Monday, September 26, 2011

Fearfully Wonderfully made.

Psalm 139

Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night”,
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain![b]
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts![c]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting![d]


"I Praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made". This has a whole new meaning for me today. Most of you know that my eczema has been an incredible thorn for me. It's not hard to feel like there was a mistake made when i was being formed in my mother's womb...

After being in France, I was challenged by my host mom and a Corsican lady to find if there were any traumatic experiences that could have psychologically triggered my condition. Even if it was something stupid, but as a child I was deeply affected. So I was prompted to ask my mom. There was one day that I dared to ask my mom that very question. She shook her head... she said nothing particular. But then a thought came to my mind...

"Mom, did you take care of yourself during your pregnancy after Grandpa died?"

She was silent and her faced changed.

"Grace, how could I have? I was mourning for grandpa. I had so much to take care of, like the funeral... when those kind of things happen, you don't watch what you eat as much. You don't sleep as well. You aren't yourself."

"Do you skin condition is the result of this?"

"I've thought bout it before...but how could we know for sure."

But i think in both our hearts, it haunts us. My mom had never told me this.

And yet, God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made...he knitted me in my mother's womb. He knew what He was doing, even when my mom didn't and couldn't care for it. He allowed this to happen and to this day... i question why. So much suffering. But God's strength is made perfect in my weakness...i know that much. I have this because I am to be humble.

My name is a prophecy. My name is a testimony of his sovereignty and faithfulness in my life. I was named "Grace" by my parents because I was a gift from God after my grandpa passed away. Charis, Grace in Greek, means "favor"....meaning the ability given by God to do that which in impossible.

I received a word of prophecy from a stranger in the Awakening Conference...a girl who didn't know my name.

"You are made to do the impossible. It's a theme in your life. Everyone keeps telling that what you want to do is impossible. But I tell you...what is impossible to possible with God. Persevere."

It's a struggle to live in the light of God's grace everyday. But it's a choice I have to make. I am not a mistake.... God didn't make any mistakes. He's perfect. I have a beautiful imperfection. Jesus loves me. Jesus Loves me.

I ask for healing for myself. Mostly my heart. I ask for healing on behalf of my mother and my family. This is a burden they carry with me. I ask that they not carry guilt. I do not blame my mom, nor do I want to blame God. So I hope she doesn't either. I ask that we try not to correct me. But I ask that we learn to live in light of God's grace for us, in whatever way that is supposed to be. I want faith and trust in His goodness. God makes beautiful things outta dust... I am beautiful.

Search my heart O God. Know my Heart. Lead me in the way everlasting.

Praise God. My skin is healing, this past week has been one of the most freeing experiences I've had for the past 8 months. I've been able to sleep at night. It's not perfect or completely healed, but it's doing well. Most importantly, I've been loved and prayed for. Thanks guys. :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

2nd Best

God has been soo gracious with me upon my return home from what seemed like a desert in Paris. I can't believe how many blessings he's showered on me even after just being back for a month. He's constantly reminding me that He is at work in the world, and that I need patience to wait, but also the willingness to seek for His goodness in the things that already are.

Just recently has the Lord been affirming thru brothers and sisters, and the Word that my passions are given by Him. I was beginning to believe that my dreams were foolish and unrealistic. Afterall, I've always been a dreamer and the possibilities that swarm in my imagination have been a bunch of fairytales I created to comfort or remove myself from reality, ever since I was a kid.

But it's been rare that i've seen my dreams come alive. I know God's been reminding me of His sovereignty and omniscience, so who am I to complain and challenge?

Now things are coming into fruition. I thought my petty desire to go to Paris or France in general would be forbidden to pursue. It just seemed too much out of reach. I just rewatched Beauty and the Beast (for the 1000th time) and my dad laughed at me. I believe this movie had a unordinarily large influence on my desire to love the French language and to see the franco world myself. And though the experience didn't turn out the way I had hoped for it to, I still acknowledge it is God who granted the chance and that He still used it to grow me.

My calling. God has spoken to me quite clearly these past few months... and it's terrifying me. It's something I'm passionate bout and yet I have been slow to truly and fully accept it. I'm beginning to understand why the Lord had withheld telling me earlier, even though there were suspicions running thru my mind. First, I believe He wanted to see if i would be faithful with where I was, 2nd He knew I was not quite ready to focus on it, and 3rd He wanted to see that if I was stripped of it, if I would see be fully satisfied in Him alone.

