Spring of 2014, I made a commitment to not date for a year so I can heal from all my past relationships (I was that serial monogamous dater who always ended up in a relationship and learned to cope and suppress her pain). The one-year ended up becoming a grueling and somewhat fruitful 4 years. Sometime this year, I finally decided to slowly ease back into the dating world, and let me tell you, it has not been easy. Those fears and insecurities I thought I carefully worked through with Jesus all came flooding back. Rejection, control, loneliness, anxiety, inadequacies and the list goes on and on.
My fears and pain were so deeply rooted that instead of properly healing from them, I ended up developing defense mechanisms and behaviors that would cause me to sabotage and pull away. These experiences made me see just how messed up and broken I am… a woman of faith, a woman who is sold out for Jesus, a woman who only wants to be obedient to God and God alone is so flawed and sinful. I thought for sure I would get it right this time around because my old self died and a new, better version resurrected. I thought I would know how to love well and care for another individual. I thought I would remain abided in Jesus through the whole process. I thought I would soon meet my husband.
Sarah’s thoughts, Sarah’s feelings, Sarah’s desires became all consuming. I forgot to keep my eyes fixated on our Heavenly Father and instead went spiraling into one too many rabbit holes. Instead of exhibiting love with purity and holiness, I ended up hurting others and myself. When “love” is laced with expectations, unforgiveness, control, manipulation, instant gratification, self-righteousness, and victim mentality, that is NOT love. I am guilty of lacing my “love” in friendships and relationships, and I am making a declaration that today will be the start of something new. The start of breaking unhealthy patterns, the start of deep rooted healing, and the start of loving with godly freedom. This change is definitely not going to happen over night. It will be a journey of many ups and downs, but I think bringing things to the light is the start of something good and hopeful.
Since going back in time and undoing things is not an option, what’s next? Well, it would be to spend uninterrupted time reflecting on my first and true love. Redirecting my focus on God will help me to recalibrate my heart and redefine love with honesty and truth. God is a god of second chances, so if I don’t get it right, I’ll be okay. He’ll pick me back up, dust me off and encourage me to do it again…because love is patient without limitations, because love is kind without bias, because love is humble and not prideful, because love is honoring and not judgmental, because love is sacrificial and not self seeking, because love always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres, because God is love and He never fails us.
As 2018 approaches, I am hopeful for what’s to come. I may or may not meet God’s best for me, I may or may not get it right, and I may or may not get married. Does that scare me? Absolutely! But I have learned the hard way that these things are not in our control. When we choose to date or be in a relationship, we are entering into unknown and unfamiliar places that require unwavering faith. We simply need to trust “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.
What about fear...will that ever go away? No! Fear will always be there! But the great thing is, we have a choice. Fear can rule and ruin us or it can be used to sharpen and navigate us. Instead of running away from it, learn how to embrace it and power through it. Let's grab a hold of our fears and NOT let them overtake us! We were fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the universe so this truth alone is enough to empower us to rise above our fears and shine His glory! But let’s be real...will there be times fear will leave us powerless, will there be times fear gets the best of us, will there be times fear is winning? Yes, there will be many times, but remember that we’re going to be ok. Each day is the start of something new, so let's give ourselves grace to grow and make mistakes. Life is not meant to be perfect, we’re not perfect, and dating will not be perfect.
From my heart to yours #17:
Note to self…enjoy the process of getting to know someone and don’t let your mind run wild. Take every negative thought captive and throw it out! Fear no longer needs to dictate your life. Although it will always be lingering in our lives, we have a choice to be vigilant and self-aware.
Current status: 38, single, muffin top, cellulite, and graying hair. These are things I see reflecting back at me each morning I stand in front of my mirror. Everything I see is very real and no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to change my current status. “How did I get here?” “Why am I still single?” “There must be something wrong with me?” “I feel so lonely....” Thoughts, ideas and lies that come flooding into my mind when I see my reflection. Some days, when I stare into that same mirror, I see a reflection of beauty, life, redemption, and love. And then I wonder, “Whoever my future someone may be, they’re missing out!” The struggle is real ya’ll!
My greatest desire has and will always be marrying God’s best for me. I would've never imagined that at the age of 38, I would be where I am today, but I am. If I had it my way, I would’ve been married at 25, raising 5 beautiful children, and impacting the world together. All good dreams but for some reason, it has not become a reality. So where do I go from here? How do I continue to hope in my dreams to one day marry the man of my dreams?
