Strength in Scripture

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In the past 3 months, I have undergone too many life transitions to even list here. Certain situations in life felt hopeless.  I was unsure if they would ever change; there seemed to be no change to the patterns.

In the midst of my uncertainties and mind battles, the Lord is planting certain Scriptures on my heart. These Scriptures are giving me strength to press on. When I felt hopeless and as if those aspects of my life wouldn’t change, Psalm 118:17 sprang into my heart: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”

I began to recite the verse to myself often, especially when the difficulties reared their head. No matter how difficult life seemed, I will live through it. Even greater, I will live to testify to God’s great works! Someday, I will be able to tell how God’s mighty hand turned my circumstances around.

This is just one example of God’s Word being strength to me. There are other verses that have been given to me during other difficult situations. God’s Word is “alive and active.” (Hebrews 4:12)  The Word is becoming nourishment for my mind and heart in each circumstance of my life.

I am coming to a greater appreciation of Scripture, especially for life’s difficult situations. If we are rooted in Scripture, we can dig deep and find power in God’s Word when trials come.  It is working for our good and can provide whatever we need. But like any superfood, it can’t take effect unless we have taken it into our body!

At all times, we need to make Scripture reading a priority. In the times when life is great and we believe we’re super successful…To God be the glory! Praise and thank Him, and make sure you’re reading His love letters to you. When difficulties inevitably come, you’ll be able to dig deep into those times of reading Scripture. By God’s grace, you will have a store of spiritual “vitamin C” to keep you strong. Your remembrance and continued reading of Scripture will sustain you.

It’s easy to put off reading the Bible, or to only listen to it at church once a week. But it is strength to our lives. It is a big aspect of what roots us in the Lord. We keep our focus on Christ when we are reading the Word, in both good and bad times. When troubles come, we will find great strength in being rooted. The Word teaches us God’s goodness and faithfulness to us. Make learning and loving Scripture a priority. You won’t regret it.

What passage or verse has helped you in a time of difficulty?

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lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 28 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio.  I am a Master’s student studying to become a counselor.  My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

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Finding Space…from Church

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The social media without a doubt is a great platform to share, express, inform or even be inspired, but it also brings out an unspoken expectation on how we should be, should have or should achieve. It seems to preach its own agenda and has its devotees grappling in search for approval through the number of ‘likes’ and to a certain extent defining (or redefining) culture. The awesome places others visited, the picture perfect family/ couple, new homes, snippets of moments in conferences where he/ she is invited to speak or lead worship, and let’s not forget the unforgettable proposal story. There was a season I felt suffocated by the tsunami of news feed that I decided to take a one month break from Facebook. Guess what? I survived!

Church is no different.  As a Christian, what if I feel overwhelmed by church because I’m not ‘there’ yet?

Yes, you heard me right. About 2 years ago when I was still working in a law firm in my hometown (Kota Kinabalu, Sabah), church ministry (i.e. being actively involved in church activities) for me included worship leading, hosting weekly bible study group, being a council member and for a short term as the honorary secretary of the Anglican Diocese of Sabah – all these were in a span of 7 years prior to relocating to Kuala Lumpur. I was ready to relinquish all those in view of a new season in life and thought I would quickly regain my ministry in the new city and new church that I decided to attend. As you can guess, it did not happen as I expected.

Today, I am still figuring out how I will fit in, in this new church. Since moving, I struggled with the restlessness of not being involved in church ministry. I drowned in the sea of the congregation of people that I hardly know. I felt lost.

So, I decided to retreat and give space – to allow myself to accept the Timmie who does not lead any groups or hold any leadership position, and just be Timmie. Giving myself the space allowed room for reflection, clarity and growth.

I came to realize that the one person who doesn’t need space even though I need space from Him (or His Church) is our Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. In my season now being free from church ministry I am able to internalise the fact that I am still worthy of God’s love, I am still approved by Him and His love for me has never changed.

I am reminded of the story of a fierce battle between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and was in a run for his life from Jezebel (read 1 Kings 19 and 20). Elijah had to take a breather: he struggled with the purpose that God had for him and the reality of the persecution – he needed time off from the craziness of life. To a lesser extent, that’s how I feel about my season now.

