daughter day one

“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”Luke 8:48

“Daughter.”

In a time and culture where fathers advocated for their daughters, this woman came to Jesus alone and ashamed. She was known to all as unclean, and there was no father to defend her or speak on her behalf.

Upon touching His cloak, she was healed from her ailment, from what made her unclean.

Yet, it is the word “daughter” that restores her identity and heals her soul. In a situation where no other defended her, Jesus chose to be her father. With one word, Jesus filled the lack and accepted her. She was clean. She was directly addressed. She was seen―seen by a man who would call her His child.

I have always been uncomfortable with this relationship of father and daughter. It is the identity of God that I relate to the least. While I never expected God to hurt or betray me in this role, I simply didn’t get it. I didn’t understand who I was in this relationship or who He was. I didn’t know how to be a daughter to a father, and I didn’t know how a father would normally relate to a daughter.

Several months ago, I felt that God was inviting me to discover this with Him. I felt that He wanted me to know Him fully, and this was the relationship that was most awkward for us.

So I did what any daughter who grew up with an absent father would.

I turned around and walked―no―ran the other way. I could not get away fast enough.

Because I know that exploring this would ultimately bring me back to the father I never had, the father who never wanted me.

I spent years trying to heal, forgive, and move forward from the abandonment I experienced at his hand. While in college, I had finally done it. I was at peace that he was not there, and I decided I would forgive him so as to not be eaten alive by the pain and anger I felt toward him. His sin was my sin―just manifested differently.

This was the place I refused to go. I already healed. That was it. I would revisit this no more. So I built up my walls, hardened my heart, and wondered why I felt so empty.

(Pro-tip to those who receive an invitation from the God of the universe, Maker of heaven and earth: take it.)

Last night, my mom and I somehow got on the subject of my father. My mom asked me a question about his new family, and I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. So she told me about an article she found, and I looked it up.

Within seconds, I realized this was the biggest mistake I’d made in quite some time.

What I was looking at was an interview about my father, conducted by a girl who could possibly be my half-sister.

I read about his upbringing in China, which was similar to my mother’s. I read about how he did not want his children to experience not having food or clothing like he once did. I read that he came to America in 1988 and struggled until he learned English and could open his own business.

And I was angry.

In one sentence, he managed to insult both my mother and me, as he didn’t seem to care if we had food or clothing. The factual error of 1988 tells me that no one knows about my part in his history because we were a family in America by 1987. There were no details of how he came to America because that would have to include the ugly story of how he married a woman so that he could join her family, who was beginning to emigrate from their side of the Pacific. And then sired a child with her that he did not raise.

And then at the end of his interview, he boldly proclaimed that what he was most grateful for was that he would not have known Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior had he not come to America.

I was livid.

We may have happened before this, but we still happened. There was no attempt to reconcile, despite having been in contact with one of my uncles for years. This made me furious, but my anger only served to mask the deep hurt that was coming from a wound I thought was long closed.

This was why I didn’t take that invitation. This was why I ran. I had been hurt by this man long enough, and I did not want to invite him to live rent-free in my head once more. It took too much to heal the first time.

I have written countless letters, journal entries, and at least one poem regarding what I was feeling toward him, how I was processing, what I needed to do. And a few years ago, I wrote him an eviction notice. I was free from him. Finally.

I do not regret my life without him, despite having wondered more times than I’d like to admit, “why not me?”, “what would it have been like?” I was sent into the fire early, and from there, one can burn, or one can rise. It’s no one’s choice but your own.

But in the midst of this, God blessed my father and allowed him to gift the character “phoenix” toward my name as part of His plan: before I was even born, God declared that I would be victorious.

I was afraid to come to this place because I did not want the wound to reopen. I feared returning to a place of darkness, anger, hatred. But it seems the difference this time is that the wound is shallow and uninfected, and I am pressed to address it while it is so. And it is God who will have to help me keep it this way because my natural leaning would be to pick at it.

To be here now, as difficult as it is, God had gone to drastic measures to barrel through all of the walls I had built up, for the sole purpose of extending His invitation to me again.

