Jesus Loves You

I remember lying in my bed when I was younger and simply saying “at least Jesus loves me” and feeling a peace come over me. I didn’t understand it then because I wasn’t a believer. In fact, I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. This is my testimony of how God chose me before I even knew Him. Once I experienced this peace, I began using it more often. When I couldn’t sleep at night because I thought there were monsters under my bed, I would say it and be able to fall asleep. I even shared it with my sister and she experienced the power too but over time life happened and I forgot about this. My life became filled with sin and pain and in the midst, I began to doubt if there was a God.

I often wonder what inspired me to say “at least Jesus loves me” not knowing much about Him and only occasionally attending church. I wonder if I felt unloved in those moments and I needed something greater to wash away that emptiness. Even in my walk with Christ, I sometimes feel this way. In this season in my life, I know that Jesus loves me and He’s shown it in so many ways. Yet I forget and like when I was young allow the cares of the world to come in and overshadow that love.

Yet, I know Jesus’ pursuit of me and His determination to break our cycles. Today is the 4 year anniversary of my father’s death. He passed away a few days before my birthday. We do not know the actual day of his passing but we know the day that he was found in his home – August 12th, 2015. Since then, I’ve experienced cycles of grief. Most times I’m not aware of it but I notice the changes in my emotions when the month of August is approaching and I am preparing for my birthday. I tend to feel very alone as if I have no family or friends or people who love me or understand the pain I am experiencing. I try so hard to move past it, walk in my healing and be empowered. It works sometimes but other times I feel as if I’m just burying it and I get triggered by innocent conversations about family. I feel very convicted about my triggers because not only am I not alone, I have a community of family and friends who love me. Yes, I may not have a united family who are all believers in Christ but I have family and that’s all that matters.

I think the most difficult part of losing a parent is replacing that emptiness with the love of the Father. Sometimes I long to be hugged by or just talk to my parents and do life with them and I can’t. Praise God, my mom can listen to me but my inability to understand her response bothers me. However, I became cognizant of the many ways God wants to bring glory to Himself through trials such as these. He wants us to have a deeper understanding of His love, and to totally lean on His strength. He wants others to see that although we may not have earthly parents, He is a Father to the orphan and He still has a good plan for our lives. He has chosen us and made us radiant and our strength is just a reflection of His. Being able to talk to my mom but not always understand her response (due to stroke) has taught me that although I can not see God and may not always understand His response, He still listens to me. And unlike my earthly parents or anyone else in my life, He will never leave me.

God bless you! I hope this encouraged you, love you!

What Are We Longing For?

As I write this I reflect on the many paths I’ve taken in my life as well as the many oaths and commitments I’ve made. My career trajectory has changed a few times in my twenties, in efforts to find the most suitable and successful career for me. Yes, I’ve chased success, even after I became a Christian. There’s just something about success that I enjoy. The thrill of being promoted, highlighted, awarded, getting a title change, a higher salary, as well as new and exciting responsibilities, skills or challenges.

But the older I get the more I reflect on what success really means to me and what I am really longing for. My success not only encompassed my academic or professional work. Success also meant buying a car (I had 4), having my own apartment ( I have a studio in Williamsburg now) or having the boyfriend that fits the standard (I’ve had a few of those too). One thing, I’ve noticed even with having these things, the money, the status, the beauty is that I found myself still longing for more.

In John 7:37, Jesus says “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” Jesus makes us aware of just how much we need Him every day; that we’ll always be thirsty and empty if we do not seek Him. I realized how difficult it is to apply the basics of God’s Word every day. Especially in a world that distracts you with social media’s highlight reel. When you see your friends getting Ph.D.’s from elite schools, buying houses and getting married, traveling or even just spending time with their family. That stuff starts to get to you, whether you’re a believer or not. That’s why it’s so important to put on the full armor of God daily. No weapon formed against you shall prosper, my friend!

I felt encouraged today when I thought about just how wonderful my life is right now but just how empty I still feel at times. I noticed this feeling comes when I’m not consistently meditating on God’s Word and promises. Essentially, I miss my father and I wish I could talk to my mother. I long for a father’s embrace. I long to be loved and feel loved and I realize that feeling loved can be so difficult even when others around you are extending it to you. Especially when you were never told by your father that he loved you or thought you were beautiful.

We live in a broken world and practicing divorce can really damage your psyche. I realized that we don’t only practice divorce when we leave a romantic relationship, we practice it when we leave a job that was invested in us or when we walk away from relatives that loved us or those relatives pass away. It’s interesting how the only circumstances where divorce is acceptable are when adultery is committed or your spouse dies. These are very painful experiences to endure and we carry this pain with us throughout our lives.

However, Jesus warns us in John 16:33 “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Knowing that He understands us and that He has overcome these troubles is so encouraging. Jesus is not only savior, But He is also Father incarnate, He is restorer, redeemer, friend, healer, sanctifier, lover of our souls and so much more. Praise God! He wants us to know just how much our Father in heaven loves us and that there is no one or any material thing that can bring us love the way He can.

So even though, there are times I feel unloved at my current job (because love manifests itself in various ways) I trust God’s Will and I trust His love that is demonstrated through His Word and I encourage you to do the same. Don’t be dismayed by everything you see or hear, it isn’t what you think. The enemy uses those devices to discourage us. Beautiful people may get a lot of attention but they don’t have it all together and they don’t stay that way. And not all Christians are living perfect and holy lives, many of us struggle with the basics every day. We’re all just thirsty without the everlasting well that flows from Jesus. The beauty of it all is knowing that we don’t have to be perfect because His grace covers all. Going back to my old job where I felt loved and thought I had the best manager in the world who cared about my growth doesn’t mean I won’t thirst again. Trust that God has you in the right place at the right time. Trust me, I’m still working on how to fathom this myself so we’re in this together.

Love you and God bless!

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 the 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 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 on 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 exposed my desires 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 says disregarding who God is and what He said. He is the creator of all things, not a created being. He is Spirit, not a man-made field of study 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.
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!