Unbelief

Psalm 86:11  (ESV)

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.

Some of you know, that I only have one ovary. I lost my right ovary on my 21st birthday. I was forced to have emergency surgery after my ovary suffered necrosis due to the weight of an over-sized cyst which caused torsion of my Fallopian tube. So I had to undergo, a procedure called a laparoscopic unilateral oophorectomy (never forgot the name of it).  This procedure removes the left or right ovary through small incisions in the belly button and stomach (still got the scars). At that age, I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of the emotional roller coaster ride I would be on for the next 8 years. I was young and only living for the moment. I thought I had my life ahead of me and although I felt a bit concerned at the time, I wasn’t really thinking about legacy or children. In fact, I wasn’t even a Christian yet. However, in retrospect, I see how God’s hand was still in my life.

This is a very sensitive topic for me that gets more sensitive as I get older. The older I get, the more I fear I’ll have complications with pregnancy. The fear mostly stems from me feeling as if my eggs are getting old and that I may run out because I only have one ovary. So it’s usually coupled with anxiousness although there is no proof that I most certainly will have this issue. I feel so exposed talking about this but I’m hoping I can encourage someone struggling with the same thoughts to not believe the deception.
Amazingly, I’ve experienced the peace of God amidst all of the troubling fears. He’s even revealed something about His character and His favor in my life. But strikingly, He’s exposed the contents of my heart and it’s desired and helped me see a clear reflection of myself and the ugly parts. In fact, the fear hit me again this morning and I felt forced to step outside of my office and pray. I’ll get back to what triggered it in a moment, it’s important too but the most profound aspect of my experience with this is that He led me back to the first sin. How can I profess that I truly trust God and still struggle with this fear?
He reminded me of why the first sin was committed. It was committed because of unbelief in God’s Word. God warned Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:17 not to eat from the tree of good and evil, that the day they eat from it, they will surely die. However, because of the lack of trust in God, they allowed a created being to deceive them by asking them, did God really say that you will surely die? God gave me a promise a long time ago and I have seen some of it already come to pass. My experience with worry about my future is a lack of trust in that promise, it was unbelief in what He already told me. Hence, I allowed myself to watch a YouTube video that fed into those negative beliefs and allowed my mind to reason with what science or biology say disregarding who God is and what He said. He is the creator of all things, not a created being. He is Spirit, not man-made topic like science. He can do miracles, men can’t. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways. Most importantly, His Word is unfailing. There are many things that we will never understand but God will because He created all things. Nothing is impossible for God.
If we truly know that God’s Word is unfailing, then why do we not trust in Him with all of our heart? We know that worry and fear are a result of the lack of trust in God and lack of focus on God and His kingdom: Matthew 6:25-34. Fear is a sin because it is rooted in unbelief. The scriptures emphasize the importance of having faith in God and believing in His Word. It’s the only way to obtain favor from the Lord. Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Also, where there is fear, there is no love because fear is not a character trait of God, love is. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
God sent Jesus to redeem us from our sins to restore a broken relationship between us and Himself and the only way this can be done is if we have faith in Him. Without faith, there is no restoration, no relationship, no hope. The scriptures teach us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10. Therefore, in order to know Him, we must fear Him first. Not anyone or anything else.
Want to know how to have favor from the Lord? Have faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and pursue God with reckless abandonment. Jesus commands us to in Luke 10:27 “And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
If you are worried about something today, I encourage you to seek God. Draw near to Him and ask to be sensitive to His voice. Put your trust in Him. Remember His promises because His Word is unfailing. There’s safety in His presence and we can put our trust in Him.
God Bless!

God’s Provision

It’s incredible how much God cares about the smallest needs in our lives. Many of us may forget to include such needs in our prayers because we may not deem it as valuable enough to get God’s attention. What I’m learning is that He truly knows all of our needs before we ask and most times He’ll give us what we need in His perfect timing even if we never intend on asking for them. Most importantly, if we ask for help with a sincere heart and faith, He will answer our prayers according to His will.

I moved into my new place just a few weeks ago. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I had to move in two weeks and I was not financially prepared for such a major expense at the time. I was also nervous about living on my own for the first time and taking on such a large responsibility. However, I knew it was God’s will for me to have the apartment.

How did I know? I received a call that my application (submitted 2 years ago) was selected in the affordable housing lottery via housing connect and that because my log number was so low (#20), they wanted to give me a chance. The odds are very slim for applicants to get selected and be approved by HPD. I know this because I have been selected twice in the past and didn’t make it past the interview. I was also informed that the process normally takes 6-8 weeks but because they needed to fill the building by the end of February, the process would be much shorter. It is an incredible blessing to have affordable, stabilized rent in New York City. Especially in my location.