God is a God of second chances, and when your heart is as hard as your head, He will break that rock-hard heart to give you one that beats and lives, and ask you to try again.

A spiritual mentor recently told me that because I have endured this much pain, my capacity for hope is this much greater. My wounds and scars run deep enough that the foundation is set for hope and love to be poured in to fill these broken places.

Months have passed since I was invited on this adventure. I was not ready to accept it then, but I think I am now.

It feels like the first step toward something huge.

I am terrified of the idea, but I am also feeling something I didn’t feel the first time.

Hope.

The one gift my father gave me is also my greatest burden. To bestow the name “phoenix” is ironic and fitting and everything I don’t want to bear. But it is a name that is redeemed because God called me something else.

Daughter.

He saw my lack and chose to fill it. He saw my wound and chose to heal it. With one word, He claimed me as His own―His own daughter. With this word, He chased away the hurt, shame, and lies that I had chosen to believe for much of my life.

He gifted me the bearing of a phoenix to fulfill the promise He made to me with this name. I will be refined with fire in the furnace of affliction. (Isaiah 48:10)

And a phoenix will always rise.

Above the ashes.

I am a daughter―His daughter. And I will learn to live what that means.

This is day one.

One More Choice

I’ve had Facebook for the last 3 elections, and I have never seen things get as personal as this one. Discussions were not being had; people were being talked at. If someone voiced a different opinion, they were not welcomed into the discussion, but belittled and attacked.

And this happened among friends.

The damage has been done, the words have been said, and the wounds have been inflicted. We are tired. We are all tired of hearing one thing or another, and being made to fit into one box or another. We are numb and weak from fighting back.

But I’m asking that we all make one more choice.

Decide if it’s more important for you to be right, or if it’s more important for you to be in right relationship with those in your community and your circle of friends.

These are the people who will go to your kids’ soccer games, run the booster club with you, or sit with you for coffee or a meal. The politicians will continue to be faces in the crowd and our TVs, and they will be perched on a mountaintop we cannot scale. They will never love us back, nor will they feed and clothe us when we are broken.

But we, the people, will be in each other’s lives, day in and day out. We, the people, must be each other’s community, and we must hope for a successful term, whether we voted him in or not.

Because what he does in these next 4 years does not affect only those who voted for him, but it affects all of us and even the world, and the generations that follow. If the captain doesn’t know what he is doing, the ship will sink with all aboard.

So pray for our neighbors, pray for our leaders—both locally and federally. Decide if a relationship is worth it, and say what you need to say in order to mend it or move on from it. Think before you speak and act. Listen before you pass judgment. Learn what it means to truly love, sacrificially and unconditionally, to the point where it is uncomfortable and asks us to give everything we have.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is not a nice sentiment. It is a command. Love your neighbor. Love your African American neighbor. Love your Mexican neighbor. Love your Asian neighbor. Love your gay neighbor. Love your hypocritical neighbor. Love your white neighbor. Love your Muslim neighbor. Love your racist neighbor.

Love like Christ loved the church and gave all for her.

Ben

“The LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’”
(‭Exodus‬ ‭3‬:‭7-8‬a)

“I know your sorrows,” He says to me.

Yes, I know He does. He sees more loss in the span of a day than I probably will in a lifetime, yet His eyes are still so kind, not hardened by the grief of each day.

And despite that, my sadness still matters to Him.

It has been a year since I lost my friend. I didn’t make it in time to say goodbye. By the time I’d arrived, he’d already gone, the smile that I had come to anticipate from him nowhere to be found. The young man I met years ago, who was so vibrant, so full of life, so infectious, had gone home to be with his Father. I can only imagine how excited they were to see each other, to meet face-to-face. I wonder, did Ben tell Jesus He’s “tight,” or was he so awed to speechlessness that all he could do was stand and gaze upon His face?

He’d dedicated his life to loving his Father. This love allowed him to love his wife, their son, and every single person he’d come in contact with throughout his life. Here was a man who was so selfless, always willing to assist where he could, never asking for anything in return.

