Choose Your Battles

Since I’ve had to go through some tough love recently, I have some tough love for you, friend:

If you can’t control your anxiety, your anxiety will control you.

In 2014, a dear friend of mine prayed for me and encouraged me with this word: You’re stronger than you think. I have never forgotten that, because it was something I didn’t believe. I think that I’m weak because I have anxiety. But that’s a lie. Anxiety does not have power over me. I am stronger than my fear by the grace of God.

When facing my fears, I choose my battles. There are some fights I’m not willing to engage in, where I let anxiety be my excuse, but there are some fights where I take out my biggest weapon and attack it head-on.

One of those fears is being on stage, being the center of attention. My best friend just got married this weekend. I was so incredibly happy for her, and I was blessed to be one of her bridesmaids. However, I couldn’t shake the fear of standing on the steps at the front of the church, where anyone could be looking at me. Leading up to the wedding, I realized that this fear was totally selfish. This was my friend’s day, not mine. Not a single eye was looking at me during the ceremony, and that’s the way it should be. Instead of letting the fear stop me from enjoying the ceremony, I filled my mind with the reminder that I was doing this for her, and for her and her husband’s commitment to God. By standing up there, I wasn’t just facing my fear; I was displaying to her and to everyone else that I supported her union to her husband and that I believed that God is at the center of their marriage. That is something worth fighting for.

Another one of those fears is flying. My fear if flying is debilitating. Most people get scared going through security, but I’m scared once the cabin door is shut and we have no way out until we land on the other side (even just writing that made it difficult to breathe!). On the flight, I shake uncontrollably, my muscles tense up, and I usually end up crying. Like, ugly crying. However, I love to travel. I want to see the world with my husband and my family. My husband’s family also lives in another state, and we have to fly to see them. When my grandfather was alive, he made a vow that he would never fly because it scared him too much. I cannot and will not do that. So I do whatever it takes to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare myself for the flight. I remind myself that whatever is waiting on the other side of the plane is worth the panic attacks.

Some anxiety is not worth fighting. I don’t go on roller coasters because the five seconds of thrill I’d feel conquering my fear is not worth day-long stress I would feel leading up to the experience. I don’t go on high ropes courses or go bungee jumping or sky diving because I’m afraid of heights; I have given up on the desire to add those things to my bucket list.

When you’re panicking, ask yourself: If I fight my fear, will it be worth it? My criterion for choosing my battle is: Will conquering my fear help me and my loved ones? Choosing to fight against my fear of being on stage helped me to celebrate with my friend and to show my support for her. Choosing to fight against my fear of flying helps me to enjoy God’s creation and to spend time with my loved ones. Although it may take time to fully overcome my fear, chopping away at the wall of fear a little bit at a time will eventually make the wall crumble.

You are indeed stronger than you think. God has great plans for you, and He will give you strength to fight each battle that comes your way. Today, try to conquer fear a little bit at a time. If you need help, reach out to a friend. I’m always here if you need prayer or encouragement!

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Photo by Henry Hustava on Unsplash


Where is Hope Found?

In modern English, hope has become an empty word. For example, when one says, “I hope everything works out,” there is no substance behind those words. The hope is not based on facts, circumstances, or even prayers! Therefore, when Paul says Love always hopes, what does he mean?

I love learning other languages, so I’m thankful for the resources out there that can make Greek and Hebrew (the languages the Bible was originally written in) easy to understand! In Greek, the word hope is elpizó, which means “actively waiting for God’s fulfillment about the faith He has inbirted through the power of His love.” In this meaning, the hope has substance. Love always active waits for God to fulfill his promises.

We live in a culture that is generally negative. People always have a reason to complain, and they take every chance they can to voice their critical opinions to us. Hope is a rare commodity.

However, Biblical hope has even more substance than the positivity that we crave in our world. In Romans 8, Paul talks about Biblical hope. The same word elpizó is used in this text to describe our expectation of God fulfilling His promise to redeem the world:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:22-24).

This entire chapter of Scripture has been viewed as a champion chapter for believers. We know through Romans 8 that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (v. 1). We know that God has adopted us as His children, removing our fear of man (v. 15). We know that God’s Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God (v. 16). We know that we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (v. 37). We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love (v. 38-39).

If this doesn’t instill hope in believers, I don’t know what does!

Although this was a fun Bible lesson, this post is on marriage. How can we hope in marriage? In my opinion, when we have a heavenly perspective, nothing else matters. When we know that we already have the best future waiting for us in the next life, when we know that we can live fulfilled lives by walking with God’s Spirit and obeying His Word, when we know that we will all be united as one body at the resurrection, suddenly my problems don’t seem so big anymore. Suddenly, I don’t care about how much money  we have in the bank or in our retirement. Suddenly, I don’t care that my husband leaves his dirty dishes in the sink. Suddenly, I don’t care that I’ve been having trouble losing weight. Because in the end, everything will work out, in the most beautiful and glorious way that any of us could ever hope.