One thing I’m learning to walk out is to keep my heart and hand open to receive the unexpected. I am quickly learning that God works outside of a box. I need to let go of my expectations and feelings of entitlement. I can’t expect that just because it worked out this way for one person, that God will do the same for me. I can’t expect God to check off all the things I have on my "Future Husband List". I can’t expect it to happen according to my timing. I am not entitled to have things handed to me on a silver platter. I am not entitled to have the perfect relationship because I tried my best to live a perfect life. I am not entitled to marriage because I waited so patiently.
I honestly don’t have any advice for the single ladies because I’m still trying to figure it out. Or maybe, we’re just not supposed to figure it out and simply just be. Just be present and enjoy the people in front of us right now. Just be thankful for today and count our many blessings because there’s so much to be celebrated. Just be our imperfect self and learn to love ourselves just as we are. And someday in God’s perfect timing, our other half will come along and love us just as we are...muffin tops and all!
From my heart to yours #16:
Last week, a brother randomly felt led to share this poem he had written, and I was so encouraged and humbled by his words. I hope this will do the same for you. It gave me hope that there is someone out there that can see me through these lens and love me just as I am...NOT perfect.
"You're Not Perfect"
by Kuya Paul
You're not perfect
I'm not sure if you know that
I don't mean to say
in any way
that you should be
that I want you to be
that something in me
was looking for perfection
Were you trying to be?
You don't have to
'cause, you see
I'm not either
No one is
Never have been
Never will be
that one perfect person
that kind of human being
Because human means
not at all made or created
to be perfect
to achieve that peak
to be the elite
I'm actually quite ordinary
though with the ability for the extraordinary
I'm tangled with the "fairly"
not at all the perfect
You're not perfect
But, I wasn't looking for perfection
I didn't want the best
Let me rephrase that
I don't compare you to this world's test
Best body, luscious lips
amber tone, curvaceous hips
Nope, that's not on my list
Perfection on a screen isn't best for me
But I was considering a more
with flaws that reflect cause
passion that would make me pause
get me more fascinated
with the life behind the body
the spirit that carries the character
I don't buy the canvas for the frame
but for the masterpiece of the painter
You're not perfect
You're not priceless
More than you know
You hold value forevermore
in every redeeming flaw
Let me rephrase that better
In every brush stroke of your Creator
but, for certain
a life made to shine
You're not perfect
and you see
that's what makes you perfect
The first couple of months, I had to avoid walking into cute shops or browsing through things like Pinterest. Posting my progress on social media for twenty some weeks was my saving grace because it was my accountability partner. BTW on a side note...social media is a real legit talent I don’t have, and I give so much props to those who do it as a living because it takes a lot of time and energy to come up with creative content. When I stopped posting about my progress, I was able to really enjoy this new lifestyle. My creativity was coming alive, my identity was taking root, my addiction was quickly dying.
I was able to create new ways to put outfits together. When you have less options to work with, you find ways to mix and match different patterns and colors. I used to take a lot of pride in my appearance and spent one too many hours being overly critical of my imperfections. Now, I am able to stand in front of the mirror with gratitude and grace knowing I was created in the image of God. The desire to shop is almost no longer in existence. I can freely walk into any shop and no longer have the compulsion to buy. In fact, the idea of bringing in more things into my closet overwhelms me.
This no shopping thing was exactly what I needed to help me with my venture as an entrepreneur. When I first started this fast, I had no idea all the money I would be saving would be going directly into growing my new business. God always knows what’s up ahead before we do and sets us up for success! Although I have not quite made it in the business world, and I am not rich in the eyes of the world, I feel like one of the richest people to walk this earth. Because I’m liberated, I am now clothed with strength and dignity; because I’m liberated, I can now laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:25).
Now that I have completed one challenge, I made a decision to transition into another. Shopping has new meaning and purpose for me, and I want to continue to exercise this newfound revelation into the following year. I believe shopping with a clear purpose in mind, whether big or small, can help lessen the frivolous spending. It can also help one to live minimally and yes it is true, very true...less is more! I purged and purged and purged not just once, not twice, but 5 times throughout the year...and I will continue to purge! So this coming year, I will only be shopping at thrift stores, and I will be hosting monthly clothing swaps with the ladies! Anytime, I bring something “new” into my closet, I will be taking out something “old” to swap with others. So this year, I am committing to recycling, reusing, and repurposing clothes, shoes, and accessories. If there are any ladies interested in joining the monthly clothing swap, drop me a note on the contact page, and I’ll keep you posted.
