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Unrelenting

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Hi everyone! It has been a long time since I’ve last posted. The reasons are varied, but not too profound, so I’ll spare you the details.

Basically I just took some time to seek Him and grow in Him. I’ve increased my study of His word. I’ve increased my worship in both my heart and my home. I’ve started stepping out of my comfort zone in prayer – with intercession, with strangers and friends alike. I’ve been playing piano as a form of worship, rather than just playing. I’ve been getting more discernment on my visions and words for people. I’ve been working on going deeper – the depths of His heart call to mine and I have been trying to respond. This has involved Him revealing things in the depths of my heart that are so ingrained I just chalked them up to personality traits. But they’re not. They’re learned behaviors that get in the way of true intimacy with Him. Most recently, I (along with Rebekah L) have been involved in a book study with a group of Marshallese ladies – it is amazing to see God’s heart for this tiny island nation unfold.

Suffice to say it’s been a process – a beautiful exercise of being stretched in love and faith. Much has happened – about a squillion blog posts worth. And I’ve learned some things. I’ve learned it’s ok to be lost – He’ll always, always find me. I’ve learned that faith isn’t always pretty, but He’s captivated by the sight of it anyway. I’ve learned His grace is beautiful and will wash over me even when I least deserve it. But the bottom line is, what I’ve learned the most, is that Jesus loves me as I am just as much as He would love me if I were perfect. But even though His love for me is at this moment fiercer and stronger than anything I have ever felt, He will not give up on the girl He initially created – on the one He created me to be. The fullness of the identity He has for me. His mercy is literally unending, but He will never give up shaping me and refining the shape of my heart until I am fully, wholly His. Until no part of me belongs to the past I left behind.

The same is true for us all. No matter where we’ve been lately. No matter how far we fall, no matter where our starting point is. No matter if we’re at the peak of success or at rock bottom. His love is unrelenting, and He will love us right to the person He created in the first place.

To that end, I give you a song of the day. There is beauty in His love, just as there is beauty in your heart. Where your hangups and imperfections start, so does His grace. His yoke is easy, His peace is abundant and I pray you are washed in it today.

God bless!

Rebekah A

Single and Seeking

CoupleI have previously mentioned on this blog that there is a lack of single Christian men in my church. To be precise, there are zero single Christian men in my local congregation. The truth is that there is a serious lack of single Christian men in the American church at large. A 2011 PEW Research study showed that there are eight single women for every one single man in the average congregation. Being a long time single with few talents and little beauty, that’s a pretty disconcerting statistic. How I could ever attract a man over the barrage of other single women available is beyond me. It is beyond me, but it is not beyond God. Yet the harsh reality is that unless things drastically change in the makeup of the church, there is a large number of women in churches today that may never marry.

For a long time I assumed that if I loved God and waited patiently, that He would just send the right man to me. My husband would just show up. The Bible says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22), which implies to me that the husband does the finding. He should pursue after his bride. Therefore, I’ve never looked for a husband. I’ve longed for one, but not actively looked for one. But recently, a member of my church opened my eyes to the fact that my future husband cannot find me if I don’t position myself in a place to be found. The Bible doesn’t just say to ask, it also tells us to seek and knock (Matthew 7:7). I had asked for a spouse, but I hadn’t really sought for one. While I take all of Matthew 7:7 to be a reference to prayer, there is a difference between asking and seeking. Seeking implies some kind of action. The sister in my church asked me what I had done, what actions had I taken in finding a spouse. Not many. I have prayed. I have been faithful. I have waited patiently in the pew for almost eleven years for my husband to walk through those doors.

If we were to compare this search to looking for a needle in haystack (which is what it feels like), I have mostly just circled repeatedly around the same haystack expecting the needle to suddenly reveal itself to me. I have not dug down into the haystack pulling out individual straws in my search. I felt that actually looking through the straws meant I was not trusting God to reveal the needle to me. If it’s His will for me to be married, He will send a man to me, right? Well, yes, and no. He will send me a partner when the time is right, but it’s not likely to happen without any participation on my part. In the Bible, Rebekah had to participate by watering the servant’s camels. Ruth’s participation was even bolder. Ruth purposely went to Boaz (at Naomi’s suggestion) and uncovered his feet while he was sleeping, and lay upon his feet. I won’t take the time to go into the historical significance of what she was actually doing, but it was very forward. She was clearly making her intentions known to Boaz. She wasn’t passively waiting for him, she actively went to him.

