Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I Hate Chores

It is early in the morning (3.20am) and my mind wanders.  I tell my mind to stay focused on what I'm thinking but without warning it jumps into an entirely different part of my life, bringing to memory unrelated thoughts...

But there is indeed one thought that I must get out - before I forget, before it becomes hazy with the demands of the day.  Here it is - Spending time with God is NOT a chore.

I don't know about you but I used to hate chores as a kid. I would have no problem cleaning out the entire house if my mom asked for a favor (because I loved her and I wanted her to be happy)... but I would stubbornly resent doing anything that I had to do simply because I had to do it.

Is this familiar at all?

I have realized today that I carry this mentality into my Christian life.  As I grew in my relationship with God (because I love Him), I was reminded by all the things that I had to do as a "good Christian" (whatever that term is even supposed to mean).  I learned that a "good Christian" is supposed to read their Bible daily, pray every day, go to church every Sunday, tithe, preferably be involved serving in the church... oh yeah and always smile... am I forgetting something?

And herein the problem lies.

I have tried everything: devotional books, YouVersion (a great app by the way) reminders, not going on facebook or any other websites until I've had my time with God, fasting computer, fasting food, Bible reading plans, accountability groups, etc., etc.  It has not worked. I kept failing and my spiritual life pattern often reminded an ECG  (can anyone relate?).

And then one day I grew unsatisfied.  Unsatisfied with how things were.  Unsatisfied with my progress.  Blaming my church no longer worked.  Blaming my husband no longer worked.  My soul was laid bare.  I finally faced the ultimate catalyst for change - a realization that you have no one but yourself to blame.

And the realization came - all this time I viewed spending time with God as a chore... when it was never meant to be that.  Not by Him at least.  And that's when the change came.

When you open yourself up to the Lord - bare and vulnerable - when you show Him your raw places - healing will come.  When you open yourself up to the love of God - the change will come.

I still hate chores.

I am in love with God.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Having the Little One taught me a lot about reading non-verbal cues... you know, one indeed can tell simply by looking into babies' eyes whether they are really angry, or scared, or in pain... you don't always know it right away and you don't get it right 100% of the time... but after a while you just know.

It's easy to see pain in another person if you know what it looks like.

Working in a non-ministry environment has opened my eyes to a whole new level of need in the city.  So many people who walk through the doors are simply tired of figuring life out and they are looking for a safe place - a safe place away from work and away from home... a place where they don't have to pretend.

We - humans - pretend all the time.  We perform... for our spouses... our children... our boss... our families... our friends... often even for God.  We feel insecure, we are afraid to be vulnerable with each other for the fear of being judged or misunderstood.

This must not be among Christians.

The people in this city (and your town) are growing weary of pretending... are we ready to embrace them?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Would I Want To Forget?

The Little One is turning 10 months next week.  I (Helen) have had this post saved in drafts for almost a year now.  I wrote it before she was born.  I just couldn't bring myself to share it.  Couldn't bring myself to peel the bandage for fear that it is still too raw.  Wondered what would happen if I just put it out there?

So many things have happened since this post was written.
1) We got blessed with a beautiful daughter (a.k.a. The Little One).
2) We went to Belarus for like ever (i.e. 3.5 months) - and now that we're back in the States again - I miss my mom terribly.
3) I have graduated with honors and am now proudly putting "Bachelors degree" on my resume.
4) Oh yeah - about a resume - for those of you who didn't know (even though many of you who read this blog also follow our adventures on facebook so you're in the loop) - after 10 amazing years as a full-time staff at Metro Ministries I have chosen to resign and stay on as a volunteer.
5) This change also means that I have a different job now - as of today I am officially employed by Starbucks (and 'yes' I love you but 'no' please don't ask me for free stuff when you come see me at work).
6) Our family will still continue to minister at our Sidewalk Sunday School site in Queens (on a voluntary basis).

Now that you're somewhat updated... allow me to take you back to November 2011.  My reason for finally posting this is that it may bring healing to someone else's raw places. So (holding my breath) here it goes:

As I am counting down to the final days (or possibly even hours) up to her arrival - I must look back at the journey that I took to get here.  

All throughout my pregnancy I was wondering whether I would ever forget...  

Forget how it feels like being empty...  Forget what it feels like going through dozens of pregnancy tests and still getting the same negative result...  Forget what it feels like convincing myself that I am no less a woman...    Forget what it felt like fighting to still have hope...

I was also wondering if I could ever forget what it felt like to know that the little one who once lived inside of me lives no more... what it felt like asking God for answers and explanations... what it felt like not knowing why...

Though most people want to forget their painful experiences (as sometimes they should) - some of our pain should not be forgotten.  There're precious lessons we learn in the midst of our pain.  And our previous losses make us ever so grateful for the current blessings.  How dare I forget the perfect joy I experienced once my current pregnancy went over the week when I lost my previous one?  How dare I forget the overwhelming gratitude that flooded my soul every time I realized the Little One was still there - inside of me?

I remember not being able to write any more.  Tears streaming down my face.  Tears of joy mixed with tears of sorrow.  Tears of hope mixed with tears of sadness.

I do not know your journey.  I do not know what you are going through or have gone through or will go through.  But these 2 things I do know.

1.  I never want to allow painful experiences to shape my view of God, the world, and people around me.  For a man's vision is always distorted in the darkness.

2.  I never want to forget my journey... if for no other reason but to be able to connect with those who are struggling still.

Do not be afraid to be vulnerable.  Do not be afraid to reach out.  You never know who needs to know that they are not the only ones struggling today.
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