Jacob Travels to Egypt #shereadstruth

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“What? Are you kidding me?!”

I blinked back tears. No discussion. The decision set. We were moving.

In utter disbelief, I learned we were not just relocating to another part of town or even another state. Right before my senior year of high school, after living seventeen years in Boulder, Colorado, my family planned to resettle clear across the ocean—in Hong Kong.

My parents dragged me by the ankles, kicking and screaming. Scratch marks from my nails could be seen in Boulder and Hong Kong, and all 7,542 miles in between. Had I known then what hard-won wisdom and perspective have taught me over the years, I might’ve saved myself a manicure and great deal of heartache.

This side of heaven we sometimes catch glimpses of understanding about our own situations. But more often than not, God asks us to rely on His Word to reassure us of His love and character, as well as the promises He freely gives to those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

As we near the end of Genesis, we read about Jacob as he approaches the end of his life. Through Scripture, our vantage point gives us the ability to review his life in its entirety, enabling us to see God at work in Jacob and also in spite of him.

Jacob’s story is one marked by deception. Some instances were instigated by Jacob (Genesis 27:36), and in others, he got as good he gave (Genesis 29:25)—which isn’t saying much. His relational experiences ran the gamut: from strife, grief, and loss, to promises kept and broken. They dot the landscape of Jacob’s life. Perhaps to Jacob, his circumstances seemed haphazard. But we have the benefit of Scripture to offer us perspective on how all the pieces of his life worked together for God’s greater purpose.

“I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you back.”
Genesis 46:4

 

To read the rest of the post, click here

Children of Light #shereadstruth

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I picked up a crumpled foil gum wrapper by the staircase. Three steps up I found another one. And then another. At the top of the stairs I found a few more. Curiosity piqued, I turned the corner to peer into my son’s room. Under a maroon-colored blanket I saw the shape of a preschooler. In front of the mound of blanket-covered-preschooler, I found a pile of gum wrappers. I walked up to the mound.

“Michael? Are you under the blanket?”

The shape shook his head.

“Michael? Are you chewing gum?”

Again, the shape shook his head.

I lifted the blanket to find my son, cheeks stuffed like a chipmunk. His mouth was so full, he couldn’t bring his lips to close. Barely able to chew, Michael had managed to stuff an entire pack of chewing gum in his mouth.

When it comes to sin, I’m not so different from my preschool-aged son. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, my first response to sin is to hide and cover (Genesis 3:7-10). Instead of an actual blanket, I often hide under a cloak of defensiveness or rationalization when I sin. You know what happens in the place of hiding and covering? Rotting, stinky, cold, isolated living—that’s what happens in the darkness.

Paul brilliantly establishes in the first half of Ephesians our position in Christ and then spends the remainder of the letter addressing the practice of the Christian life. Our position should inform our practice, but often we confuse the order and attempt Christian conduct apart from understanding our standing before God. When we flip practice and position, we may seek to adhere to stringent dos and don’ts out of fear, or to earn brownie points. But living the Christian life through self-effort is unsustainable.

God did not abandon us to live the Christian life in our own strength. He is our Source and Provider. We invest time studying God’s Word in order to know Him, not just know about Him. As we know Him, we will love, trust, and obey Him, and our conduct flows out of this love relationship. We know Him by walking in the light, and we walk in the light by knowing Him.

(Finish reading the post by clicking here)

On Having a Multi-ethnic/Multi-racial Identity

**GUEST WRITER! Today’s post is written by my oldest son, Jonathan. He graduated last year from Cornell and originally wrote this post over on Facebook. I’ve since shared his thoughts with many who identify as mixed race. I hope his experiences and words help you better understand the changing landscape of our country as it relates to the growing multi-ethnic population. Feel free to leave him your thoughts in the comment section and share his post if you find it helpful.**

 

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Apparently the last couple months of my undergraduate career have turned into a critically introspective, nostalgia-driven time of reflection. I’ve had a bit of time over the past couple of weeks to reflect on multiracial/multiethnic identity as well as its intersection with faith. Thoughts have been floating around my head for a while, and I thought it was about time to put at least some of them into words. Somehow this turned into a short essay, so a wall of (hopefully-not-too-rambly) text lies ahead.