This brings me to where I am now. Along with the sister who helped me to see that beyond asking, I should also seek and knock, several other well-meaning Christians have recently asked me what I have actively done to find a spouse. In another post I will expand on some of the things I have done and am doing to try to place myself in a better position to be found. I have sought to form a closer relationship with God, worked out a hidden root of bitterness over the way my last relationship ended, and went through a very intense spiritual battle to fortify myself against a particular weakness I have.

Reluctantly, I have also made myself a little more visible on social media. None of the other things I’ve done do me much practical good when there aren’t any prospects in my church (or even in my district), so I decided I needed to do something to widen the circle. This is fraught with a lot of uncertainty and not a few painful rejections. I’ve seriously been considering going back into hiding, but then I think of Rebekah M and her new found interest who she met through social media and I think perhaps it’s worth trying to stick it out awhile longer. I haven’t quite figured out where the line is between not doing enough and pushing too hard. In the end, it’s up to God. I still believe when I am ready and the timing is right, He will send me a companion. Until then, may God grant me the grace to keep waiting.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Standards of Beauty

整形外科 - Plastic Surgery

整形外科 (Plastic Surgery)

I am currently on a company trip to Hong Kong, Beijing, and Taipei. This post is just an observation about the beauty standards that are prevalent here. It’s not really a spiritual post, it’s just some things that have been going through my mind since I arrived. I think it dovetails nicely with Rebekah M.’s last post, The Monster in the Mirror. Please don’t take this post as criticizing the culture. I am well aware that my own culture is just as flawed and has just as many ridiculous standards. These are just my thoughts and observations.

There is an impossible standard of beauty here. This is true the world over, but it seems especially prevalent here. It amazes me that I can take a walk and get handed packs of tissues from at least three different plastic surgery outfits on a single street.

Plastic surgery is increasingly common in the west, but it’s still pretty much relegated to celebrities and the super rich. Here, it’s not uncommon for your average woman to seek it out. There’s nose jobs to be had, chin chiseling (to get that impossible heart-shaped face), double eye-lid surgery, liposuction, and the surgery to help you get rid of your radish legs. In other words, surgery to change you from something perfectly normal to something supposedly more attractive. There’s even a strangely popular procedure to turn your areolas into hearts. Really? Who would want or need such a thing? Especially something that so obviously can only be accomplished through surgery?

All of the constant focus on beauty here makes me feel really insecure. I do not live up to my own culture’s standards of beauty and really don’t live up to this culture’s standard of beauty.

Honestly, I think those women with the extreme heart faces look weird. It’s unnatural. I think the surgery to get a double eye-lid is a disheartening attempt to appear more “western”. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but that’s sure what it seems like. And radish legs? Seriously? I always thought your thighs were supposed to be wider than your calves. This is considered something so ugly that it bears it’s own insult?

I guess it can be compared to the teenage obsession in the US to have a thigh gap. A few months ago I saw a picture one of our youth at church posted on her instagram account. She had photoshopped the picture in order to give the appearance that she had a thigh gap. It was a rather poor photoshop job so that’s how I knew and it made me so sad because she is a beautiful girl. An absolutely gorgeous girl actually. But there’s that impossible standard of beauty everywhere. Pretty girls are not exempt.

So I know it isn’t unique to this area, but perhaps because I’m in a foreign place it’s even more obvious to me. After all, we tend to do a lot more observing when we’re in an unfamiliar environment. Here most girls don’t flaunt their bosoms the way they do back home. You won’t often see low-cut tops, but you know what you do see? Super short skirts and shorts. Legs seem to be the body part of choice to show off. Therefore, they need to be perfect.

Then there’s the whitening creams, celulite reducers, fake eyelashes, and round contacts. The obsession to look…different…better…younger is everywhere. This goes far beyond the typical fat shaming which is done en masse, but also focuses heavily on things that are completely beyond personal control.

For example, being short is an insult. Being someone of short stature myself, I find it interesting. On the one hand, I love coming here and not always being the shortest one in any given gathering. Back home everyone is taller than me. Here, most people are still taller than me, but the difference in height is much less pronounced. I might be the shortest in a group, but it will only be by a few inches rather than by a foot or more. It’s an amazing feeling to be with a group of people and actually be able to talk to them face to face. I have spent my life literally looking up to people. Taller people are often unaware of how uncomfortable it is when they stand too close. The closer they stand, the sharper the angle my neck has to be at in order to look at them (keep this in mind when talking to small children). I sometimes wonder if this is the cause of my chronic neck pain, but that’s another story.

