God’s Gift

God’s Gift

For J, my mentor (written on : 3/7/2018)


All my life

I was searching for love

A love that would never fail

A love that wouldn’t bail

When things got tough


I tried to blend into the crowd,

Hoping someone, anyone

Would love me for me

And would someday see

A light in me


When I was at the end of my rope

Looking for any sign of the slightest hope

That’s when God showed up

And gave me the greatest love

I have ever known


Then God gave me the gift of you

And, through you, saved my life

You showed me what was true

And I was able to triumph

Over the lies that I held inside so long


Most of all,

You showed me grace and love,

From the One up above

And you gave me joy

That I had been searching for so long



Lessons Learned From My Birthday

At the time of this writing (will be several days later when this is posted), yesterday was my birthday.  I am a whole year older than I was the day before yesterday, and, hopefully, a bit wiser. I admit that I had this idealized picture of what my birthday should be like, but it did not really match that ideal at all. However, I still had a good birthday overall because I learned these three important life lessons that could really be applied by, not only me, but everyone in various facets of their lives:

  1. If you really want to love others, you must be willing to sacrifice for them.—My managers and I held a meeting for work, both to discuss work matters and for me to let everyone know that they were appreciated and cared about by us. As the meeting dispersed, I was able to give the managers and associates I work with a small creation of mine that let them know that they matter to me. I wanted to give the tokens to others on my birthday, instead of everyone just giving me things because I have learned that life is not all about me, even on my birthday. Life is about appreciating others in your life that have held your hand, and have been there with and/or for you in both the triumphs and tragedies of life.  Also, since our store will get a visit from some Very Important people soon, the managers were desperate to get as many people as possible, even some from other stores, to help them get ready for the Big Visit.  If I did not care about the managers and the store I work in, and only considered it a way to earn money, I would have never even considered staying as late as I did last night. Because I care about what managers have to go through, I wanted to let them know by working late that they didn’t have to go through this alone. At work, and in other areas of my life, generally, when I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for someone, not only did they get upset at me, but this showed that I really didn’t love them as much as I said I did.
  2. Humility and a repentant attitude are really attractive traits to have.—I was quite upset at an associate on my birthday, for something (in retrospect), that was very minor. When I came to my senses, I apologized to said associate for having an angry and general bad attitude towards her. After that we made up, and I will genuinely strive to be more patient and humble with her the next time. However, one of my friends doesn’t get along with someone in authority in our store because they feel that they are not being appreciated and feel that they are constantly being put down by this authority figure.  If one or both of them had a humble attitude towards the other, they could very well have a better relationship, too.  One of the reasons my pastor is very well-liked and respected by our congregation is, not only because he is generally a very godly individual, but also because of his humble attitude. He does not lord himself over others and is also very down-to-earth.  Humility and a repentant attitude are very attractive traits to have, not only because of the healing and redemptive power they have on relationships, but also because of the value it places on the other person or persons.
  3. Gratitude for what you have and what has been graciously provided for you produces joy, not only to you—the giver, but to the recepient of your gratitude as well.—A lot of things yesterday could have made me grumble and complain—the fact that I didn’t get a chance to give everyone my token of appreciation, the fact that there will people that were rude to me and/or in bad moods, the fact that I didn’t have a birthday party at work like I did last year, etc… However, when I see things as gifts from God, rather than something I’m entitled to, I find that I have more joy in the things I receive.  I actually felt bad for all the people that were in a bad mood yesterday, and felt good that I, for the most part, was in a pretty good mood.  Even though I didn’t have a birthday party at work this year, I still found great joy in being able to get a lot of things done at work for others and being able to serve God by helping others at my job.  Even though I wasn’t able to give everyone my token of appreciation, the people I was able to give them to appreciated it very much.  And for that I am grateful.  I am also grateful for the many people that cared that it was my birthday, and have loved me as I am.  Being grateful (and not grumbly, as when I am not thinking in a grateful way) makes me very happy! So, I recommend that if you want to be happier in life, make a list of as many things as possible, of what you are grateful for, such as the people in your life that have encouraged you, the abilities you have (i.e If you can walk or see, those count too!), and the provisions that have been given to you to make your life better.

These three things are the major lessons that I took away from my birthday yesterday.  I hope that these lessons will not only be applied by me in my life, but also by others in their lives.  If we loved and were more willing to sacrifice for others, if we were more humble and repentant after we made a mistake, and if we were more grateful for everyone and everything we have been given, then I believe that this world would be a better place.

