What are you staring at? Getting a Vision for Your Marriage

Which male actor? Which pop star adorns your walls and iPhone wall paper? Who do you wish is looking into your eyes with puppy love? I used to lust after Takeshi Kaneshiro. To me he was the epitome of cool and good looks. Even though I knew it was impossible, it was hard to give up the fantasy of a life with him. 

Perhaps it sounds ridiculous to you, perhaps it’s hitting close to home. I don’t know. But sometimes when I click on other tumblr sites, I find many Christian girls pinning after the likes of Justin Beiber and Ryan Gosling. Even when we are not staring at actors, there exists in our hearts, a picture of what a husband looks like, what love and marriage looks like. No, I’m not about to slam you on it. But seeing all that, made me ask, what is the vision we have for our marriage? 

Before my own wedding and even after, I saw how much of my vision of marriage was based on a picture MTV and Hollywood painted for me. Even as a believer, even after turning off MTV and dialing down the amount of romantic comedies I watched, there was still something in me constantly tapping me on the shoulder telling me that my marriage needs to look like that. 

Even now, I still need to ask the Lord to renew my mind and give me strength to give up my expectations and receive His dream for my life which is always far greater than anything I can imagine. For His thoughts are much higher and His imagination much more active. 

Thankfully, the Lord graciously surrounded me with godly marriages, opening my eyes to what REAL and GODLY marriages look like. But growing up in and surrounded by broken marriages, feeding myself with hours of messed up reality TV marriages, my mind still needed to be renewed. 

What is your vision for your marriage? What is God’s vision for your marriage? Perhaps it’s time to dial down and ask the Lord. Time to look to the Scripture, to Christ for a true definition of love and marriage. 

In the Bible, Christ is presented as our Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride. His love for the Bride, their marriage is displayed in Him laying down His life, interceding, serving and patiently washing her with His Word (SOS 4:1, Eph. 5:25-27). His love is displayed in providing for the Bride what she needs to be pure, glorious, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25). He knows, that it is in holiness alone, we will find the greatest joys and pleasures. For when we allow Him to make us holy, we gradually draw closer to Him and receive His love unhindered by lies and sin. 

The love of Christ for His Bride is displayed not in expensive and large engagement rings, not in the type of sports car He drives, not in a dozen roses, boxes of chocolate, a large house decorated with granite countertops and hardwood floors. His intentions for us, is not to look good before man and enable us to have more shiny trinkets to show off to the world our worth whether that be His good looks, what He owns or buys us; it is in Him laying His life down, serving and giving His Bride what she needs to be blameless and holy. Anyone can buy you nice things and look hot. But who can pay for your sins, wash you white as snow so you can approach the Holy One without shame? 

Oh God, tune our hearts to Yours. Tear down every idol in our hearts we have allowed the world to build. Idols of false and empty promises. Help us look into Your eyes of love that desires something so much greater and far more fulfilling! Give us a vision of godly marriage to set our hearts upon. Amen! 

True Significance: Found not on Stage but in the Heart of Christ

Significance, as far as I can remember, I longed and reached for significance. When there was a chance to perform, to display my talents I took it without shame. I wanted the accolades, the applause, the gaze of admiration from man. I even aspired and dreamt of becoming a pop star in Taiwan, this was how bad I had it. 

But one disappointment followed another. I tried violin, ballet (even went on tour professionally for a little bit), mentored with a producer of a well known Christian band but never seemed to be able to be motivated enough nor able to put in the effort one needs to be on top. I wanted something more. 

As the years passed, the Lord has made known to me that true significance is found in Christ alone. Significance is not found in my talents or abilities but in the person of Jesus Christ who never changes. He alone is the rock and foundation of who I am. But having revelation, believing and living out of this truth takes a life-time. 

What makes this process even more difficult for me is in knowing my calling and not establishing who I am on that. I know the Lord has called me to lead and bless the younger generation. I know He’s called me to have impact in the nations…all those prophetic promises look so grand. But even then, I cannot build my house, who I am, my worth, upon my calling. For my calling is only something I do, not something that I am. 

