a reflection I wanted to share that deeply touched my heart today from tonight’s bible study:
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mothersaid to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[f] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
For the past two weeks as I’ve been learning more about Mary, mother of Jesus, it becomes more apparent that her life must’ve been a hard, yet rewarding, one. Like I mentioned last week, she went through major things in her life from experiencing disgrace and shame as an unwed pregnant girl (at the young age of around 12-14), almost losing her fiance Joseph, and witnessing her son get brutally murdered. Knowing that she would probably go through all this after the angel visited her bearing the news of Jesus, Mary was still obedient and willing to go through the shame, the worry, the sorrow, etc. for the sake of God’s will and glory - and ultimately, the rest of the world. I always wondered how Mary remained so humble throughout her pregnancy and even after giving birth to Jesus and seeing him grow. If I were her, I would’ve been prideful in my heart, thinking that I am special because God chose me to be the mother of the Messiah. But today, during Bible Study, I realized that while Mary might’ve had those moments of pride, she was probably daily reminded of the fact that Jesus was never her child to keep. I think she was able to stay humble, by God’s grace, every time she was reminded that her son, whom she carried for 9 months and lived with for 33 years, would eventually have to die for the salvation of the chosen and for God’s will to be done. Jesus was never her child to keep for herself - and I think one of those moments she was reminded was in this passage where Jesus (at the age of 12) asks her mother why she was searching for him when she should’ve known that he is to be at his Father’s house. I loved verse 51 when it says that Mary treasured all those things that Jesus said in her heart as though she was slowly preparing her heart for the day when she would finally have to let him go.
It must’ve been bittersweet for her (for lack of a better word), or rather, very conflicting as she knew her beloved son would eventually have to die. I imagine Mary as she sees her son Jesus from baby to adult, treasuring every moment with him and always staying humble, aware that one day, he will no longer be with her physically in this world. While she must’ve not wanted him to die and leave her side, she knew he had to as the Messiah in order for him to be her salvation. She gave birth to him as her baby, and watched him die as her Savior. It’s heartbreaking yet so beautiful. The humble, obedient, and willing heart of Mary. I’m sure this would strike deeper as I later become a mother myself and understand what it would feel like to love my own children, and yet know that they are simply gifts endowed to me by the Father.
I’m so thankful for women like Mary who we can all learn from. I am starting to realize that they were actually real people who walked this earth - women who were used by God in a real way, and not just in a story. It’s amazing to think that the same God is working now in my life and the same Jesus died on that cross for me and the same Holy Spirit who was with the early church now resides in me. I’m amazed and awed.
After ending the Bible Study in prayer for each of our prayer requests we shared, I drove home thankful even for the fact that God gave us prayer - the ability to communicate with God and be in relationship with Him. It’s amazing that He calls us to pray ceaselessly, meaning that He wants to be in constant communion with Him - just like a husband who always wants to converse and be with his wife. Beautiful.
As I go through this season of uncertainty, dryness, and wave of emotions/feelings, I’m amazed at how much God is showing His faithfulness to me and reminding me of His love through His Son. What an amazing God we have the privilege to serve and worship. I’m deeply humbled.
Dating advice for Christian men
i like this. sound advice for all Christian men whom Christian women must wait for! no settling for sub-par, unintentional men!
isaiah 40 is speaking to me in many ways.
(many thanks to bill for sharing w me)
i feel like i’m in a weird bubble of emotions and seasons and thoughts. God has taught me so much in the past few months and has shown me His faithfulness everyday; yet, there are moments when i just sit and start doubting and forgetting to see beyond myself, feeding into the lies and voices that circulate in my head.
confession: i struggle everyday with pride and self-righteousness in every aspect of my life. and these past weeks, God has been exposing it within me, showing me how much more there is to be done and how much more i must seek His goodness as i swim in what seems to be a river of doubt, discouragement, self-condemnation, and weariness.
but every time i feel like i’m drowning in such waters, there’s this glimmer of light that catches my eyes and helps me come back up. being the sinner that i am though, i easily get distracted and being the devil that he is, he easily starts yelling his lies back into my ears. however, being the faithful father He is, God always shows me those glimmers of light and hope, in which I stand amazed and awed because of how unworthy i am to receive such mercy and grace.
