I’ve often used the analogy of a horse in a starting gate for many aspects of my life; to signify something is getting ready to happen. But the problem with this analogy was that I perceived things as paused or waiting to start when in actuality things were already in motion. When a horse is at a starting gate it may be momentarily waiting to take off, but this race isn’t the first time the horse has tasted action. When I think about my own life, I think about starting a new career as me behind a starting gate waiting to take off. I grew discouraged because I thought I was just waiting for things to happen. But then God reminded me that so many other things have happened to get me to this point, and I’ve been preparing for a while. Most horse races are around two minutes, but we all know that horse has been training for a lot longer to prepare. In our preparation we may grow weary with no end in sight, but God is faithful.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40: 31)
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18)
And while you may feel stuck where you are right now, it is helpful to look back at how far you’ve come.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77: 11-12)
Commentary: When you meet new trials, review how good God has been to you, this will strengthen your faith.
And when it feels like you have nothing good to reflect on remember God’s character, Psalm 103 is a great example.
It reads in part:
“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103: 1-5; 8-12)
Be blessed and keep the faith. I cant’ wait to share how my race unfolds!
A Productive Wait
As I wind down my job search for a full-time position after completing my MBA, I thought waiting was the worst part of the process but actually not having anything to wait for or hope for is the ultimate worst. That signifies a loss of hope, imagination, creativity and honestly loss of trust in God. God is never done with us. I believe He plants dreams in us through our entire time on Earth that are in His will for us to complete.
“When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139: 15-16)
“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1: 11)
Contentment through the wait is critical; gratitude for new opportunities, challenges, tests, and ultimately growth is necessary. What is being taught in the wait? What is being refined?
A wait for a job brings opportunities to grow professional skills and catch up with friends and family.
A wait for a relationship brings opportunities for self-discovery and confidence growth.
It’s hard to see it now but waiting is rarely regretted. We may never know the terrors and trials God is helping us evade during an extended wait.
I know God hasn’t failed me yet and I’m sure He never will.
“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1: 37
We all have a track record of how He’s brought us through. We have no reason to stop trusting Him; so, we should remain patient and faithful during our waiting period. Even if no evidence is provided to comfort us. Did Noah receive a drop of rain before the flood? Did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego feel a cool breeze before entering the fiery furnace?
Stay strong in the faith, future generations are depending on it.
“They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.” Psalm 145: 11-12
Better in Time
Ahh breakups, so hard but so necessary. As I go through this process again the lyrics to the 2007 Leona Lewis “Better in Time” song come to mind.
“Thought I couldn't live without you
It's going to hurt when it heals too
Oh yeah (It'll all get better in time)
Even though I really love you
I'm gonna smile because I deserve too
Oh (It'll all get better in time)
Since there's no more you and me (No more you and me)
This time I let you go so I can be free
And live my life how it should be
No matter how hard it is
I will be fine without you
Yes I will”
During this hard time, I have to comfort myself and keep putting one foot in front of the other. When I get down, I tend to get lethargic but now is not the time for lethargy. Like most breakups, I saw it coming but put it off. I think because the relationship started when I was in a point of transition (the summer in between business school years) that I believed I needed the relationship to carry me through the next transition (graduation and life beyond business school). I think the fatal flaw in that thought is I became too dependent on that person and was placing burdens on them meant for God; our relationship was supposed to last a season and I was trying to carry it into another. And now I’m depending on God to heal me and carry me into the next season.
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isiah 46:4
Friends and family have been helpful in this process, and honestly I’ve cried more from their words of encouragement than from the actual relationship ending.
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” Proverbs 27: 9
What makes a lot of breakups difficult is that they don't end badly and the person wasn’t a bad person. So feelings will inevitably linger but in the end I know that differences between us would make for a contentious marriage that ultimately wouldn’t bring God glory. Here’s a quote from the late Billy Graham,
“The ultimate thing we can say about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory. That is, it exists to display God. Now we see how: Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to His redeemed people, the church. And therefore, the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and His church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married. If you hope to be, that should be your dream.”
As I move forward, I’m seeking God for next steps. I’m excited to grow closer to Him and get more involved in ministry.
Along the Way
Sometimes it is hard to have a long-term vision for your life and not grow impatient or ungrateful in the present. I think just as God exists as Three Distinct Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) we must think of our lives in three planes: the past, present, and future. We must thank God for our past—the lessons learned, the blessings provided—and our present—His provision and protection—and our future—His blessings and Sovereignty. And when we grow impatient in the present to remember, what God promises us will come to pass.
“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” Habakkuk 2: 3
Commentary (Life Application Study Bible, NIV): To trust God fully means to trust Him even when we don’t understand why events occur as they do.