I have tasted little whispers, seasons where I had a platform, appeared on Television and felt the adrenaline rush of my 15 minutes of fame. But in those little times when I did, I felt so much more self-conscious, insecure and judged by people than I ever did living my normal every day life. In those times, I was also the brunt of jealousy and envy which favor and position draws out of those around you who do not have that. In those moments, I discovered how much of me was still defined by man and how those fears confined and hindered me from boldly proclaiming His truth. I was not free in Christ, because my heart was still tied to this world and the eyes of man. 

It is still a battle for me, but I know God has strengthened me and He is giving me grace to be further rooted in Him rather than in the opinions of man. I know this is not who I am in Christ. He has washed me clean but my mind still needs to be renewed by Him to fully believe. For man’s opinions are so fickle but God is a sure foundation. He alone is the rock of ages. 

God is intentional and faithful to continually strip us of the temporary, the meaningless, the things that weight us down from going higher to where He is. He is intent on having us enjoy the fullness of life and pleasures forevermore. He tenderly transforms our hearts to open and desire the true rewards of life, Christ alone. 

So though we may feel insignificant doing the ordinary everyday things such as cleaning up after ourselves, entering the data at work, or taking care of our children, we can be confident that our work does not define us. Christ has already proclaimed His banner of love over us for all of eternity. He has already spoken the eternal Word, that we are His masterpiece, beautifully and wonderfully created. We are His beloved, His delight. 

I pray that the Lord will deepen this imperative truth in all of us today. Oh, God, help us align our hearts with Yours.  Set us upon Your rock. 

The Best Marriage Preparation: Enduring Pain with Christ

I’m back! Dustin and I returned from our trip to Minnesota late Sunday evening but I needed the last two days to recuperate. It’s one of those things where you thought you were going on a vacation but it turned out to be much less restful than we had anticipated. 

Since being married, the thing I am most thankful for are the difficult seasons the Lord led me through prior to meeting Dustin. During those times of trial and pain, tears and crying out in the night to the Lord, unsure where my prayers landed, the Lord deepened the roots of faith in Him. 

My sister Grace gave me a prophetic word a few years back where she saw the Lord strengthening my spine. She shared that the Lord was saying through this picture, that though I felt weak, He was actually strengthening me in Him. I often think back to this word she gave me. 

I would not have gone to the Lord with my troubles if He did not close all the doors to other options. In a sense, He forced me to go to Him. I realize now that it was His kindness to do so though at the time all I felt was pain and very alone. 

I like how Shelley Hundley put it in her book, A Cry for Justice: “The most important thing you’ll need is the willingness to take your own escort of pain and meet Him in that place of intimacy. I found out something when I responded to His knock on the painful places in my heart, those areas where I was already weeping, where I was already in my own lament, where I already had my own pain. Jesus was already there. I don’t know if they were His tears or mine because somewhere along the way, I exchanged my burdens for His.”

Trials and injustice seems senseless at times, but our God is an intentional God who works all things for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  

In Elizabeth Elliot’s words, “To the unbeliever, the fact of suffering only convinces him that God is not to be trusted, does not love us. To the believer, the opposite is true. “‘I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me,’ the psalmist cried…even injustice on the human level serves the justice of God in bringing His servants to holiness” (pg 38-39, Discipline, the Glad Surrender).

It is through those times, God tenderly taught me that in Him is the answer for all the wonderings in my heart. He alone holds the healing balms my soul and spirit needs. His hands alone reach into the depths of my heart where the wound really are. No man can heal me, calm the troubled seas and hold me as deeply as Christ can. No one can make me holy apart from Christ and holiness is where joy, peace and love is found. It is in growing into the likeness of Christ, we begin to rest. 