Anyway, this amazing feeling of not being quite so short here is dampened by the fact that here being short is an insult. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone describe another person as “plain and short” as a way to say they aren’t worth anything. They don’t deserve a boyfriend etc. because they are so “ugly – plain and short”. It’s strange to me. Back home being short is just a description, it’s not an insult. Your friends might kid you about it, but you’ll never hear someone call a person short in the same way you hear people call someone fat; like it’s a horrible thing to be – but here you do. It’s strange to me. At least when you insult someone for being fat (which I’m not a fan of either) the person likely has some control over whether they’re fat. When you insult someone for being short, you’re insulting something that they have almost no control over. It’s determined almost entirely by genes. Good nutrition in early childhood can make a difference, but that isn’t something most kids can control.

I say all that to point out how ridiculous the standards of beauty are. There’s actually a ton more examples of this that I could share, but the point is that many of them are literally unattainable (or only possible with surgical intervention). People grow up hating themselves. Hating the bodies that God gave them. If only they knew that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

God Provides

testToday at work I received a payroll check for one of our employees. The check was a replacement for one that was originally issued more than three and a half years ago that was somehow never cashed. The employee had no idea this check was coming. I live for these moments.

When I saw her I exclaimed that God had sent her a blessing as I handed her the check. Bewildered she stared at it and of course inquired what it was for. After I explained, she nearly broke down. Recently, she has been struggling financially as she had to take a cut in pay last year. She told me that her bank account is currently $33 in the negative. She said that she had committed to sending $100 to a missions work in Cambodia and even though she didn’t have the money, she sent it anyway. She told her father that God would provide the money. Her father was skeptical and said, “How is He going to do that?” She said she didn’t know, but she believed He would. The check she received today was for more than $1200!

Let me be clear that I am not advocating for anyone to be financially unwise. We need to budget and plan accordingly. However, if God places it in your heart to step out in faith and give, and you make a commitment to do so, don’t back out of your commitment. Trust that He will provide!

I live for these moments. It is wonderful to watch God provide for His children and strengthen their faith. She stepped out in faith and God opened His windows of heaven to pour out a blessing! Yes, it was technically already her money, but it was money that she didn’t need or miss at the time (nearly four years ago) and instead it arrived exactly when she needed it! God’s timing is impeccable. She kept her commitment to the souls in Cambodia and put her trust in God. He provided. It is a testimony to her father and it is a testimony to me. To God be the glory!'GOD' 'ALWAYS' ‘PROVIDES' - Philippians 4 verse 19

Thank you, Jesus!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

PS. Please share your recent testimonies with us.

We love to hear them!

Learning to Love like Jesus

LI have this little problem. I love hard. I love deep. I love people too much. Rather, I love people too selfishly; with too many expectations. I get frustrated when people don’t love me the way that I love them. I find myself feeling disappointed when I don’t receive love back the way that I give it out. Even when people actually love me better than I love them, I have trouble recognizing it when it comes in a form that is unfamiliar to me. In my disappointment I have often told myself that the solution is to love them less. If I didn’t love them so much, it wouldn’t hurt so much when things don’t happen the way I think they should. I have tried countless times to love people less and I fail miserably at it. Why would I try to love someone less? Because the more neutral your feelings toward someone, the less the things they do (or don’t do) affect you. I’m tired of feeling hurt and disappointed. I am tired of hoping things will be different and finding they never are. I’m tired of feeling like I love people so much and they don’t love me back. It’s a lie from the enemy; People do love me. I’m just not that good at recognizing it.

Thank God Jesus is not like me! The truth is that I don’t need to learn to love less; I need to learn to love differently. I need to love with a pure love. A love that doesn’t ask for anything in return. A love without expectation. When the people didn’t love Jesus the way He loved them, did He give up on them or walk away? Did He try to love them less so that it wouldn’t hurt so much if they didn’t love Him back? No, He loves unconditionally. He loved us so deeply that He hung on a cross and died for us. That’s the kind of love I need. I need to learn to love more, not less. I need to learn to consistently be compassionate, turn the other cheek, and forgive. I need to learn to love like Jesus.