“So you’re Chinese?”
“Well, only half, but…”

“Oh, you’re Japanese!”
“Well, not exactly. See…”

“Isn’t that just the name of citizens of the state?”
“Well, there was this kingdom of people that existed before beforehand, but….”

“But like, how are you part white?”
“Well, there were these explorers…”

“So what languages do you speak?”
“Other than English? Spanish, so…”

Growing up mixed race can be confusing. I’m fortunate that a majority of my experiences have been more comical and puzzling rather than hurtful and offensive. Not fitting into someone’s box can be fun, and having people guess your ethnic makeup is always interesting. (I wish I had a running list of various guesses.) When it comes to figuring out who I am, however, I often find myself wrestling through a myriad of questions.

There’s a sense of a sort of impostor syndrome, in which identifying with a specific part of me feels disingenuous. “I’m not ______ enough.” As someone who loves languages, I’ve done some basic exploration into the various tongues associated with my backgrounds. I grew up speaking only English, though, so it feels a bit off. I utter a ni hao with far too little intonation. A hasty ganjuu yami seemi is unfamiliar in my mouth. I say aloha with fronted vowels and como estás as if it were Spanish.

I don’t really feel like I can place myself into these cultures as I please. There’s so much more to them than their languages. And yet, all of these cultures are still inextricably linked to me. I can’t seem to disconnect myself from each piece, no matter how far removed they may be. They have all played a role, small or large, in my upbringing and in how I see or experience things. Things have been passed down through generations, whether more abstract (like values) or more tangible (like appearance).

So if I can’t remove myself from each of them nor fully embrace them individually, where does that leave me?

Somewhere else I look to for answers in my identity is my faith. Who does God say I am? We are called His poeima, His handiwork, but what does that mean? By no means do I think this erases these distinctions. Yes, there is unity that transcends these differences as we are “neither Jew nor Gentile…,” but we can’t just act as if race and ethnicity don’t exist. I think it goes even further beyond acknowledging these differences exist. There is actually a sense of strength and purpose in this identity. If my ultimate identity lies in being an image-bearer of my creator, I can celebrate who I am in that – all parts of it.

There is a certain kind of flexibility in being able to move between different contexts that I’ve experienced my whole life. I may not feel like I fit in to homogeneous communities, but in a group with a mixture of people from numerous countries, cultures, and experiences, I feel right at home. There are more positives to this that I hadn’t really thought of before, and it’s been so helpful to have conversations with friends about their own cultural and ethnic backgrounds, whether mixed or otherwise.

Now I feel more of a sense of pride. Not in a sense of superiority, and I certainly don’t derive my whole identity from my ethnicity, but I am now able to see who I am – every part of me – as a gift rather than a burden. There’s still so much more to be learned and I’m still figuring out what it means to interact with the world in light of all of this, but at the very least I am much more at peace with the idea of being mixed. I don’t have to choose between these different aspects, but instead can exist in the intersection of all of them. This place of multiethnic identity is weird. It’s awkward at times, and it’s still pretty confusing, but I think it’s growing on me.

Inquire of God

My personal Bible reading has me currently camped out in 1 Chronicles. The first nine chapters cover a whole bunch of names. Beginning with Adam and chronicling (what a fitting name!!) thousands of years to Israel’s return from captivity, Ezra names the names of fathers and sons, and occasional daughters (as a woman, my eyes widen whenever women are highlighted in the Scriptures).

Yesterday’s reading found me contemplating David’s life and leadership in 1 Chronicles 13-14. David’s dependence caught my attention.

He showed dependence on others as he consulted with leaders of thousands and hundreds (1 Chronicles 13:1-4) regarding the ark. The words “all, us, our, and we” are repeated 11 times in four verses. Pretty significant, I’d say.