From my heart to yours #15:
If there’s something that seems to be an idol in your life, try giving it up. I promise, you will be pleasantly surprised with all the treasures you will find along the way. It’s worth it!!!
What does it look like to be a missionary? Dictionary.com defines it to be "a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work." Well, if that's how the world views the life of a missionary, then that would be me! If someone told me that I would one day become a missionary, I would've never in a million years believed them. How can a person who loves clothes & fashion, who enjoys reckless adventures, and who has a colorful past be a missionary? Well, I'm living proof anything is possible with God!
As I chose to live a life completely sold out for Jesus, my life has not been the same. My perspective has been turned upside down, and my purpose in life has been radically transformed. Upon discovering I wanted to pursue the life of a missionary, I set out to Mozambique, Africa to gain first hand experience. It was in those 3 months that I found my calling and was ready to be sent out to the ends of the earth. It was in those 3 months that I learned how to be intimate with Jesus and sit in the presence of God. It was in those 3 months that I embraced and loved all parts of me...including all the ugly truths of my past, present, and future. So where did God call me to go? Although Los Angeles seems like the most unlikely place for a missionary, my heart burns deeply for this city of angels. I see so much hope for the orphaned, widowed, and sojourners, and I believe I am called to be a love ambassador to these people group.
So what does it look like for me to be a missionary in Los Angeles? It is connecting with people using unconventional avenues. It is cultivating a collaborative community that champions one another to persevere in all circumstances. It is curating a dwelling place that works together, creates together, and does life together. It is also about going outside of the four walls of our dwelling place and intentionally and creatively loving on our neighboring communities. It is sitting with them, hearing their story, praying with them, and breaking bread with them. It is helping them uncover hidden talents and affirming them that they are more than enough. It is about persevering through all the ups and downs and being faithful even in the little to carry out a vision.
This entrepreneurial journey as a missionary has been far from glamorous. I continue to make a lot of mistakes, and I often forget that God's grace is sufficient even for me. The early stages of building As We Dwell was a glimpse of God's miraculous provision, and I expected everything else would fall into place in that same manner. Only to discover, God had other plans. More than the space and more than my calling, God cared more about my heart. He wanted to perform heart surgery so I can operate from a place of overflow and not obligation. Each month it was a new thing He was doing...releasing me from feeling territorial over my possessions, revealing I still struggle with judgement of others, rooting out ungodly ideologies of finances, reaffirming that I do hear his voice and to not be consumed with doubt. I have come to fully accept that the list will continue to go on and on until I am sitting alongside Him in heaven, and I am choosing to joyfully suffer through each heart work.
As I was dreaming with the Lord about As We Dwell, my number 1 prayer request was for God to bring a business partner to come alongside me in stewarding this dwelling place. I simply didn't have enough capital or physical power to take on all the responsibilities and to do it with excellence. And soon after starting this venture, I was recognizing all my areas of weaknesses and strengths. It was clear I could not do this alone. After months and months of praying and still no business partner, I finally had a revelation this week that it is possible to have a multitude of partners if I simply reached out to my friends and family. Since this is an unconventional business that is focused on people instead of profitability, I made the decision to humbly and boldly invite anyone that wants to partner with As We Dwell to actively be a part of the process. If you would like to partner with me, these are the ways in which you can support:
If the Lord wills it to be me to carry out this grand vision, my heart is to open up multiple locations throughout the world. As I traveled around to different countries, I would often meet artisans with unique talents and always felt an urgency to support in some way. When you have a safe place to express your creativity, you can release freedom, unlock hope, and increase faith. I would love to see a multiplication of kingdom dwelling places, and it would be a privilege to be chosen to partake in the process of that expansion. If you haven't already visited our DTLA Arts District location, we would love for you to visit us and see all the beautiful work of our Heavenly Father. Thank you for journeying with me and taking the time to read this post!
When you go from hero to zero, it can mess with your identity. At one point in my life, I liked to tell myself that my 5th graders saw me as a hero. Perhaps they didn’t, but I knew in my heart that I was created to teach because it made me come alive! I would live, breathe, and eat teaching. I never imagined I would ever walk away from it.
