. Comment below and let us know how we can pray for you! ❤

An Empty Chair

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

This verse is one of my favorites and was my youngest brother, Travis’ favorite verse as well. We only had one post last week because of a family tragedy and one that I am sharing here in the hopes that it helps someone else and that we, as a society, start having conversations about mental health issues.

Last Sunday, I received a call from one of Travis’ friends that Travis had lost his struggle with depression and had shot himself. A million thoughts raced through my mind but sometimes the only thing you can do is pray and press into the Lord.  An empty chair reflects the sudden loss.

I don’t suffer from depression so it can be difficult for me to relate but I do know that people feel a stigma with having mental health issues, whether it be depression, bipolar, PTSD, etc. I’ve had people share that our society does not make it easy to talk to and get help for mental health issues. It’s taboo. I hesitated telling people how he died because I don’t want it to define him. He was more than a statistic.

I also heard that Christians shouldn’t suffer from depression because they have God and He can heal them. Travis was a believer and despite his internal struggle, posted all kinds of uplifting messages on Facebook with #positivity in the hopes that it would encourage others who were struggling. Being a Christian does not mean that you can’t have depression or other mental health conditions. Depression is a medical condition and is no different from being diagnosed with diabetes. Yes, God can heal us and a lot of times He accomplishes this through doctors and medication but sometimes He doesn’t; God has a plan and for some that might include chronic pain (physical or mental). Paul suffered from an ailment that wasn’t removed because it wasn’t part of God’s plan.

How big of an issue is this really? I thought maybe it wasn’t that common but almost everyone I’ve heard from either knows someone who committed suicide, attempted suicide or they themselves struggled with the thought of committing suicide. I did some research and found out just how prevalent it is. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it is the 10th leading cause of death in America and is the 2nd leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24. That’s significant and yet we really don’t hear much about it. It’s a conversation that needs to happen. We need to reach out to each other.

be-kind-for-everyone

I ask all of you reading this to reach out to the people you know – those closest to you and those who might just be mere acquaintances and see how they’re doing. How they’re really doing. Talk about mental health. Spread some positivity and light in such a dark world. If you or someone you know is suicidal, seek help. There are all kinds of resources available including the Suicide Hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Other resources can be found at https://afsp.org/find-support/ which includes information for those who struggle with thoughts and family members/friends who have a loved one who is struggling. Please remember that even though we’ve never met, you are valued and loved. We’re so thankful for you and know that God has great plans for you no matter where you are today. ❤

Who Cares

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” ~ Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)

Some Korean culture I learned while I lived there was their idea of “saving face.” From what my Korean friends told me, everything they do and how they are perceived must look good. Getting the best grades, going to the best universities, and getting the best jobs. Good behavior, attractive appearance, positive expressions. They are very much concerned of how people look at them. When I came to Korea as an exchange student, I saw how many international students around me were also falling into that same culture. They bought more than they could afford just to look good and even sometimes look pleasing in the eyes of Koreans.

Even at work here in the States it sometimes feels like walking on eggshells. Although I want to gain the respect and attention of my boss, I also want to communicate and relate well with my coworkers. This is frustrating when I try so hard to look good to everyone. It’s tiring trying to please everyone. Unfortunately, I cannot please them all. It can lead to daily battles in which we might find ourselves having to choose between man and God.

Who’s opinion of us is more important: the opinion of man or the opinion of God? First of all, the Lord did not put us on earth to fear man. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (NIV). No, our main priority is God. But when we are not seeking the Lord, we sure fall into the pleasing of people. And it’s quite easy to do that because we are surrounded by family, friends, coworkers, etc. every day.

Jeremiah 17: 5 says, ”This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord”’ (NIV). Be aware that when we choose to fear the Lord, we will disappoint some people. Although God speaks to us through people at times, people are not our ultimate goal in life: it is God. They do not give us the ultimate strength that we need to overcome spiritual battles for example. I am not trying to undermine the importance of human relationships and community, but I want to know just how much more we seek for human approval? Is it more than our desire for the approval of God. Moreover, relying too much on what people say and think about us can put in thoughts and views on ourselves that should never have been put there in the first place. These views can bring on us insecure feelings about ourselves, losing confidence in who we are as children of God.

Although it would take too much time to write in detail about Jesus as an example, I do want to point out that Jesus, although not physically attractive (Isaiah 53:2), put Himself out there to do the will of the God with such humbleness and meekness. Did the words of people bother Him at all? Well, although Jesus was 100% divine, let me remind you, Jesus was 100% human. In addition, in God’s own words as Jesus was getting baptized, He said, ”’You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”’ (NIV). To hear those words coming from God is worth so much more than hearing it from anyone else.

