Father, I learned something new yesterday from my optometrist. During my eye exam, she told me that there appeared to be a slight scratch and tiny deposit on the outer layer of my cornea. She seemed so casual when she mentioned it so my initial fear of it being a serious issue quickly subsided. So I asked her about it and she explained how each of us has a very thin outer layer that protects our eye and whenever this layer gets damaged, it sheds itself, disposes of the waste, and regenerates, thus creating a fresh new layer all on its own. I was so amazed by this small thing and at the same time, just in complete awe knowing that this is just one of the many beautiful and complex systems you’ve set up. How small is this process and yet, it’s so technical and necessary. All these years, I never even knew that our eyes had the capacity to do such a thing. But there I was yesterday, listening intently like a little school girl as my optometrist explained all these things to me and I couldn’t help but experience child-like wonder and say out loud, “Wow. That’s so cool!”

Every day, you show up. And even in the small things, your handiwork is a reflection of your intellectual creativity.

Father, I don’t deserve him. And I certainly don’t deserve You. But here he is, and here You are–both, so very real and so very present in my life.

But the world denies You. And they try to convince me that You don’t exist. And they wake up every morning and use the breath that You give them to spread lies about You. Who are we to put You on trial and question Your existence and sense of judgement? By now, I would have broken my promise to mankind and flooded the earth once more. And I wouldn’t have cared. But You are merciful and give second chances, and part of me feels ashamed when I can relate with Jonah’s frustration at Your grace.

You keep their hearts beating but they divert their thoughts away from You rather than toward You. They constantly distract themselves, filling their minds with discoveries, possibilities, and what ifs in the midst of Your evident glory which shines through every sunrise and the sunset. And they bask in it with softly closed eyes, soaking in every ray of Your light and eternal beauty. SNAP! They take a photo of Your art, selfishly lay claim to it as if they themselves made it, while others in their shallowness say thoughtlessly, “Isn’t Mother Nature clever?”

A plane went missing in the middle of the ocean, and we have all the best knowledge and science and experts and power and yet, the world is still lost, confused, and searching. Why? How is it that mankind can be so intelligent and confident, yet we remain so incapable of providing simple answers to questions like, “Where is the bloody plane?” What of our pride now? Our boasting and our arrogance?

The whole world is watching. We’ve been on the moon; we have satellites in outer space; we have the technology to measure the deepest parts of the ocean; and at the same time, we’re being told that an airplane can’t be found. Why am I expected to believe all this information and accept it as truth? But You tell me in Your Word that You spoke stars into existence, and I know that the world is quick to dismiss and reject the idea altogether like it’s absolutely ludicrous.

“Well maybe [this] or maybe [that],” I often hear them say in a desperate attempt to try to explain things. But “maybe” is a dangerous word. It is the neutral zone which has no absolutes. It is obtuse, ambiguous, and quickly leads to a self-destructive desert. It is a disease that spreads false hope and praises potential but never provides definitive answers. The lost, the striving, the insecure, the confused, and the just plain stupid–they thrive in a world of maybe.

But “maybe” is a curse. It is the grey area where he told me he could no longer remain. I remember it clearly. His lovely blue eyes looking directly into mine, with a face so handsome and intent, I couldn’t help but feel a level of conviction and a slight pierce to my heart. This was the moment of clarity for me. Clouds of confusion would dissipate with his one proposition which required an absolute. And because he spoke in black and white, I was able to respond decisively without hesitation. “Yes.”

Sometimes I wonder if “maybe” is the lukewarm You speak of in Your book. If lukewarm had a colour, would it be grey? Grey is the intermediate between black and white. By its own definition, it has “no hue” and “transmits only a little light.” And I know that goes against everything You are and everything You call me to be.

Help me navigate through this ocean of uncertainty and its many maybes. Help me never lose sight of Your light, Your love, and Your presence. Thank You for being absolute in everything and for never hesitating about Who You Are. You alone are the ever present and ever relevant I AM. You are my beginning and my end, and in You and with You, I have all the answers that I need.

“Human character evermore publishes itself. The most fugitive deed and word, the mere air of doing a thing, the intimated purpose, expresses character. If you act, you show character; if you sit still, if you sleep, you show it. You think, because you have spoken nothing when others spoke, and have given no opinion on the times, on the church, on slavery, on marriage, on socialism, on secret societies, on the college, on parties and persons, that your verdict is still expected with curiosity as a reserved wisdom. Far otherwise; your silence answers very loud. You have no oracle to utter, and your fellow-men have learned that you cannot help them; for oracles speak. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice?”

