nothing to something

this morning as i got myself ready for church, i was discouraged. defeated. burdened. weighed down to the point of crushing.

i am crazy. what in the world am i stepping into? i can’t do it. Lord, what did you call me into?  

this morning’s church sermon was 2 Kings 4:1-7, about the woman with the jar of oil. “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil (4:2).” she had two attitudes – i have nothing, yet i do have something. one thing my pastor said was, don’t focus on the nothing; focus on the something and use it for His glory.

so here i sit, words impressed upon my soul. recounting my nothings, but holding high my somethings to remember and use for His glory. ❤

[my nothings] 

nothing: the places of lackthe weakness, the burdens, the brokenness, the suffering.

my nothings of this year/freshman year could be listed with social anxiety, homesickness, school stress, grief, anxiety in general, loneliness, disappointment, and just the feelings that come with transitions. i can talk about the moments i felt like a lone floater, not feeling a place to belong. i can talk about school projects that amounted, bringing stress and anxiety piling high. i can talk about processing and walking through grief, and how much i was drowning in my emotions. i can talk about how my summer will be spent overseas and how i am all of a sudden fearful and doubtful and -ful.

yet i have something.

[my somethings] 

something: the places of abundance. the growth, the joy, the blessings, the fruit.

my somethings of this year/freshman year would include finding community in the midst of the wandering – sweet and special friends and relationships built and now treasured. my somethings include healing and freedom through past and current disappointments, struggles, lies, and grief. my somethings include experiencing His miraculous emotional and physical healing in a powerful way, which was followed by a very real but uncertain (howwhatwhenwherewhatextent?) call to missions. my somethings include an intentional time of feasting and fasting, feasting and discovering Him through His Word. my somethings include expanding the picture i had of God – that He is truly and absolutely ultimately good in His very nature, and that He is incredibly patient and kind to His children. this year has blessed me with so many peeks of His character, and in seeing Him, i have been able to share Him – with my roommate, my floormates,  and my church family. share Him boldly, vibrantly, courageously, undeniably. because this year i say with confidence, “how can i not?”


i do have something in this jar of clay. Lord, i know that you can use it. please use it. i know you can. will you? Lord, do the impossible.

we sang build my life today and oh, how fitting as i head again into wonderlust – a feeling of delight fused with awe, caused by something beautiful and unfamiliar. holy, there is no one like You. there is none besides You. open up my eyes in wonder. show me who You are and fill me with Your heart and lead me in Your love to those around me.

i may be weak, Your spirit’s strong in me. my flesh my fail, my God you never will. fill me and fuse me with delight, awe, and wonder, reminding me to look back and marvel at Your goodness and look ahead to how You will prove yourself faithful.

but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. we always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. for we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. so then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 2 Cor. 4:7-11

still i rise | no. 10

dear october —

i. you know my name… we bumped into each other at the bookstore and you embraced me with hugs. you are all so warm and friendly and lovable. it’s hardly been a couple weeks.

i. mindfulness meditation… second week of class, and we wheel ourselves and gather in the front of the classroom. don’tfreakoutdon’tfreakout i try to tell myself but i hear his voice come through and interrupt my thoughts, and my mind starts racing and derailing. tears start to well, and the next three minutes were the longest i had to get through as i tried to fill my mind with songs and scriptures and promises and tell myself it’s okay.

ii. to you and for you… twas a long day with wavering emotions, feeling beat down, and not content with myself. you texted during class, asking if you could stop by. i came down to meet you, tshirt, shorts, and flips; i melted as you all met me with the most smiling faces and outstretched arms. i got back and shared my bounty with them and they reached for hugs, faces beaming. my heart was overwhelmed, oh, so full and oh, so loved.

iii. almost fainting… thanks for making me climb ten flights of stairs. my question is what made me think i could even make it. and hardly, for i nearly fainted at the top. but hey, no hard feelings, okay?

iv. anxiety… if i could label this week it would probably be anxiety-driven for more ways than one. grateful though for reminders in the midst of it, for both pieces of mail i received today had the same do not be anxious about anything passage written for me. and suddenly that rainy walk by myself to large group had a skip in my step and a hop in my heart, for through it all He is good.