When transitioning out of education, I took a 2 year leave from the district, giving myself room to possibly turn back if things didn’t workout as an entrepreneur. Yesterday, I officially turned in my resignation and finally cut the cord! If I can be honest, things aren’t quite working out the way I imagined them, and as things continue to unfold, more of my insecurities are coming out. Some voices are telling me I should probably turn back to what I’m good at, and get myself out of this place of so many uncertainties.
As I’m walking through my season of zero, I am asking a lot of questions and wondering if I really have what it takes to move forward with the things God put on my heart. It has been a constant struggle of releasing control, trusting in God’s perfect timing, and continuing to have faith and hope for what’s to come. I wish I had it all figured out, but I don’t. I wish I had unwavering courage, but I don’t. I wish I had all the resources necessary, and I don’t. My wish list can go on and on and on…. I have no idea what’s next, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid. So let’s be frank...I am really, REALLY scared that I am making the wrong choice because I don’t know what I’m doing.
One-by-one, my ugly insecurities are surfacing, and I am working through each one. Every day and especially today, I just simply need Jesus. Without him, I am nothing. Without him, I can’t do anything. Without him, I would be lost. Jesus is and will always be the solution to all of my problems. He is the beginning, middle, and end. He is the reason I can get up every morning, even when my life looks like a mess. He is the reason I still believe in my calling, even when my finances reflect otherwise. He is the reason I can find rest at the end of the day, even when my heart is unsettled and my thoughts run wild. It’s His everlasting peace that enthralls me, and I am made new every morning.
So where am I headed? I don’t really know. I do know I am right where God wants me to be, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. God helped me to close one chapter of my life, and I’m handing the pen over to Him so He can continue to write my story His way and not my way. To be continued...
From my heart to yours #14
Prayer is the best gift I could ask for, and I would forever be grateful for anyone that wants to stand with me in prayer. I don't have anything specific because there are so many things. Whatever God puts on your heart to pray for is my #1 prayer request. Thank you a million times!
I could honestly go on and on about why I do believe impossible miracles can happen and do happen. And when I declare that I put my trust in God and God alone, I believe that to the core of who I am. I’ve seen God show up one too many times in my own personal life to deny that to be truth. With our country’s recent happenings, I want to speak life and hope into what looks like a disaster in our eyes. I believe God intended for the word hope to be more than just a word. I think over time, hope lost its weight and became fluff because we use it nonchalantly in our conversations. However, I’m choosing to believe that HOPE looks like this...we’re sitting at the edge of our seat, expecting it WILL happen. So I hold onto hope and put my faith in my Heavenly Father because He is the only one that makes sense and He is the only one that has the power to radically and miraculously bring forth everlasting change.
Leading up to election day, I spent a lot of time in prayer, mostly praying over our future president because I knew things were not going to be done by our strength. God ushers us to partner and partake in His plans and we are called to do our part, even if it doesn’t make sense. I had no idea who I was going to elect even til the very moment I was in the voting booth. In case you wanted to know...I also prayed for guidance and for him to reveal who I should choose. In the end, I chose Jesus and his redemptive story. I did not choose a person based on their character or even based on their stance/views on certain issues. I’ve learned over the years to not hope in a person because they will always disappoint. I choose to believe God will show up, and we will witness one of the greatest miracles of our time.
Miracles are real and are happening all around us. We just have to be willing to open our hearts, minds, and eyes to receive the fullness of God’s miracles. I am someone that was quite doubtful of miracles even though I grew up in church hearing God is a God of miracles. I wasn’t seeing it with my own two eyes, so miracles must be this far off thing that only happened in the past or in places like Africa. Well, I did go to Africa and yes crazy miracles do happen there, but I also realized that crazy miracles happen everywhere, even in our own lives!
You would think that my near death car accident would give me enough reason for me to believe in God’s miracles. And it did to some degree. However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized I completely underestimated what God really did for me and Esther. I knew it all in my head and I would say it all the time as I shared my story with people… “God saved us!”... “I shouldn’t be alive, and it’s a miracle I’m here today.” As much as I knew all these things in my head, it hadn’t transferred to my heart because I would often lose hope, get discouraged and disappointed, get frustrated with God, and so forth and so on. I’m so thankful God allowed me to feel and express all my emotions because it brought me to this very place today. I just simply trust we have a really good Heavenly Father who really loves us. He is miracle, He is love, and He is everything...so I’m only going to look to Him and Him alone.
As I reflect back on my accident, these are all the little miracles within the BIG miracle of He saved 2 lives. I have a good feeling He’ll reveal more and more as time goes by.