I know a few of my readers have experiences way worse than the ones I’ve mentioned, like trying to conceive or facing bankruptcy or dealing with affairs. I don’t want you to think that I’m downplaying your trials. However, I do believe more than anything else that God is bigger than any trial you may be facing. At the end of the day, when you place your life in His tender loving care, He will see you through your storm. Right now, I know, the pain is unbearable and the storms make everything so unclear. Yet, when you look back on your life, those difficult trials that you face together (Paul describes them as momentary afflictions in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18) will be like a bad hair day.

The hope that Christ offers us is an anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19). Anchor your marriage in the hope of Jesus Christ, and He will see you through every storm.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash


Do it Scared

I am excited to announce that I am now a freelance writer and editor! This dream was birthed in me at the young age of six, when I realized I could write books for kids who loved reading, just like me. Thank you to the people in college who told me I should major in English (I didn’t listen), and to my family and friends for supporting me in this transition. While I will be writing several books and waiting for them to be selected for publication, I will also be offering writing and editing services to those who want to make their writing dreams a reality.

Although this has been a dream of mine, I woke up this morning with a sense of fear. What if I put myself out there and nobody bites? What if people don’t like me? What if they find out that I’m not perfect? The good-girl Christian in me says, “God has a plan! It’ll all work out in the end! Don’t be afraid!” We tend to be scared of being scared, so we put a spiritual band-aid on our fear and call it a day. However, I’m still afraid! I’ve never done this before. Fear is a natural response to the unknown.

To help me launch my career, my husband bought me a copy of the book Business Boutique by Christy Wright, a professional who helps women start their own businesses doing what they love. In one of the beginning chapters of the book, she wrote about fear in starting your own business. Fear is normal, and everyone experiences fear at one point or another. Her solution? “We just do it scared” (15).

As I re-read through Chapter 2, “Fear is Normal,” Wright only mentions that phrase a few times. However, after reading all 19 chapters of her book, I can clearly remember that phrase as my takeaway. If we only did things when we weren’t afraid, we would miss out on a lot of life. I’m actually more afraid of settling than neglecting my dreams. What is more fearful to you, being stuck in a job that isn’t your passion for the rest of your life, or taking a leap of faith and risking it all to pursue your dreams? Doesn’t the latter option sound like a movie?

A few people in my audience struggle with anxiety like me. I used to get scared just going out to eat with friends. You may get scared going to parties or traveling or visiting certain places or even not having plans. Going on retreats as a teenager, the staff members would tell us to aim for our yellow zone. The green zone is our comfort zone, and the red zone is our debilitating fear. While high ropes courses might be easy as pie for you, they make me nauseous and dizzy; I literally can’t move when I get to a certain height. Doing something in your yellow zone is doing something that stretches you just enough not to break you.

If you feel God calling you to do something in your red zone, which is quite possible, have grace with yourself to take baby steps there. If you are scared of publishing a book about your traumatic past, start off small by sharing your story with a trusted friend or a small group of people. No matter what you do, don’t let fear keep you from doing what you love and what you feel God is calling you to do.

Here are some quotes that I found when searching the phrase “Do it scared.” May they inspire you to pursue your passion, even if you have to do it scared:

“If you’re afraid, don’t do it. If you’re doing it, don’t be afraid!”-Genghis Khan

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

“What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.” – Andre Agassi

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the absence of self.” – Erwin McManus

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”-Marianne Williamson

Photo by Kristina Wagner on Unsplash


A Reminder of my Call

My husband gave me the book Called to Create by Jordan Raynor as an anniversary gift.  I heard about the book through a YouVersion Bible plan that the Call to Create team had written about C. S. Lewis.  This four-day devotional inspired me to want to read more about Christian creatives who were using their gifts to honor God.

As you all know, that is my ultimate goal: to write books/short stories in order to encourage others and to bring glory to God, especially through offering help for those who suffer from anxiety.  Throughout the years, God has shaped my vision for becoming a writer and for using my writing abilities for his glory.  This book was honestly the climax of that realization of my vision.  It was truly a confirmation that God was calling me to create.

The book is clearly for those who feel they are called to create.  Who has called us?  God, the First Entrepreneur, the First Creator (notice how the beginning of time began with creation!), has entrusted to us the ability to create.  As an entrepreneur himself of several successful businesses, Raynor also includes that creation is not just for those who are in the arts but for those who are also business owners who create businesses.  Because that is his forte, he tends to focus on entrepreneurship as a form of creating.