v. before and behind… He has gone before me, this i know. even as i make my way home. this asian couple stopped to talk to me. i was in a hurry, mind fixated on my destination: home. walk to 30th st station, pray my legs will carry me that far in a good time, find the train, and get home. but they stopped me, and so i stopped. an invitation to their college fellowship group, with a sushi dinner that night. i kindly told them no, but expressed my interest. i was stunned. it was a simple yes to stop. and it was Him showing me He’s got me. that i really am surrounded by His people; as if He really didn’t want me to forget that, even as i headed home.

vi. a beautiful tension… i am totally and emphatically a broken a sinful human, yet i am totally and emphatically loved. a new perspective of a posture of praise.

vi. glowing, hot, and full of joy… worship is connection and i felt connected with the One tonight.

vi. maturity and growth in your eyes… your warm eyes meet mine and you tell me you see such growth. i swell, because oh, i can feel it. you must see it and feel it too. grateful. and grateful for you.

vii. commissioning… twas a small gathering, but a precious one. emotions brimmed, and yours did too. i see such strength in you, such depths of faith in you, such spiritual wisdom from you. as i pull away from you one more time, i hope it won’t be the last. such special memories shared, admiration built, a strand of affection that won’t be broken.

v. miss </3 … today i wrote how i broke down seeing all the posts. not simply fomo but truly missing places and people… people. i miss the people. i also wrote how she feels so far away. 

v. psalm 34… i asked about bible study, which led to you asking how i study the bible. and then without much of a second thought i turned and read psalm 34 to you. ❤ thank you for letting me do that.

xi. dreading the weekend… i didn’t want to face it; her; Him… not in the slightest. why did she have to, why did He have to, why did it have to go that way. my bitterness and my pain from the year past wreak and my heart is wrenched and hurt from all the destruction it seems it cost.

xi. what am i looking for? you come to me while the others make their way to leave and ask if i’m alright. thank you for you, ts. thank you for pointing me to the light.

xi. don’t be afraid to feel the pain in suffering… and to grieve the pain, but let it lead you to God not away from Him. rest and lean in His peace and presence. He is sovereign. 

xii. redemptive song… claiming tremble as a victory declaration cry over defeat, disappointment, disgrace.

xiii. recordings… thank you for sending and sharing building up of identity and majesty and build my life and reminders that loved is who i am. i close my eyes and listen while i spend a quiet morning on the train.

xiii. open hands… our car made its way to the top of the hill, and peace begins to take residence. the song plays, and i break a little remembering that time a year ago where things were whisked out of my hands and plans didn’t fall into place. the sweetest sound, the highest praise is the letting go of this life You gave. 

xiii. the sun will rise and we will rise again… she prays a mighty prayer as we gather around. it was a cold, bleak afternoon. she says a strong amen, and the sun shone on us all.

xiv. cora… i got to scoop you up into a huge hug and you pecked a kiss on my cheek and it was the most wonderful thing.

xiv. 40 minute calls with my anjel. ❤

xv. Ramen bowls and city strolls… twas good for my soul. 🖤grateful for talks of pursuing peace in the midst of anxiety, of trusting in the midst of not knowing, of finding life in every season, of having faith and keep pursuing.

xviii. needing to be patient… seeking cookie cutter answers but realizing i need to seek Him wholly and undeniably. who am i to put words in God’s mouth? 

xviii. late night writing… it’s okay to be in a place to just allow yourself to feel, because even here He is guiding me through every thick and thin. when your mind follows suit on fluctuated feelings, may you be still and remember though feelings sway, His truth remains. don’t let those fluctuated feelings cause you to lose grip on convictions you hold so dear, for His Word alone makes things morally clear. so as feelings come and go, seek the One who never lets you go.

xix. meetup with fgl… already within the past two months of meeting you, you’ve encouraged and inspired me to wholeheartedly seek the Lord; to think more deeply, love devotedly, and worship authentically. thank you for adding spice to my life 🙂

xix. sharm… you held my hands in yours and told me how beautiful overcome was. thank you. ❤

xx. highs and lows… you said how much you admired how i am able to see Him in everything. i never really realized or had that said to me before. all glory due to Him. thankful for conversations like this one.