But just as God refreshed Elijah, He constantly assures me through the scriptures and a few close friends that I am still loved and accepted for just being me. I realize that though I may need some time off from church ministry per se, I do not have to create that space between me and God.  God closes the space between Him and I with His loving assurance. I am reminded by what Christine Caine (international speaker and bestselling author) said – that our goal in life is not how much we can do for God but how much like HIM we have become. The same principle is applicable in our careers, personal lives and finances.

I pray that you’ll be assured of a loving God who cares for you no matter the season you are in.

Hebrews 13:5-6 (NKJV)

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

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timmie-liew Timmie

Hello, my name is Timmie and I’m from Malaysia. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a charismatic, passionate person and enjoy beautiful things in life such as travelling to different cities to appreciate the culture. I love fashion and appreciate ‘coffee time’ with people to talk about life and build meaningful relationships. I’m passionate about the things of God, the Church and authentic leadership. My deepest desire is to embrace all that God has called me to be and be a blessing to whoever that God has placed in my life past, present and future. Our God is a GREAT God, and the best is yet to come !🙂

Comfort Zone

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And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”- Matthew 14:28-29 (ESV)

What does your comfort zone look like?

Some design their zones with a red carpet, blazing lime lights, and velvet ropes fastened on platinum pillars. Some construct theirs with brick walls, a steel roof, and a narrow doorway. Others complete their zones with a rose petal carpet, diaphanous curtains, and a smoky pink haze.

Mine is a sphere that’s coated in two-way mirrored glass. People can look in the sphere and see themselves but not what’s inside.  The interior of the sphere, however, is soft carpet where I sit on a huge grape colored cushion. And beside the cushion is a remote where I can decide if I want to weaken the reflective coating to reveal what’s inside.

We like familiarity. Things we know feel safe and cozy and comfortable.  But the Lord triggers our growth by moving us away from the known.

A few years ago, my sphere was divinely shattered when I received an e-mail. I reread it, blinked, and read it again.  I had just been invited to a company luncheon with a handful of other co-workers. It was a free meal with a group of friendly people.

And I was scared of going.

As the dictionary definition of an introvert, the idea of making small talk with colleagues, some of whom I see maybe once a month, made me queasy. What if I embarrass myself? What if I say the wrong thing? What if they don’t like me?

But since there were no loopholes I could escape through, I forced myself to accept the invitation. And it turned out to be a golden decision. While at the luncheon, I clicked with a co-worker, Jenole. In the days following, we had lively conversations that were encouraging and at times, very challenging. She’d periodically push me to try new things that garnered great surprising results, successes that wouldn’t have happened had I played it comfortable.

God used that simple luncheon to show me how my comfort zone, while feeling wonderful to me, was stifling my faith. How can we see how big our Father truly is if we only want Him to stay inside of our boundary lines?

Taking that first step outside of your life lane is scary. The ground quivers like jelly beneath you.  For me, it was conversation with new people. Maybe for you, it’s leaving your job to start a new career. Or accepting your friend’s offer to set you up on a blind date. Or pursuing your degree in a field you’ve always been interested in. But if you remember that God is ordering every one of your footsteps, including those that are directing you away from the familiar, the jelly will turn to solid rock.

March Challenge Finish!

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We made it to the end of another month – how did you do??  Were you encouraged?  Did you have at least one moment where you saw your true beauty and value?  I hope so!

I love to listen to people’s autobiographies/memoirs, particularly when the author read it themselves.  In this month, I listened to both Megyn Kelly’s and Padma Lakshmi’s memoirs.  What struck me about both of these women’s stories is that both of them talked about feeling unattractive.  And these women are GORGEOUS.  It reminded me again that our FEELINGS of unattractiveness and unworthiness are completely not based on reality.  They are based on what is in our heads and hearts.

If that is the case, then the only thing that will change our negative feelings about ourselves is not running after some tangible, outward change – if I lose weight, if I volunteer, if I make all As, if I get that promotion – but working on our inner beliefs.  Don’t get me wrong – I love goal-setting and meeting goals can definitely improve your self-confidence.  But they are not going to get you to long-lasting change.  You need to confront that inner belief.