What is more prominent in your life: the opinion of people or of God? Hope this encouraged you all and have a Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Speaking to the Lord

“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.” ~ Psalm 17:6

Although we cannot see God with our human eyes, we should not be hesitant but rather bold in approaching the Lord. The cool thing about God is that we can speak to Him like we speak to humans. He is not hard of hearing. For example, when I get angry at my siblings, I come up to them and tell it how it is. I don’t hold any feelings or emotions (which is probably not always a good thing). Then we end up arguing. The awesome thing is that we are communicating!

As a child, I remember it was easy for me to talk to God. I would speak to Him during random times of the day. I remember one moment in particular when I was six years old: I was playing on the monkey bars and talking to the Lord about the recent death of my grandfather. Although the conversation is a blur, I can picture that moment easily. If only I had kept that up. Now, I find myself refusing to talk to Him during seasons of stubbornness and laziness.

One individual that comes to mind—someone who has kept a communicative relationship since his youth—is David. David was a shepherd. Shepherds spend hours watching sheep, taking care of them and protecting them. However, during all that time, I can’t help but imagine David just talking on and on and on to God. Maybe he talked to the Lord about his brothers or his father. Or maybe for strength and courage to protect his sheep. Yet, there is proof of his conversations with God: the book of Psalms. Moreover, the Bible does not go into detail on Saul talking with God. In fact, I wonder if he ever talked to Him. It was clear in the end who was the true king of Israel, who sought the Lord with all his heart.

David begins Psalm 17 with, “Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry” (NIV). Notice how he beings with Hear rather than Lord? or Are you there God? There is no doubt in his words. There is faith and courage. For us, we are not crazy when we speak to the Lord. But we are foolish when we speak to the Lord without faith. At the same time, David knew that he could freely come to the Lord  without getting a “human response” like hatred or rejection. We don’t need to be afraid to talk to the Lord. Maybe all we need to do is speak to God as though a child would.

How do you speak with the Lord? Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend! ❤

Trials in Faith

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1:2-4

No one likes trials but we’re all guaranteed to experience them. 1 Peter 4:12 says” Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” In my experience, there are three different scenarios for why we go through them:

  1. A consequence of sin
  2. A test of faith
  3. To teach us something or to develop a particular characteristic

 

God is a loving Father but He will discipline us when we need it. Proverbs 3:12 says “for the Lord reproves him who he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”   It is out of love that God disciplines us. He will always forgive us, if we ask for forgiveness but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to handle the consequences.

The second reason we experience trials is to test our faith. If life was perfect, we wouldn’t need to have faith. We wouldn’t need to rely on God or to understand our own limitations. Trials help us to grow and become stronger in our faith. James 1:12 says: “Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.” God blesses those who remain rooted in faith despite the circumstances of life. It’s easy to say you believe in God when nothing is going wrong but you discover the depth of your faith through life’s storms. In 1 Peter 1:7, Peter says: “so that the tested of genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes through it is test by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Trials purify our faith.

The third reason for trials is to teach us something or to develop (or strengthen) a particular characteristic. This sums up the trials I experienced beginning last April. I became a temporary caregiver for a family member and really learned what it meant to have a servant’s heart and to serve others. God wants us to grow more like Christ and the best way to learn is to experience something that needs that characteristic. For example, if you need to develop patience, God is going to put you in situations that test your patience.

So how do you handle trials? Are you a Jonah or a David? I used to be like a Jonah and would try to run away from my problems, only to be dragged back kicking and screaming. LOL. I was like a two year old throwing a tantrum. David fighting Goliath is the role model in how to respond to trials. David faced the trial with confidence that God would see him through it.

We should pray, study the word, seek Godly counsel from your mentor and Godly friends. Seek the Lord and ask him what purpose the trial has: if it’s an unconfessed sin or if it’s a test of faith or if it’s something He’s trying to teach us. He tells us to give faith. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says that we should “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Our circumstances shouldn’t dictate our faithfulness; so give thanks no matter what’s going on. It’s not always easy depending on what you’re going through but it’s a good habit to get into. I have found that an attitude change significantly impacts the trial when I’m not acting like Jonah.

