[ 3.4.2018 | warmth ]

I’m poking fun at David when Luke passes us by and puts a hand to both our backs in a quick greeting. “Are you guys coming?” he asks. I can’t make it to lunch with them but I don’t feel left out in anyway. To be greeted by someone does marvelous things to my insecurities in self worth (yay, I’m not actually invisible). To be asked to come along with a group of people makes me feel like I belong somewhere. Welcoming requires me to stand at the door in the cold as I welcome people into the church but I stand there happily bouncing on my toes, with a delightful warmth in my heart.

[ 2.22.2018 | security ]

“You are so painfully insecure,” Meesh tells me with a gentleness, frustration, and short pause of hesitation, as if she was still determining in her head whether those words would injure me or not. I only feel her love for me as she continues to take apart my character and actions through her observant and intuitive eyes in order to verbalize what kind of person I am to myself (because I don’t quite see myself clearly, you know? not the way others do. not the way God does.) I always knew that I was insecure, yet at the same time, I did not know that I was insecure until she put it into words. And then everything kind of made sense and instead of feeling shame, I felt relief. Yeah, I’m mad insecure. But, now I know; I know it, and I’m going to fight my darned hardest to turn ever so more to the Lord in the wake of all my shortcomings. For God is faithful and He wants me as I am and that alone should be enough to expel all of my insecurities.

[ 2.4.2018 | victory ]

The sky is pouring and I wake in a strange funk, sullen and weary.

Claudia finds me before service starts and shoves a bag into my hand. It contains a beautiful palette of starry gold and silver watercolors, along with a watercolor brush pen. “Because girl, you’re gold,” she says in playful jest. She explains that she had seen me dabbling in watercoloring and hand lettering and had wanted to just get the paints for me. I’m in a small state of shock and utter panic because all I can think about is how she’s wasted her money because I gave up on my dabblings a while ago after failing to improve and I shouldn’t have these gifts; I’m not good enough to use them. I manage to stutter out that she shouldn’t have bought them for me and she shrugs her shoulders casually. “There’s a lot of tutorials you can find online and practice with,” she says in soft encouragement and I accept her gift. A small seed of excitement plants itself in my heart and I cannot wait to rush home to try the paints on paper.

Meesh hands me a small gift bag a few hours later during lunch. I stare at it in half delight, half confusion as Claudia passes by and laughs. “God is spoiling you with gifts today,” she comments and I agree silently in my head. Inside is a ring, in an unfinished circle, parabola-like in shape, with one star adorning each opposite end of the ring, eerily similar to the moon/star ring I had lost just perhaps a week before. I ponder briefly if I’ve ever shared with Meesh my love for the stars but then shrug my shoulders and decide it doesn’t matter. God knows exactly what I like and most probably it was His hand that guided Meesh to select such a ring for me. I examine the small bag that that it came in and turn over the french words in my head, my dusty attic of a brain failing to translate what exactly it meant: “bien fait.” I turn to Kevin beside me: “what’s this say, is it like good work?” as I try to translate it literally. He repeats it once in his perfect french and then: “well done.” As if God was telling me, well done, good and faithful servant, when I hadn’t done anything at all.

Cathy puts her head on my shoulder and we huddle into each other as we watch the screen with bated breath. Everyone is commenting on how anything could happen – the Eagles are ahead but there’s still time for the Patriots to make a comeback and the palpable stress in the room presses heavily into me. I can feel the desire of everyone’s hearts there: “just let us win. just give us this one win.” I turn to look at Cathy for some sort of reassurance, to try to read from her expression whether she thinks victory is possible. The words that come out of her mouth quiet my incessantly fast beating heart: “I just want to see God be glorified,” she says and in that moment, I nearly burst into tears. Yeah. Well said. In the end, if God be glorified, then that should be our heart’s desire.

The Eagles win the Superbowl and all I know for a good ten minutes is high-pitched screaming and the subtle rocking of the floor in which we pummel our feet into as we jump up and down in waves of victory. I fight the urge to cry yet again (first football game I’ve ever watched and I’m surprised that it can be so emotional) and I can barely breathe as I watch several players give God the glory that He is due. I walk home with my two housemates, the three of us mulling over God’s faithfulness to us (undeserving, uneducated football novices who don’t even know what a two point conversion is), the city of Philadelphia (undeserving, unruly underdogs who are actually quite insane at times), and God’s people (undeserving, unwitting, unfaithful in so many stupid, sinful ways), and grin giddily at the sound of a whole city come alive after decades of waiting for such a victory. Green paints the city night skyline as we make our way home. Chaowen looks at the waning gibbous moon and wonders out loud if God would turn the moon green like everything else in our city, just to make our victory so much sweeter and I pause for a second as I consider the possibility that God just might in His overwhelming love for us. After all, it had been pouring all day and yet, by the time we had finished the game and exited our hosts’s houses, the clouds had cleared so that we could celebrate fully, dry under the sky. As if God knew there was absolutely no raining on our parade.

[ 1.14.2018 | peace ]

I am happy to report that I am relying on God’s grace much more frequently now. I must have asked God for grace upwards of fifteen times today. Perhaps it is because I am finally becoming aware of how incapable I am of controlling my own feelings. Perhaps it is because I am discovering more and more the weakness of my flesh and heart. Perhaps because I have finally understood that if I live berating and torturing myself over every mistake I make, I will die a miserable human being.

There’s so much freedom in surrendering everything to Christ: “I can’t do this, God, but you can. Give me grace to overcome this.” And He always gives it. I’m still breathing, heart still beating, right?

I wanted to hug everyone I saw today, overflowing with that tenderness I so seldom feel. I wanted to touch everyone and have that touch convey to them: “you are invincible and you are safe in God’s embrace.” I wanted to love like I never could before. Because I feel so safe now. I feel so protected and provided for. Even should I experience heartbreak and heartache of any kind (which I inevitably will), I’m quite excited. How will God show up then? I can’t wait to tell Him: “Dad, I trust you,” and then show Him.

[ 3.1.2018 | shield ]

I am researching masters programs and different lines of social work in an attempt to understand where God might be calling me. My mind runs through the dates for application, prior experience needed to apply, prerequisite courses, tuition and location, future career paths, etc and I can almost visually see the gray cloud of panic swirl and press in around me as I ruminate myself deeper into a conundrum. I know in my head that it makes perfect sense to let the panic press in and overwhelm me (because this is scary! I’m unemployed, clueless of how to break into an entirely different industry, running on savings and considering paying for an at minimum, two year program that will land me in a job that pays even less the cost of tuition annually…) but my heart does not feel panic. Instead, I feel the Lord’s hand on my heart, encasing it, like warm yet resilient armor, almost as if He was forming a shield around me against the incoming panic attack.

Press on, for I will be with you. 

And I feel like that was really all the affirmation I needed. I’m still wandering around, a little bit lost, but quite unafraid. The Lord is with me, I shall not fear.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. Psalm 28:7.