I asked the Lord that I might grow

I asked the Lord that I might grow 
In faith and love and ev’ry grace, 
Might more of His salvation know, 
And seek more earnestly His face. 

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray, 
And He, I trust, has answered prayer, 
But it has been in such a way 
As almost drove me to despair. 

I hoped that in some favored hour 
At once He’d answer my request 
And, by His love’s constraining pow’r, 
Subdue my sins and give me rest. 

Instead of this, He made me feel 
The hidden evils of my heart 
And let the angry pow’rs of hell 
Assault my soul in ev’ry part. 

Yea, more with His own hand He seemed 
Intent to aggravate my woe, 
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, 
Humbled my heart and laid me low. 

“Lord, why is this,” I trembling cried; 
“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?” 
“’Tis in this way,” the Lord replied, 
“I answer prayer for grace and faith.” 

“These inward trials I employ 
From self and pride to set thee free 
And break thy schemes of earthly joy 
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.” 

 

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Gosh, God keeps on humbling me. I really do need it though. He’s been stretching me quite a bit lately, especially this week. Humbling me, showing me my sin, revealing the ugliness of my heart.

All to show that I really do need him, that I can’t do anything on my own. I am helpless. My heart is really ugly. And all this to show his immeasurable grace and love and mercy that he pours out on me endlessly, when I clearly do not deserve it.

God revealed the idolatry of my heart, showing me that the temporal pleasures we look to on this earth will never satisfy. Only Jesus can satisfy our hearts. Everything else in this world is in vain … Lord, help me to delight in Christ and your word alone.

God showed me how prideful my heart is. I was working on an assignment for my research class and I seriously felt so darn helpless. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing – and I was desperately texting my classmates, and none of them were responding at the time. I really felt like I couldn’t do it. I started to panic and feel anxious. I quickly prayed to the Lord to help me in that moment, to give me understanding (I really struggle with research and statistics and SPSS and all that fun stuff). He calmed and quieted my heart, and I was able to do at least part of the assignment (still have to finish the rest eek!)

Gosh, God is gracious and good and I seriously cannot do anything on my own.

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Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Oh how easily my heart wanders and idolizes the things of this world. Lord, would you help me to find Christ more beautiful and more precious than anything this world can offer. God – it’s been a hard day. A tiring day. And yet you are steadfast in your love, you are faithful, you are never changing. Even when my heart fails to love you, and I turn to other things for joy, you are forever faithful. You are jealous for me, God. How fickle my heart can be … how unfaithful I am.

Jesus, help me to fix my eyes on you so that everything else in this world pales in comparison. Help me to the see the beauty of the cross, to see the eternal value of devoting my life to Christ and to DESIRE to live for you more than anything in this world. Soften my heart, help me to love Christ more, help me to be filled with your Spirit.

Thank you for your grace upon grace and your mercies that are new every morning.

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the post that never got posted (and was never finished)

(From December 2015)

I just got back last night from a week long trip to Philadelphia and Chicago. I’m so thankful for the time I got to travel and for how God provided me throughout the trip, even in the littlest things. I didn’t have to worry about housing because I was able to stay with my uncle in Philly and a church friend’s friend who’s a pharmacy student 30 minutes west of Chicago. I was traveling there for interviews for grad school at Thomas Jefferson University and Rush University. Praise God for allowing me the opportunity to interview with such awesome programs.

I’m thankful for the time I was in Philadelphia to be able to spend time with my mom’s brother’s family. It was the first time I really got to know them, and gosh they’re just the cutest, funniest, quirkiest family.

My Uncle Philip is a doctor and is one of the smartest guys ever, and whenever he gets passionate about something (usually something the average person views as mundane or boring), he gets really excited and can go on and on talk about it. Every night, he’ll drink one glass of wine or have one beer, and he’ll light a fire every night and just sit there watching it before he goes to bed. He told me how he was a huge troublemaker when he was younger, definitely the curious type, always trying out different science experiments and even testing a stink bomb on my mom while she was asleep. He eagerly picked me up from the airport when I arrived and drove me to my interview at Thomas Jefferson. He works at the Thomas Jefferson hospital so he knows that area inside and out.