- from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essay on Spiritual Laws

Dear Lord,

They’ve made another movie about you. Are Christians excited about it? I’m not. Does that make me less of a Christian?

All I know is that one thing remains constant each time a new movie about you gets released: they perpetually portray you as a fair-skinned pretty boy. But the Word in Isaiah 53:2, when predicting your coming, described You like this:

For he grew up before him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

Why must people continue making dramatizations about your life and misrepresent you? And to top it off, they profit from it.

Perhaps you never expected us to constantly turn you into some sort of icon or movie hero because the whole reason You came in the first place was to be our every day, real life hero. Do they think it’s art? Do they think they’re doing You a service? Do they see this as a form of ministry?

Why does it seem like Your word is never enough for some people? Forgive them for they know not what they do.

(in no particular order except what simply came to mind)

  1. I love living in Australia.
  2. I love married life with Matt.
  3. I don’t think I can ever get enough of my husband.
  4. It’s rare to find someone who is 100% present.
  5. People rarely speak truth or facts, but are quick to share opinions.
  6. The world is constantly striving.
  7. Lifting weights is therapeutic.
  8. What is good and worthy, usually takes a lot of time and consistency.
  9. Sometimes there’s no use staying friends with a fool.
  10. The cloud of guilt that has been hovering over me since childhood has finally started to dissipate.
  11. Forgiveness isn’t forgetfulness.
  12. Painting is also therapeutic.
  13. It’s actually a gift to want to reproduce and raise children.
  14. No one can be good at everything.
  15. A broken and bitter heart cannot hide itself, but is constantly revealed in what is spoken.
  16. Why does everyone seem to know everything about everything and everyone, even when they don’t?
  17. Facebook is mainly good for marketing and perpetuating pretense.
  18. Living abroad gives you a refreshing perspective on America.
  19. I’d like to see a world where Christians had more genuine friendships with unbelievers.
  20. People who constantly point a finger at other people’s faults are the ones who are good at ignoring the reflection in their own mirror.
  21. Everyone has their own God-given gift/talent, and it’s probably one you don’t have.
  22. People who get busy with their talent usually don’t have the time to hate.
  23. Who killed wonder?

Today, my hubby and I painted our first big mural together.

I just received some very sad news from my friend that her grandpa passed away. She’s absolutely heartbroken but even more so is her grandma who he has now left behind. He was 92. Some of you may have heard about it on the news today. Her grandpa was Harold Camping.

I had no clue. Living in Australia tends to do that to me. I’m totally out of the loop on things happening back in the U.S. But this–this is different. It’s not just news. It’s something I’ve thought about so many times in my life. It’s a moment I once dreaded and a moment I sadly confess, I once hoped for–that Harold Camping would go away.

Because you see, I used to be a strong believer in his teachings. I would cling to his every word, his interpretations, his mathematical equations, and his predictions. I believed them to be truth because they were, according to him, based on God’s truth. But when Jesus didn’t come back in 1994, I started to question everything. About God, about myself, about truth.  It was only years later when I left to attend Bible college that I even thought to question Harold.

Some of you may wonder what took so long. Perhaps it’s because I’ve only always known him to be a family man. A family man who runs a radio station. And that radio station is the reason my parents became Christians in the first place. My father often recalls the story of when he was flicking through the radio channels in the car and stumbled across Family Radio and from that point on, he never switched the dial. It’s been on ever since.

In our home, I grew up listening to Family Radio and could always recognize Harold’s voice. It was familiar, gentle, and comforting. Oftentimes, it would put me to sleep–mostly on Sunday mornings when I’d be sitting in one of those stiff, cold chairs in that vacant, echoey building draped with oversized red velvet curtains as a backdrop. How often I would day dream during those moments but look forward to open singing time when he’d let us choose our favourite hymns and lead us all through a half hour or so of solemn worship.

Some of the best times of my life have been with Harold and his family. My best friend was one of his granddaughters. She and I were inseparable. Every July, we couldn’t wait to meet up at Mission Springs for Family Radio Bible Camp which was an annual tradition started by this man and his ministry. I absolutely loved it–it was the one week I would look forward to all year, every year–even more than my own birthday. It meant I got to see my best friend, run around freely, go to classes on my own, eat watermelon and ice cream, sing songs, make crafts, go on hikes, and just be a kid. It shaped me. And quite honestly, I don’t think I’d be the same person without all those summers at Mission Springs. And it’s all thanks to Harold.