 

How do you respond to trials? We love hearing from you! ❤

The Book Above all Books

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

Lately, I’ve been reading one of Max Lucado’s books called Glory Days. How ironic that this book emphasizes the importance of reading Scripture at a time when God has been pushing me to read more of His Word. Although I’ve been a consistent morning Bible reader, it’s not always deep and I’m not always awake. In fact, I can’t tell you what I read Tuesday morning because I remember that I was so concerned about who I was going to vote for. Yet, I am fully aware that if I didn’t have the Bible, what could I do?

When I first started teaching English in South Korea, I remember on my first day, sitting in front of the computer, wondering what I should do. I was lost and extremely nervous. Thankfully, a native English teacher that had worked before me created a manual that shows how to prepare and use the Korean website for the school. In my second school, there was no such guide. Thankfully, I was more prepared because the system was the same as my first school. However, I started to realize that eventually, when I would be replaced, the next teacher would have nothing to go by and no one to help her out; she was going to be the only native English teacher. I could not imagine the teacher beginning the job without knowing how to work in a Korean work environment. So, I created one. I listed all the things she needed to know and translated all the Korean terms on the website so it would be easier to use. God has also provided us with a guide so that we would be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And notice the word thoroughly. He didn’t partially or sort of equip us; the Lord thoroughly equipped us. God will bring us into the unknown, uncomfortable places but not without some kind of guide.

Amazingly, the Bible is more than a guide. It is also a weapon. As the above verse mentioned, it can be used for “rebuking.” The Word states that even demons believe in God’s existence (James 2:19). When the words of the Lord come out of our mouths, there can be power when we speak it in faith. Moreover, in Ephesians, the Word is described as a sword (6:17), a weapon like no other because it is not of this world. We have the means to fulfill the Lord’s will and the Word is a necessary tool in doing that. I admit that I don’t take advantage of this. If there is an evil presence around me, I should not only think Scripture, I must declare it! When we are lonely, when we have suffered a loss, when we are going through a financial crisis, declare!

We always need maturing and growth in our lives as well. As Max Lucado points out in Glory Days, “People don’t grow in Christ because they are busy in the church. They grow in Christ because they read and believe in the Bible” (roughly translated from the Spanish version). When we read the Bible in faith, we grow, we are being taught at the same time, and we are maturing. If we need correction in our lives, the Bible can help. When we need training, the Bible can guide us. But it is not the physical book itself but because the Word is “God-breathed” that makes it stand out among all books. All other books are meaningless when stacked on a bookshelf next to the Bible. We can invest in a book that can assist us in being a better husband/wife, better with money, or how to be successful. Yet, if they are not backed by the Word of God, they are useless.

I have struggled with Bible reading for many years now. Sometimes I go through phases where I read a book in the Bible more than once during a short period of time and thoroughly investigate it. Other times, I look at the same verse over and over again and nothing seems to stick. It’s easy to read Scripture, but not easy to dive into it. There is a huge difference and we can definitely tell when there is because the Holy Spirit can reveal things to us we were completely unaware of. As I push myself with Bible reading, I encourage you as well to take advantage of it. Not everyone in the world who desires to read the Bible has it, and here in the US, each individual can own one.

We’d love to hear how you study the Bible. Please comment below and share tips on how you study the Word and stay motivated. ❤ to everyone!

Unknown Seasons

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” – Acts 1:7

I am a planner, which means I like knowing the next ten steps and all of the various scenarios and what I need to do to get there. I can relate so much to the disciples here because they’re asking Jesus if now is the time for the Kingdom of Israel to be restored and Jesus gives a non-answer.

In my life I have found that when I really begin planning every single detail it’s because I’m struggling somewhere. It’s in some cases a control issue where I am worried over some unseen thing occurring and it’s those times where I swear God is laughing at my plans. He laughs because He knows that what I think is completely different than what’s coming.

I’m in a challenging season of my life and I’m looking forward to the next chapter that is rapidly approaching. I have some things laid out but the majority of it is open. I don’t know what kind of season is coming next or how long that season will be but God knows.

I remember how much I hated the beginning of this season in my life. It was the end of some freedoms and rest. It meant coming back home when I wanted to be abroad. It meant a lot of transitions and financial struggles. A lot of prayer and tears and the loss of some toxic relationships. It meant hospital visits and more medical jargon than I ever wanted to know.

Now, I see how this season forced me to grow. I learned what it meant to be a part of a large church community and to have the privilege of teaching our children in Sunday School. I have met some of the most amazing people who reached out and supported me from day one. I learned more about God’s character and grace and his faithfulness as He provided for me day after day. I became involved in sisterhood and remembered that sometimes change is a good thing.