My Auntie Anya is the cutest woman alive. She’s so funny and bouncy and kind of reminds me of a squirrel. She told me about how she’s allergic to pretty much every food out there, and she’s even allergic to water, so they have to have a specific water in their house that filters out the chemicals so she doesn’t get rashes. My cousin Stephen just got engaged and I finally got to meet his girlfriend/fiance Steph for the first time. I also got to ride on a motorcyle with him for the first time.. totally felt like I was gonna fall off and die at any second. He gladly showed me around Philly on my last day there, and we went to the King of Prussia mall, got boba in Chinatown, toured around Drexel University (his old college), and then visited where his fiance’s work at a Sichuan and Taiwanese restaurant/bar. It was a pretty hip spot, and we ended up sitting at the bar which was really awesome. The workers are all super friendly and everyone who was sitting at the bar was very friendly and easy to talk to. I ended up sitting next to a guy named Isaac who happened to have a roommate who started OT school at Thomas Jefferson, so he connected us by email which was super nice. He and his friend Walter had met in high school and lived in Philly their whole lives, and he went to University of Pittsburgh while Walter went to Carnegie Mellon. After that, we went to Stephen’s friends’ apartment and just said hi, and then we headed back.

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updates and ways God has grown me

I still can’t believe it’s already October. The past month and a half of being back has been a whirlwind, but I’m so so very grateful for the ways the Lord has provided and shows me his mercy and grace. The first Sunday back at Pillar was pretty tough, I’ll have to admit. I felt strange being back, like I was an outsider again, trying to catch up with people who I hadn’t seen in 3 months. I had an emotional breakdown later that day as I was driving home.

I had been struggling spiritually in the previous few months, especially because I was traveling so much and not really in one place. I felt discontent in so many areas of my life – singleness, church, friendships. My heart wandered and hardened, growing apathetic during that time. When I came back to norcal, I was still struggling with being in an “in between” state with norcal and socal and feeling spiritually dry.

But I realized how self-centered my heart was at the time. I realize that when I’m not doing well spiritually, I have so much more fear of man (which is a huge struggle for me) and it prevents me from loving other people. When I’m not consistently hearing the word, reading the word, and praying, I focus on myself and I don’t want to love other people. I incapable of loving other people.

God has been so gracious to me. He’s given me a renewed desire and excitement to fellowship with the body, to hear his word being preached, and to worship the Lord with the church on Sundays. I’ve had the opportunity to hang out a lot more with Pillar people, whether it be one-on-one’s, group hangouts, dinners, and volleyball. It’s been SO good. And every sermon I hear is always so dense and rich, and I feel so well fed spiritually. I’m so thankful for the pastors at Pillar. They have such a commitment to preaching the word, boldly proclaiming the gospel, and caring for our spiritual souls.

I had my membership interview on Sunday. I was a little nervous because I was being interviewed by the 4 elders – Pastor Danny Bae, Pastor Eric Chabaneix, Pastor Dave Son, and Basil Shen. It was pretty casual for the most part though and it was held at Starbucks. I did a gospel presentation in under 2 minutes, shared my testimony, why I chose Pillar, the ministries I’m interested in, and how I grew while I was at Lighthouse Bible Church LA. I shared how I did feel pressure to go to Lighthouse San Jose because I went to LBCLA and how I also felt pressure to go to Pillar because my sisters go there, but that I didn’t want that to be the reason I chose those churches. I told them that what drew me to Pillar was the teaching because it was so dense and rich and that I’ve never heard such rich teaching before. I also told them how I appreciate how everything at Pillar was very intentional, from the layout of the service, to the worship style, communion, etc. I’m going to be inducted at the members’ meeting next Sunday (October 8) and then presented in front of the congregation the following Sunday (October 15), Lord willing if nobody rejects me haha.