A voice cries:[b]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (v 3-5)
the world we live in is so unpredictable and wavering that we can’t ever place a sure foot on the ground and say that this is where we will stay forever. life will give us hardships and challenges and horrible news but if we don’t have that foot on the rock of Christ, those hardships, challenges, and horrible news will just slap us in the face and cause us to fall off and go back into those dark waters.
A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said,[c] “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty[d] is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever. (v 6-8)
i can’t explain why things happen as they do but i know that in any and every situation, there is always Goodness that is to be found when you really sit and seek for it. i tell this to my students every week, but every time i face something, i forget to tell it to myself.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (v 28-31)
God is funny and He speaks to us in different ways. a friend randomly texted me out of the blue the other day and shared with me this passage and i was simply awed by God’s faithfulness in showing me His ways, most unexpectedly.
even in my faithlessness, He is faithful. even in horrible situations, there is still Goodness. this world is wicked but it will fade, just like our treasures, our bodies, our money, etc. but God and His word will never fade. He is enough for me and I need to tell myself that everyday. He has overcome the grave, and therefore, there is no reason for me to stay in it in my discouragements, my failures, my sin.
God, help me to abide in You for you are the One of all comfort and peace. help me to cherish the struggles and seek You more in the hardships and weariness because I know You will lead me to greater waters of joy, grace, and hope.
it’s the first time i’ve ever felt this way.
a feeling that is almost unexplainable in words, but a feeling i’m sure so many people around the world has shared with me during these past few days.
a feeling that starts and just sits at the bottom of your throat. a feeling of heartache and heartbreak that i know is incomparable to those whose hearts have actually been broken from their terrible losses. i can’t really begin to imagine that kind of feeling.
as i’ve been reflecting these past few days, it’s made me come to realize more of God’s sweet grace in my own life. i feel almost guilty writing this out because i know so many are in the most horrible circumstances where it is hard to see the grace in life. but i write this in faith that no matter how bad and horrible and gut-wrenching something can be, there is simply always goodness and life.
i am a firm believer that there is always life in situations of what is seemingly all death. it’s just a matter of whether we are open and willing to seek and cling to the goodness, who is always God, and hate what is evil.
it’s honestly because of God’s grace that we have another day to live, another breath to breathe, and another beat our heart gets to beat. in no humanly way are we able to make our hearts beat any more faster or longer, or able to make our lungs take in our breaths. all that is by His grace, and His grace alone.
we never know when our last days will be, and we never know what will happen in the next moment. we have assumptions that we are guaranteed to wake up the next morning or sure that we would safely get to our workplaces without an accident. however, the several incidents that have happened to strangers and friends these past few days show otherwise. assumptions are just that: assumptions, with no guarantee.
this world is full of chaos and a lack of stability. there is no sure guarantee and no solid foundation that this world can conjure up. amidst the disorder and uncertainty, however, there is something that is sure and firm and solid. and that is only found in the rock who is Jesus.
Christmas is fast approaching us, in less than 10 days. i’ve had so many Christmases where I failed to reflect on the real reason for the season. so many Christmases that have been spent busy shopping and wrapping presents and snowboarding down mountains. fewer Christmases where I really realized the tremendous weight and meaning behind the day.
in this evil and twisted place, God planned and ordained His Son to be sent to the world in human flesh. Jesus was perfectly placed in this earth for a planned purpose of reconciling us sinners to the Holy Father. there was no reason for Him to do so but out of His grace and mercy and love for His people, He sent His Son to shed blood for us so that we may come before Him in confidence—something that was unheard of in the Old Testament.