I am sharing this miracle story with you because I also need reminders of how real God is and how real miracles are in our present day. And I honestly get it and can so relate with every American citizen. Nothing makes sense right now. What is going to happen to us? How can anything good come of all of this? Why would something like this happen? These are all questions that used to flood through my mind repeatedly whenever unfortunate circumstances came my way. Because I’m human, these questions still come flooding into my mind from time to time, but I’m learning to capture those thoughts and throw it out. In these moments, I just simply throw up my hands and say “Okay, I give up! God you take care of it because I know you can make something happen.” And God ALWAYS shows up! Often times, it’s never what I expected or even wanted, but I’m discovering that it’s ALWAYS way better than my expectations and desires.
In the meantime, we can still do our part. We can choose to love, accept, and honor one another despite our differences. We can stand united and believe for great change and transformation for our nation. We can pray as one nation for our President Trump and trust that his heart is in the hands of the Lord, and God will turn it and have His way with it.
From my heart to yours #13
Would you stand with me in prayer for our nation and for our President Trump? Together, lets hope in Jesus our Savior and remember that His redemptive story is REAL and that redemptive story is for all of us!
Heavenly Father, we ask for your abounding peace and love to fall on this nation, and we put all our trust in your supernatural power and unfailing faithfulness! We declare that you are the King of kings and pray that you will have your way with this nation and our President Trump. Although we can’t make sense of anything right now, we ask for your help as we choose to love and let go in the midst of all this confusion. We believe for miracles because you are for us and not against us. Thank you for loving Trump as your beloved son, and may he come to know the weight of that truth and completely surrender his life to you. Thank you for loving each of us as your beloved sons and daughters, and may we also come to know the freedom that comes with that truth and allow you to have full access to our hearts. Our faith and hope is in you today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter. In Jesus name we pray...Amen!
The past 10 weeks have been one of the most grueling yet powerful experiences of my life. I discovered many hidden critters within my heart closet, and as I have been literally taking things out of my real-life closet, I uncovered one of the biggest critters within me... REJECTION. As I shared previously, I often struggle with the idea of “looking good” and would find acceptance from others, but I recently realized that the root problem goes much deeper. Throughout the years, I experienced pain and hurt from my people group, Koreans, and I have been unknowingly harboring resentment and bitterness throughout my life. For this reason, looking good and making it appear that I have it all together became my defense mechanism. I didn't have a clue this was the root issue to many strongholds in my life because I often surrounded myself with Koreans. However now that it surfaced, I am ready to exercise total forgiveness so that I can walk with even greater freedom.
As a little girl, I had two amazing best friends that I loved with all my heart and even til this day, I can vividly remember their beautiful faces and their loving souls. I was a super shy uber introverted girl, and I had the hardest time expressing myself. It was so bad to the point that I often refused to raise my hand to tell the teacher I really needed to use the restroom, which led to one of the most mortifying moments of my life. Despite my shortcomings and my awkwardness, Naomi and Tammy, accepted me and loved me just as I was. I was Korean and they were not, but that didn’t matter to us! However somewhere along the way, I was told by another Korean that my friendship with people like Naomi and Tammy wouldn’t last because they weren’t like us. I didn’t understand what that meant, but one day that became a reality. Unfortunately, I started to believe that lie, even though our parting was simply because our family moved into a new neighborhood. During the summers, our parents would send us (my brother and me) to Korea to spend time with our grandparents. We loved going to Korea because our grandparents spoiled us and gave us everything we wanted! However as I grew older, I began to notice that the people in Korea looked at me like I was from another planet because I was 10 shades darker than them and my Korean sounded funny. I started to believe another lie, which was that I would never measure up to the real Koreans because I was born in America.
The list goes on and on, but that’s not what I want to focus on because the list really doesn’t matter. I want to face the real problem for what it is and prayerfully ask God to help me through my process with greater humility and love. It’s not about Korean culture, but rather my brokenness and how I perceived various circumstances and created my own story in my head. Throughout the years, I realized that I took 2 different approaches: savior mentality and apathetic tendencies. Both are unhealthy ways of dealing, and I am thankful I now have the eyes to see the truth but also recognize that my process is just the beginning.