Another update – I got my fieldwork placements today. I’ll be at UCLA Medical Center in the summer and tentatively at Occupational Therapy Training Program (OTTP) in Torrance during the fall of next year. I was kind of bummed I didn’t get placed in Seattle, which is what I was hoping for initially for my first FWII because I wanted to experience what it would be like to live outside of California for a little bit. I might try to email the fieldwork coordinator and see if I can get it for my second FWII (cause I don’t want to give up UCLA!) or maybe ask for somewhere closer. Commuting from Arcadia to West LA will be rough … that’ll probably be a 1.5-2 hour commute. Nevertheless, I’m excited to be back in LA.

As I think about how I’ll be graduating in May, it makes me sad to consider how I’m starting to invest in Pillar now, yet I’ll be leaving soon. It doesn’t necessarily make me want to stop investing in people, but it just makes me wish I could stay longer at Pillar. I really am grateful for the church. Every church I’ve been to in the past has been a blessing and helped me grow spiritually in some way, even before I was a Christian.

At Cornerstone Bible Church, I wasn’t a believer at the time, but it was the first time I’d heard gospel-centered preaching. These gospel truths, although they weren’t true for me at the time, remained with me during college by God’s grace. I also received a MacArthur bible commentary. I also learned about dressing modestly and how we don’t want to stumble our brothers and want to reflect purity in the way we dress.

During my membership interview, I was asked how I grew while I was at Lighthouse. I told them that near the end of college, my view of the church (while I was at Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church) was that I would go to service on Sunday, hear the sermon, then slip out as soon as the service ended. I had no genuine desire to invest in the body, and I was so plagued by fear of man that I had no motivation to want to be a member or fellowship with people.

When I started going to LBCLA, God shaped my biblical theology and worldview. I learned what it really meant to invest in the church and be held accountable. I was taught the importance of being a member of the body and loving the church as Christ loves the church. I learned how to live out my life as a Christian on a day-to-day basis and how I NEED to be in the word daily. I learned that I can’t passively hope that I’ll overcome sin but that I need to be GUARDED by biblical truths to fight Satan when temptation arises. I learned that everything I have in my life is by God’s grace alone – nothing I have is based on my own doing. I truly learned what it means that God is sovereign over ALL things, that He is GOOD and that all things that happen in my life are for my good and ultimately HIS GLORY. I learned that loving other people with Christ-like love doesn’t mean loving people who are easy to love, but also loving people who are difficult to love, people who you wouldn’t normally gravitate towards or be friends with. I learned that church isn’t about me or about how others can serve my needs, but that I need to consider how I can serve and love the church. I learned how important EVERY SINGLE MEMBER is to the body, and that we are truly meant to bear one another’s burdens. In order to do that we need to be INVESTED in one another’s lives and truly “do life” together. I learned that God uses every single person (especially people who are hard to love) and every single event and trial in your life to grow you in some way, whether to humble you, to show you sin, to show you idols in your life, and that ultimately these things are meant to cause you to treasure and trust Jesus more. I have a better grasp on the biblical view of marriage and how it’s not about how the other person “completes you” or makes you feel loved. Ultimately marriage isn’t about feeling loved by this person or getting your needs met, but it’s about COVENANT-KEEPING LOVE and reflects the eternal covenant between Christ and His bride, the church It’s about denying yourself and exemplifying the love Christ has for His church.

While at Pillar, I’ve grown a lot more in knowledge and understanding of God’s word, particularly the passages I struggle to read like the Old Testament and Revelations, thanks to the faithful preaching by the pastors. I learned more about the significance of the OT temple. God has deepened my love for the church and my thankfulness for the church body. I have learned that we aren’t meant to be passive in evangelizing, but to be BOLD in our faith and to have a greater sense of urgency. I learned what it means to bear one another’s burdens and to really invest in the body and prioritize time with the church, Christ’s bride.