xxi. one year… they sing gracefully broken and about overcoming fear and ahhhh so needed and such perfect timing how He led me to this one on this day.

xxiii. thank ya for da good food… thank you lydia so much i love you so muchhhhhh.

xxiv. i’m glad some dreams don’t come true upon waking up. ❤

xxv – xxvii. passion… experiencing new heights and depths of worship, new understanding of His love, and new declarations of His goodness. you prayed over me, that i would know His goodness, and oh, the way you choked with emotion as you spoke over me was so touching.

xxviii. stuck in woundedness… the sermon spoke of what entangles us from growing in healthy soil, then i was prayed over, that the Great Surgeon would do His repair work in me.

xxxi. halloween convictions… trying to navigate the way while the pressures build around me.

still i rise | no. 4

dear april —

i. you are a pastor’s dream and you have a servant’s heart… it is not just what i do, it is who i am. thank you for placing value and worth on me and reminding me of my gifts. more often than not i am quietly at work in the shadows. and today you reminded me, in the presence of others, that even there i am seen.

i. thank you, you said… i returned the hug and asked, for what? maybe my short memory had no remembrance of anything in particular because after a bit you replied, oh then it’s all God, my dear. you speak of God just by being you. 

i. the day’s happenings brought a swirling, a myriad of hard feelings and i can’t help but ask why. what good has come out of this and what more good will come? i sat in the cushioned-lined seat today thinking of what would have happened if it weren’t her by my side but you instead. would things be different? i can only wonder. i can only imagine. what are you running from? …stop running from it. let that pain become your inspiration. 

ii. chats with the former… i can’t say that i am surprised to hear you step away. but i will say that you will be missed. your praise and support have made me enjoy the work i did with you. grateful for emojis and prayer exchanges and the blessing of you.

ii-iii. chats with the new… you, my sweet mrs. – you fill me with such joy. you are so fun and i love you so. i savor our chats about life and our texts peppered with love.

iii. throw out your old, preconceived ideas about what a successful life should look like and restart with a new perspective. grieve your losses and look for a new path as you accept the things you never expected or wanted.

iii. hello cat… yes, you. 🙂 thank you for you. this made my day. i love our more frequent check-ins and going deep in pursuits together.

iii. what is your heart telling you?… i cringe as you pull me closer. what is my heart saying? i don’t know. and my silence in reply does not warrant silence in response.

iv. are you free now?… treasured connecting and hearing your voice again. you mentioned a fog and oh what a beautiful picture. love thinking how fog doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining. somewhere on the other side of this veiled view, light is breaking through. love you, Care Bear. ❤

iv. hearts and congrats and prayers… aside from my momma, i would give you #1 teacher. getting to text you, even for a bit, made me so happy.

v. unpleasant dreams… i made us late. you got mad at me, and i felt shame. i cried and apologized over and over, and you admonished me.

vi. fear is the name of the game today… yet i cling to hope. i’m no longer a slave to fear. i am a child of God. 

vi. you made us late… they called to make sure we were on the way. we pulled in and were received with smiles and hugs. we just wanted to make sure you didn’t change your mind. oh the comparisons between today and the previous night. i felt like a prodigal. did you?

vi. expectations… and with great expectation we await the Promise to come. everything that You have spoken will come to pass, let it be done.

vii. prayer walk… being content in sitting in the stillness of His presence and opening myself to what He says to me. He makes me new, and it is a continual and ongoing process. for all that i am, worship Me, He said. did He not start a good work in me? am i going to be bothered by the thorns on roses or see the beauty that is there? He redeems my story. i am strong and full of life. i am steadfast, no compromise. 

vii. bathroom side talks… hey – i’ve only known you for less than a year and i wish now that i’ve known you longer. you sprung a question, a simple question, and i took a plunge to answer honestly. you replied in frank, but now looking back frank is what i need sometimes. you know, do it for you. 