There are certain stereotypes and labels that have been placed on all people group. For Koreans, the common ones I grew up to know are as follows: men are not affectionate and they are harsh when dealing with situations, women are jealous and controlling when dealing with situations, parents are overly strict and demanding of their children, and everyone is judgemental. As I developed relationships with many Koreans throughout my life, I began to believe those stereotypes and thought I could be the one to help save and change them. Over time, I became that controlling girl who often judged people and thought I had all the “right” answers...I became the label. My perception would only allow me to see one way so I often directed the blame on others. In reality, I should've been owning up to my mistakes. After many failed attempts of playing “savior”, I eventually became apathetic towards Korean culture and began creating a wall. Because I was not seeing change or very little change from my attempts to save, I stopped caring and began pulling away. I figured Koreans are the way they are, and I just had to accept those stereotypes and move forward without caring. I’d be cordial and understanding to some degree, but kept them at arms length so I wouldn’t get disappointed or discouraged.
I want to do something different this time. I want to simply own up to my mistakes and stop playing the blame game. I want to humbly apologize to my people group for passing judgement and for speaking those stereotypes into existence throughout the years. I am sorry for trying to play savior and also for my apathetic behaviors. I am sorry to each person I judged, gossiped about, tried to change, or pushed away. There’s so much value and integrity within the Korean culture, but somehow I became blind to them over the years. Korean men, your drive and fervor are created for greatness, and I'm thankful for your existence. Korean women, your beauty and worthiness are meant to be cherished and honored and I am thankful to be one of the many. Korean parents, your wisdom and perseverance are only a few of the many things you teach us...so thank you for loving us so well! I still have a mountain of things I need to sort through, but thank you Jesus that faith can move mountains! Thank you Heavenly Father for adopting me as your daughter, even with all my messed up and broken parts! Thank you Holy Spirit for living inside of my heart so I am not alone as I face these daunting and mortifying moments...like right now!
From my heart to yours # 12
What does forgiveness look like for you? I absolutely love that everyone's story is uniquely special so please keep sharing yours. Every response and every encouragement is well-received with overflowing gratitude, and I am praying with each and every one of you!!!
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit....I wonder what will happen if I give it 52 weeks?!?!!!
I was having a passing conversation with a girlfriend, and I told her that I was going to try out this thing where I would only shop from my closet. But days later, I realized there was no real weight to my words as I caught myself reasoning why I must buy this adorable jumpsuit that was beautifully hanging on a sale rack. Yes you guys....it was on sale so that gives me a good reason to buy...why not?!?!!! And then there’s this other thing. I absolutely love my parents, but one thing I have picked up from them, and I really, really don't want it carrying over to my next generation is holding onto stuff...some people might call it hoarding. It's not too crazy excessive or maybe it is...really depends on one's perspective...haha! My problem may not be too noticeable to most because I'm pretty good at organizing...Btw, I was really good at Tetris! However if I'm being real with myself, I have accumulated a lot of junk over the years.
When you experience third world living in a place like Africa, it does something to you. You don’t return the same. You just want everything around you to slow down so that you can mindfully live a simple life. Africa, along with other profound experiences, have become my perspective anchors:
1. Heidi Baker, missionary from Africa, believes in stopping for the one and remembering to go low and slow.
2. At the Yellow conference, I learned that I am my only problem, but I'm also the solution.
3. Author and Essentialist, Greg McKeown explains, "Essentialism is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter."
These profound words of wisdom have inspired me to call myself higher so that I can become the solution to my problem. For the next 52 weeks, I will commit to only shop from my own closet, and humbly give from my own possessions. In other words, I am making a promise to myself and all of you, that I will not buy any articles of clothing, shoes, accessories, and other non-essentials. I am also promising to weekly give away a prized possession I own to any random person. My purpose: I want to breathe life into an area that has held me captive throughout my life. No more excuses and no more shameful spending on non-essentials.
Accountability and vulnerability will keep me from drifting and compromising, so I am inviting all of you to journey with me as I embark on my #breathelife52 challenge. To all my friends and family, giving you all a heads up...I'll be doing a lot of re-gifting and hand-me-downs for the next 52 weeks. Please don't be mad if you see me giving away something you gifted me. It just means I really really loved it, and that's why I chose to give it away. The thought of me giving away 52 of my favorite things makes me want to throw up a little...not gonna lie! I figure, if I start giving away my favorite things, I'll no longer feel an attachment to my stuff. I admire those who know how to purge and live minimalistic lives. I hope to get there one day, and I hope to get there with ya'll!