Not only were the events leading up to the move a clear indication of God’s will but the events that took place after I moved in. So I mentioned I was not financially-prepared. So I was notified that I will be receiving a bonus and a raise at work the same day I sign my lease. Patience was very important in this process. Although I wanted to sign earlier, I decided to wait and then I received great news about extra income. However, things didn’t turn out as planned. Turns out the bonus wouldn’t go into effect until a few weeks later. So I gathered all I could from my savings and paycheck to afford the lease signing and the move and realized I still didn’t have enough. But I trusted that it was God’s will. So I discussed with my friends how terrible my day was going because I didn’t know how I was going to pay rent and security deposit in 2 hours and both friends offered to help me out. I thank God for good friends! Lord knows I hate asking people for help but they were able to offer help.

However, I spent everything on my move. SO I was extremely worried about food and whether I’d have enough to last a week and a few days. I distinctly remember praying in the shower after I spent my last bit of money on food. It was a very sincere and honest prayer about how hungry I was starting to feel and how I didn’t want to ask anyone for anything but that I trusted Him that He will not allow me to go hungry and that He will provide. The next day I woke up with $500 deposited into my bank account.

After that, although I could afford it, I decided to delay immediate gratification and hold out on buying a microwave. I knew in my heart that if I just waited a bit longer, that God would provide. The last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle, cooking and bringing my meals to work to warm up but nonetheless, I learned it’s not difficult living without a microwave. However, I still desired it, I just don’t recall asking for one in my prayers. BUT God provided. A post was sent out by another alumnus from my school about free furniture and someone posted that they had an extra microwave so I claimed it.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

A Whirlwind Called Life

I was talking to someone who said life normally doesn’t turn out the way we plan it to be. She couldn’t be more accurate. I immediately thought about Proverbs 16:9 which says

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

So although you may plan to be wealthy at 25, God is going to direct your paths in the way that He wills you to go. We’re all playing a role in a bigger story.

When I reflect on my life in the last 5 years I think about how much has changed in such a short amount of time. God has been really faithful. Despite the seasons of pain and struggle, I’ve experienced God rescue me from every trial. He’s never left me in those depths that I once thought were permanent.

I thought that if I carefully planned my life, and worked really hard toward my goals that I will achieve all of my heart’s desires.

I didn’t think about all of the arbitrary decisions I’d have to make on the journey to achieving my goals, you know the ones you do not plan for, such as changing my major, moving back home, being laid off, losing my car, burying my dad, taking care of my mother or my aunt.

It helps to know that Jesus has experienced far greater disappointments and pain than we have ever experienced as the son of God; that He’s had to make the most uncomfortable decisions this world has ever known. And as a pastor once mentioned, “that He died waiting for the promise to be fulfilled.” How many of us are willing to die waiting?

As a millennial, many of us are inclined to immediate gratification whether we’d like to admit or not. Try being a Christian millennial ha! It’s one of the most challenging, patience-producing, journeys in the world. Some of us may or may not be aware of the blessing that lies at the end but I’m convinced that the leading cause of depression among millennials is the lack of immediate gratification. We’re problem solvers so we’re always looking for solutions to our trials or our pain, whether it be emotionally, financially or physically. And the moment we feel we do not have these things, we feel like failures.

This generation needs Jesus…seriously.

Yes, we don’t own anything. We’re thousands of dollars deep in student loan and credit card debt and we face more divorces and singleness than our parents (mostly a result of the lack of finances). The stock market crash in 2008 not only ruined the housing market but the job market for us, leaving many of us underemployed.

But God continues to reign on His throne amidst all the chaos we may see happening around us. There’s still hope, a hope that is beyond what we can see here on Earth and it’s far more rewarding. So not only the fruit of patience is matured through our trials but ultimately our faith. God will use trials to test our faith so that we may learn to inherently trust Him. I’ve noticed this several times in my life. I’ve felt hopelessness and had no idea how I was going to do basic things like eat and I cried out to God and watched how He provided. Kind of like when He sent manna from heaven to the Israelites in the wilderness.

Scripture says: “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (ESV)

What this generation needs more is faith. Faith, that despite our circumstances that Jesus is alive and that He loves us deeply, desires a personal relationship with us and wants to walk with us through our struggles because He has overcome it all and has prepared a beautiful place in eternity for us. Hallelujah!