vii. free time… spending free time with you and you made me happy. you – in the midst all the trembling and worry somehow i can say, by grace, i enjoyed your company. nothing really changed, but peace ushered in. and that somehow makes everything else fall away. and you – i slipped away and went to find you (the others thought they lost me… whoops). we talked and laughed and snatched some spoons. i think back to the youth we once were, the cliques and the non-cliques, the popular and the lonely. i remember you coming to me and the sorry that you uttered. i always had thought of you as the other – belonging to the one where i felt no belonging. and yet there we were, talking and laughing and having fun. you probably don’t know what it meant but thank you. next comes prom… then graduation.

vii. love and expectations… God doesn’t expect us to take what He gives, He simply invites us to receive. He brought it all to mind, and i realize where i was and where He was and is. i expected and did not get. He doesn’t expect us and loves us anyway, no matter what.  here is all my love, it’s Yours, no conditions. 

vii. saturday night… they said the saturday night session is always where it’s at. the climax. it’s where the deep stuff gets laid out and open, and the emotions come. i don’t know what i was expecting. perhaps a slight shed of tears and some profound revelation. but then everything came together and hit. saturday night. the band came and the floodgates opened, a mighty rush breaking chains. one by one we cried, wept, sobbed. my mind thought back and i fought the crowd and walked up to find you. you opened your arms, pulled me close. i searched your eyes, and you searched mine. i am sure deep inside you could tell there was more to tell. i confide in you, whisper to you, plea with you, tears squeezing out the corners of my eyes. and you say yes. head nods and head shakes, you assure me that i am beautiful and redeemed and forgiven. oh my soul how incredibly healing it is to hear that from you. you carry the Spirit in you like a vessel and all i want to do is have you hold me tight as i sob into your chest the whole night long. i leave your embrace and the room is empty. i step into the night, heading to find the others. the sky is clear and the air is crisp. i feel free. oh the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God. 

viii. learning to love yourself first… i open to the day’s reading and am wowed by His timing. once we get ahold of the truth of the grace, not only does it empower us to forgive and love ourselves, but also do the same for others. you can’t love much until you understand the depth of His love and the depth of which you have been forgiven. surrender to me, and don’t pick it up until you can view it with the right view of love. this may mean filling your own void of love first. 

x. starbucks debriefing… we each went around sharing our stories and our experiences. you said you came home not knowing the nagging feeling, and then identifying as missing us when we leave. my heart swells as i remember the journey i’ve been on and still tread, and how much of a part you’ve played in that. oh how far i’ve come. sipping coffee next to you all filled me with such belonging. how good and beautiful it is to share our stories. oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.

xi. Phil. 1:6… we sat on the couch and shared with the jh. we closed in prayer and the verse came to mind right before you said it aloud. God is pretty cool, i should say.

xiii. birthday wishes and warm encouragement… i am blessed by your caring spirit, inner strength, deep-rooted wisdom, and beautiful words and artistry. thank you for words exchanged and well wishes.

xiii. 4:13 day… after the 4.12, it’s been reminders to rise and rely on His strength.

xiv. grace upon grace… in spite of it all, today reminded me yet again that life doesn’t always go how we expect. i am humbled. here’s to cheerwine and making memories.

xiv. first place… you told me you secretly wished i would have the honor of receiving it. i am so wowed hearing that from you.

xv. you are trustworthy… those are the words you tell me with such sincerity as i tell you of school and life and worries. grateful and thankful.

xviii. great job… you whispered. thank you for those two words, after all these months of what went on. your random text after coming home was random but thank you for reaching out and checking up on me. it means a lot. you are quite something. quite special.

xix. thanks for checking in and reminding me of what is really important, despite the longing to be together.

xix. overcoming obstacles… it is through overcoming obstacles where our true beauty emerges. i went over and asked if you needed anything, and your deep gratitude was so heartwarming.

xix. you have a voice… oh, how i gushed at your words. i’d love to join you on stage one day. i admire your voice and your gift, your strength and deliverance.

xxi. i went hoping the deciding would be easier… but it is only harder. will this be my home the next four years? idkkkkkkkkkkk.