Yesterday, I played volleyball with some Pillar people after church. One of the guys slipped on the grass while he was going for the ball, and as he was slipping his knee popped out. None of us were doctors or medical professionals (lots of engineers at Pillar!) but one of the girls is a nurse so she was directing us how to stabilize him. With the help of some brothers, he was initially trying to hop on the grass to his car, but it was too far. We ended up grabbing a tarp from his car trunk, placed him on the tarp, and dragged him across the grass to the car. Even though it was a sad thing to have happened, as I watched everyone gather and try to assist him in so many ways (even though we had no idea what we were doing), I was so thankful to see Jesus’ love exemplified through my Pillar brothers and sisters. Seeing people literally bearing one another’s burdens was a huge encouragement to me!

God is good.

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God’s grace to me in the heartbreaks

For some reason, I started going through my old blog posts on WordPress all the way back to my xanga days in high school. It was really crazy to see my thoughts during various seasons of my life – different struggles, joys, emotions, and the things I valued at the time. I can truly see God’s providential hand over my life in protecting me as I tried to pursue my joy in others, especially boys, even before I had committed my life to the Lord.

I can see what an idol feeling loved or having man’s approval was for me during high school and my early college years. I was so controlled by what boys thought of me that it became my identity. I wasn’t secure in who I was, so my value and worth was reflected in whether boys liked me or not.

Reading about my various heartaches, confusion, and unhealthy friendships with boys in which I led them on in pursuit of my own selfish desire to feel loved and accepted, I can truly see how God was working to prevent me from further going down a path of destruction, but instead slowly lead me to Him. So many of the boys who I liked during the early years of college had ex-girlfriends who they ended up getting back together with, or people who they ended up pursuing instead of me, and even though at the time I was SO hurt, confused, and heartbroken, this was God’s grace to me. This was his way of protecting me and sanctifying me.

Imagine what would have happened if I had continued relationships with these non-believing guys. Where would my life be right now? Would I have fallen further into sexual sin? Would I have potentially married a non-believer? Would I have even come to know Christ?

Thank you Lord for those years of brokenness and heartache that taught me that finding satisfaction in boys and others will never satisfy. Thank you for shielding me from Satan’s harm by preventing me from continuing relationships with boys who loved the things of earth and not the things above. Thank you for planting a supernatural desire to go back to church my junior year of college (by your grace and Spirit) and for the sure conviction to break up with my non-believing boyfriend at the time. Thank you for slowly planting seeds in my heart and growing a desire to pursue Christ and eventually commit my life wholeheartedly to you. Thank you for showing me that only you can truly satisfy and bring everlasting joy in my heart. Thank you for bringing me to Lighthouse Bible Church after I graduated and for growing me exponentially through gospel-centered preaching and the love of the church body, showing me what it looks like to live a life that is pleasing to you. Thank you for continuing to grow my heart for the Lord and for your enduring faithfulness in my life. Help me to love God above anything else on this earth.

You are so good, Lord. You are so good. All glory to God alone!

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The Consequences of Smartphones & Social Media

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how our society is very bound to technology and attached to our smartphones. Most Christians admit to looking at their phones before doing their devotionals. I’m DEFINITELY guilty of this. In fact, this is something I’ve seriously been struggling with for several years ever since I got my smartphone back in 2014.

Among many other articles, this particular article from Crossway struck me and convicted me to the core. It talked about three reasons people are addicted to digital distraction. Here are some of the points taken from that article that resonated with me.