As we are operating in our present and trusting God for next steps in our path, He is right there, ready to provide the tools we need.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
This wisdom will enable us to make the right choices and decisions to be in places where God intends us to be—where we can receive our blessings.
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place where he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him to the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11: 8-10.
Commentary: Do not be surprised if God asks you to give up secure, familiar surroundings in order to carry out his will.
I don’t know your particular situation but as you work toward your next, I pray you thank God through your present, and give Him praise for carrying you through your past.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16
Knowledge is definitely power. In order to make changes, we need to become knowledgeable or exposed to things. I for one am grateful for Apple’s iOS update that included Screen Time stats. I set social media app time limits for each day and monitor my screen time from week to week to see if it has hopefully gone down. The reports are pretty detailed, and I can even see how often I pick up my phone and what is the first thing used when I do. I was surprised to see the first thing I usually go to are my messages (then email then Instagram, I’ll see if I can get Instagram down on the list!). I liked that my first thing was messages because I thought that showed some intentionality; I’m usually picking up my phone to respond to a message; otherwise its tucked away so I can be more productive. As much as I love scrolling through various timelines lately, I’ve been feeling like hmmm what else could I be doing? Could I be on a business or trade app reading up on the latest trends? Could I be reading a book for pleasure? (I’ve recently started Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration). Could I send a message to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while?
Moving forward I would like to be more intentional with my phone; and, more broadly speaking, more intentional with my time. I heard a great message from Pastor Toure Roberts recently about prayer (link below). A portion of the Lord’s Prayer is “Give us today our daily bread…” (Matthew 6: 11), each day has great value. Pastor reminds us that the most valuable day is not tomorrow or yesterday. If our greatest day was yesterday, why would God bring us into today? And tomorrow is not guaranteed. So we have to be intentional with the time we are given. It is said that procrastination is the arrogant assumption that God will give you another opportunity to do tomorrow what He anointed for you to do today. That really got me. Prayer is something that I’ve always struggled to do consistently well each day; but, now this is something I want to be more intentional about. Each day I want to seek God’s Wisdom on how He wants me to utilize the day. I’m confident if I intentionally seek God each day using the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-15) I will have a great year. I encourage you to be intentional and do the same. I’m sure your life will be blessed.
P.S. Let me know if you have any prayer requests
Link to Sermon: https://youtu.be/psUnwM0ZH_o
Write it down: Prayer Journal 2019
I’m generally not one for formal new year’s resolutions but often times I find myself reflecting going into the new year and resolving to make changes to my spiritual habits. Whether through a school break or a work vacation, I find myself with more time to reflect at the end of the year. For 2019, I want to use a prayer journal. For a while I’ve been wanting to bolster my prayer life and say more meaningful prayers. My morning prayer time can be solid sometimes but in the evenings I find myself praying right before I go to bed when my energy is at its lowest. Doesn’t God deserve my full strength? My prayers would often follow a social media scrolling session or streaming time. I need to get back to prioritizing God over my screen time. So I’ll be praying earlier in the evening to make sure God gets my best.
I also noticed that I journaled and made requests to God about certain aspects of my life but not all. If I could see God moving so clearly in some areas of my life through my journaling what other things was I overlooking by not documenting it? Writing things down is so powerful and helps me see how God is moving in my life. I can see through journaling over the last few years how I prayed through my graduate school application process and got accepted to how I asked God for specific traits in a significant other and not two weeks later I met someone who exhibited all of them :) But I also want to move beyond myself in my prayers and see these same miracles in other people’s lives. This is way I am resolving to do a prayer journal for not only all aspects of my prayer life but for many aspects of others. I’ll also touch on community and world issues. I’m hopeful that throughout the year I will see God’s work and progress. I welcome you to join me in this journey.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on Earth agree on anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18: 19-20.
It's Your Own
My spirit was stirred during a recent church service to restore back intimacy in my relationship with God. I caught myself on the other side of a storm and in a place of calm. It’s in the storm that I’m closest to God and my faith is the strongest. I always tell myself I want to be close to God whether I’m in the valley or on the mountaintop but inevitably I find myself drifting away during times of less resistance and struggle in my life. But I believe God is gracious and gently prods us to return to His presence during times of distance and when we seek Him out, He hears us.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33: 3)
Commentary: God is ready to answer our prayers, but we must ask for His assistance. Surely God could take care of our needs without our asking. But when we ask, we are acknowledging that He alone is God and that we cannot accomplish in our own strength all that is in His domain to do.
