“It’s time for the voice of summer”

The title of this post comes from billboards last year to promote LA Dodgers baseball (above).  The billboards were gorgeous–a photo of Dodgers announcer, Vin Scully, in his announcer booth with the ball field in the background.  Just looking at the billboard again makes me all excited for baseball AND summertime.

Now, I’m reminiscing summer memories from my childhood–going to the pool (I lived in Houston, TX until I was eleven and during Houston summers you stayed indoors or went to the pool unless you wanted to be a sweaty, itchy, unhappy mess), visiting cousins and grandparents in California, rollerblading (I’m trying to make this a reality in my adult life now, but I keep being deterred by my embarrassment from asking Sports Chalet employees where they sell rollerblades in adult sizes that aren’t for roller hockey…), avoiding fire-ant hills, not avoiding fire-ant hills, getting scolded and tended to after stepping into a fire-ant hill, watermelon…

When I think back, I don’t remember them all, but I’ve had summer adventures every year of my life.  Even the years I didn’t go on any cool vacations or go on a summer project/short-term missions trip and attended summer school or something turned out to be full of new, strange, fun, exciting, terrifying experiences.  Andevery summer has looked drastically different from the others with its own quirks and moments.

I often protest–and by protest I mean passively sigh until someone lets me complain to them–at how quickly life moves these days and how there’s so much change happening and how ministry is living in a state of constant transition.  But this past year of raising support and reflecting has me gratefully embracing that, just like my summers, it’s all an adventure.  Every day is going to look differently, simply by virtue that it isn’t the 31st anymore, it’s the 1st.  It’s not a Thursday anymore, it’s a Friday.  The Lord had me share my calling with those people yesterday and not today.

And it’s not just in this warm-months-wanderlust that I can suddenly embrace “the vast unknown.” I think it’s that the Lord is growing me in my understanding what it means for Him to give us sufficient grace (2 Cor. 12:9).  Change–unexpected or expected, pleasant or unpleasant–means unknowns, responding, risking.  When Jesus says in Matthew 6:34 to not be anxious about tomorrow, that today has “sufficient troubles,” I take it to mean that today (ourselves included) has brought us sufficient unknowns, opportunities to respond, and risks, but the Lord gives us sufficient grace for those “troubles.”  And once we’ve tasted the freedom of grace we’re able to finally take hold of the fact that we MAY fall into a fire-ant hill and it will be uncomfortable, but we will make an experience out of it and potentially laugh about it later!  And what is “adventure” but a lot of unexpected laughter at how we thought we wouldn’t make it past certain situations/risks/choices/grievances?

The “voice” of my summer will be the Lord’s.  I’m not fully-funded yet, but I’m almost there and am SO SO grateful for how this journey has brought me to you.  I’ve been learning so much from you.  You’ve been opening your arms to me and I’ve been overwhelmed by the love, faithfulness, compassion, and courage you each possess.  So I’m following in Paul’s constant footsteps, in yours, as we go out and listen for and see all the Lord’s going to share with/show us.  🙂  Thank you for your partnership!

AND as a bonus for reading this madness… here’s this month’s prayer newsletter!! 😀
May 2012 update

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God is With Us

Happy April!

The weather is finally looking beautiful again!  75 and Sunny?  YES, PLEASE! 🙂  Hope you’re enjoying the weather and company as you remember God’s faithfulness to us.  Easter is this weekend!  But every day is a great time to remember that He has overcome ALL sin and ANYthing that could separate us from His love and having a relationship with Him!!  And I am definitely relishing in the fact that He really is with us!

This month’s prayer letter is out!!  Please enjoy it: March 2012 prayer update!  And if you enjoy it so much, please pass it along to someone else to bless!  Thank you so much for praying and praising the Lord alongside me!  🙂

You rock:

Get it?? 😉

Epic Conference Update: PART I

Note: These are true stories, but I may have omitted names for their privacy.  Oh, and they’re stories and hopefully will read as such.  Enjoy!