David also showed dependence on God as he inquires of God regarding going to war against the Philistines. (1 Chronicles 14:10,14)

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As I think about David, a man after God’s own heart, I am sobered knowing of his eventual choices of adultery and murder. I wonder how his life might have looked differently had he continued in dependence and connection with others and a posture of dependence on God through inquiring of Him before taking action.

So my personal take aways are:

  • evaluating how I am doing in the area of dependence on others. Do I consult others when making important decisions?
  • evaluating how I am doing in the area of dependence on God. Do I inquire of God before making decisions and taking action?

Do you have additional thoughts?

A Holy Calling #shereadstruth

**Dusting off my neglected website and starting a new 3x a week posting plan.

Mondays will be a sampling of posts I’ve written for #shereadstruth.

Wednesdays will be short devotionals on what I’m currently reading during my personal Bible study 

Fridays will highlight Asian American focused themes with a sprinkling of other helpful information related to racial reconciliation and occasional guest writers

Please share liberally if what you read here is helpful**

 

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Situated right near the bathroom, our side of the dorm floor drew high traffic. The sound of laughter competed with the high whizzing of the blow dryers. Bits of conversation could be overheard each time the door squeaked open. Constant commotion filled the halls, day and night.

This particular Friday afternoon an abnormal hush permeated the hallways. My roommate, like the rest of the girls on the floor, had left for the weekend. My door was left open out of habit. I paced back and forth inside the room, talking under my breath, and glanced up from my notes when I heard a knock. Kimberly, from down the hall, popped her head in and asked, “Hey! What are you doing?”

“Oh, I’m just practicing for a talk I’m giving tomorrow on training people how to communicate about their relationship with God. Wanna listen and give me some feedback?”

I tried not to look surprised when she nodded and plopped down on my bed. I invited all the girls on my floor to our dorm Bible study every week, but Kimberly never showed interest.

I was just a young college girl, still learning the depth of the gospel, but even then I knew I played a part in a holy calling: “to make God’s message fully known” (Colossians 1:25).

As I went through the presentation, Kimberly smiled and nodded, playing the part of supportive, interested listener. I finally reached the part explaining two circle diagrams. One circle had Christ on the throne inside the life and self surrendered to Christ. The other had self on the throne and Christ outside the life.

“Which circle best represents your life, Kimberly?” She pointed to the circle with Christ outside.

 

(you can read the rest of the post HERE)

One Glimpse

**Migrated this post over from my old website. Timeless lesson. Needed this reminder today. Praying it encourages you.**

A few days ago my dear friend, Danielle, paid a surprise visit and stopped by after a home schoolers field trip in our neck of the woods. I had not seen her in over a year. I had just finished picking Jonathan up from school. Max, our dog, was still in the car and the garage door was up. I caught sight of a familiar face that I couldn’t place as her middle daughter walked  around the far edge of the driveway. I finally walked out the front door and saw Danielle. “Yippee’s” and squeals as I excitedly raced to her minivan and greeted her crew of three kids, six and under. In my mind’s eye, I saw snap shots of memories with Danielle: meeting her as a freshman at UCLA, talking in the dorms on summer project in East Asia, hearing her voice singing worship songs to Jonathan when she would babysit, laughing at her fun dance routines from high school, the Pledgewagon, hearing stories of her adventures on Stint in France… Ah, Danielle, always a special place in my heart reserved for her.

Her youngest had fallen asleep in the car seat and her two older ones wanted to play on the swing set in the back yard. We decided to open the front door and sit inside the house so we could keep an eye on the front and back simultaneously. I welcomed her into our house. Dog hair on the ground, sticky kitchen floor, BUT for some reason I had decided to straighten up the living room and clean up the kitchen earlier in the day. I also had pulled out the bread maker and was baking bread (uh, it’s been maybe a year since the last time I did that), had a beef stew going in the crock pot, had gone to the market so I was able to offer her kids juice boxes and brownies, bananas and other snacks. Jonathan went and picked up his siblings for me to give us more time to catch up. Julia returned home and willingly shared her toys and played with the kids.