i cannot imagine how it must feel for the families and friends of Emilie Parker, age 6, or Ana Marquez-Garcia, age 6, or Victoria Soto, age 27. the only glimpse i have into what they might be feeling is when i imagine my 7 year old cousin and the tremendous amount of love i have for him. but even then, it’s only just a glimpse.
there are more thoughts in my head that cannot be articulated in words, and i don’t really want to try. All in all though, what i pray for this nation is not only for politicians to put aside politics or for presidents to focus on creating change, but also, and much more importantly, for hearts to be turned toward our Maker and awakened to see that the day of our salvation is nearer than ever. He is coming, and we must be ready. And while we do so, may we cling to Christ ever stronger and always be grateful for what we have.
11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
i spent most of today in my bed. it’s been a while since i spent a whole day without having to go to work. both my dad and I are sick with coughing, mucus, a fever, body aches, and etc. etc., and poor mommy has had to deal with our sluggish selves and blank stares every time she asks us what we want to eat or what else we need.
in the midst of all this bacteria and snot, i find myself finding such joy. i feel like it’s been a while since both me and my parents just spent a day at the house, doing nothing, eating together and just enjoying each other’s presence. granted, right now, i am writing this post, my mom is listening to something on her phone, and my dad is dozing off on the couch for the umpteenth time today—i think i’ve missed being in each other’s presence in this way. sadly, my brother is not here but it’s okay, 13 more days.
i think another thing i find such joy in is to also see my mom in such joy. despite us being sick, it seems as if she is not annoyed or frustrated in any sense but always maintains a sense of humor and joy in all she does. while she is cooking up some udon for us, I hear my dad call out from upstairs in his scratchy voice for the newspaper, in which my mom simply calls out in her sing-song voice “okay, I’ll go get it from outside”. I lie in my bed and hear my mom walk from the kitchen to the door and then seconds later, hear the door open again and the same sing-song voice saying, “okay, i got it!”
i’m thankful for the sense of humor that my family has and i pray that we will never become so hardened in ourselves or to one another that we lose that.
i’m sick, this post probably sounds confusing and delirious—bye.
51 Have mercy on me,[a] O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Yet, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching us, and there are so many things that I’ve been so thankful for this past year + my whole life. At Calvary, everyone was encouraged to write 100 things they were thankful for and offer it up to God as a Thanksgiving offering, acknowledging God’s grace and mercy over our lives. Admittedly at first, I was shocked, “We literally have to write 100 things?!” But as I’ve been thinking about it and pondering on the past year that God has so faithfully been with me through, things began to pour out as I put my pen to paper. Transcribed below are the top 50 of the things I wrote (all 100 is too much to type out but now picking out just 50 is a bit harder) for this year’s Thanksgiving offering. I am aware my posts are always long but hopefully as you skim or read thoroughly, all would ponder on your own 100 things to offer up in thanksgiving.
Top 50 things I am thankful for (not in particular order):
- First and foremost, my testimony of God’s grace and mercy over every part of my life beginning with my conception and throughout my 21 years of life.
- The time away from home during my first 2 years of college
- The time back home after my 2nd year with family
- My family - dad, mom, brother, grandparents, relatives. If I had to choose only one thing I was most grateful for, it would be my family and for God turning my heart toward them. I am incredibly blessed and almost feel spoiled to have people who I know will be with me when everyone else might turn away.
- Brothers and sisters in Christ who care for me, including my beautiful CHI family and the different seasons we all went through together
- Again, my CHI brothers and sisters who have really become like true family
- PT and Vicky SMN for their shepherding and discipleship, teaching me the Word not only through their words but through their entire lifestyles
- My U.S. citizenship
- Friends who challenge me and humble me without even them knowing
- For the past year when God has been shaping my heart for His Word
- SAN DIEGO and the privilege of growing up in this beautiful city
- God’s incredible creation that reminds me of how much bigger He really is than what my mind can comprehend; my top favorite things of all: sunsets, huge trees, the sky, stars, and the vast ocean
- For the Vietnamese family I visit every Saturday, Sandi, her husband, and children Tammy, Kelly, and Willy, who blesses me with their stories, their openness and hospitality, and the legit Vietnamese food they make for me.