But as I got older and the teachings got a bit, well, let’s just say less theologically sound, I started to really dislike him. I hated knowing that my parents were being taught something so out of line with God’s Word. I hated knowing that so many thousands of others were being misled as well. But mostly, I just hated knowing that he thought he could calculate my God. The One he’d been teaching us was so infinite in wisdom, so omnipotent, and so powerful. How the created could reduce the Creator to a mathematical prediction boggled my mind and filled me with the most incredible amount of resentment toward him.

Yes, the same man who I found so endearing. The kindhearted and inviting old dude whose family I often joined for summer camping trips at Lake Del Valle and other random holiday gatherings. Him. How did I ever reach the point of wishing him dead and gone?

Today it happened–Harold is gone. He’s left us. And how do I feel? I don’t know. If you were to ask me the same question in December of 2010 when my parents sat us down near the Christmas tree and basically told us, in all seriousness, that this was in fact our last Christmas together, I would’ve had a different reaction. But so much has happened since then. So much has changed. And not just with Harold but with me.

They say time heals all wounds but I don’t feel as though anything has been healed. Not with the passing of time nor with Harold gone. To the world, all that’s left is the memory of his life so full of Bible study, controversy, and media attention. But what does it mean for those of us who knew him? Who grew close to him? Who were welcomed into his family?

He was a real man with a real purpose. He had a wife and a family he loved. He cared for people. He had a passion for truth and longed for others to know it. He loved reading God’s Word and sharing what he learned with others. And boy could he sing the shit out of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” every year at Christmas service. These are the things I’ll remember. These are the things I hope others will, too.

Lord, I’m grateful for Harold Camping. And I want to thank you for the love You showed me through him. Because of him, I was able to draw closer to You, to Your truth, and to Your realness.

Photo taken by my Dad, with his own notes on the back.

Photo taken by my Dad, with his own notes on the back.

The other day I was listening to a song with my husband that brought me to tears. It was as if it had been written just for me and the author knew my exact situation, all that I’d been going through over the past year with my family, and the incredibly heavy toll it had taken on my heart.

The lyrics, the melody, the flow, the escalating verses and chorus–it all came rushing through me and then with all calmness it brought a tender hush to my tortured mind, gently whispering soft comforts to ease the disquiet of my soul. Perhaps the song wasn’t written just for me, but I’d like to believe it was. Because to me, it is absolutely perfect.

How is it possible to feel so understood by someone you have never met in person? The words written could not be any more fitting–they are the emotions I have experienced time and time again, but never had the energy to express; they capture the thoughts which have filled my mind but could never say aloud; but now, they are here. So perfectly composed and so well delivered.

I couldn’t ask for a better gift at this time of the year. It reminded me that I’ve made it through those dark times. It propels me toward the next thing and motivates me to fix my eyes on what’s ahead, and to quit treading through the old. And so, I’d like to express my humble appreciation and thanks to the One who gave life to the world’s greatest poet and paired him with a talented Australian musician to create such a beautifully moving and soulful song.

Lord, your timing could not be more perfect. And for that and so much more, I want to say thank You.

Is it just me or has the word “literally” become the new replacement for “like”? I’ve been hearing this word repeatedly misused (yes literally) not just by gossiping teenage girls on the bus, but by full grown adults at cafes, businessmen and women in suits in the city, celebrities and politicians on television and in the media. Each time I hear it misused, I have to refrain myself from walking straight up to that person and slapping them across the face. And no, not in an exaggerated sense. I mean the opposite of that–literally.

What is causing this outbreak on the English language? Is it because we now live in an age where the vernacular of the general population has been reduced to internet lingo and hashtags? Have we truly lost all sense of form and structure in our way of speaking? Do we not have hundreds of more meaningful, accurately descriptive words in our vocabulary to utilize? Or are we so starved of intellect that we can no longer distinguish the difference between that which is literal and that which is simply an exaggerated expression? Yes, I’m sure you may have felt like a diva when you put on those high heels but no, you did not “literally” look like Beyonce. Yes, I believe that comedian made you laugh really hard but no, I’m sure you did not “literally” pee in your pants.

Stop the abuse, buy yourself a thesaurus, and get a better vocabulary. Literally.

My mother was born with a congenital heart defect.  It caused her a lot of pain for most of her life, and it wasn’t discovered until a few years ago, when it was finally treated with a special type of heart surgery.

Ever since then, I’ve wanted to paint this for her.  Like most mothers, mine has a big heart full of love and patience.  I grew up listening to her singing hymns, oftentimes while she watered the roses in our front yard.  The title of this painting comes from the first line of one of the songs she would sing called “In the Garden.


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