And after they left I laughed.

It occurred to me how quickly I make judgements about others based on a glimpse. Danielle, could (I hope not) conclude that I was a wizard-super-organized, got it together mom because my kitchen was on the cleaner side and I had dinner going and it was only two and my kids were polite and helpful. Oh, BUT, if she had come the day BEFORE, it would have been a whole different story. Dishes filling the sinks and counters, no food, newspapers and junk strewn about the house…or even, like, RIGHT NOW (same EXACT description except the kitchen floor is now even stickier). But she happened to catch a glimpse at just the right moment between order and chaos, peace and conflict, helpfulness and complaining. I live in both and to conclude that I am doing either a good or bad job based on a glimpse is just not an accurate portrayal of the whole story.

Lots of times I read of great heroes and of people I want to emulate. But unfortunately, I only catch a glimpse of their lives. Susanna Wesley bore nineteen babies and ten reached adulthood. She was the mother of John and Charles Wesley, who are on many “Christian heroes” lists. John is the founder of the Methodist church, Charles wrote most of the most famous hymns. She homeschooled them all in theology, Latin, Greek, and often from a sick-bed. She was rigid, orderly methodical (ala Methodism) and her husband, Samuel Wesley, described as an easygoing, spend thrift was away for months on end. One book I read described that her strict ways drove him away. There was no money for decent clothing. Everything went to feeding the family and funding their dad’s get-rich schemes.  Their oldest daughter, Emilia, picked up the slack when her mother was too weak physically and helped with the children and housework all of her childhood. She married a man she didn’t love because she was sick of working and wanted to rest, be treated well and taken care after always caring for others. Unfortunately, her husband, Rob Harper, wanted to quit work, take it easy and be kept by a successful woman. He left Emilia after their baby was born, taking her savings and leaving her his debts. Now, I know that Susanna did have qualities that were admirable, but until I read about her daughter, I had always held her on a pedestal. Clearly, there were also some major misses. And without actually being there, I cannot play judge on either side because I only have a glimpse.

Before Danielle arrived I was out walking Max. An older lady in our neighborhood watched from her driveway as Max and I rounded the corner. I waved and she said, “What a beautiful dog! He sure walks well.” Max was loose leash, walking obediently beside me. I welled up with Dog Whisperer pride and replied, “We have loved having him.” And just then, across the street another lady was walking her little dog. One whiff, and Max was yanking me along, trying to cross the street, whimpering at the little ball of white fluff trotting along the sidewalk.

One glimpse.

I’m still laughing.

October Happenings

Oh my. My daughter just informed me.

The year 2024 is closer than the year 2005.

This of course has nothing to do with anything currently spinning around my little mind. I’m sipping a Pumpkin Spice iced frappuccino sweating in 90 degree weather and sniffing my unlit cinnamon pumpkin candle (too hot outside to light). These are my meager attempts to capture autumn. The calendar informs me fall arrived last week, but each day feels like endless summer. Just like 2005 feels closer than 2024.

Today I am reminded to base my faith on facts, not feelings. I don’t feel any different the day before, the day of and the day after my birthday. But the fact is each birthday marks the passing of another year. Okay, and sadly the fact is I need reading glasses now. God’s character and His Word remain steadfast and unchanging. My feelings are fickle and change based on my circumstances. We do well to invest in knowing and learning about the facts of our faith rather than rely on our feelings to dictate how we decide to live.

Didn’t expect the rabbit trail. The original purpose of this post was simply to share a few fun opportunities to hear radio interviews about Warrior In Pink coming up in October. And also to ask if you are the praying type to pray for the different speaking events. I’d be grateful for your prayers in the coming weeks.