I’m thankful for (a list)

The following list is inspired by the List that Ann Voskamp started, and also the list that my former pastor started. You can view my former pastor’s blog at: http://chosenrebel.me.

I’m thankful for… (started 12/13/2011)

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. What Jesus did for me on the cross
  5. The resurrection of Jesus
  6. Mild winter (Note on 2/9/2018—NOT mild today! LOL, but this was on 12/13/2011!)
  7. The Word of God
  8. A nurse in the clinic I volunteer at ( items 1-8, written on 12/13/2011).
  9. 90% Christmas sale at Target (because I got a lot of good deals!) (written on 1/6/2012)
  10. A sunny, warm January day (1/6/2012)
  11. Good reads (1/6/2012)
  12. God’s mercy ( written on 2/6/2012)
  13. Good songs (1/20/2012)
  14. Knitting teachers (1/20/2012)
  15. Someone at my church teaching me how to do a French knot in cross-stitching ( written on 2/6/2012)
  16. Hope (2/6/2012)
  17. That God gives new life ( written on 2/11/2012)
  18. All my needs are met (2/11/2012)
  19. People that inspire me to be more and more like Christ (True today –2/2018 as well!) (2/11/2012)
  20. That my appendicitis was found (5/5/2012) before my appendix ruptured! (written 5/31/2012)
  21. That I am almost completely healed from my appendix operation (5/31/2012)
  22. That I have a good support system as of now (5/31/2012) (true today—2/2018 as well!)
  23. A bible study/small group/ community group to be a part of (written 10/9/2012)
  24. My dad and his help today (10/9/2012)
  25. Energy to do things (10/9/2012)
  26. Writing skills ( written on 11/18/12)
  27. Help from a friend at church (11/18/12)
  28. Pastor Frank and his sermon on Ruth (11/18/12)
  29. Another warm January day ( written 1/11/13)
  30. Stephanie’s encouragement (1/11/12)
  31. Time with God (1/11/12)
  32. God’s grace in my life (1/11/12)
  33. Thoughtful and generous family and friends ( written on 2/27/2013)
  34. A good and enjoyable birthday party on 2/2013 (2/27/2013)
  35. That it wasn’t snowing on my birthday (2/27/2013)
  36. That my mom knows how to manage money well (2/27/2013)
  37. Going shopping with friends at Half Price Books (written on 3/17/2013)
  38. My brother making tacos for me (3/17/2013)
  39. My brother in general (3/17/2013)
  40. Pastor Frank’s patience with me (3/17/2013)
  41. Laughter (3/17/2013)
  42. Pastor Frank’s reading guide (6/2/2013)
  43. Humor (6/2/2013)
  44. That my friend was OK after being in an accident (6/2/2013)
  45. A new job (that hopefully will last!) ( written on 7/9/2013)
  46. A good vacation (7/9/2013)
  47. God’s faithfulness to me (7/9/2013)
  48. A dream as a teaching tool for me (written 8/17/2013)
  49. Strength (8/17/2013)
  50. A new day (8/17/2013)
  51. Good friends that care ( written on 2/9/2014) (Still true today—2/2018!)
  52. A convicting sermon (2/9/2014)
  53. A sunny day (2/9/2014)
  54. Great prayer warriors (written on 2/28/2014)
  55. Pay raise at my job (written 2/28/2014)
  56. That someone I know is out of the hospital (2/28/2014)
  57. Time with my friends at Olive Garden celebrating my birthday (written on 2/28/2014)
  58. The IF: Gathering last weekend (written on 2/13/2015)
  59. That my dad brought Chinese food (2/13/2015)
  60. That God is with us now even at our darkest (2/13/2015)
  61. That there is an alternative romantic movie for those that don’t like Fifty Shades series, called “Old Fashioned” (written 3/1/2016)
  62. Good friends who love me to celebrate my birthday with (3/1/2016)
  63. The love jar from my friend E. (3/1/2016)
  64. Good food from one of my favorite restaurants (3/1/2016)
  65. That God healed me out of my stomach issues that was bad last week (3/1/2016)
  66. Good times with family (written on 7/12/2016)
  67. A day of rest from work (7/12/2016)
  68. A job (my current job—note made 2/2018) (7/12/2016)
  69. God’s hand working through my work relationships (7/12/2016)
  70. A bright, sunny day (7/12/2016)
  71. My friend K and her friendship (written 7/22/2016)
  72. Pens that work (7/22/2016)
  73. A full time job (at my current job—as of 9/2016) written on 3/29/2017
  74. My co-worker’s jokes (3/29/2017)
  75. Sunshine (3/29/2017)
  76. Joy and laughter (3/29/2017)
  77. A God who cares and is always there for me (3/29/2017)
  78. Good temperatures (written on 4/18/2017)
  79. A chance to relax (day off work) (4/18/2017)
  80. Good memories (4/18/2017)
  81. Being alive! (written on 6/14/2017)
  82. A good church (6/14/2017)
  83. Fruit cocktail on a hot day (6/14/2017)
  84. My brother’s cat (written on 11/19/2017)
  85. Getting to talk to my brother on Skype (11/19/2017)
  86. A good sermon by my current pastor (11/19/2017)
  87. Staying in my department (11/19/2017)
  88. My current manager I (11/19/2017)
  89. A great sermon today by my current pastor (written on 1/14/2018)
  90. Bright sunshine on a cold day (1/14/2018)
  91. Heat in our house on a cold day (1/14/2018)
  92. Warmer temperatures (written on 1/24/2018)
  93. Time for reconciliation (1/24/2018)
  94. Help from co-workers yesterday (1/24/2018)
  95. My manager Chris * (Not his real name) talking me out of staying at work longer last night because he cared about my safety in the snowstorm (written 2/9/2018)
  96. That I’m not out on the road driving with this monster snowstorm (2/9/2018)
  97. Answered prayers for a friend who is very sick. (2/9/2018)
  98. More time to get things done around the house (2/9/2018)

