Within One Day, One Month, One Year…

Today marks a year since I found out for real that my dad had cancer.  To be honest, I just couldn’t believe it.  He passed away within the week.  A part of me at times is still very mad at the hospital staff.  Why didn’t they work to save his life?  What does a DNR have to do with it?  Aren’t doctors supposed to do everything they can to save a person’s life?  Of course, I didn’t attend the meeting with the doctor, so I don’t honestly know how terrible my dad’s cancer had progressed. But, I had just seen him in April, and there was no talk of cancer then. How can doctors suddenly find a gross stage of terminal cancer when they failed to find it all along?  These things perplexed and angered me.  All along, I had hoped that none of it was true. I prayed he would be well.

I can still remember how just last year I was crying out, “Jesus! Jesus!” over the phone as my brother was telling me the news–for real.  There was no way to deny it anymore. But, shock does that to a person for a season.  I was in shock, and I couldn’t accept it.  But, I remember that after writing a five page paper for my American Politics Class, suddenly truth settled it.  I had to go home.  Everyone else was there at the hospital already.

Within the week, dad passed away, and within the month, we buried him. All that within this year.  Nobody talks about it anymore.  And, I try to tell myself to not rehash it all.  But, I’m a writer.  This is my way of grieving.  After all, June is his birthday, and he passed away a day before his birthday. June is also Father’s Day.  No wonder it’s all hitting me right now.

Since last June, I’ve moved from Texas to Virginia.  I’ve finished 2 Constitutional Law Classes and a class on Presidency.  I have also become part of a wonderful church, and I now live in Chesapeake.

Since last June, I have also learned to care for someone to find that God had others plans, and I have, instead, poured my life into teaching 6th graders in a Title One school.  More are the children of the desolate woman, the Word says.  Somedays, I wonder if God will ever allow me to marry and have a family of my own.  Then, I realize how He has filled my lack with His Presence and allowed me to minister to a lot of hurting families.  Maybe in heaven that is how family works.

Today, I watched the Norfolk community serve its community by providing food, shoes, and opportunities for families.  It was amazing to see churches, businesses, and non-profit organizations coming together to serve the area.  I also got to have some heart to heart conversations where I heard myself speak about my heart’s desires.

Yes, a lot has happened within this year. But, these are the things I know.  I know that dad gave his heart to Jesus Christ; I will see him again at Home.  I also know that God has brought me here to Virginia to continue trusting in His Promises, and He has been faithful to use me in the schools and community.  Furthermore, I know He is with me.  He is with me in every sweet word of encouragement I receive from new friendships and from my older friendships.  He is with me in the provisions He has granted me here on this ground.

I bless the Lord.  I know He is going to do something truly amazing in the coming days.  When we choose to say yes to Jesus, He is able to do extraordinary things in and through our lives.

I decided to get back into blogging again.  I hope this entry blessed you.  No matter where you are in this season, I understand how within one day, one month, one year—so much can happen. Imagine how God sees it all! To him, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years, like 1 day.  I love that HE is the constant in all of this.  That’s what makes everything hold together for good.

Blessings in Christ,

Christine

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Jesus is Home

In the winter of 2011 I was staying with a friend. I had gone to church and came home late. She had gone to a friend’s, and she was sleeping on the couch. I was shivering out in my car outside her home.

It was about 1:30- 2:00 a.m. and I was on the phone with a friend from Buffalo, New York. We were praying. I was overwhelmed because I didn’t understand what God was doing in my life. Why was I out in my car, instead of in my own comfy apartment, asleep?

While I was crying out to God in prayer with my friend on the phone, I asked the question, “What about me, God? What about me?” And, then, boom…it got really quiet, and my friend I felt God’s Holy Spirit. I was’t expecting an answer. I was just whining because I was freezing out in my little Corolla (yes, my sweet Corolla I still have-Blessing!) wondering where my friend was. But, God had an answer BEYOND ME. An answer that resonates with what I see today regarding the hurricane in Houston.

Suddenly, the Spirit of God said, “What about you? You have everything you need for Life and Godliness.” Then there was a flash of light and a vision in my heart. Then the Spirit said, “What about them?” What I saw were MULTITUDES of homeless people. And, they weren’t homeless because they were on drugs or addicted to alcohol. God then said, “you have a Home in me. But, What about them? They don’t have Home. They don’t have Me.”