IMG_2724Mark your calendars and please share with your friends:

  • October 3rd I’ll be sharing my cancer story at the St. Jude’s Breast Cancer Survivor’s annual retreat in Brea, CA
  • October 5th and 6th radio interview with FamilyLifeToday (those of you in southern California can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 8:30am). Will also be available to listen online.
  • October 12-16th radio program Discover the Word (those of you in So Cal can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 1:30pm). Also available online.
  • October 15th I’ll be sharing at Biola University as part of their annual Torrey Conference
  • October 21st. Interview with Jamie Ivey on her popular podcast The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She will be giving away five copies of Warrior In Pink. Meeting Jamie and conducting interviews, taping IF:Equip videos and participating in the racial reconciliation roundtable at the IF:Gathering in February was one of the main highlights of the conference.
  • October 23-25th Darrin and I will be speaking at the UC Santa Barbara Cru Fall Retreat

Happy October to you all!

Guest Writing for She Reads Truth

Honored to be invited to guest write for She Reads Truth. This women’s daily Bible devotion is read by an estimated 300,000 women around the world. The premise is simple: women in the Word everyday. The photography is lovely and the team is fun and down to earth. They have a terrific phone app and all sorts of beautiful art. The timing for this first post came as the situation in Baltimore regarding the death of Freddy Gray escalated. I pray God will continue to use my words whether spoken or written to point people to Truth and help restore perspective. I’ve included the first part of the post below or you can read the complete post by clicking this link: http://shereadstruth.com/2015/04/29/honor-the-image-bearers/

 

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My arms ached from carrying his newly walking little brother. The 15-hour time change between California and Hong Kong meant waking while it was still dark and a predictable afternoon crash. With only one short week to spend visiting my parents, we determined to squeeze in all we could. The rocking motion from the ferry ride across the Hong Kong harbor put my younger son to sleep, but my preschool aged son knelt on the wooden bench. He strained his neck in order to peer out the window as the ferry carried our family across the dark green colored water. Jonathan watched, eyes barely blinking, as new sights, sounds, smells and an unfamiliar language filled his naturally inquisitive mind.

The long walkway brimmed with people as we exited the ferry. Jonathan skipped along ahead and then I watched as he slowed down, almost to a stop, and tried to make sense of what he saw. A man with no legs, no teeth, matted hair, covered in soot and sores, sat on a flattened cardboard box, begging. A few coins clanked against the metal canister he tapped on the cement. Scores of people hurried by him acting as if he was invisible. I watched Jonathan tilt his head; his young mind had no category for people living in such poverty.

I transferred my sleeping son into my husband’s arms as a quote from the Mystery of Marriageby Mike Mason came to mind:

“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.”

Taking Jonathan’s hand, I pulled him over to the side. Once we moved out of the center of the steady stream of people, I knelt down so we could look straight into each other’s eyes.

You can finish reading the post here:

P. S. My next post comes out tomorrow for the Fruit of the Spirit series!

P.P.S. Here’s a link to one of the IF:Equip bible studies Jamie Ivey and I taught on 1 Peter. Click here

IF:Gathering Racial Reconciliation Roundtable

Greetings from Austin, TX. Amazing city. Amazing food. Amazing people. Took part in the IF:Gathering yesterday and the day before. Click the link to sign up to hear the sessions. Powerful weekend. The leadership and women I met were humble, down-to-earth, Kingdom-minded warriors. Warm. Welcoming. Brave. Courageous. I’ve always held strong to the belief: you become like those you are around. Grateful for every woman I met. I want to be more like them, because of how I saw Jesus in their lives and in their eyes. I was invited to contribute. Taped several mini Bible studies for IF:Equip and an interview on unity and diversity.

IF:Equip bible studies

IF:Equip bible studies

Yesterday, in a remarkably intimate setting, even though surrounded by 2000 in attendance at the venue and over 20,000 women watching live stream, seven of us discussed the elephant in the room: racial reconcilation. We began unpacking issues of awareness, ethnic diversity (or the lack thereof), racism, unity. The 20 minutes onstage continued for another full hour of taping as we continued to share stories of discrimination and barriers. We sat around a table, looking into each other’s eyes. Through conversation we risked and brought our stories into this space of grace and truth. Our perspectives of the God we love deepened through exposure to each other’s stories.