Your pain, your troubles and wounds are special invitations from God into knowing the power of Christ and the depths of His love for you. I’m not saying that we all go flagellate ourselves or set ourselves up to intentionally suffer but rather to use the pains of life to help us draw near to God and receive real answers and healing. 

We naturally do not want to turn to the Lord, but it is as Christ said, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). It all starts with a simple, “God help me come to you.” With each step the Lord grants us grace to move towards Him, we are walking towards the fullness of life He desires to give us. 

Just a Little Photo Update

So it turns out that I didn’t have as much time as I had originally anticipated to update while we were in Minnesota but I do have a few minutes right now. My sister-in-law bought a fabulous new camera yesterday since she lost her old one at our wedding and got some nice shots that I want to share with you all. 

I love this picture of Dustin and I imitating the sculpture in the back. The sculpture is of Minnehaha holding Hiawatha which looks exactly like Dustin and I. Dustin carries me through a ravine daily with his tender arms of love (Dustin’s description of our daily life)

We had a nice walk around Minehaha Falls in Minneapolis 

Dustin and I with Dave 

Dustin with his sister Jess and Dave. We had a great time on our walk. So good to be outside and around nature rather than being indoors so much.

One of my favorite things about Minnesota is the amount of beautiful lakes and well groomed trails which encourages people to get outside and enjoy it more. It’s a very recreation friendly state. Hope you get a chance to visit sometime too! 

On The Road Again: Trippin’ To Minnesooo-tah!

Hello lovely readers, Dustin and I will be driving up to Minnesota tomorrow morning to connect with our partners and for a little after wedding shower a friend of Dustin’s dad planned for us. 

I’ll try to blog but no promises. I like consistency and set schedules…sigh* so I’ll have to just blog when I can. 

If you have a moment please keep us in our prayers. Please pray that the Lord will bless the time we have connecting with our partners. That the Lord will use us to bless, encourage and build up our friends. Also, for the Lord to use us to impart the vision for the house of prayer. Lastly that the Lord will bless our time with Dustin’s family, Dave (his dad) and Jess (his sister). Pray that the Lord will release revelation of His Son and His presence upon us all as we hang out together! Thanks! 

How God Improved My Mr. Right List

I used to be the a-typical Christian girl. What I was looking for in a male counterpart was: anointing, passion for Jesus, provision/comfort and good looking. I thought that wasn’t too much to be asking and believed that would satisfy me. Boy was I wrong! 

I just want to share my mistakes with you in hopes of preventing unnecessary pain if it hasn’t already taken place. If it has, no worries. I’m proof that you’ll live and be blessed by those painful experiences somehow because God is bigger than our mistakes and He works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I am living proof of that promise! 

So let me take you on a little journey of how God blew my “Mr. Right” list out of the waters. 

  1. X-ing anointing off my list

I was drawn to my first boyfriend by his anointing when he preached. He was a charismatic and anointed speaker. As if that wasn’t enough, he was good friends with other anointed young leaders. 

During the short period we dated, I felt most comfortable with him when he was preaching and not so much when it was just the two of us hanging out. Don’t get me wrong, the man is a great guy who truly loves the Lord. But he just wasn’t for me. 

The Lord through my spiritual dad at the time invited us to give it up. His words were, if this guy hears so clearly from God about everything but hasn’t been able to hear from God about our relationship, then we need to call it quits. 

I couldn’t believe my ears! I was devastated. My plan was to only date the guy I was going to marry! But God didn’t go by the storyline I laid out for Him, He had better plans for His beloved daughter. 

Later on, after we broke up, God told me, “you didn’t love him, you loved his anointing.” Ouch! I began to see that I longed for what my ex had with the Lord which I myself didn’t have at the time, an intimate relationship with the Lord. I hardly could hear God’s voice back then. I actually fell in love with his relationship with the Lord rather than who he is as a person. 

Even as I’m writing this, the Lord is helping me realize that what I really was looking for was proof to show the world that I’m desired, wanted and loved. At the time, I wanted so badly to be valued that a preacher/pastor whom everyone adored seemed like just the ticket out of the worthlessness I felt towards myself. 

