Tag Archives: Grace

When God Ruins My Plans

When I am not lazy, I am a planner by heart. I like to plan out my days in my head, from what I will be doing at 8:00 AM tomorrow, to big goals that I aim to accomplish by the end of the year. I enjoy mapping out my schedule, and sometimes when I am bored, I will jot down what I envision my day to be in one-hour increments. Or, I will create checklists of things to do because I not only love planning, but I like executing. Being idle and not having something to do, not having set plans, makes me feel uneasy and restless. Even when plans oftentimes go awry, I am usually okay as long as I have anticipated beforehand that things might not work out, or at least have thought of a couple backup scenarios that might be just as satisfactory as my original schemes.

Does this make me sound crazy?

Anyway, my point is, I like when things go accordingly to my ways. When plans fall through, especially if it was something that I really wanted to do, I know it is God’s way of sanctifying me. When the unexpected happens and I don’t foresee the changes, I have no doubt that God is teaching me to stop desiring control and to submit to His Lordship.

In fact, I am learning this lesson as I type because my plans got messed up today.
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Grace Upon Grace

I’m not really big on birthdays, but I turned a year older this week and found myself doing a lot of extra reflecting. I’m usually — well, still am — the busy bee in the house, bustling out and about every single day, but I took a step back this week to do some introspective thinking. I’m the type of person that processes things as they go, and mulling things quietly to myself isn’t something that I tend to do on a regular basis. But I did that this past week because I found myself to be alone at home, so I was forced to reflect and have a lot of quiet time to myself. (All of my introverted friends should be so proud.)

So after all that personal reflection, I’d like to take the time to flesh out my thoughts in writing, and to share it with y’all.

I think I can say that in my short life thus far, this past year has been one of the most rewarding, albeit challenging. Or maybe I’m biased because I have selective memory and the past year is still fairly recent in my memory. Regardless, many trials and unexpected blessings occurred that stretched my faith and caused me to trust in God through the good times, the bad, and the mundane. And I’m so thankful and glad for all that’s happened. I’m grateful for the friendships along the way, people that really supported and prayed for me and walked with me through it all. Praise God for them.

In a nutshell, all this happened within the past year: I’ve dated, broken up, resigned from my job, dealt with family crises, took upon more ministry opportunities at church, started a new job, learned how to resolve and handle sticky, drama-like situations, and trained for my first half marathon. Not exactly in that chronological order and probably not the best summary of all that happened. But I guess those are the biggest events that come to mind. All in all, what a humbling year. I’m amazed at the depths of my sins, but also at how wonderful God is — how vast is His grace and love for me.

As I was reliving all these past events through my trip down memory lane, I made up a little short list of what I really want to do as I turned a year older. I’ve been trying to pray for myself more, to ask God for strength and guidance for the times ahead. I look back on this year and see both the areas where I’ve wasted so much time in and areas where there was tremendous fruitfulness. My continual hope is to shine for Jesus and be a living testimony for him in all that I do and say.  Continue reading

Weekly Favorite Links (July 16-August 5, 2015)

(Photo Via)

What makes you happy?

This is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately, both directly by others and one that I have been mulling over on my quiet drives to and from work. I guess part of it is because I had to take a workshop session related to happiness for work purposes and it was a really interesting experience. The workshop began with pop songs playing in the background (which did make us feel pretty pumped up) and after that, everyone had to go around sharing what was one thing that made them happy. I honestly didn’t think much of the question at first, so the first thing that came to my mind was GOOD FOOD ’cause I was hungry and…. I love food a lot. Y’all should already know that though.

As the session progressed, I realized that what seemed like an initial harmless, superficial question really was one of life’s most significant question marks that every individual must answer for themselves. Because we all strive to be happy; we may all differ in how we believe and see where happiness comes from.

If there was one thing that was apparent from that meeting, it was the realization that the world believes you are in charge of your happiness and there are concrete steps and goals to achieve it. By the end of the workshop, there was probably about ten suggested strategies that were offered to all of us to achieve the happiness we were looking for. We were also asked to publicly share and offer examples of ways that we were trying to achieve such happiness. For example, someone would be asked to share to the rest of the group how they were kind to someone else or one thing they’ve learned recently in order to improve their weaknesses. I was called on to share a recent event that inspired me and empowered me. Others were asked to talk about what they loved about themselves and areas where they had to overcome certain challenges. We were also given a worksheet to complete and take home and before we left the meeting, we all had to write down two commitments we were going to work towards.

On the one hand, I appreciated the workshop. There were a lot of good points made and some great practical ways for me to work on my weaknesses and further areas that I can continue to grow in. The personal sharing from everyone was also pretty relatable and we were able to bond better as a team. Furthermore, I felt more motivated to challenge myself outside of my comfort zone. And yes, making a commitment to something, striving towards goals, and successfully achieving them does bring about the feeling of happiness. But only to a certain degree. That feeling of accomplishment, the exhilaration you get from checking off something from a bucket list– it’s all temporary. So while I enjoyed the workshop, on the other hand, I also left that meeting a bit dissatisfied and not fully convinced at everything that was addressed. I think I was taken aback because for the first time in a long while, I was told that Self can make happiness happen. As if the greatest purpose in this life is to be happy with myself and come to terms with how great of a person I am (as if I need more reasons to be prideful of who I am).

However, I know that in order to find true happiness and lasting joy, everything that was suggested at that workshop were only fragments of what I know to be true. I think the workshop only addressed and scratched the surface level of bigger issues. I felt like the people leading the session and even the group discussions were trying to persuade me that a band-aid would fix areas that might need open heart surgery. There comes a point where we can try to do everything in our power to get what we want and it will be in vain since we’re limited as human beings. The biggest hole in that team bonding activity was that contentment apart from Christ is impossible because only in Christ alone will we find our everlasting happiness. After all, God’s creations were never meant to replace him as our Creator.

Self cannot be elevated nor is the individual Self reliable enough to deliver. I think if anything, Self only ends up disappointing more than impressing because we’re all fallen sinners. Honestly, I don’t even know what will happen to me in the next minute, much less a lifetime, so how can I guarantee my own happiness? I can’t. Instead, I believe and trust that true happiness is found when I surrender my life to Jesus, when my sinful desires are cast away and when my mind is renewed to be more like his. In Christ alone, my soul will be satisfied. Continue reading

Called To Repentance

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62

One thing I’ve learned over the years, and something that I’m continuing to experience in my spiritual walk, is that God uses my idols to break me. It takes a good trial or two for me to recognize what I place my hope in and what my heart worships instead of God. To borrow some words from a friend’s recent blog post, Trials will devastate your idols. While trials are oftentimes painful (or else they wouldn’t be categorized as one), it’s usually a good wake-up call for me to see areas that I need further growth in.

Lately, I’ve realized that I really idolize my relationships with others. It dawned on me that I love my friends more than I love God. I care more about people and I desire a deeper connection with them than I do with my Savior. My schedule revolves around these relationships and I would go as far as sacrificing alone time with God so that I could spend time with people. I could go days without reading God’s Word but I can’t go a few hours without checking out my Instagram feed because I want to be updated and to “stay connected.” Their presence and their words sometimes mean more to me than Scripture. Why go to God alone in prayer when a text message to a friend is faster? Why seek comfort and rest in Christ when I could call up someone and they could encourage me?

The only major problem is that there is no substitute for God because only God can satisfy my soul. My security wasn’t being rooted in my identity as a beloved, adopted daughter of the mighty creator of this universe. Instead, I found my affirmation and purpose through my earthly relationships. I lived for them — and I think I still do. Continue reading