I told one of my best friends about the calling the other day. She smiled at the encouragement I received, but then I started weeping (I cry a lot)..
"Oh no, not now. Why are you crying?"

"I'm scared"


I thought to myself, "Em, you don't get it. The people I want to serve and serve with, don't want me. I'm not good enough for them. I'm good enough for God, but not for them."

...I had slowly been coming to this gross realization in my heart, that even if the Lord called me to this, I was deemed not good enough by others. At that moment, it hit me hard. I knew, I refused in my heart to pursue the calling, because I would be shadowed by those around me who I saw as more capable, I didn't want to look a fool, because in the past people have questioned me. Instantly, popped faces in my head of people that were adored for that which I am pursuing and how they're so easily trusted, when I feel like I have to fight to be noticed. I know the person i should focus on is God. My work and devotion is not to men and it is for His Glory to be seen that I live my life. But it's a battle.

Today Dr. McCord spoke on Haggai 2: 1-8. He asked the congregation, " Do any of u guys feel like ur 2nd best...?" He proceeded to talk about he Israelites in the book of Haggai who labored to rebuild the Temple. In their minds, it was nothing like the one that Solomon built, nothing near the splendor that the temple was once before. and yet, God encourages them. He is not looking for rooms of gold to dwell in. But his shekinah glory will be even greater in this seemingly ordinary temple and He will shake the earth. Little did these people know when they were working to be faithful, that the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ would walk and teach in this temple. Christ Himself, was not what the chosen people wanted. Seemingly, ordinary and weak He was, but was the one to conquer sin and death, through a humble manner, the cross.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
(Isaiah 53)

And so now, I will dedicate myself, to realize that it is not the worldly or material things that matter, even if that is what others are pressing for me to believe. Instead, I choose to see the glory of God manifested in the weak things of this world, so that they may shame the strong, to shame the Wise. Because then all the glory, honor, and power go to Him alone.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Getting my vision clearer...

I went to the Optometrist today. It had been quite a day so I expected to have a quick breeze-through appointment to get my contacts after a long day of singing w/ little kiddies in JSP. What I didn't expect was for God to meet me at the small Costco eye office.

I sat down in the chair w/ the big mechanism in front of my face, hoping to once more to find the best way for my eyes to see the tiny letters projected on the wall in front of me. I noticed right as I walked in that the doctor asked me how I was doing. At first, I thought it was one of those everyday, routine, supposed-to-be-polite greetings, and I said "I'm good". But he asked me again, a bit emphatic the second time, as if he hadn't heard my answer. Which struck me as a bit odd, so I gave him a bit more of an answer telling him I had just had a long day at work. He chuckled gently at my answer...I could instantly tell he was a soften spoken man. He proceeded to check out my eyes and asked, as he should, whether or not I had been consistently wearing my contacts. I told him yes, but however, that I hadn't worn them in 6 months because I had just went abroad. He asked where I went, i told him France. Eventually told him i went to study French and music there.

"What instrument?"


"O really?? I'm married to a pianist... She made it through Indiana University (a prestigious school for music). Now she's just composing and really into ceramics. I can't get her outta the clay."

It peaked my curiosity. Apparently piano was not the only thing she loved. I get her.

"Amazing, she loves other art."

"Oh yea, you both have it hard as musicians. People always say they want to be as good as her. She only replies, Yea well if anyone locks themselves in a room for hours everyday to practice, then anyone can be good..."

"HAHA, yea I totally agree. It's those claustrophobic rooms"

"Were you in France for a high school program or university...?"

"I was on a study abroad program for a university in France, but really I study at Wheaton College"

Oddly enough, it took me some bit of courage to even tell him such. Wheaton College... not many people know of it really. They kinda mix it up with the other school in MA w/ the same exact name. and if I end up telling whoever it is that it's gets awkward..but I decided I can't be ashamed of it...

"Wheaton?...You mean you're part of the Wheaton College Conservatory? That's a good school. Actually my wife used to teach at Moody as a piano professor".

The way he said Wheaton. I knew he knew the school at the instant it came out of his mouth. The adults on campus aspirate what I would normally think is the silent "h". I laughed inside.

"She was a College professor. She loved the kids, but she didn't like the administrative part of teaching. She ended up giving up her job to be a stay-at-home mom.It's hard"

A question that I had thought of before. He squinted his eyes at me. Examining to see how open to conversation i would be...i returned w/ a smile.