These are the things that I’ve compiled so far (there is so much more—I’m sure!) that I’m thankful for. You can start a list like mine today and put next to each item you are thankful for, the date when the good thing occurred (that you are thankful for) and look to this list when you feel discouraged or upset. See how much you have been brought out of and how many blessings have filled your life. If I made a more comprehensive thanksgiving list, there would be more things than papers and time to fill it! May you be encouraged today!

Why I Believe in Miracles

Because miracles are rare and spectacular displays of divine affection and because life can be very difficult for many people, there are some that no longer believe in miracles. According to the Oxford-English dictionary, a miracle is, “a remarkable event or development that brings very welcome consequences.” (source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/miracle) However, I personally believe in miracles mainly for these three reasons:

  • Miracles cultivate hope in my life.
  • Because the demonstration of miracles by God in my life has saved me on more than one occasion.
  • Because God’s miracles have restored several of my relationships with others.

Often miracles, whether in literature or in people’s lives, happen when it seems like hope has run out. This has certainly been the case with me.  I believe the miracle of me becoming a Christian started when hope seemed to run out for me. I was sixteen years old and in high school. The teenage years are a turbulent time for many people, and I was no exception.  I just got out of coping with a couple of serious mental health issues, and I felt like I had no one I could really turn to or trust.  I had few, if any, friends and my course load at school was challenging. To top the stressors off, I encountered a teacher who had the reputation of being a bully and a verbal abuser.  I even flirted with the idea of suicide. However, after a friend of mine invited me to a bible study and I started to search for answers, God took a hold of my life, a few months later.

About fifteen years later, God saved my life again, but this time physically. (For more details on this miracle, see this post. ) It started when I was having pains in my side at work. My parents and I thought it was just a hernia or a muscle pull, so I tried all the over-the-counter medications we had.  However, when I started throwing up blood, we knew something was terribly wrong. Long story short, I went to the ER, and the doctors treating me discovered that my gall bladder was terribly inflamed and twice the size it should have been. I learned later that I could have very well died from this if I still had not listened to that voice inside after I had thrown up the blood! My gall bladder was then taken out just in time before it burst and caused any real damage.

About a week ago today, God saved my life yet again! I was driving to church, minding my own business. It was dark, but the street lights were on. I had the right-of-way, but a driver, not even seeing or caring about their surroundings, cuts in front of me to the point of almost colliding with me. Luckily, my instincts kick in, and I stop just in time to avoid colliding with the driver, as he or she just whizzes away.  I felt startled, but was very grateful that I was able to avoid a serious accident!

Some of the miracles, that I believe God has worked in my life, have also caused my once-broken relationships with certain others to be restored.  I can think of some people in particular where I did not think the relationships could be restored. I thought the best it would be is that we would quietly  tolerate each other and/or avoid each other as much as possible. I really thought (wrongly) that these people would ruin my life. However, because of the support of God, my family, pastors, and many of my friends at church and many prayers, the people who I have had problems with, have not only failed to ruin my life, but they have turned out to be one of my greatest blessings in my life thus far!  God also worked in my heart and life to let go of (i.e  forgive) the hurts that I held against them and really love them even more than myself.