I bawled. A hard cry. I knew God was saying I was alright. But, He was also challenging me to see like He sees. To give my life away. My friend was on the other end, she was part of the moment because I told her what was going on as it was happening. God showed me multitudes of lost souls who would be homeless, but ultimately they would be Homeless without Him. What about them? In that moment I knew that God was trying to show me that I would serve in missions, but His way. Jesus would train me and give me everything I needed to GO.

He wanted me to understand the call and offer Home to lost souls who don’t know Jesus Christ, our true Home. With Hurricane Harvey taking the homes of so many Texans, I have an opportunity this season to be His hands and feet. To tell the good news. To go. So do you.

Sometimes God sends us back to a place, not for ourselves, but for others. To GO. Friends, I get that this is one of the reasons He sent me back to Texas this late summer when I was willing to resettle back in my hometown in Illinois after my dad passed away. No, God didn’t want me in Illinois. He wanted me to be brave. To trust Him. To come back here. To Texas. To give my lufe away. So, He can use me. Okay! So, I obeyed.

What about your part, too? Your call? Who is your Home? Who around you needs to know that? How can you offer Home, Jesus, to them?

It is time to expect unity and to serve others in humility. Our nation needs hope. Our nation needs Home. Our nation needs Jesus. We all who are in Christ can do our part to share the Gospel and Hope. Missions always happens in our own back yard, afterall.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:16-21

🌿Loss:  My Dad Went Home

Tomorrow we will bury my dad’s ashes in the ground.  The guns will fire their shots honoring my dad’s military years of service.  Those really were some of his honorable days. His most honorable day to me, however, was this past April when he repented of his sins and asked Jesus to take his whole life and in exchange give him all of His.  My dad asked Jesus to fill him with the Holy Spirit.  I didn’t know then what I know now. God allowed me to make a drive from Texas to Illinois all in one night, so I could prepare my daddy to meet Jesus two months later. I promise I didn’t know. I was looking forward to him someday walking me down the aisle….

He saved my life when he came back to South Korea when I was a baby.  Maybe someday I can share the whole story, but for now, I know my daddy was God’s instrument of protection for me… and my mom. He loved her. He wrote her letters every day for a whole year. He sent money for my baby milk. Apparently, I loved drinking it so much. My mom still talks about it.

I was in Alexandria, VA when I found out my dad was sick with stage four cancer at the start of June.  I had just talked to the nurse 10 minutes before, thinking all he had was pneumonia like he had in April when I visted.  He was a smoker. Pneumonia happened often. She said he was sleeping. I had asked her to scribble a note to him that I had called and that I loved him.

I didn’t know ten minutes later my brother would call to tell me the unthinkable. I honestly couldn’t process it when he did. My brain, heart, and spirit rejected the notion of it all for a few more days. After all, the doctor had not told me anything when I had just called.

After the news that night in Alexandria, VA, I headed toward Virginia Beach. I had to at least see my school, Regent University. Afterall, that is why I had driven to the East Coast for the summer.  The truth is, I was waiting for God to release me to go back home to see my dad. He was keeping me steady and quiet, though.  As I waited and prayed for dad’s healing, I finished a paper, felt peace and HOPE.
I was going to drive up toward Maine this summer, spend some days in New York and Boston along the way.  I had planned to see the lighthouses. However, it all changed in that moment in Alexandria.

Looking back, I understand more fully why I kept seeing signs for HOPE on my way to VA.  At first, I thought it was because a guy I had prayed about marrying had just married someone else that summer.  But, I was glad for him, and I knew in the end, he wasn’t God’s Promise for me. So, I didn’t think HOPE was for that.

I had also gone through a hail storm, with hail pelting through my makeshift, plastic window, and I had gone through my door not closing.  I thought maybe the semi that had Romans 15:13 about HOPE was for the car issues I was having.  Now I know better.

Through that hail storm, I found my ability to cry out to Jesus.  The minute I did, the storm literally ceased. I had never experienced that before.  I was standing outside of my car with a sun windshield visor over my head, getting pelted by nickle to quarter-sized hail. But, at His named cried out honestly from my lips, it all stopped. I knew then God was with me.