Lord, teach me to love like you love. Teach me how to see people the way that you do. Teach me not to view things from my selfish perspective, but to always see them through the mercy and love of the Lord. Teach me to love like Jesus.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Freedom from Harassment

For the past two years I have been dealing with blatant sexual harassment from a co-worker. It started when this man asked me out on a date. He was a pastor of a denomination similar to mine and had always been very friendly with me. Although not well known by the English speakers in my company, he was highly respected among the Hispanic employees (He is Latin American) and I was intrigued by him. I agreed to the date.

We had a nice time and I readily agreed to a second date. I began to wonder if it might be God’s plan for us to partner together for the work of the Kingdom. I wanted him to be the one, but I couldn’t shake this feeling in the pit of my stomach that something just wasn’t right. It was after the fourth date that I found out that he is married! He never wore a ring and had never mentioned a wife so I really had no idea. This was not even a case of him being separated, he is a fully married man! Obviously, that was the end for me.

But it was not the end. Not for him. Not by a long shot.

He refused to accept that I was no longer interested in him. He refused to back down. He would not leave me alone. He would beg me to give him a chance. He would come to my office and tell me the explicit things he fantasized about doing with me. He would tell me that I was in his heart and mind. He would plead with me to have sex with him “just one time. Just one time, por favor.”

Suddenly the man who had always seemed so friendly became aggressive and frightening. It didn’t matter how many times I said no, he wouldn’t stop. He began purposely trying to intimidate me. He would block my exit from my office. He would follow me into the women’s restroom. He would be waiting at my car when I tried to leave for the day. If I wrote all of the things he said and did over the last two years, you would be amazed (and perhaps judgmental) about the fact that I did not do more to stop it. For a while I was paralyzed by it. It was scary to me. I didn’t know how to handle it.

I determined in my heart that I didn’t want to be the reason that this man lost his job. He has a family to support. I kept praying that God would have mercy on him and grant him a heart of repentance. I prayed that he would get a revelation of God that would change his behavior. When things didn’t seem to change I began to pray that God would get this man away from me. I didn’t really care how it happened; I just wanted it to happen. I prayed he would repent and leave me alone. When it seemed he wasn’t going to do that I prayed he would transfer to another location in our company. When that didn’t happen I prayed he would find another job or quit. I just kept praying for God to get him away from me.

It took a while, but eventually I began to see things differently. God helped me to fight the battle spiritually. He helped me to recognize that this man is under the influence of Satan and he needs deliverance. He never changed his behavior, but the effect it had on me changed. I stopped being afraid. I stopped letting it linger in my mind. I just kept giving it to God. Somewhere along the way, the peace of God began to replace the negative thoughts and feelings I had. I began to focus all my prayers on his soul. He is a man who is spiritually in a very dangerous place.

Yesterday I got notice that this man is being laid off. Finally, he will be away from me. I pray that he is able to find another job quickly, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I feel relief. I find it interesting that it wasn’t until I found peace in the situation that the answer to my prayer came. I’m not saying that he is being laid off because of my prayers, but it is an answer to my prayer. I could have had him fired a long time ago, but I didn’t want to be personally responsible for him losing his income.

I have mixed feelings about this. I rejoice in my deliverance, but I grieve for his continued bondage. I pray that he does not become a problem for someone else. May God have mercy on his soul.

Have you ever experienced something like this in your walk with God?

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Send Me

I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me.” -Isaiah 6:8

I have exciting news. I will be going back to China and Taiwan! It will be another short trip through my company similar to the one I went on last year. It won’t be for a while, perhaps not until spring, but the plans are falling into place. I have no idea what the spiritual significance will be, but I have no doubt that this is the will of the Lord. I had to go through several steps over a period of months during the selection process which entailed completing an application, submitting an essay, getting letters of recommendation, having a panel interview, and taking a Chinese proficiency test. At each one of these steps I prayed for the Lord to either open the door or close the door according to His will. From a human perspective I am far from the best candidate for the job so I know that being selected was only by the hand of the Lord. He has a purpose for allowing me another opportunity to go and I am humbled, grateful, and excited. I pray that He will allow me to be a vessel to reach the souls I come across. Lord open doors, open doors, open doors!

In His Love,
Rebekah L.