  1. X-ing out comfort and looks off my list 

With my second boyfriend, I was drawn to him by his looks and the comforts his life offered. At the time, I had grown lonely, discouraged and lost. I was struggling as a missionary to live off the support I was getting which was barely enough for me to live on. I was asked to step down as a worship leader which is one of my main callings. I didn’t have any close friends in the community. I was miserable. I felt discouraged, lost and lonely. 

Then he came along. His life seemed exciting. He was from a different country, lived a different type of life. He had friends who were children of famous singers, senators and wealthy individuals. He seemed nice, cute, friendly and funny. 

By this time, I was growing in my ability to hear God’s voice and He told me very directly, “NO!” when I was praying about this relationship. It was so clear that I dismissed it, believing that I couldn’t hear God that clearly. Oh, aren’t we funny creatures?

That summer, my then boyfriend bought me a ticket for me to visit him in his country in order to get to know his friends, family and church, basically to see if I would feel comfortable potentially moving there. It was pretty serious in my mind. 

I felt happy and excited about my life again! During my visit to his country, we went to a concert where one of his friends and the friend’s dad performed. We went to nice places and restaurants with his other friend who was constantly followed by a group of bodyguards. His other friends we visited lived in houses that had servants who made their meals, outdoor pools and beautiful gardens. It was the life! And I thought I wanted that life. 

But after that summer, I was in pain. Despite his good looks and the comforts of his life, my second ex didn’t treat me with kindness nor with respect. I wasn’t able to understand at the time that this was the reason why I felt depressed after leaving his country, why I dreaded talking to him on Skype. It’s sad, but I didn’t know what it was like to be treated with kindness and respect, but I felt that something was wrong. Later that year, we broke up. 

I began to see that there was an ache for the Lord in me, for a deep relationship with Him, to do what He has called me to do because joy, love and peace is not found in circumstances, a location or material wealth, it’s a person, it’s Jesus Christ. 

Even through the dark times, if I just have God, there’s light that shines through and lifts me up to where He is, the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16).  God revealed to me, that He’s put a seed of desire in me, that above my desire for a husband, despite how gut wrenching and painfully deep this desire was, dwelt an even deeper, much more ravenous desire for God, my true Bridegroom. 

Learning to let the Lord Wash My Feet: Meeting My True Love

The following summer I kept crying out to the Lord asking Him why?! Why did that relationship happen and why did it fall apart? Why did I have to endure the pain and suffer?! Why was I so blind! The Lord’s response to me was, let me wash your feet. I broke down crying, knowing that I’ve pushed Him away in my shame, trying to reconcile in my own heart why I despised God’s will, His ways and leadership. I saw my nature, that I did not in fact innately love who He is and His ways. 

Before this second relationship, though I confessed with my mouth, I did not believe in my heart that I was a sinner. And now the evidence of who I truly am stared straight at me, condemning me. I am a sinner in need of Christ to wash me clean and redeem me by His blood. I felt as if I was being saved for the second time. 

In the midst of the pain of the single season or any other painful times in our lives, what we need the most is to allow the Lord to wash our feet. We hold so tightly to our expectations, our desired results and what we want the Lord to do all the while we are not allowing Him to minister to our hearts that is crying out for Him. 

When the Lord began to give me the grace to let Him serve me, to let Him be my God, be the protector and defender of my heart, be the One who brings Mr. Right onto the scene at the time He sees fit, I started on the path towards finding my identity, worth and self-respect. He revealed to me that what I desired above all else in a husband, was Christ-likeness not the shallow things this world tempts me to believe I desire. 

Do we truly believe that God is good? Or do we think that He’s like our dad, our ex-boyfriend, brother or others who have hurt us? 

Lord help us let You wash our feet. Give us the grace to be vulnerable and let You serve us as You served the disciples. We want to be a part of You. 