#breathelife52 in a nutshell:
I'm bringing you all along with me in this because I simply need people to keep me in check and not let things slide for the next 52 weeks. What happens after the 52...only God knows! Let's see where I end up. Identifying the problem is the initial mountain. The bigger one is actually doing something about it! Mountain, move over because sjinspired is armed with Grit. Valor. Love (credit goes to Yellow Conference for adopting those 3 values and imparting them to entrepreneurial woman, like me!) I am not a fashionista/stylist and definitely not trying to be one. I am also not a noble philanthropist, although I wish I could be one. I'm just your average girl who’s willing to share my problems and ask for your help as I work through my mess.
From my heart to yours #11
What are the mountains in your life? Do something about it, and remember to have fun while doing it!
Exercising perspective writing as I share my Africa story…
If I could tell you anything, I would tell you that my Daddy is the creator of all things beautiful. He sacrificially loves with no expectations, abundantly provides beyond measure, and relentlessly pursues with mercy and grace. He’s in the business of fun and adventure so the journey with him is always full of unexpected joyful surprises. I want to grow up to be just like him and I want to share his story.
If I could tell you anything, I would tell you that a man named Jesus gave up his supernatural powers to dwell among us and be just like us…except he’s perfect…without blemish. He’s the son of my Daddy, which makes us family! Just like Daddy, he graciously loved the broken, lost, and poor when he walked this earth. One Good Friday, Jesus chose to become all of our sins, wretched sins, unforgivable sins, and it was for one purpose…to save us! He became sin, so all the darkness and evil would perish, never to return. He is the reason I believe the dead can come alive. His death proves all sins and darkness died with him, and everything was made new as he resurrected on the third day. Before he returned home, he left us with the greatest gift of all…salvation!
If I could tell you anything, I would tell you that Holy Spirit is alive and well, and believe it or not, he’s my best friend. He’s my personal advisor of all decision-makings, he’s the fashion consultant that picks out my outfit every morning, and he’s also my internal navigation that often redirects me. In other words, I would be lost without him. Thankfully he never wanders off because he forever resides in my heart!
If I could tell you anything, I would tell you that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Savior, and Holy Spirit are three as one. They are separate but united as one. This is the story of my Daddy!
To my dearest Daddy up above,
Your faithfulness and glorious wonder always leaves me speechless without fail. I am finally learning to let go of my own expectations and allow you to have full access to my life. I am discovering that your ways are always higher and all I need to do is stay in my secret place with you all the days of my life. I had my doubts at first, but removing all my securities and comfort and sending me off to Africa was your best idea thus far.
Thank you for taking me all the way to Africa to strip me of all my ugly parts so that your glory can shine through me. Goodbye compromise! I’m choosing to clothe myself with tenacity, humility, dignity, and purity so that I can love Jesus and people with abundance. Your passionate and spirit-filled Mozambican people taught me to sacrificially serve and generously give even when one has nothing to offer. They taught me to understand what genuine gratitude looks like day to day, and I am challenged and encouraged to do more and give more.
After spending 2.5 months in Mozambique, I don’t mind being covered in red dirt and periodically taking a shower here and there. Waking up to the majestic African sunrise will forever be cherished and captured in my heart. The joyful laughter of your precious children has left a lasting memory, never to be forgotten. Thank you for opening my eyes to my wasteful, mindless, and unappreciative mentality when using your precious provisions like water and electricity. Knowing the reality and severity of the needs in places like Africa, I will do my part in conserving and implementing my creativity to maximize and increase resources around the world.
I’m in awe that each encounter was meticulously catered and orchestrated for not only the masses but for little ole me as well! In the midst of all the vastness of your works, you somehow manage to care for the one! I am completely and utterly in love with you, for who you are and what you do for me. I’m so underserving, but you miraculously pour your merciful love day after day. I can’t believe my time in Africa is coming to an end, but I know this is only the beginning of many more adventures up ahead. I’m looking forward the endless unknowns and venturing into more faith journeys with you!
Sjinspired…inspired by you
To my beloved daughter,
Oh how I love you so! Your surrender and obedience brings me such pleasure and joy. I’m so proud of you for who you were yesterday, who you are today, and who you will become. Thank you for choosing me! Your relentless pursuit is the very reason our relationship has developed into an unwavering and everlasting friendship. Don’t ever give up and persevere through all the ups and downs. All you need to do is keep your eyes focused on me and me alone, and I will never lead you astray. You can trust that I will be holding your hand and lighting your every step. Always walk with confidence in knowing my timing is perfect and the promises I made with you will all come to pass. The desires of your heart are mine so keep holding onto my truth and hoping in me.