If I had to list every little miracle God displayed in my life, I would be writing forever. However, these are some of the major ones in my life. This is why I believe in miracles.  Yes, life has been difficult, at times, for me, but then there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. That is when miracles can happen. What miracles happened in your life? Why do you or do you not believe in miracles? Please discuss in the comments.

My Shining Star

My Shining Stardedicated to all my friends; you know who you are…



For all the times, good and bad

We have gone through

For all of everything you gave me

My friend you will always be


I never ever want to hurt you

Or make you sad

And I always strive to give you

My very best


When your radiating presence

Touched my soul

It awakened the light inside of me

And made me more whole


I will never, ever forget you

Or the impact you made on me

Only promise me

That you will shine as the star

You already are

On Improving Myself This Year

This is almost the end of January 2018, as I write this, and I realize that I still have a long way to go to becoming the person I want to be.  However, by God’s grace, I am not where I was in the past, or even a year ago. I have improved. However, I don’t want to be stalled in my spiritual or emotional growth as a person.  In order to keep myself accountable, and in order to inspire you to make your own changes as you see fit, these are just some of the things that I plan to do to become a better person emotionally and spiritually:

  1. I will eliminate distractions from my life.—Starting last Sunday (January 21, as of this writing), I began to eliminate distractions from my life that have stifled or stalled my emotional and spiritual growth. This has meant deleting songs that reminded me of painful past events and how people have hurt me, both intentionally and unintentionally, that had no hope of reconciliation and forgiveness in its lyrics. It has meant ripping out diatribes and vents that I had against people that hurt me in the past, that now I have forgiven. This means not following people who say bad things about others on Facebook and other social media, or who tempt me to do so, in any way.
  2. I will be more intentional about being thankful for what God has given me.—Beginning today, I will think of at least three things that I am thankful for the day. I will try to look at the positive things about a situation, not just the negatives.  I will strive to use bad situations as an opportunity to glorify God and to serve others, instead of just griping and complaining about it.  I will strive to remember all the good that God has done both in the past, and the good he is continuing to do in the present.
  3. I will not hold on to bitterness and resentment for someone for more than one day.—Yesterday, was a very stressful day at work. I felt that certain people were taking advantage of my friend and me, and we weren’t even getting any appreciation for the work we had done. I even slightly frustrated one of my managers, even though she wasn’t really involved in my frustration.  However, because I respect and care about her,  God put it in my heart to make sure there wasn’t any resentment and animosity building up between us , and so I apologized for frustrating her and affirmed the true value I saw in her as person and as a manager. This is what I strive to do more often when stress gets the best of me, and I either upset someone, or I am upset with someone.
  4. I will slow down and enjoy life more.—This is what I learned in a blog I follow, yesterday. To see this wonderful post, see this link!  I will intentionally strive to enjoy each moment God gives me because I don’t know when there may not be any more to enjoy! I will hold each person I encounter as gifts from God. I will strive not to succumb to the daily grind and hum-drum of always working without having joy and peace  in what I’m doing.
  5. I will intentionally strive to learn other people’s stories before judging them.—When someone frustrates me or is frustrated with me, instead of getting upset or raging at them, I will strive to ask them, “What’s wrong?” or “How can I help you?” I will strive to get to know the people around me better instead of making snap judgments about them.  I will live to serve others before myself.

These are the things that I strive to do to better myself. Yes, I anticipate, there will be times that I will fail at these goals. However, when that happens, I will strive to pick myself up, and try again.  What are  some of the things you will do to improve yourself? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

My Journey To Joy

My journey to joy started when I was 16 years old, the year that God became a part of my life and being. This life journey has been on-going, with a lot of stumbles and falls in between. However, with the help of God and others in my life, I am able to get back up again and then continue to live joyfully each day.

Getting Out of the Pit of Darkness and Depression

Shortly before God rescued me from my sins and from my hopelessness that I felt in life, I was on my last rope.  I had a teacher that I believed was verbally abusive. He told me in no uncertain terms that I would amount to very little in life. This was a message that I internalized for many years and it almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy, but God is merciful.  In addition to that, I felt much pressure from everyone around me, but most of all, myself, to do well academically in school and go to the college of my dreams.  Because this aforementioned teacher failed me and I felt trapped in this class, I felt hopeless and even suicidal at times.  Also, I didn’t have the emotional support of many of my peers or even most of my teachers.