"Wow. Yea I've question this nearly everyday."

"It's demanding. My wife gave up pursuing the stage-life. She's no longer a college professor. But it's ok. She takes up accompanying jobs, vocal coaching, and she composes. Sometimes you guys are trained and forced to believe those few are the only jobs worth taking. It's about getting the reputation. It's not true and that's not always what God creates you to be. That might not be exactly your passion. The Spirit will lead to you it.... Haha I'm sure you learned a lot about humility in France...didn't you? Where were you exactly?"

"HAHA...yea EVERYDAY. I learned bout humility everyday (shakes head). I was in Paris. hehe yea I know. Actually in France, it all of sudden clicked to me, that I didn't know what I was gonna do after college, and I didn't have to be the piano professor I always had strived to be. But it was all right and i'm trusting in God. It was like He told me, it doesn't matter what you do, I'll be there with you. What I want for you is to become like Christ. I will make you into the person you're supposed to be."

"Uh huh. You just have to be faithful. Even as a physician I had so many choices. I did residency, fellowship, etc. It took me a while to figure out this is what I wanted to do. So then how are you gonna finish your last year? What else are you looking at?"

"Um..well. I'll be finishing my degree in piano and I'm going to work the best I can, especially for my senior recital. But i also prayed about the decision to serve in a ministry on campus and I'm gonna try to balance both. I love helping out people...i get energy from it...not like I'm gonna go into full-time ministry...."

"Everything you do is full-time ministry. Whatever field you serve..."

He shared about how his wife was good at evangelism. But sometimes she just wants people to understand that that isn't where her passion is even though she can do it.

"She loves to create. Her art is her ministry. It's the thing she feels most at peace about. She knows God created her to do it."

He shared how she's writing an opera, collaborating with other musicians from the chicago land area...and though it's a lot of work, she's happy, AND she tells stories of God through her work.

"You guys as pianists are so good at trying to live up to people's expectations. We're not supposed to focus on the world's expectations."

Bingo. the reason i ran away to Paris. I needed a break from following what everyone else convinced me to do. Never felt like risking relationships, so I always was good at doing what everyone wanted me to do. Couldn't take it anymore. I needed to breathe.

"Yea Imma try to be a steward of what I've been given as a faithful as I can. I'm gonna try not to slack off".

" pianists don't ever slack off. Not worried bout can you see the letters on the wall?"

I finished my check up and got a nice pair of contact lenses to try out til my follow up. The connection between the new found brother in Christ was interrupted when my semi-boisterous mom came into the office and said her duty was to pay for me. I never expect anything else from my mom. The gentle doctor caught off guard by her loud but oddly cheery personality just responded "So the total will be 500 dollars...and i get to treat you guys out to dinner too...just joking :)". My mom laughed. We said bye to another and i thanked him.

I didn't know the name of my doctor. He was in a rush to see his last patient, not surprisingly since i took up so much time. He was filling in for the doctor who was not in today. But yet, the nameless stranger,made it clear we are of the same family of Christ. I had a divine appointment...and little did I know that not only my eye vision would get better, but my soul/heart vision.

Thank you Lord. :)

Saturday, May 7, 2011


It's my last 3 weeks here in Paris...and it's scary because I'm slowly passing from reality to memory. i'm not ready yet. I just got from going thru the tunnel of dream to reality...

but hopefully these will be impressionable memories. :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The art in subtlety

So I'm taking a Contemporary French film class here in Paris and it's opened a whole new world of expression to me. Thankfully I don't receive any work for this class, but regardless, the films that we watch are incredibly difficult for me. Aside from the language barrier, stylistically things are different. American Cinema is so incredibly overt. It's funny, because Americans feel like they have to articulate everything on their mind. They feel the need to explain everything, or to be dramatic about it. I feel like cynicism concerning film in the States concerns cheesy plot lines, tacky dialogue, and predictable endings ( I know I'm stating over-generalizations). A good film consists of good action, dramatic music, understandable chemistry, memorable events, and ridiculously looking people. Things are usually literal...and sometimes the easiest way to make something seem profound is just to tack on a shallow out-of-place cliff hanger. cliché is nearly unavoidable.