The boldness and passion I deposited into you is intended to change lives one person at a time. Don’t forget to stop for the one wherever you go, and love them as I would. Take risks, dream big, and move forward! If you make a mistake, that’s ok! I will be right there to pick you back up and dust you off. I’ll be your #1 cheerleader so be encouraged and empowered to make your dreams a reality. Just a friendly reminder, I can make the impossible, POSSIBLE!
Africa is just the beginning of something new I’m doing with you, and I can’t wait to reveal all that I have in stored for you. It will never be what you expect, but I can promise that it will always be better. You’re forever my daughter, and you always deserve the best!
Your Heavenly Daddy
From my heart to yours #10
If you want to practice hearing God's voice, maybe you can try writing him a letter and listening for his response. You'll be pleasantly surprised...I promise!
Discovering more of who we are can be an ongoing process. If we choose to become a better version of who we are today, we must be willing to embrace change and transformation and break away from things like complacency and competition. Some of us may prefer to stay in our comfortable bubble because it provides security, and we are good just as we are. There are those of us who thrive in competition, and look for the next best thing because we must win at all cost, or we need to be better than the person next to us. I am personally guilty of living in a comfortable box within a competitive box, which led to a tunneled perspective and lifestyle. I’m now choosing to live outside of my box. So what does living outside my box look like? I really don’t think there is a one-solution formula to live it out, but I believe it’s about listening to the nudging of the inner voice and honoring all the desires of our heart.
Starting up Faithful Artisans and traveling to Africa would be two ways I chose to live outside of my box within a box. If someone told me I would be leaving the teaching profession to take a risk as an entrepreneur, I would’ve never believed it. I invested 12 years trying to perfect the art of teaching, and over time it provided stability and security I didn’t want to give up. In addition, spending 2.5 months in Africa and experiencing life outside of my comfort zone seemed unlikely and unimaginable. How could I give up precious time, when I had things to do and places to be?
I am discovering that venturing into a start-up business and traveling to a third world country is stretching me in ways I would’ve never imagined. Thankfully, I eventually end up resting in a place that brings forth overshadowing peace with my choices, but the process doesn’t particularly look graceful or promising on occasions. There are times when I find discouragement creeping in, and I end up dealing with unsettling doubts. Those are the moments I have to be reminded of my greater purpose and the grace of my Heavenly Father. He is the very reason I am choosing to walk in faith even when it seems impossible; He is the very reason I see hope in hopeless situations; and He is the very reason I pursue love even in challenging circumstances.
The vision of Faithful Artisans has evolved into something beyond my imagination and capabilities, but I trust I am the right fit to steward what was given because my Creator is the source of my creativity and abilities. However, I had to dig through layers of fears and insecurities before I could believe with confidence. Am I good enough? Will this business idea even work? Finance and marketing is not my forte, how am I going to pull this off? I am learning that my inadequacies and shortcomings will be covered by His grace, and I need to actively motivate myself to grow and learn in the areas of weaknesses. The opportunities for creative expression is limitless, and I believe Faithful Artisans can be the place where others and I can learn to explore and discover hidden talents.
I had no idea what to expect as I committed to do life in Africa for 2.5 months. Although my time here has only been a short 2 weeks, I’m radically being stretched and humbled by each cross-cultural encounter and communal experience. If I was still holding onto anything comfortable, I’m definitely being stripped of it all here in Mozambique! Learning to adjust to third world conditions mean, water source is limited and running water is more valuable than gold. We are encouraged to ration water and only allotted two 1.5 liter of water bottles to wash up. My perception of cleanliness has taken on new meaning and purpose, and I’m learning to let go! As a foreigner in a country, you learn very quickly that it’s important to commune and converse with them, despite the language barrier. As westerners, we often think our way of living is better than those living in third world countries. However in reality, I’m discovering that they’re so much richer and fuller in spirit, and we have so much more to learn from them. The people of Mozambique carry immense passion, and they live life with abundant fervor. The Mamas, Papas and especially the children of Mozambique, demonstrate what sacrificial and overflowing love looks like. They are teaching me how to find joy in any and all circumstances because we have the choice and power to decide how we live our life.
From my heart to yours #9
How many boxes have you placed yourself in? Do you want to get out? What does living outside of your box look like for you?
I'm using this space to simply share the meaningful things that burn my heart and the random things that run through my mind. Simply desiring more vulnerability and authenticity in my life.