As I worked to restore my intimacy with God, I decided to journal. I enjoy journaling because I’ve always liked to read and write. I love to journal prayer requests and concerns because then I can look back and see how far God has brought me. I think embedded in our passions is the most intimate and natural way we can fellowship with God. As a writer and communicator, I feel closest to God when I’m journaling, blogging, reading commentary, or simply speaking with Him. For musicians, you’re highest form of intimacy may be when you’re strumming your guitar or humming; for outdoors people, it may be when you’re hiking or surfing. God is so great in that He’s made us all different; your fellowship with Him will look like no one else’s.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the Earth, your eyes saw my unformed body…” (Psalm 139: 14-16)
So as we are all unique, I encourage you to make your intimate time with God your own; whether you find yourself journaling, singing a song, painting; whatever it is I encourage you to continue to stimulate and grow your relationship with God. He is always there, patiently waiting for you to draw near.
“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4: 8)
This school year I moved into a new house. I went from sharing a bathroom with 2 people to having my own bathroom (while exciting in LA, definitely something I took for granted before I lived here)! My new bathroom allows me the privacy and time to take bubble baths. It took me a month into the new place before I took my first one but boy am I glad I did! It was so relaxing and refreshing; a moment to disconnect and recharge.
Disconnect from the world’s need to always be on and always respond right away; to incessantly scroll and like. And reconnect and recharge into God’s plan for my life. What is He trying to tell me at the moment? What messages was I missing with all the noise and interference? What instructions does He have for my next steps?
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:7)
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5: 14-15
Commentary (NIV, Life Application Study Bible): When we communicate with God, we don’t demand what we want; rather we discuss with him what he wants for us. If we align our prayers to his will; he will listen; and we can be certain that if he listens, he will give us a definite answer. Start praying with confidence!
So I encourage you to find your quiet place; the place where you can disconnect and recharge.
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” Matthew 14: 22-24
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35
Jesus went to the mountainside, my new quiet place of choice is the tub, but yours can be wherever; God can meet you anywhere.
When I came to California I had an idea of what the first year of my MBA program would look like: I’d breeze through my classes, get an entertainment summer internship, and be THE sought out 2nd year to speak with when classes resumed in the fall. Whelp I was wrong on all accounts. While there have been many high moments in business school and great experiences there have also been many trials and struggles. Thankfully I was pretty solid on my sense of self before business school started but there would have to be a lot of professional growth that needed to take place in between business school years.
I had to get some tangible internship experience and I had to get my hunger back. When I first started the program, I would have been content interning at a big company and taking cute pics, but my naivety and immaturity probably wouldn’t have gotten me far in the role or helped in my campaign for full time positions. So God led me somewhere unexpected: an e-commerce art company, a position I almost didn’t apply for. It is in this role working alongside the company founder that I am being molded and equip. As the business is only comprised of myself and the founder I have a lot of responsibility and a vested interest in wanting to see the company succeed. As there are only two of us, there is nowhere to hide, no one to pick up my slack if the work doesn’t get done. I also take more pride in my work and try to make every minute count because I know my hourly rate is coming from an entrepreneur and not a major corporation. In my role, my voice is heard, and I get to wear a lot of hats. Creative direct a photoshoot? Sure! Reach out to potential business partners? Check! Find opportunities to participate in promotional events in the city? Got it! I know I wouldn’t have gotten this kind of varied experience anywhere else; like positions prior to business school I may have slipped through the managerial cracks and simply done my role, not seeking out additional projects or new ideas.
Furthermore, in regards to getting my hunger back, the process of landing a summer internship was long and full of many highs and lows. But I’m grateful to be in the mode of seeking out opportunities, keeping relationships warm, and constantly keeping my skills sharp as I will need this same energy to begin looking for full-time opportunities in the fall.
So as you go about your life and see things aren’t unfolding as they seem, look a little closer and see if God is redirecting you. That redirection may not mean you won’t get to your same final destination but God needed to take you a different route because there were some things He needed to show you along the way.
“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25: 4)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 56: 8-9)
“All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21: 2)
10 Years Later
The 10-year mark since my car accident and traumatic brain injury fell during my Tokyo trip and on the same day as the royal wedding but I would be remiss if I didn’t reflect on May 19, 2008, and how far I’ve come since then. I’m grateful for the life I’ve been able to live since May 19, 2008. I went from possibly not living to see my high school graduation to graduating high school on-time with my class, to graduating Magna Cum Laude from college, working for 4 years in local news production, completing 1 year of a top-tier full-time MBA program, and traveling the world along the way. I speak a lot about my accident, so I’ll keep it short and reflect on 10 truths I’ve realized over the last 10 years:
Hi! I'm Marilyn!