I learned from this book that creating for the Kingdom of God requires risk.  Some people give up their successful jobs to create new jobs from scratch.  When they trusted God, not only were they successful, but they were also fulfilled.  I need to trust God with my creation as well, with my book and with my ultimate career as a writer.  People may say that it’s impossible, or even unwise, but it is what I believe God has called me to do.  It’s one of those things where I don’t have the full picture yet, but I know God does, and He is leading me one step at a time.

I anticipated the book to be ten chapters about ten people who were called to create and did wonderful things through their creations for the glory of God.  The book instead is actually more like a research paper, which is good in some ways because it is not just Jordan Raynor talking about how great his business is or all the knowledge he has.  However, it was borderline plagiarism at some points when he used large block quotes that were about the size of the whole page.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy hearing the stories of people such as Corrie Ten Boom’s father (who had a watch shop), Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-Fil-A), and of course, C. S. Lewis and the Inklings.

Raynor does an incredible job of weaving the stories in and really bringing his ideas together.  I have heard that “anyone can write a book” but as a woman who has spent three years trying to write a book, it is not that easy!  Especially for people who are actually business owners; their full-time job is not writer!

The main point of the book is to recognize that full-time ministry for God does not necessarily have to involve missions work or being a pastor.  You can serve God in the secular world as well, whether it is through starting your own business, being an obedient employee, or creating works of art.  When God called me to dedicate my life to Him, I thought that meant that I had to be a missionary.  While I do love cultures and I do want to travel all over the world, I believe that God can use me to serve Him all over the world simply through writing an inspirational book.  And as I’ve seen, God has used my writing to speak to people all over the world.  I believe He will continue to do so.

I am now more encouraged than ever to write my novel for God, in hopes that people who struggle with anxiety will find new hope and peace in the midst of their suffering.  Keep me in prayer as I have just begun editing my book and creating a sense of structure from my free writing jumble.

If you are called to create, or if you have questions about what that looks like, I would definitely recommend getting this book.  You can find out more information on this website.

Creatives, let’s change the world through our writing, art, photography, and businesses for God’s glory!

Throwback Thursday

#ThrowbackThursday to When I Wanted to Give Up

I remember when I wanted to quit my retail job three years ago.

Let’s just say, my calling was definitely not folding clothes and handling money all day.  I had a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate and a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies under my belt, and I was itching to travel, teaching English and writing for God’s glory.  If I could do the exact opposite of that, I felt like it would have been something similar to folding clothes and handling money!

Eventually, my time at the mall came to a close, and I was on to bigger and better things.  I started working at a bookstore, and then at my current job as an Administrative Assistant.  Despite my disgust at the minimum wage jobs that I had in the past (except for my job as a Consultant at the Writing Center!) I thank God that He used each of those transitional jobs to bring me one step closer to the person that He has called me to be.

I feel like we are trained to always wait for the next best thing.  From an early age, we go from preschool to kindergarten, then prepare for elementary school in kindergarten, then prepare for middle school in elementary school, then prepare for high school in middle school, then prepare for college in high school, then prepare for grad school in your undergrad, and then prepare for your full-time career in college.  We’re always preparing, but what are we preparing for?

The point of the article I wrote a few years ago was that no matter what season we are in, we should always give our best.  If you have senioritis and just want to graduate, take a deep breath and pause.  You only get to be a high school/college senior once; live it up!  If you are single and just want to find someone, take a deep breath and pause.  Once you are married, you have a long life ahead of you with that person; learn to take advantage of your free time and wholehearted devotion to God. If you are in an in-between job and just want to quit, take a deep breath and pause.  God has given you a unique opportunity right where you are, and He is training you through it!

So, how can we give our best in the season we are in, even if we don’t feel our best?

Be thankful.  God is sovereign and God is faithful.  He has allowed you to have this job/relationship status/apartment/time at school for a reason.  Think about what blessings can come out of the situation.

Be honest.  It may be difficult for you to praise God for this season.  Let Him know that!  He loves you.  He would rather have an honestly angry person than a fake happy person.  Plus, sharing your struggles with God brings you closer to Him.  Continue to stay connected with God, even when you don’t understand where He’s leading you.

Be surrounded.  As a woman in my mid-20s, I know I’m not alone in my struggle to find contentment.  People my age are all in different stages of life.  Some are single, while others are married with kids.  Some are stuck in part-time jobs, while others are well into their careers.  Some can travel, while others are trying to budget.  When I surround myself with Christian women who are fighting the same fight as me, it encourages me not to give up.