Stop listening to your own internal monologue that tells you that you’re not good enough and start listening to what God says.  HE says that you’re beautiful.  HE says that you’re chosen.  HE says that you’re worth everything, even the death of His son.

The challenge for this month was to do something that would help you know that you’re worth it – worth love, worth value, worth being the apple of God’s eye.  What did you do?

For me, this challenge manifested in an unexpected way.  I started a new job at the beginning of February.  Academics and then work have always been idols for me and my latest job has a big salary and a lot of pressure – in other words, the type of job I would normally expect myself to completely stress out about as I worked hard to prove myself to everyone else.

But as this post is going live, I am actually in Ireland with my husband.  We scheduled this vacation months ago and had been looking forward to it, but having just started a new job, it was the last time I would want to take a week off.  Moreover, it happened to fall on the same week as the annual national organization conference.  I felt the pressure to cancel the trip.  But I didn’t.  I chose me.  I chose my husband.  I chose not running after an idol, and instead having the confidence to put myself first.  I am worth this vacation.  I am worth people’s respect in the workplace even if I don’t drop everything for the job.

What about you? Respond below and be entered to win a free book!

Your Worth is Not in Dating

online dating

A few years ago, having a very demanding job that required me to live where I worked (with one day off per week), I didn’t have many opportunities to expand my social circles. I was also feeling more pulled to live the vocation of marriage. So, I foraged into online dating. This allowed me to meet many more men and to see who was out there. I gained friends along the way, and even a boyfriend that I dated for a year. In my time of dating online, I learned many lessons on the journey, including about my own worth and where it originated.

Dating, online or not, can bring questions of your worth. Why are no guys showing interest? Why is this guy who seems like a perfect match viewing my profile but not reaching out? Or, why do only guys who don’t share my values seem to show interest? Why did that guy treat me so low?

If you keep logging in and not finding any messages, maybe you feel unworthy of love. Maybe the only messages you’re receiving are from weird guys, or men who don’t share your values. (It happens, even on Christian dating sites.) Or when the great guy you’ve been messaging and sharing a great conversation with suddenly disappears, you may wonder if something is wrong with you. What about when the guy you’ve been conversing with seems like a different person when you meet face to face, and even discloses a big piece of information that should have been disclosed right away? (Yes, that happened.)  So many situations arise in our dating lives that can make us feel unworthy.

Living a life of prolonged singleness, it’s easy to question your worth. The attitudes of the world about singleness make it even easier to question, especially when people constantly question why you are single. That question can linger and make you wonder, is something wrong with me? Your terrible dating experiences, online or face to face, can also trick you into believing this lie. It’s easy to forget that your worth isn’t determined by the number of messages or views you’re getting.

Worth isn’t even determined by how a man treats your heart—worth is not a product of how others view or treat you. In fact, your worth isn’t determined by men at all! If you’re at a point where you’re feeling low due to a dating drought or terrible dating experiences, maybe it’s time to take a step back from dating while you search for where your real worth can be found. Where is this worth found, you ask? Worth is found in your identity as a child of the Heavenly Father, who created you, delights in you, and even rejoices over you! Meditate on that beautiful truth. “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”-Zephaniah 3:17

 Sister, no matter your terrible dating experiences (or lack of dating experiences thereof), there is nothing wrong with you. You are not lacking in worth. Remember Who gave His life for you. He offers you a perfect love every day, no matter if nobody is romantically interested or if you are happily married. Your past, present, and even what you see of your future prospects doesn’t change anything about your worth in His eyes. Finding His love doesn’t require purchasing a subscription or making an on-point profile. Your Heavenly Father, the God of the universe, created you, and delights in you! What greater worth is there than that?

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lianna-headshot Lianna

Hello! My name is Lianna. I am 27 years old and live in Cleveland, Ohio. I am a case manager for refugee mothers. My favorite things are traveling, learning other languages, singing, and journeying with others. I blog and hope to inspire others at sunflowersojourn.wordpress.com.