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Among the many “God’s perfect timing moments,” my article for Today’s Christian Women, “Rocking the Small World Boat” went live right in time for the conference. In it I share about awareness and included resources and tips to help further the conversation. You can click the link to access the article. TCW graciously unlocked the article so IF:Gathering and IF:Local women would have access to the resources.

I’m still turning over in my mind the content, the names, the faces, the experience. Anticipating how God will move, trusting Him for movement in the right direction.

Changed lives. Changed world.

 

Did you participate in the IF:Gathering? If so, I’d love to hear your feedback!

 

Perspective From a Son And a Psalm

October is winding down. I can’t remember a fuller Fall. No easing in. Spring boarding off an incredible summer of ministry and training with student leaders from across the country, I jumped into the deep end of ministry activity at the start of this school year. Exhilarating, challenging, humbling, fun, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g.

  • Joined Darrin’s Epic National Field Ministry team. I’m serving with some of the finest leaders and friends during an exciting time of growth and fruit. Even more convinced than ever who you serve with is as important or maybe even more important than where you serve.
  • Speaking schedule has been varied and extremely enjoyable. In addition to speaking a retreats and events, I’ve tried out new modes of teaching. Did my first webinar and first podcast this fall.
  • Started back working on my MA at Talbot Seminary (yeah Class of 2045!). Taking a hybrid version (online and two-three hour “in human” classes) of Hermeneutics/Bible Interpretation has given me a greater appreciation for the Scriptures and humbled me to the core.

One of many significant take-aways from my class has been shifting my focus from “What does this Bible verse say to ME” to “What does this passage of Scripture say about God. His character, His will, His attributes, His ways, His heart. Perspective off self onto God. Not only is this lesson coming through my seminary class, I’ve also been challenged and blessed by my son, Michael. He and some of his friends have been taking turns writing devotionals to encourage one another from the Bible. He shared this devotional with me and with his permission I’m sharing part of it here with you. Hope it blesses you as it did me.

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Read Psalm 8.

As a whole, the psalm is simply glorifying God. Think about today’s Christian music. How much of it is about what God does for us, and then we praise him after that, because of what he’s done for us. Worship is not meant to be about what God does for us or how much stronger we are because of the things God does for us. Worship is simply praising God and glorifying him. We need to start removing ourself from worship, because it takes away from the glory God truly deserves. Reflect on how you can simply glorify God like this psalm does, and not bring yourself into it.
 
Now pay special attention to verses 5-8. How significant is it that God put us in charge of his creations. In spite of our imperfections and how unworthy we are, God allows us to tend to his creations. He even says that we are just a little lower than the angels. How can we be better stewards of what God has given us in this world, whether it be material things like money and possessions, or things like talents, abilities, the friendships he’s put in your life, and your spiritual gifts. How can we use these to glorify God rather than ourselves, and be stewards of it, constantly aware that we don’t own or deserve any of it.
 
How can you use one (or all) of your spiritual gifts to glorify God? This week? This month? For the rest of your life?
How can you constantly remind yourself that nothing you own is yours, and through that depend on God more? And how can you steward it to the best of your ability?
 
Michael’s encouragement to worship God for who He is, not what He does for us along with the reminder that our lives are not our own and to steward well all God has given is so timely in light of this past month.

As we wind down breast cancer awareness month, here are a few more blogs highlighting “Warrior In Pink.” Grateful for these friends who are hosting book giveaways on their websites. Seriously. If ever you wanted to get a free copy of the book to keep or give to a friend, now is the time. And if you don’t win, my publisher is offering Warrior In Pink for the special price of $7.99. You can order here.

  • My friend, author and speaker, Donna Jones is hosting a giveaway here.
  • First podcast with a fellow writer I met at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, Bethany Macklin, here.
  • New friend from Canada, April Yamasaki, is hosting a giveaway here.

Feel free to leave Michael a comment below if what he shared ministered to you.