Home Depot is like Narnia (of the beloved C.S. Lewis series).  I’ve set foot in perhaps 5 Home Depots in my lifetime and have ogled the rows of strange, hard-core, man stuff (this is not meant to be a sexist comment… that’s just what my untrained eyes/mind thinks of it all as) as if I’m looking at speaking animals.  Thus, it’s not surprising when every Home Depot employee at the store asks me if I’m lost or need help finding something.  (I’ve learned my face–which in many ways is my nemesis–will never help any poker games and will always give away my wonder and confusion.)  And in my pride, I will always say, “No!  Why!?  Are you racist?!”  (JK, I don’t ever say that.)

I voluntarily went on three Home Depot adventures within the last month.  Rope lights were easy enough to find.  But then where else could I buy chalkboard paint, cable ties, and a sponge roller in one convenient location where I could have all the items in my clutches immediately?  The internet?!  No, thank you!  Five orange-vested workers helped me find my way!

After Home Depot, my next adventure was locking myself in my frigid apartment (we don’t turn on the heater… c’mon, why pay money for heat when I could just wear my snowboarding jacket indoors?!) for eight hours with boba milk tea to assemble a word out of white rope lights.

Photo by Raymond Gao

“Awaken” in cursive lettering shines above a cardboard cut-out of the San Francisco skyline. And because of the blue backdrop behind the rope light sign, the Epic Conference worship team has a bit of a blue tint to them.  That blue glow is the only light in the ballroom.  The lead singer with arms raised and eyes closed cries into the microphone: “I give myself away… I give myself away so You can use me…”

Main-speaker, Pastor Brandon Ahu, comes up and asks the crowd, “Who wants God more than your insecurities?  Who doesn’t want this world to have a hold on them anymore?  Who wants God more today than you did yesterday?”

“Awaken” shines upon a hundred hands raising.  Not every hand looks confident or strong.  “Awaken” shines upon a student, who I know from CSU Long Beach, her head buried in her hands.  She brings her head up out of her hands.  “Awaken” illuminates her tear-soaked face–and mine–as she slowly raises her fingers, her hand, her arm…both arms! and shouts to the Lord, “I give myself away…”

There are some mornings…

… where I just wake up wanting to be with the Lord.  It’s not necessarily because of a bad dream or a difficult period of life, but just a deep longing to finally be with my Savior and Lord.

This morning, is one of those mornings.

Today Campus Crusade (Cru) is having one of its many World Wide Days of Prayer.  No, we don’t exclusively pray on this day, but we make extra efforts to pray together.  It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from  Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller:

Loneliness is something that came with the fall.  If loving other people is a bit of heaven then certainly isolation is a bit of hell, and to that degree, here on earth, we decide in which state we would like to live.

This morning, I woke up missing students.  I woke up missing my team.  I woke up missing friends I have or haven’t seen in a long time.  I wanted “a little bit of heaven.”  Though I stand absolutely firm in the gratefulness I wrote about in this month’s newsletter, this morning I feel I have to grieve.

I have to lift up my pride, frustration, and loneliness to the Lord today.  Doing MPD (Ministry Partner Development aka. support raising) is what God has called me to.  It’s not a means to an end.  This is my job until He sees fit.  While I’ve had to check my attitude only a couple of times, I realize that I still see my role on campus more importantly than I ought.  I’ve even grown to feel entitled to support coming in or being on campus!

Friends and ministry partners, I need your prayers!!  I will NOT take away any of the extravagance nor scandal of His lavish grace by claiming I deserve it because I’m working hard or because He’s called me.  I want to see this time, job, calling, relationships, life as they truly are–GRACE (a completely free-for-me-but-costly-to-Him gift).

These verses (2 Peter 3:8-9 ESV) brought me much peace and reminds me of His grace this morning:

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

I love that Peter attributes the wait for Christ to return to God’s patience.  It makes it seem like God also can’t wait to see me and pull me up in His arms and carry me Home… but He’s waiting so that He could do that for you, for others, for the world too.  And I love that about the Lord… He’s waiting too.  🙂

So until the day of the Lord, I will do as I’m so graciously called to do… and that is to follow Him and share my calling with others.

Since you were so patient in reading this, here's a photo I took of an anemone!