I love the verse that reads:

“10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (NKJV)

Brothers and sisters, I hope this has blessed you and I pray that despite the many directions that the seasons in life may turn that you never forget that Jesus wants to walk with you through them. He knows your brokenness very well and He wants to heal you and set you free from it. He wants to develop faith in you, a faith that genuinely trusts God. May His grace and favor be with you always.

Many blessings!

Technology: An Attribute or a Detriment?

As a programming newbie, I am enamored by the development of software from its first line of code to the packaging of the final product. It is apparent that in the past 20 to 30 years, technology has transformed our world and forced us into what is now known as the digital age. In many ways, technology has introduced convenient alternatives such as using iOS and Android applications to order food rather than make a phone call or using an app to schedule a taxi pick-up for what is now known as an Uber service. These conveniences often referred to as disruptive technology, have shaped and truly changed our culture for the better. However, is technology entirely good? Or better yet, is it always healthy for us? As a millennial, I often struggle with this question because although I grew up with the tech evolution, using computers and dissembling them at a young age, I am equally excited and worried about it. Here’s why:

The number of deaths that are a result of the use of technology rise every year. They range from “texting while driving” accidents to suicide by the hands of depressed and lonely social media users who suffered from the lack of communication that is masqueraded by the connection myth that social media provides. Some have even died from looking down at their phones while crossing the street. Thus, technology can also be a distraction if it is not kept under control. Many are so addicted to social media that they are constantly checking their accounts while at work, class and even while using the restroom. Many even sleep with their phones by their heads at night and check their accounts throughout the night. I am definitely guilty of this. Frighteningly, the iPhone has become a device we cannot live without, especially for millennials and it portrays an ugly portrait of what our future can become. Some of us are more attached to our phones than we are to actual people and struggle with intimacy in our relationships. Many of us haven’t read a physical book in years.

Nonetheless, technology also has positive attributes. Having access to a mobile device can also keep people alive. During an emergency, a mobile device allows someone the convenience of dialing 911 or tweeting the details of the emergency. It also allows a person to take photos, record a voice or video of someone being treated unfairly. Records which serve as evidence for purposes of justice. There are definitely good benefits to having unlimited communication and convenient access to emergency services.

Communication

The older I get the more my eyes have opened to the decline in communication. Many of us refuse to speak to a customer service rep or a restaurant operator when ordering food. Calling a taxi service or hotel concierge when you have AirBnB has even become archaic. There’s the existence of that small notion that “there’s an app for that!” In many cases, our communication skills have atrophied. Which probably explains why I often feel a sense of queasiness whenever I have to make a call that involves speaking to an operator or customer service rep. Eventually, that initial feeling passes and I am able to make the call but I am constantly wrestling with the possibility that maybe my reluctance to communicate has developed from the access to technology I have been freely taking advantage of. I can admittedly say that I seldom resort to a phone conversation either, only to a select amount of individuals. My texting skills are probably even worse. Although I’d prefer texting I’m not always adept at replying to my friend’s messages and they’d probably all agree that I am guilty of that.

I’ve also noticed this sense of permitted forgetfulness where it’s just assumed that a person didn’t reply because they’re busy or is struggling with focus on many things at once. For example, the NYC housing search. Should I explain? The minutes you post an available room you’re getting hundreds of views and messages from people asking if the rental is available. However, even if you’ve messaged them back immediately, that person will either ignore your message or exclaim their disinterest. Most times, they just ignore it. The internet has given us too many options and the synapses in our brains are firing off constantly at rapid speed every day. It’s easy to forget or ignore a response to a question you just asked.

Artificial Intelligence

I work in the finance industry but on the tech side. My company is not tech focused so we aren’t equipped with all of the most updated software or skills. On my team, in particular, I oddly feel like I’m still looking at legacy code from the 80’s! We are still trying to figure things out, to have a more agile approach to building programs or bug fixing and eliminating all of the manual work that is still done on a daily basis. Today, I thought about how interesting it is that many companies, even large corporate firms like mine aren’t 100% automating their tasks. If anything, not even 50%. I often wonder what it would be like if all manual tasks were automated and there weren’t enough skill to engineer and maintain the machines carrying out the automation? This would produce a conundrum of issues in the future.

I was once on an interview in which the interviewer described the engineering role to me and then said: “the goal is for you to one day automate yourself out of the position and hopefully be promoted to a different role.” It made me think of my past obsession with IoT or the Internet of Things. I’d really love to contribute to the next big thing like the Amazon Alexa or Uber, however, will this be detrimental to my children or my children’s children who may not have an interest in software engineering?