xxiii. dear apple… i shared of the school search and the deciding and the woes. you shared encouragement, tips, support. i miss your family. you all make me smile.

xxiii – xxvi. emotional wreck… every time someone turns to me they wear a blank question mark across their face. i am literally crying on and off all day. why is this so hard?

xxvi. there goes the bell… and behold, it’s you! isn’t it like you to be spontaneous. ugg, i love you.

xxvii. another no… i go for a visit, and jokingly wonder if i will fall in love. nevertheless, this one is a sure no. yay.

xxvii. adventure or safety… those who say ‘yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have. those who say ‘no’ are rewarded by the safety they attain. closer and closer, this brings the answer. will i go for adventure out of faith, or safety out of fear? i am beginning to be at peace.

xxviii. falling into place… decision in mind, and potential roommate just after. God is good and overwhelming me with peace.

xxix. you have a nice voice… oh you sweet child, you are a sweetheart.

xxix. unexpected – leave fear behind, move forward in faith, embrace the adventure… trials don’t mean we are out of the will of God. they often mean we are exactly in the will of God — right where we’re supposed to be, doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. 

xxix. daddy’s heart… my heart melted and ahh i don’t want to grow up. can i not?

xxx. i became a dragon… or a unicorn. taking a leap, saying yes by faith, this is me.

still i rise | no. 3

dear march —

i. why does healing take so much time? and this thing called time — will it ever come?

i. big yellow umbrellas and northern lights… i’ll just sit with you in the dark and hold a big yellow umbrella over your head until the sun can shine again and we can see the best yellows. thank you for you a million times over.

i. joy is there, trust me… we are walking in it in spite of the storm in our life. we are taking our thoughts captive, trusting Christ, staying in prayer, and in His word… that secret place — joy can be found there.

ii. don’t wait it out… pray it out. prayer is the force that makes all hell quiver in fear and causes heaven to stand to its feet with joyful applause.

iii. nián gāo and dòu fu flan… safe from the storm.

iv. limited power doesn’t limit the power of the Holy Spirit… candlelit worship center, huddled in the cold; communion in huddled coats. overflow in this place… the spirit of the Lord is here. and indeed — where there was alarm and loss of power, He poured blessing and peace. loss of power became the Father’s great gain.

iv. you saw me sitting there, wrapped up in my coat. you beckoned me — bid me — to move towards the fireplace. and though i was okay where i was, i shed my coat and moved myself closer. i sat there on the floor, the warmth of the fire dancing against my back and giving heat to my cheeks. sometimes shedding and moving out of what did provide warmth is necessary for experiencing the next level of the warmth of His goodness. thank you for inviting me to draw closer… draw nearer.

iv. the paints won’t behave, the shading doesn’t look right, the gradients are simply awful… and yet what matters is the progress, not perfection. and reminders to give myself grace, to admire the beauty that is there, and not be too hard on myself. oh, the journey of an artist. this is what makes artistry — not so much as to perfect as it is to understand and grow — from within.

v. invigorated by the power of the Holy spirit… we’ve got the Holy Spirit and all of His power in us. in Him we have peace, joy, and hope and He will finish what He starts. confidently flawed. 

vi. learning the secret of being content… striving to give the glory due His name, for i deserve none of this.

vi. out of the heart the mouth speaks. so though my brain wanted to say one thing, You took it away and replaced it with my heart. don’t let what you don’t know about God hinder you from believing what you do know about Him. rejoice in hope, be patient in trials, constant in prayer.

vi. it started with a cat… and then the crazies came out and then we fell off the floor… and i became a laughing bobbly head. (falling rn, actually… rereading texts again)

viii. heaving all my cares away with each heave and agonizing shovelful. hot dogs in the cold, and blasting praises all the day long. the snow never bothered me anyway. 

x. in pursuit of becoming fearless… maybe God is letting all this happen so i may experience a breakthrough of all that is tying me down. maybe this is a year of fearing more so that i can be fear-less.

x. marks of the true christian… share with the Lord’s people who are in need. practice hospitality. a wake up to love — i need a change of heart.