Where Have I Been? Part II

Welcome to Part II… this is where I’ll talk about… EPIC CONFERENCE 2011!!!!!

Quick specs:
Where: San Francisco, CA
Who: Over 300 students/staff from all over the country–we had students from Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon, Washington, and California.
What: Epic puts this on for students to catch the vision of what God’s doing, experience the Gospel first hand, and share it with the City and beyond…

The theme for this year’s conference was “Illuminate.”

With the center scripture of 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV)

One of our speakers, Drew Hyun, spoke on how to allow God to “illumen” our lives… and shine INTO our dark places that He might redeem the parts of ourselves that we don’t want people to see and then shine THROUGH them.  It was CRAZY… even for me… to think through how God can use places of pain and shame in students lives and in my own to reach the world for Jesus Christ.  Whoa!

I wrote about it briefly in my last letter, but it’s seriously the best conference I’ve ever been to.  While that doesn’t mean a WHOLE lot since I’ve only been involved with Epic/Campus Crusade for a little more than 1.5 years, it was yet ANOTHER life-changing experience.  I emceed again, but this time with Gabe S. from USC and truly had a blast!  Though the role is truly challenging and there are many times I don’t want to go on stage, I thoroughly enjoy how it forces me to learn to communicate clearly and effectively, as well as to engage with what’s going on in the conference and allow for only ONE voice to come through–God’s.

Gabe and I opening up the conference with a song!

Plus… it’s a lot of fun not taking myself too seriously and have a good time. 🙂

I also got to participate in a seminar about our relationships with our parents.  While I’m absolutely not an expert–nowhere close–it was a joy to walk alongside others who are striving to remedy our relationships as well.  I got to talk to one student who is in a place of just wanting to give up on his relationship with his parents and feeling hopeless.  And while I completely empathized in the desire to cut-off/withdraw, I got to share what I’ve been learning myself: there’s hope in Jesus Christ.  With Jesus, I don’t have to stay the same.  I don’t have to repeat the same manner of communication that I had as a child… I don’t have to meet unfair expectations in order to be an adult… I CAN start to understand where they are coming from… and while he said it was encouraging for him to hear, it was even more encouraging for me to say.  As I realized more and more, how much Jesus can do in my life and in my relationships.

Where have I been? PART I

Special series right now… “WHERE HAVE I BEEN?” First up: INTERN CONFERENCE.

Quick overview: The Epic Intern Conference was Jan. 12-14, 2011 in San Francisco, CA.  It’s a gathering of all Epic Interns to be cared for and catch the virus that is the vision of Epic (but it’s not a malicious virus…).

Almost all of the Epic Interns along with staff from the National Leadership team who like us

Though I hate to admit it, I’m a big fan of touchy-feely, warms-your-heart, fun events–like every women’s time in the history of Christian events (where people hug, cry, commiserate, pray, share their hearts…etc.).  Well, the Intern Conference was slightly like that.  Not too much crying…

But what I did enjoy…
1. Seeing other interns–getting to know them, hearing their stories, and merely “interfacing”
2. Hearing from the “higher ups” face-to-face–it’s one thing to read e-mails from them and hear them on the phone AND THEN to see how their faces light up when they talk about how God called them however long ago to this stage in their lives
3. Feeling together–it’s way too easy to buy into the lie that we’re all alone and that no one can relate.  This weekend totally slapped that lie in the face!

One of the biggest things I took away from the Intern Conference with was this: God knows so much better than I.  Just within these 1.5 years of interning with Epic–my entire view of God and relationship with Him has completely altered (for the better, I’d say).  And though it’s more like traipsing through the jungle than walking in the park, I’m so glad He got me here.  I’m so glad He got us here!  I wish I could re-tell all the stories of other interns and just how God works so powerfully in and through all of them… but you can read it for yourselves!  Check out some of their words here:

Natalie (http://nataliepooninhawaii.tumblr.com)
Robbyn (http://robbynkministry.wordpress.com/)
Jayson (http://jaysonchoe.blogspot.com)
Nam (http://trunam.blogspot.com/)

But yes… stay tuned for “Where have I been? PART II” coming… soon-ish!