The night before I left VA to see my dad, I spoke with my brother on the phone. As we were talking and praying, the only thing I could do was cry out again, “Jesus!” A couple Regent brothers heard me, and they and another friend of theirs surrounded me that night in prayer, intercession, and encouragement. That was HOPE.

Also that week, I met with my amazing Dean of my school and emailed with my current professor. They both encouraged me and prayed for me.  I felt strengthened. There was HOPE.

I can still remember being in shock, writing a 5 page paper for my class at the Regent Law Library. It was a good distraction, afterall. But, the minute I hit submit, I felt the strong nudge to go home and my first wave of grief.  Then, I knew that what I heard could be true.  I still at that time couldn’t say the name of the illness. I knew I had to hurry back.

My dad was in hospice. I can’t write about that experience without being upset, so I will skip it, but eventually, dad went Home.

Since then, I drove back to VA for 3 weeks to write a 15 page Roe v. Wade paper. That paper will always mean souch to me.  You can read it below. Currently, I am back in Illinois.

Loss is strange. Grief comes in waves.  I love my dad, and I will miss him. But, I thank God I will see him someday at Home. I praise God that I have that confidence because of our visit in April.

So, tomorrow I will attend my dad’s memorial and burial, but tonight I just wanted to take a moment to process the past two months.  One thing I am thankful for is that God is a God of HOPE…alway…all the way Home!!!!!!!!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 

Life, Loss, Love

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My aunt passed away this week. I saw my family grieve the loss of the first member in the next generation.  My dad’s sister, my aunt.  Tonight as I write, I grieve, too.

We learned 3 weeks ago she had cancer.  I was praying and believing for healing.  But Sunday, she went home. We didn’t have much notice of her sickness.  But, does anyone ever have enough notice when someone they love is ill, lying in a hospital bed struggling for their life?

I know God could have healed her.  I believe in His healing power.  But, ultimately He knows when it’s time to go Home, too. 

That Sunday after church I got in the car and began my 12 hour drive back home to Illinois.  I took an extra day to get there.  I wanted to be ready.  Lol. But, here’s the truth:

Nobody can get ready to grieve a loss, let alone get ready to watch others we love grieve. Grief has an agenda of its own, often waves of tears coming at unexpected moments.

Honestly, these past 25 years, I haven’t been very close to my aunt. Neither have I been very close to some members of my family. I guess when we grow up hearing so much that our family is broken, we live like that.  Sometimes at a distance, hoping brokenness won’t touch us.  But, it always does, until God redeems us and gives us His truth, like He’s been doing in my family.

Here is a truth I know now:

Families are a gift. Even the broken ones, because we are REAL.  We know real pain, suffering, loss, and in Jesus Christ, we can know the power of God’s Love to heal our lives individually and as a family. 

That is what God seems to be showing us in my family. I’m thankful for His redeeming grace and healing in our family.  Member by member, we are each coming to know Jesus, and through His Love and Grace, we are no longer broken, but we are WHOLE, in Jesus Christ.

My brother is a pastor.  He was asked to officiate the funeral.  I can’t imagine how hard that was for him.  But, watching him that day, standing up and sharing the Gospel to our dad’s side of the family is such an incredible milestone and memorial I will treasure.  It touched me significantly how much God loves us all.  I’m proud of my brother for serving our family like that. God used him greatly that day to shine God’s Truth and Love.

While in Illinois, I stayed with my cousin. His mom is the one who passed away, but he was serving me, letting me stay at his house, feeding me breakfast before I left yesterday. We had awesome talks those few days.  He was so strong.  I’m so glad I had the honor to hang out with him and his family.

I saw a younger niece step up in maturity to comfort.  I saw aunts and uncle and my dad saying goodbye in their own ways.

The last night in Illinois, my Aunt Pam took us out for pizza.  We got to look at family albums and hear family stories. It was a wonderful way to end the evening, making a new family memory.

On my drive back here to Texas, I realized that life is short. God is good.  I want to make these days, months, years, whatever time God grants me, to count.  Starting with my family. 

Love is a free gift.  It cost Jesus everything, though.  But because of His Love, we can now Love.  That is what I want to remember to do daily, LOVE.

Do all these things; but most important, love each other. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:14