So I invite you to think about all of these things. Is technology an attribute or a detriment to you? Or are you not inclined to one side of the spectrum? What do you think life would be like if everything was automated?

The Mystery of God: How I Triumph

Throughout my life, I’ve noticed a trend in which I’ll seemingly enter seasons of harvest, praising God for the wonderful opportunities that are presented and then something happens in an attempt to deter my praise. It’s as if, a single event causes me to doubt or become unsatisfied with the opportunity I thought was a blessing from God.

For example, my aunt had a stroke before Christmas, spent 20 days in the hospital waiting for her insurance to clear before going to acute rehab. We prayed and her insurance cleared! We were praising God! However, the same day her insurance cleared, she decided to escape from the hospital causing her to lose her qualification for acute rehab.

I can share countless stories.

Last week I randomly received a response for an apartment I applied for in the housing lottery two years ago. Three days later, I received a summons about my father’s (who is deceased) home foreclosure process in which I would need to find an attorney for.

Or the job I thought was going to open doors for me, help me advance my technical skills and get ahead in the industry actually turned out to be a stalemate.

Or the guy I thought was everything I ever wanted and needed, turned out not to be any of those things.

I learned that things aren’t always what they seem. And through my extreme highs and lows in life, I somehow manage to ride the current and trust God enough to persevere.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may b (1)

I love James 1:2-4 because it perfectly sums up the position in which God wants us to be in when we face trials. He doesn’t want us to feel powerless, alone or defeated. He wants us to have confidence in Him, in His purpose for the trial. Trials are for the endurance of faith, for spiritual maturity, for things unseen. We are not supposed to stop praising or praying every time we face a trial. The scriptures advise us to pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

God is definitely up to something. I try to make sense of everything happening in my life but truthfully, I just can’t. It just doesn’t make sense. Any of it. But I don’t believe it’s supposed to. We are supposed to trust that God has a plan. A good plan and that He is working all things out for His good. He will get the glory from our testimonies. Nothing we do or experience is in vain.

And unmerited favor is real!

Not merely anecdotally speaking but God has been revealing this to me in various ways. I’m currently reading a book called “Relentless” by John Bevere. It’s part of my 40 books in 2019 list. The book, as well as Bevere’s sermons, has really opened my mind to really understand what the gift of grace truly is. It’s something we never deserved or could earn. The fact that grace is abundantly given to us exceeds anything we can ever comprehend about God. It doesn’t make sense at all! If God is a God who is just, how can He possibly give us grace? How could God love us that much? According to His goodness, we deserve punishment for our sins however, He saved us through His son Jesus Christ and then gave us the power to overcome everything Jesus has.

That doesn’t make sense. And therefore, God continues to be a mystery worth sacrificing for.  So when I think about all the trials I face I realize that I deserve every one of them but that even so, the Lord always brings me out of it because He has given me grace according to His will. Suddenly, my problems become very small and I am able to see the victory through each of them. I reflect on how God through His provision, has brought me through all of my hardships in the past.

That’s how I triumph.

So whenever you’re faced with a trial that does not make sense or even a blessing that does not make sense, remember God sending His only son to die on a cross for our sins does not make sense either. If your life doesn’t make sense right now it’s a good thing because that means God has something planned and He is about to get all of the glory!

God bless you!

A Talk With God

I hang up the phone with the social worker and pondered as I sat outside of the restroom at my office. “My life can really fall apart…” I say to myself as my eyes get watery. What do I do now? Suddenly I am reminded of Luke 22:42 which says 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was in agony and I’m sure He desperately wanted God to take the agony away. However, He didn’t want what He was feeling to distract Him from carrying out God’s will so He said “yet not My will, but Yours be done.’ His words will forever be a resounding gong in me in all my trials.

I don’t want to do this. I just want to have a peaceful life. I need to establish a life for myself.

It was as if every selfish thought ran through my mind. I was worried about missing work although I have so much flexibility at work. I was worried I may lose my job and won’t be able to afford rent or contribute to savings. I was worried I won’t be able to take on a second job if I kept the one I have. I was worried I’d have to leave my apartment and move in with my aunt.

But then I thought…this is not about me.

His grace is sufficient for me. And if He was able to walk this earth and endure all of the temptations we have and yet not sin and carry out the will of God, then who am I to be? A woman who proclaims to be Christian; a woman who strives to be Christ-like. Am I truly operating in grace? Am I really compassionate?

God gives us trials to test our character and mature us.