- My family who was able to financially support me throughout my life and my education
- For my job that was entirely due to God’s provision, and the privilege of making money so that I can freely give what was given to me
- For God beginning to shape my dad’s heart toward Himself
- The specific gifts, skills, and talents that God blessed me with
- The 3 months I spent in Washington DC
- The times when I had to put in gas for my car and my dad would come with me, get out of the passenger seat, and put in gas, without me even asking
- For the privilege of growing up in Calvary
- For not moving Calvary’s location from Linda Vista, or else I would’ve never met the families in the neighborhood.
- For James who is from Kenya and attends our EM services every week - his story, his heart for the Lord, and his love for his family
- For my family staying faithful to Calvary when everyone else around us was leaving
- For the new head pastor, Joseph Park and his family
- Being able to open up to my parents about my life, and being comfortable doing so
- My brother and his willingness to listen to me rant about my life (although these days as he is in Boston, he never seems to pick up his phone!!!!)
- For my grandma who always gives me food and flowers every time I visit
- For my grandpa who is so tech savvy by recording me with his Flip video camera teaching him how to use his iPhone
- For God stopping my family from moving to New Mexico
- My youth girls - Ingrid, Michelle, Sharon, Tina, Hannah, Nara, Jenny, and Suyeon - who challenge me to daily read the Word and lead me to deeper prayer for myself, them, and Calvary as a whole.
- For the past 2 weeks of special morning prayer “Cord of 3”
- For having the privilege of tutoring my cousin Minoo and seeing his growth
- For slowly becoming more like my mom who I secretly (not so secret anymore) think is the most beautiful and cool woman in the world.
- The privilege of having a Bible and being able to read it when so many around the world have no access to one or the permission to read one
- For Elaine who is in Nigeria for the next 6 months - her passion, drive, and love for God who challenges me everyday through her life
- The friends who God has blessed me with during college, being able to see how much God has led us all from freshmen year to now
- My passion for people and the heart God has been shaping to give and serve
- My passion to learn more
- For Gliderport sunsets that I witness almost every day after work
- For God’s faithfulness in my immediate family and my extended family who live in the U.S. and Korea
- For God opening my eyes to see my dad in a different light where I now see how much of a passionate, compassionate, and giving person he was really made to be
- The privilege of being able to live back at home and pay no rent (although my parents always joke that I still owe them rent for the month)
- How I am now comfortable in my body and skin after years of struggling with my image
- The parents who are also Bible Study teachers for the Youth, who actually care for the souls of their children and the youth as a whole
- For EM interacting more with Adult KM at Calvary
- For fathers at Calvary who I see spiritually investing into their families
- For my own father who actively desired a relationship with his children
- For my parents who always tried to be present in me and my brother’s childhoods
- For the family vacation trips we’ve been on
- For Jesus and the depth and weight of the gospel that God opened my eyes to
“Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation”
too many thoughts jumbled up in my head. but everything boils down to four words:
All glory to God.
I really don’t deserve the things that I have in this life. My family, my job, my car, my house, my bank account, etc. etc. etc. But for some reason, He has blessed me with these things. Now, by writing this, I don’t want to come off as privileged and cocky and prideful and annoying but rather, with everything more God has given to me and my family, I sincerely pray that I would go lower and give more of myself, pouring out as He continuously fills.
It’s crazy how much freedom and life there really is when we come to that point where we receive the grace to lift our hands and say, “God, this is yours. My life is yours. I am yours.”
There is more, much more, that I need to learn and want to learn but I’m truly thankful for everything God has taught me so far by His Spirit.
Wherever I am led to in the next few days, months, and years, I pray that those four words will never leave my lips and that I will always pour myself out as He pours Himself in.
What have I done to deserve such favor and grace? Absolutely nothing, at least not of my own strength or power. Therefore, may all glory be to God!