  1. To keep work away. I really struggle with going on my phone and browsing Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, basically ANYTHING to distract me from doing the work I know I should be doing. This in itself is sinful; I’m wasting the precious time God has given me that I’m meant to glorify Him. Instead, I’m pursuing my own selfish interests and desires for temporary satisfaction. Because I’m constantly clicking away, trying to find things to distract me, it makes it that much harder for me to concentrate and attend to a task, listen to a sermon, or read the Bible .. my mind is always wandering as I’m thinking of other things because of my trained mind to find distractions. This makes it much harder to be in the Word and meditate on Scripture because my mind is always wandering somewhere else.
  2. To keep thoughts of eternity away. I use my phone as an escape from the reality of my sin. When I feel the cringeworthy awkwardness of my fear of man being drawn out, when I’m struggling with loneliness or discontentment, or when I’m tired from a long day at school or work, instead of crying out to God in desperation and prayer, I find that I’ve turned to social media as an escape from the reality of my humanness. I turn to Youtube or Instagram as a temporary band-aid for my sinful nature. Instead of facing my struggle with fear of man in desiring affirmation from others, I mediate my fears with an entertaining viral video. Instead of going to God’s word for comfort when I’m struggling with discontentment, I scroll through Instagram or Facebook to look for something to distract my mind. Instead of praying to God through my tiredness and relying on God to give me the grace to endure each day, I go to Youtube to watch a video because I want to “relax” and escape. This makes me less sensitive to my sin and makes me more reliant on other things to temporarily cover up my sin or act as a “quick-fix” instead of facing sin or things that are hard head on and asking God to help me fight it. As a result, I am less in awe of the gospel and less reliant on God’s grace and the gospel to help me daily. My heart becomes numb to the awe and wonder of the cross.

This is something that I’ve been struggling for a long time. And I think it’s something that took me a while to really reflect on or even admit that it was really affecting me spiritually. But I was really convicted this morning in particular as I was praying on the way to church that I’m ultimately using Instagram to build up my own kingdom and storing up treasures on earth – treasures of affirmation and wanting people to see me as “hip” or “cool” based on my Instagram feed. Rather than using it for God’s glory, except for the occasional post on how God is growing me, I obsess over curating the perfect Instagram feed to portray me as a person who takes cool photos of cool things.

Rather than pointing to Christ – the author and perfector of my faith, my Savior, the King of Kings – I’m pointing to myself. I’m pointing at myself saying, “Look how awesome I am! Look at great my photos are! Look at how hip I am going to all these cool places! Look at ME!” I catch myself thinking about taking the perfect photo of whatever it is I’m doing, whether before eating a meal, when I’m on a hike, or when I’m at a hip coffee shop. I even catch myself doing this when I’m reading my Bible with the perfect cup of coffee and the perfect lighting. I do this before I’ve even done my devotionals. I’m already thinking about how I can post the perfect photo and create a caption with a Bible verse or something about how God is growing me.

If I’m being honest, it’s all for show. Am I really doing these things for God’s glory? Or do I just want to appear to be godly on the outside?

God looks at the HEART. He doesn’t care if I’m only appearing to be doing devotionals and acting godly by highlighting a bunch of verses and writing notes on the side. What matters is my heart motivation. Am I truly desiring to be in the Word? When I post a photo, do I truly hope to encourage others in the faith or share about how I’m learning/growing?

I’ve been so blind to how crippling this has been on my spiritual life! I need to cut it off, before I continue in sin and fall away to Satan’s temptations. I’ve decided to take a break from Instagram. I need to learn to not just try to distract myself when things are difficult and I don’t want to face reality. I need to learn to trust in GOD, the only one who can truly satisfy and bring lasting comfort for my soul.

Lord, help me to not look for virtual affirmation that in the end won’t matter. Help me to not store up treasures on earth or focus on building my own kingdom, but to be ETERNALLY minded and to seek to glorify YOU. You alone are to be praised and worshipped. Having an amazing Instagram feed won’t matter in heaven. Help me to invest in your church, in growing in my faith, and in spending time going deep in your Word and falling in love with who you are, especially during this season of singleness. Help me to steward my time, gifts, and energy in a way that glorifies you. Amen.

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