But Lord I am so tired of these trials. I know You didn’t promise us an easy life but can I just have a few years of uninterrupted bliss? Is that too selfish to ask? I love my aunt and I’d lay down my life for her! Or will I? To what extent do I have to lay down my life? And why do I feel so alone in this? I know it could be much worse but how come I see most of my Christian friends living the good life? Maybe that’s a generalization, I’m guilty of portraying my life as such. Things aren’t always so good but I praise You regardless. Lord, I honor You and I trust in You. Please reveal to me the mysteries of Your heart?

I want to have a family someday. I want them to be blessed. I want to be a good wife and parent. Why is it that every time I feel I’ve taken a few steps closer to a healthy future I feel like I am taking a few steps back. My father always told me “Life is hard” and I strived not to repeat those words but why does life have to be so hard?

My dad is gone and my mom is in hospice care. My aunt is the closest relative that I have right now and she just experienced her second stroke. This just doesn’t make sense. Lord help me! Help me to rest in Your strength, Your strength which is in me. Fill me with Your grace oh Lord and help me to lean not on my own understanding. My life is in Your hands. Use me to be a blessing to others.

As I prayed today I heard that I am covered. Lord even if You are all I have, I have everything.

A Tree and It’s Fruit

As I journey through my walk with Christ, the more I notice how much He has transformed me. If I can create a facebook challenge called “How Much Has Jesus Transformed You?” you would see a stark contrast in my before and after photo. I admittingly was a lukewarm babe in Christ when I first started on this journey. The Holy Spirit had to process me through some things which took some time. His Word needed to become real to me, I needed to face some trials and I had to have real encounters with Him. I remember being brought to my first Bible study a year after graduating college. I was still drinking, partying and smoking. I was also in a toxic relationship.

In addition, I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. So although I was esteemed as a good person and held on to particular values, I was still very carnal. Worldly values and perspectives were very entrenched in our family despite my relatives professing they believed in God. In retrospect, there simply was no understanding of what a walk with Christ meant.

My first year as a Christian bore little to no fruit. I’m reminded of Luke 6:43-45 where Jesus describes the difference between a good and bad tree.

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In the beginning, I had no real relationship with God. I hardly ever prayed or read scripture while I was alone. I would intentionally miss worship at the beginning of Sunday service because I didn’t like it. I know, I can’t believe it myself especially because worship is my favorite part of service. My favorite was bible study primarily because I love learning, and I liked the community and intimacy aspect. So I would come into service on Sundays mainly to be with friends. My attire wasn’t very conservative either. I always dressed up but wasn’t always conscious of what the Holy Spirit would approve (Sidenote: not in a legalistic sense but I didn’t have a desire to portray what a godly woman looks like at the time). I didn’t attend prayer meetings. Gossip was normal. I didn’t serve in the church until maybe a year after joining. I actually never joined the church as a member.

In addition, my romantic life was in shambles. My dating life became very toxic and none of the people I dated were Christians who truly loved Jesus. So when I decided to stop dating and took a vow of celibacy it changed everything for me. It was a significant act of obedience that compelled me to want to know Jesus more. At the time I felt it was the road least traveled and I wanted to surrender my entire life to Jesus. I felt that I had to start with my romantic life hence I was weakest in the area of love.

Yes, I’m giving it to you raw.

However, I feel the need to show you how God can still love us in our brokenness and transform our lives. 1 John 4:19 says “19 We love because He first loved us.” He loves us despite our mess. He saved us before we encountered Him. He can transform anyone who accepts Him. You don’t need to be perfect. No one is perfect but Him.

Now that I have matured spiritually, I see His providence through it all. I see how He’s developed me. I have a deeper, loving relationship with God. My prayer life has strengthened. I read scripture and devotionals every day. I fellowship with believers more often, in and outside of my church community. I give more than I did back then and I actually enjoy it. I serve in my church. I’m more comfortable with evangelism and desire the gifts of the spirit. I won’t date a man who isn’t a man of God and sent from God.

Yet I’m still imperfect.

Our walk as followers of Jesus is a process of sanctification until we are united with Christ in heaven.

Most importantly, how can we tell if a tree bears good fruit?

If that person demonstrates the fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. I’ll let you determine if I or yourself bear any of this spiritual fruit. Doesn’t necessarily have to be abundantly but any bit of it.

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God needed to break me, tear down my pride, bring me on my face after struggles with my mother’s health and father’s death and verbal abuse in relationships. He needed to process me and give me strength in my weakness. I needed to completely rely on Him and not myself or anyone else.

I pray your relationship with Him grows deeper and that you are prolific in spiritual fruit. Jesus loves you so much!

May God continue to bless you!