Then, one day (see: testimony link for more details), one of the few friends that I had, invited me to her bible study at school. Even though I was not religious at the time, I was searching and wanted to please my friend, so I went. I didn’t become a follower of Christ right away, but after several months, one day in my bedroom, I gave my life to Christ.  This was the beginning of slowly (emphasis on the word “slowly”) getting out of the pit of darkness and depression.

College and my first taste of joy

A couple of years later, I went to college, albeit not the one of my dreams. I remember dorm life being very difficult and trying for me. However, there I met my first friends that encouraged me when I was depressed and helped me gain footing for my faith.

After college/The first signs of my growing in faith

The first two churches I attended after college gave me a foundation to my newfound faith in Christ.  They taught me who God was and how His influence could be applied to my life.  I also found more joy in the second of the two churches I attended because I felt like it was there that I felt the most loved.  When I was upset because of the stress of life, several people at this church supported me emotionally and reminded me of what I had in Christ.  They encouraged me to persevere in life. It was also during this time that I first developed a community of friends online, who also encouraged me in my trials and who I could encourage in theirs. I developed a sense of hope and a glimpse of joy in my life. However, my joy was not yet mature and there were still way too many times when I became depressed again.

Joy Grows By Leaps and Bounds

In June of 2013, I got my first job where I felt that I could do fairly well in it. Indeed many of the managers and associates valued my work there. I still talk to a few of the people I worked with there. There, I learned how to treat customers and clients, and more in-depth about the sales/retail industry and how things worked.  I also continued to build relationships with the people at the church I attended at the time.  This is the first time I remember that I could say that I had some semblance of joy in my life.  However, God had greater opportunities in store for me. In March of 2016, God was calling me to a different job, and in October of 2016, God was calling me to bless a new congregation as well.

My Current Life and How My Joy Has Grown Even More

How I got my current job was truly a miracle and a God-thing in itself. For more details on how I got my current job, see this link.  God has blessed me more in the past three years, than in the first thirty-or-so years of my life!  Besides getting a new job, I also went to a new church.  This church has been a godsend to me for many reasons. First of all, the pastor not only preaches great sermons applicable to my daily life, but he also lives what he preaches, something rare in these days, even among professing Christians.  Sure, he is not perfect, but he is humble enough to admit this.  Also, so many people in my current church have supported me and encouraged me in my faith or when I had problems at work or elsewhere.  Also, I love how this church prays for one another and aims to provide for those congregants in need.  Also, my mentor J has helped me a lot in this season of life to debunk the negative thoughts about myself that some people in the past had communicated to me through their attitudes, words, and actions.  She, as well as others in my life, have encouraged me to become more confident in my God-given abilities and see myself as God sees me, not as someone who is better than everyone else, but also not as someone who is worthless and bad either.  My current job has also been a tremendous blessing. Yes, there have been many difficult days and situations there too, but they –and also the blessings of my job—have both served to help me know God’s love for me better and have helped me become a better person.  Finally, it seems I have been able to let go of some of my past hurts and anger towards the ones that have hurt me. God has even helped me to either reconcile with these people or not let them affect my self-worth and attitude anymore (or at least less).

The Future of Joy

In the future, I would like to solidify my joy by dying to self. Yes, the concept of denying myself seems counterintuitive to my joy, but I don’t think it will.  This is because when one is living only for oneself, they often create strife and unhappiness for others, and because of that, end up miserable instead of truly joyous.  However, for me, dying to self will actually allow me more joy because I no longer have to worry about what others think of me and my desires will no longer be of urgent importance , and so I will no longer be so upset if I don’t get what I want in life.  For instance, if I do something nice for someone that some of my friends don’t get along with because I feel God prompting me to, I will no longer worry about my friends thinking I will “betray” them by doing something good for their “enemy”. I will be able to do it willingly and with joy because what my friends think will take a back seat to serving God and others.  Also, if my manager tells me to do something necessary (i.e.. something that their boss tells them must be done also) for the smooth running of the store but that feels stressful and uncomfortable, I will no longer feel the urge to complain and/or refuse to do it because I don’t like it. I will be more willing to do said thing with a better attitude and even joy than if my aim were to do things that I want to do just because I want to do them.

This is my journey to joy. It is on-going and there will be many stops and starts along the way, but I know with God’s help, my joy will become more and more mature.