“‘Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”  John 13:6-8

Dear Singles: Do Not Grow Weary

Right after my sister Grace had passed away I went through a confusing and discouraging season. I didn’t really know how to deal with the grief and felt so raw and vulnerable that I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it with others. So, I did what I felt most comfortable doing, I started chatting with a guy friend online. 

Online chats seems so much less intimidating. You’re not face to face with that person, you have time to collect your thoughts and craft your words, even formulate witty jokes and retorts which you are not capable of in normal everyday conversations. I can conveniently and comfortably nestle in my chair in the privacy of my own room while carrying on a conversation. But the whole time I was engaged in conversing with this friend, I knew it was wrong but it made me feel so much better, even if it was only for an hour. 

What made it even more difficult to pull myself out of the seductive portal of chatting online with my friend, was the pressure I was putting on myself and I felt from others to “grieve well.” Sometimes when we’re not doing well, it can feel like the whole world is a jury witnessing our every failure and every little fault, when in fact no one’s really watching, or at least a lot less amount of people than we believe.

Finally, the conversations got to a point where I had to face the truth that was constantly looming over my head despite the fact that I was being somewhat comforted. I knew nothing would ever come out of our interactions and that he wasn’t someone I wanted to really get involved with, neither was I someone he truly wants to be with anyways.  So I made the decision to stop chatting with him. 

Then came the difficult period afterwards where he wouldn’t let me cut off contact with him. But I persisted despite how I felt and how I longed for the temporary comforts the online conversations offered me. 

Then my spiritual father gave me a prophetic word during that season of persevering in what I knew was right, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” Galatians 6:9.

I cried upon hearing those words. That exhortation and promise from the Word encouraged me to continue looking to the Lord to strengthen me to not grow weary in doing good. In due time, I will reap good fruits and I have! 

I’m so thankful today to God’s goodness in guiding me out of bad relationships, leading me to the best man He prepared for me that I don’t deserve. Sometimes I look at my life and I don’t know how I ended up here! I feel so blessed, loved and taken care of by my Heavenly Father. Without the goodness of the Lord, I could not have ended up where I am now. This is the same Father who cares for you today!

I want to encourage all my single brothers and sisters out there, do not grow weary while doing good, for in due season you shall reap a good harvest! God is a good God and is faithful to begin what He has started in you. He is willing, happy and able to help you in your current struggles. He is faithful to give you the best that can’t be fabricated and crafted by the hands and minds of man no matter how charming and gifted we are. 

I also wanted to share this experience with you because I want to encourage you that it’s not only when we perform perfectly and never falter that we can receive God’s gifts such as a blessed marriage. 

At times when I was still single without any hint of me ever getting married, I would agree with the lie that I’ve failed too many times for the Lord to redeem me. When in fact the Lord is much much much more powerful than our weaknesses. I noticed that I would give into agreeing with the lies of the enemy when:

  1. I felt shame which is a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior (google dictionary)
  2. I believed that God was mad at me
  3. I felt that I can’t bother God with my petty issues that I myself know what to do
  4. I believed that I knew better: basically condemning and accusing myself, agreeing with the demons accusing me that I’m dumb and stupid and that I should be able to fix myself without God’s help 
  5. I felt alone and that God was not with me 
  6. I didn’t understand the gospel and what Christ has made available to me and what He  paid for on the Cross 

But the truth of who God is draws us to Him, the source of healing, redemption, salvation, love and comfort we need everyday in order to be a Christian:

  1. We are pure, sinless and can approach Him: “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Roman 6:6-11
  2. He will never leave nor forsake us: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
  3. We have received the spirit of adoption, we are now His beloved children not orphans that needs to beg for attention and be tormented by fear: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”” Romans 8:15
  4. He desires that we come to Him: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30
  5. We are beautiful and a delight to Him despite our struggles: “I am very dark, but lovely.” Song of Solomon 1:5

Lord, help us today to come to You just as we are with our brokenness and burdens to find rest once again in The Gospel. You have paid for our sins, we have been redeemed, washed white as snow. We are no longer slaves to sin, but sons and daughters of the Most High God. 