French film is much more reflective...poetic...metaphorical...subtle. I admit, some of the sequences in a number of films I've seen are boring. But I've realized a lot of it is because A) I don't understand the language and it's nuances B) I don't get cultural norms....meaning I can't read the body language, the energy in situations, and chemistry between characters. There's much more mystery and even awkward tension and it's OK to leave it that way. To try to solve everything or to make everything comfortable just takes away from artistry in some ways. I've found some scenes and sequences that seem so out of place's confusing. Music and costumes are much less busy. and like the speechless exchanges people give one another.

My French mom told me how there are 2 degrees of conversation when it comes to French. 1st degree is when everything is literal. 2nd degree is more when something is implied. The best example is when my brother and I were trying new French foods that my host mom served. When she asked us how the cheese was, we both said "it's interesting". If that was taken in 1st degree, it would probably have had a good like meaning, "I'm curious about this cheese is worth another taste". But French mom could read our tone and knew it rather implied in 2nd degree that "We're not too fond of the cheese, but to be polite, we're not going to out right say "it's nasty" or "i don't like it". My host mom discussed with me how French people are similar to Chinese people with the idea of "saving face". My host mom mentioned how I'm a bit more intuitive to things she implies and intends because of my background, which I was, unknowingly. It's hilarious I think because I think that's what caused the tension between us for a long time, bc my intuitive side was able to tell she didn't fully trust me...and she would state things about her character indirectly in the way she shared bout her experiences and relationships w/ others. Many of my friends asked how she was mean to me, and I could only reply with the fact that she's not really "mean" but there were things situations that would be extremely awkward because something wasn't right (btw, things are much better now).

Right now, the stress of trying to figure out French people, especially on screen is frustrating mean, because I need to write a 10 pg paper on in it French. But otherwise I think i love the challenge because it gives me a whole other level art and acting i wanna dive into and being a "people-reader" (I admit to this) I love exploring more facets of human psychie and behavior.

(fyi: I love both American and French film for very different reasons)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Prayer Requests

I think my biggest prayer request that continues to plague my mind, is for my relationship with my host mom. She's a divorced woman in about her 60s whose children are grown up and living abroad. She is very French, but rather conservative compared to others. She doesn't drink, even at dinner, she has a concern for conservation of energy and things, and she has conservative political tastes in comparison to the French tendency towards socialism. Its interesting having conversations with her bc she teaches me a lot about society and how modernization has affected the way of life, such as how many of the couples her age are divorced now, how young people neglect family time, how manners and chivalry are forgotten, and how sad it all is. Those things are interesting, seeing that she isn't truly Christian, but she is likes to keep Catholic traditions. She values strong integrity. She has many criticisms towards the church that she hints, but she will, once in a while, mention that France is Christian by it's nature and it's origin. She knows that I do my best to attend church and bible studies every week and perhaps she understands that I take my faith seriously, though I've never had the chance to vocalize it. She is accepting of my practices, but she has before told me her fear towards the church. (sidenote: The longer I stay here, the longer I grow sad for the pain the Church as brought upon others, in the name of Christ. We need redemption.)

But i always feel uneasy around her. There are certain things around the house she is strict with, and yet I understand. She is teaching me how to be respectful to those around me, especially with those I live. For instance, I can't be up late moving around my room bc the floors creak, the walls are thin, my drawers are too noisy, and it disturbs those who sleep below me and in the rooms next door. I have to be conscious of so's sometimes burdensome. She's told me, she's only strict with those whom she cares for. Thankfully, I know she cares for me...but sometimes I get nervous and I feel like I'm walking on a fragile line between making her happy or making her upset. It's funny, bc the times i upset her are sometimes the moments when I try to help.

Don't get me wrong. She's a caring and nice lady. We have good chats together, and she's helped me out with my film class for which we watch French movies together. But there are good days and bad days..and that's the reality when we live with other people yes? especially with those outside of our comfy families.

Hence, can you pray for me? Perhaps that there will be peace in our relationship and in my heart, I think i've messed up a number of times with her, which I think is normal, like a child messes up in front of his or her parents. The people-pleaser side of me is always unsettled. Grace is not a concept i think people understand well, w/o Jesus. Also pray for Christ's light to shine through me.

2ndly, i've tried attending a French Bible study on Tuesday nights. Apparently that is not ideal considering the fact that dinnertime at home is valuable to my host mom. I hope to find a replacement. On top of that, I would love to be bold in seeking out a true French Christian community, when and where that will be, I am not sure.