xi. the power and influence of prayer, and the awe-inspiring hand of God in even the littlest of angels. pray, pray, pray. trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey. 

x. have you ever seen the wonder and spending time with little sunshines. Zay-Zay and Phyllis — thank you for allowing me to squeeze you tight, peck cheeks, make silly faces, and stand in the cold for you in such a love-doing way.

xii. from the journal: “the gentleman seated on the plane in front of us chewing his gum with such vigoration (yes idek if that is a word but it is now) made me laugh so much and i wanted to just swing a bat around at life because hey everyone should do the simplest of things like chewing a piece of gum with such satisfaction that all who watches them just can’t help but smile. kinda like the lollipop effect. wow… i’m deep. thanks, gum-man.”

xiii. more trust, less fear. and may purity line the spaces of my heart and mind.

xiv. random texts, gifs that say you’re rooting for me, and reminders to take courage. ❤

xiv. what if i didn’t complain but stuck through it? what if i didn’t question it as a sign of weakness but knew that God must think i’m strong enough through Him to come out of it? what if i didn’t mumble saying this is the worst, but changed my perspective, knowing God only gives me His best?

xiv. 2/4 now and i put this one aside with barely a second thought.

xv. mid-day spontaneity brings joy and laughter to my day. milkshakes and strolling with you leave me feely but mixed.

xviii. nothing i hold onto… heaviness in my heart but not knowing why and “feeling weird.” i walked out of the room, needing some space. you said it’s okay to let it out. oh God, it’s so hard to surrender. i lean not on my own understanding, my life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven. 

xix. God-given brain lapses remind me to fix my eyes ahead and remain steadfast. i need to trust His heart with all my heart.

xix. not everything in life has to show a rose in bloom, or a light at the end of the tunnel. sometimes the greatest ministry is to establish connection, showing the darkness in the tunnel or the thorns on the rose, sitting by someone in the dark.

xix. desktop wallpaper reflecting, “i will climb this mountain with my arms wide open…” and amazed at His way in nudging this theme to me over and over.

xxii. 3/4… oh happy day. plus two jars of kaya.

xxii. feeling cingulomania for you, kalon. 

xxiv. even after so much, you never stop loving… oh thank you for you.

xxiv. even here, there’s still grace… thank you for your warm hug that made me melt in your embrace.

xxv. seeing the early morning sun rise… a canvas of Your grace.

xxv. God you are sovereign… in sickness and in death. grateful for soulful anthems that we are not alone even in deep waters, and chats of wisdom and guidance. brokenness cracks open a soul so the power of God can crack the darkness in the world. 

xxv. broken seashell… along the edge of the shore; with the tide lapping in and out over it. even in the low and high tides of life, the waves don’t overtake me – there are people speaking into me, praying for me, and thinking of me. through emptiness and brokenness, celebrating life that comes after death while also taking time to grieve… through it all it will be alright. He makes use of the broken pieces of our shells and makes us vessels for Him.

xxvii. i will trust here in the mystery… i will trust in you completely.

xxvii. love — a continuing debt we owe others. may we love as You love. 

xxviii. people and places and all the like… things are changing, and it’s all so bittersweet.

xxviii. convictions… figuring out what it means to love as He loves and follow through. grant us the courage to give as You are calling.

xxx. seeing you after i had dreamed about you last night filled my heart with so much joy. God is good.

xxx. our lives a tapestry of Your grace… it is finished… yahweh. so humbled and blessed to serve You with such amazing artists before a packed house and an audience of One.

xxxi. following through with convictions… let’s love in that crazy love He’s shown us, one that He gives so extravagantly and freely. 

xxxi. when God’s children obey, the enemy preys… thankful for that recognition. this. this comes through following through.

i will climb this mountain with my arms wide open… there’s nothing i hold on to. [nothing i hold on to]

may your love cause us to open up, cause us to open up our hearts. may your light cause us to shine so bright that we bring hope into the dark. all that we do without love, it means nothing. grant us the courage to give as you’re calling. make me an instrument of your peace. where there is hatred let me show love. where there is darkness let me shine light [open up]