 

Recommended Book: Stepping Heavenward

I couldn’t wait to share this book with you guys! I came across Stepping Heavenward while reading Elizabeth Elliot’s newsletter article on feminism. At the end of her article, she recommended this book by Elizabeth Prentiss.

Although Prentiss published Stepping Heavenward in 1869, its contents are still very applicable to our lives today. In Stepping Heavenward, Prentiss tells the story of a girl named Katherine (Katy) and the struggles she faces in her process of becoming a godly woman. The book tells Katy’s story through her journal entries. 

Through my reading of Stepping Heavenward, I was encouraged in my own walk with the Lord. In the main character Katy, I saw someone very much like myself, a girl maturing into a woman through facing conflicting desires in her heart for God and for the world. I was glad to discover that I’m not alone in my worries, struggles, fears, pain and doubts. The answers you found that lifted her gaze to Christ and drew her closer to who He really is built up my faith and confidence in the love of God as well. 

This book is actually available both on iBooks and google books for FREE! You can most likely find a copy in your public library too if you don’t want to purchase it. I hope you get a chance to read it. Let me know how you like it if you do! 

MarriageMondays: Honeymooning @ Tainan with Food!

I skipped posting on the delicious food we tried in Tainan last week since I was really excited about the other material I posted last Monday. But do not fear, I will pick up where I left off and share with you the delicacies of Tainan with you.

Tainan is actually known as the capitol of street food in Taiwan. If you tell anyone who is familiar with Taiwan that you’re visiting Tainan, they’ll be sure to comment on how good the street food and night markets are there.

Let’s begin our journey into the city of yumlicious food at Du Hsiao Yueh (度小月). The most famous dish at the Du Hsiao Yueh restaurant, which was opened in 1895, is their Tan Tsai Noodles pictured above. Tan Tsai Noodles is a made to order bowl of noodles topped with Du Hsiao Yueh’s famous minced pork meat that’s been slow cooked over a fire, minced garlic, sliced green onions, bean sprouts, a little soup and a little shrimp. When I find myself in Tainan, I always have to come here and get at least one bowl of their Tan Tsai Noodles. Of course, Du Hsiao Yueh is a chain and has restaurants dispersed throughout Taiwan so one doesn’t necessarily need to travel to Tainan to enjoy its dishes. 

Dustin had a bowl of Tan Tsai Noodles as well, but unfortunately had a small allergic reaction to it even after I took off the shrimp for him (he’s allergic to shrimp). It seems that there’s shrimp in the sauce, which wouldn’t surprise me. It is after all Taiwan.  

During our little lunch there, we saw well dressed Japanese business men stop there for lunch as well. It was interesting to me seeing them sitting in the little short wooden tables and chairs Du Hsiao Yueh’s furnished with in their nicely pressed suits. It just goes to show how food bridges the gap between the social classes and differing cultures. 

Another popular street food item that Tainan is famous for is stir fried ramen noodles (炒泡麵). Dustin and I walked down the old street (老街) in Tainan across the street from the Confucius Temple to grab some of these. He vouched for some Chicken Lo-Mein (stir-fried noodles) instead. 

Of course when one travels to Tainan the other place you MUST go to is its infamous night markets. Tainan’s night markets are the largest in Taiwan. 

We had some corn on the cob 

and oyster omelets. Dustin didn’t want any of course. He doesn’t like seafood. He’s missing out. 

 

He stuck with his usual favorite, ice cream. I had a whole bunch of other stuff but got a little preoccupied of stuffing the food in my face that I forgot to take pictures of them. : P

We also had some beef noodle soup on a different day with some of my friends. I went for the hardcore beef noodle soup with tripe! So delicious. I’m sorry if I’m causing you to drool onto your keyboard. 

Thanks for letting me relive my honeymoon with you! Hehe til next week!