Be joyful.  Even in the midst of trials, we are called to be joyful.  Joy, I’ve learned, is meant to be shared.  If you’re at a job that isn’t exactly your calling, it might be a challenge to always have a smile on your face.  However, joy changes the atmosphere.  As God changes your perspective, others will notice, and they will be encouraged to find joy as well.

All of these points focus on becoming.  Through trials and transitions, we become more thankful, we become more honest, we become more encouraged, and we become more joyful.  God is more focused on changing our hearts than changing our circumstances.  Let Him grow you through these uncomfortable times.


Thank you to Unsplash for always providing great stock photos for me to use for my Featured Image.  This one was by Dhruva Reddy on Unsplash


Throwback Thursday

#ThrowbackThursday to My Trip to Spain

This past week, we had Vacation Bible School at our church.  On my Facebook memories, I found out that I posted an article about Vacation Bible School, Escuela Biblica de Verano, when I went to Spain four years ago.  It was a beautiful eye-opener to see how God has taken my life and brought me on this interesting detour.

You see, I started this blog with a five-year plan.  My plan was to get my TESOL certification, go to South Korea for two years and teach English (to pay off my loans), get my Masters in Intercultural Studies/TESOL, meet my husband in seminary, get married, and go back to Spain!  It’s almost been five years since I made this plan, and let me tell you: I’m nowhere near where I would have been today if God had not thrown me a curveball.

It all started with a text message.  On a Sunday.

I came home from a meeting at church to find a text message on my cell phone from my Bible study leader.  She said that the church was looking to hire an Administrative Assistant that basically fit everything I did in college (working with Publisher, editing, writing, answering phone calls, and basically being nice to people).  I told the staff up front that I wanted to go to South Korea, but I would come in for an interview.

Little did I know that accepting that job would literally change the course of my life.

I got hired in December, then met my husband in February.  Do you know how I met him?  I wrote about our college-age Bible study in the church’s bulletin.  His aunt read about our upcoming meeting and told him to check it out.  Then I answered the phone when his mother just happened to be calling about the Bible study.  I probably would have stayed home that day, because I was so tired, if I hadn’t gotten the call that someone new would be coming to the group.  My would-be husband fell in love with me instantly (graciously accepts all applause with a humble curtsy) and continued to come to Bible study because he wanted to meet me, and he eventually made friends with the other attendees of the group as well.

I want to point out that while marrying my husband was one of the best blessings I’ve gotten from God, this is not the only blessing that came out of being in the United States as opposed to overseas.  You see, my husband was going to church and had been a believer for most of his life, but he wasn’t taking his faith seriously.  God used me and the other people at the Bible study to encourage him to get more into the Word.  Now, he’s doing the same for others at the same Bible study.

In addition to the growth I’ve seen in my husband, I’ve seen so many blessings come out of working at a church.  The way I met my husband gives you an idea of how something as simple as answering the phone or printing out the church bulletin could alter my life in some way.  I’ve seen a pamphlet that I’ve printed, data that I entered in our database, and even speaking nicely to someone who comes into the office, make a difference in others’ lives.  I also see a change in my own life, as I’ve learned to love others more fully and to forgive and be forgiven by those with whom I thought I had burned bridges.

As much as I want to be in Spain, ministering to the family I met that is so close to trusting in Jesus, I have a ministry field here.  God loves the people in Spain much more than I do, and He has a plan to speak to them in a way that only He can.  As a matter of fact, my friend from Spain is working on becoming a missionary in her own country.   Instead of God sending me over there to do the work, He is leading me to encourage her and my other Spanish friends to be His instrument in their native land.

God is growing me and shaping me into the woman He wants me to be, but ultimately, it is for His glory.  He has a plan for this world, and as much as I think I know what’s best for me, God knows a plan even better than that.  I’m not on my schedule at all, but I’m right on time when I follow God’s will for my life.

I say this all not to build me up (as much as I need to hear this encouragement sometimes!).  I say this to hopefully encourage you to trust God’s plan for your life.  You may be single and wonder when God is going to bring that special someone.  You may be in a dead-end job and you’re looking for a way to your dream career.  You may be scrolling through social media and you see people doing exactly what you want to do.  You may be a missionary in one country, but your heart is in another.  You may have a five-year plan and God is throwing you a curveball.

At the restroom at Trader Joe’s (of all places!), I saw a sign that had the words that captured my heart: “Life takes us to unexpected places, but love takes us home.”  God knows what is best for us, and what is best for His creation.  We may only see what is right in front of us, but God can see an aerial view of everything in the universe, throughout all time.  He is concerned with growing our character more than making us feel good.  God has brought me home by surrounding me with love, encouragement, and accountability.  Who knows what life would’ve given me?  All I know is that my life is now in God’s hands.