I don’t know what my next season holds. I have an idea of where I will be and what I will be doing but I don’t know the people He will bring into my life or those He will take away. I don’t know what tasks He has specifically designed for me or what challenges I’ll encounter a long the way. It isn’t for me to know because part of my faith grows from trusting that He will give me the season I need at the time I need it. Note that I said “need” not “want”. He won’t give me the season I want but the one that will grow my faith and stretch me and advance His kingdom. At the end of the day, it isn’t about me; it’s about Him and serving the advancement of His kingdom.

I encourage you to look at the season you’re in and thank God for it. Ask Him to show you what you need to learn and thank Him for how He’s provided. It’s also okay to unload if it’s a difficult season. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect; He asks us to be honest.

 

I pray that God is doing something wonderful in this season of your life and I know that He is preparing you for the season that is coming. Please comment below if you have any suggestions or questions about handling unknown seasons in your life. We love hearing from y’all. ❤

Waiting Patiently on God’s Timing

There are numerous conversations I have or hear that deal with patience. But almost everyone around me looks desperately impatient, as if not being able to wait consumes their lives. The world is running faster than ever, so waiting for the light to turn green or to be in line to pay for groceries can feel like a “life or death” situation. We can be so needy and forget the purpose of patience and what God is doing in our lives.

First of all, when it comes to waiting for something, our idea of time is not the same as God’s. In 2 Peter 3:9, it says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (NIV). We feel like we are waiting for an eternity while for God, it has only been an hour. Moreover, we have no control of time even when we try so hard to control it. When we fail, it is a reminder that time belongs to God and that He is in control.

Secondly, when we become impatient, it leads to doubt: doubting the power of God and who He is. That’s when we begin to play with fire. Just the other day, I was reading Isaiah 45:11-12 which says, ”This is what the Lord says—the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me order about the work of my hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts” (NIV).

Thirdly, being too concerned about the outcome of waiting can result in missing out on the growing maturity we need during those waiting times. James 1:4 says, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything” (NIV). For many of my single female friends, they often share to me how waiting for a “perfect” man is maybe not worth waiting. They express their frustrations and sometimes make decisions on guys that, from the start, were not what God intended. To me, it’s obvious that God is working in their lives at this moment, preparing them and maturing them while they are single so that they are better prepared for the future. But when in the situation, I can admit that it is hard for them to see that.

God will give patience to those who ask for it and use it wisely. We can’t expect things to come into place either. Then we wouldn’t need God. Sometimes waiting, for whatever, can bring outcomes that never were expected. Just think of Abraham and Sarah who had a child at an old age. They waited, Sarah doubted, but Abraham had faith. And so his faith was rewarded.

Comment and let us know how you remain patient. Hope everyone has an excellent weekend ❤

To Succeed

What is success? How do you define success? I used to define it as a big paycheck, a large savings account, no debt, and a good career. I thought it was having a retirement plan and health insurance. Every promotion I received validated my definition of success.

Then, there’s the definition of success according to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

5ae8893b0e5ae1f4cfa76842a6c0c859

 

I had a successful life, according to society’s definition. Of course, I was working 80 hours a week but my quality of life was terrible and my relationships were deteriorating due to neglect.

Today, I finished reading Jeremiah and it made me think more about what success means to God. I often quote Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

This is a great and uplifting scripture but it’s to the Israelites about what life will be like after their seventy years of exile are completed. Jeremiah was faithful to the Lord and obedient. He did everything that was asked of him and he suffered. He was imprisoned many times and threatened with death.

By today’s standard, Jeremiah would be considered a failure but in God’s eyes Jeremiah is a success. He obeyed despite the opposition and the worldly consequences of his work. He knew that while he went through difficult times on earth, his reward was going to be in heaven with the Lord. He had challenges and moments where he questioned God but he did what he was called to do.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” – Hebrews 10:35-36

God gave Jeremiah the confidence and endurance to complete the task God gave him. We can also be encouraged that God gives us the same confidence and endurance to complete whatever tasks He’s called us to do. He knows what we’re going through.

I personally have been amazed at how He has provided for me in this season of my life. It hasn’t been easy and some days, I feel like He has only provided me with enough to get through that day and just that day but I have never been alone. He is faithful even when I am not. Whatever is going on in your life, remember that God is with you and He will help you get through whatever He has called you to do.

I define success as being obedient to God in whatever He calls you to do, whenever He calls you to do it. How successful are you?

 

Comment below and let us know how you define success. We love hearing from you! ❤