But one thing I am thankful for are for the few friends from home that have visited me here in Paris. I am getting better acquainted with many of my friends here, which i am also truly thankful for, but it's special to see friends from home in a completely different environment. I get to share a bit of what's been going on. They are a huge encouragement for me.

3rdly, perhaps i shouldn't be concerned with my life back home, bc it can be a distraction, but I'm in prayer for next school year. I'm not sure whether the Lord is calling me to serve in Koinonia or WAC. It's my senior year and i, as always, feel the collision of my life as a musician and my other life. I desire so much to walk away from music, not to give up entirely, but to no longer have it's duties haunt me. I never feel at peace bc "i need to practice". If I am called to devote my time to serving next year, I will need to sacrifice a few important things in the musical realm. Please pray for clarity and patience. But w/e I decide, may it be humbly for the Lord, and may I know that the Lord is already pleased with me.

Lastly, I am struggling with my disciplines bc somehow they don't seem to enrich my life, and I'm not sure why. I dunno if I'm just trying to feel the Spirit, when that isn't exactly what I should be aiming for. Maybe rather, the Lord desires faithfulness. I weep bc I am paralyzed when I pray or I feel like I'm mumbling insignificant things. I dunno if it's because I'm outside of the magical world of Wheaton or WAC or CCUC, and now the "ordinary life" isn't what i expected in my time here. But the Lord is faithful and I am trying to be non-complacent in the most mundane circumstances, as I have learned from a few summers ago. May God reveal Himself to me as He revealed Himself to Jacob in Egypt.

Thanks so much. :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

You Make Beautiful Things Outta Dust

“You Make Beautiful Things Outta Dust”

That song from Gungor has spoke to me most this past month. I’ve been in search for Beauty my whole life…I would even dare to say that has been my pursuit. I’m an artist… and more and more I realize that this is the gift God has given me. I love to play music, sing, dance, act, write, and draw/paint/take photos. Somehow, I’ve been blessed with a combination of these mediums of expression. As artists we desire to capture the highest image or sensation of perfection we can grasp. We die to find THE IDEA that is the complete mix of emotion, awe, color, pleasure, and knowledge. I have become so frustrated with this task…that I have lost the will to pursue it. It takes so much work and in the end, I don’t feel like it’s worth the sweat and tears. The perfectionist side of me refuses to taint, to mess up. For this reason, I have grown impatient with my music life and I would even say insecure with the idea that I, myself, am an expression of beauty.

And yet, a side of “beauty” I haven’t touched before taunts me. The French are about aesthetics and expression. The artists here master their craft well... their “mediocre” is a step up from what I have been encountering back home. It’s inspirational. It’s intimidating. The music, the visual art, the dance, the fashion, the people… There’s not a moment I don’t encounter it. I have art museums at my finger tips, music conservatories with diligent students, the normal average Parisian dresses well, I can find awesome hip hop dancers nearly any days at Les Champs Elysees, or ballet dancers at l’Opera. It’s amazing.

Then I doubt. Why do I try? Why do I care? But then I realize. I have the exact thing I have been searching for. I have God, I have Jesus. I am His and He is mine. He IS Beauty itself. I have barely even seen a glimpse of Him and yet he gives Himself freely by grace. I have been invited to touch this Beauty…to know it, to be in relationship. All this time, I have been finding Beauty. The one thing that so many artists have not encountered yet. It doesn’t take a Christian to be good at art; thankfully God graciously gave others ,who do not yet know Him, an ability to capture glory and aestheticism. But they don’t know the Creator of all creators, the Artist of all artists, the Author of authors, the Orchestrator…the Alpha, Omega. I am loved and called by Beauty itself. So many artists are dying to find Perfection and yet they’re going the other way. He has made me beautiful… I need to know that and internalize it. And what’s crazier is…the fact He can make something that is worthless … beautiful. Beauty from Pain and beauty from dust.

And now He asks me…to join Him. To co-create and to express what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard, what I know, WHO I know. I’m not sure how. I’m still figuring that out. I’m not completely perfected yet, and I will mess up. But God is beautiful, I am beautiful, and from dust, I am still being made beautiful. Perhaps I haven’t been wasting my time. I’ve been spending time with the Master and Creator Himself. I want to see dust come to life… As I’ve seen Him do…in the world, in the bible, in others, in myself. May He give me grace to be used. Soli Deo Gloria.