Finding Your Worth

LOREAL

“Because I’m Worth It” is not just any slogan. Introduced by L’Oréal in 1971 as the Parisian beauty brand prepared to launch its hair-colour business in the United States, these words came to represent a movement and remains as a catchy slogan amongst women until today (www.theglobeandmail.com). But if the reason for purchasing a particular cosmetic product to make one feel more valued, then truly the individual’s self-worth is worthy of evaluation.

Society paints the picture that a woman’s worth is measured by her attractiveness to men. If you are worthy, you ought to be either dating someone or already married. Movies tell us so, conversations over dinner table leads to that topic as well as during reunions, family gatherings, and in the Church community too. Women are expected to be at a certain stage (in life) at a certain age, which causes pressure to meet that expectation.

Genesis 3 depicts the fall and the consequence, i.e. the ‘curse’ so to speak on Eve is that her desire shall be for her husband (Adam)’ (verse 16). As women, we desire to be desired. Although it is not wrong to desire approval but it is how we feed that desire that is crucial.

We have the tendency to crave for approval by feeding on things that brings detriment to our wellbeing as women. Many women are inclined to compromise:

  • their self-worth aesthetically (because we allow Paris Fashion week to determines what’s hot and what’s not),
  • our sexuality (abusive relationship is alright because he still wants you, hello Mr. Christian Grey of 50 shades of Grey),
  • settling with ‘friends with benefits’ status quo (so, you don’t need him to ‘put a ring on it’?).

That said, I do not blame society entirely nor do I blame men because we ultimately still hold the power to decide which path to take.

Understanding one’s self-worth is a journey of discovery and the journey is not always an easy one because we have to ask ourselves some tough questions and face our demons (fears, insecurities). My hope is that we realize how much we are worth fighting for and to be passionately loved by people who appreciate the person that we are.

L’Oréal tells us to buy their products because we are worth it.  But we are worth it because we are the precious daughters of God.

What about you?  Do you look to people or things to feed your self-worth?

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timmie-liew Timmie

Hello, my name is Timmie and I’m from Malaysia. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a charismatic, passionate person and enjoy beautiful things in life such as travelling to different cities to appreciate the culture. I love fashion and appreciate ‘coffee time’ with people to talk about life and build meaningful relationships. I’m passionate about the things of God, the Church and authentic leadership. My deepest desire is to embrace all that God has called me to be and be a blessing to whoever that God has placed in my life past, present and future. Our God is a GREAT God, and the best is yet to come !🙂

 

Un

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I contracted the un disease when I was about 8 years old.

Accompanied by her mother, my best friend Keisha and I went to see a movie on a cold January afternoon. The movie was, in my very urbane and elementary school aged opinion, totally stupid and I remember not really wanting to see it. But it was Keisha’s birthday. So what the birthday girl wants, the best friend does to make her happy.

Afterwards, while leaving the movie, someone approached Keisha’s mother, gushing over how gorgeous Keisha was.

I could have easily been her daughter, too. But the praise didn’t go to me. It went to her.

The encounter was brief but I remember watching them interact while I thought to myself, “Why didn’t he say I was pretty, too?” The slight made me crawl within myself and feel less.

That was the day that I met un and carried it home in my lap. Un buried itself in my skin and spread like a virus.

Unpretty.

Unimportant.

Unworthy.

Every trait I had, every compliment I heard was immediately contaminated. But one (of many things) that I love about Jesus is He is unafraid of the diseased. He heals us with the truth.

What others see as nonexistent, He knows and celebrates it as wonderful. What man thinks is meaningless, He knows and declares it as powerful. And who the world sees as worthless, He knows and deems priceless.

You are unbeautiful. You are unimportant. You are unworthy. God handpicks those of us infected with un and takes it away.

“My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn’t think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families. But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame. What the world thinks is worthless, useless, and nothing at all is what God has used to destroy what the world considers important.”

-1 Corinthians 1:27-28 (CEV)

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Jennifer Jen

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 32 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms :-). In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin. I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well. I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!