I honestly can’t recall our very first interaction. We were probably introduced amongst mingling at Intervarsity. But subsequently, we became good friends, shared our insecurities, discussed Scripture, and laughed a lot—usually over a meal.

Ben once asked me, with my past how it’s possible that I don’t hate God. I think I’d said something along the lines of not being able to—His grace is irresistible after all. I’d answered that I’d seen too much from God to forsake Him, that He’d redeemed too much for me to try to keep going alone.

I thought about that question that day, and I still think about it now. I’ve concluded this: how can I ever hate a God who could and would breathe such a wonderful person into life and allow me to meet and become friends with him? The creativity and love and joy that went into creating a man who possessed such creativity and love and joy must’ve been exponential.

There are not enough words to describe who this man was and why we all loved and still love him. There aren’t enough to describe the way he loved God and people. He was always prepared to “speak on it,” giving all glory to God always.

There’s a song that I’ve been listening to a lot lately called, “Carry Me Down,” by Demon Hunter. In it, there was one line that always made me think of Ben:

So if you see me losing sight of all the death in life
You’ll find the peace in every time I failed to see the death in mine

If ever lived a man who poured out all he had every day, it was this one.

I miss you, my friend. You will never be just a memory. Your life will continue in all the people you’ve touched. What a legacy you’ve left behind in 29 years full of life.

Happy one year anniversary in Heaven, brother. Miss you and love you loads.

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your Savior has come

I was looking through some prayers and messages I’d written down in my notebook in the course of the last year or so, and I came across this that I honestly don’t even remember writing down. But it was the word that I received from God at the time, and it’s an encouraging one:


Your Savior has come. I am right here with you. You are My child. I see where you’re prone to stumble. Trust Me during those times. Fall into Me when you fall. Make Me where you turn, not yourself, not your old habits, not what you’re used to protecting yourself with, not what you think you deserve. I will protect you. I will catch you when you fall over, and I will heal your wounds. Your Savior has come, Daughter; I am here. I came for you, and you have Me.

“Liar” is not your identity. “Prideful” is not your identity. I wash these names that you have seared into your heart. I remove the scars you’ve inflicted upon yourself on account of those names. Trust Me from now on. These “identities” are no longer there to “save” you. Only I am here to do so. They will trap you and ensnare you if you give them the chance. I will release you. I will set you free.

Fall into Me. Let Me be your identity. Don’t try to live up to what you think I want. I want you. As you are. Let Me make you what I want you to become for My glory. I know you, and I still want you, I can still use you, and I will still use you. I finish what I begin.

Don’t ever lose sight of that.

ohana

Dear Family,

What does this word actually mean for you? You toss that word around when it’s convenient for you, and when it’s not, you hoard it to yourselves and keep it exclusively. When has that word ever been used to describe us?

Yet you asked me this week—no, you shamed me—in order to convince me you’re my family. You tell me that you can’t believe I would trust an outsider over my own family. It’s not the first you’ve shamed me with this either.

But let me ask you something.

Where were you?

Where was my family when I had to put a restraining order on one of our members? You were on the side of my abuser. Where was my family when I longed to belong to it? You were abusing me and shunning me from your presence. Where was my family when the inheritance I received from my grandmother disappeared and the account closed? You were the ones closing it. Where was my family when I was suicidal in high school because of the abuse? You were oblivious to your role in my suffering, and you could not be found.

How do you ever expect me to trust you? How could you ever ask that of me?

I have not allowed you to define this word for me for quite some time now. The word “family” does not belong to you.

It belongs to the Person who guided me out of suicide. It belongs to the Person who redeemed my greatest abuse to lead me to my greatest salvation. It belongs to His children, who have walked beside me and carried me these past fourteen years when you were nowhere to be found.

“Family” does not end with blood.

Blood may be thicker than water, but grace runs deeper than blood.

You made me feel that I needed to earn a place in this family. Was being my mother’s child truly not enough? Yet in this grace community, there is no such thing as earning a place in the family. We are family because of Him.

This word is still being redeemed for me, but here and now, I claim it as my own. It is not a word for you to throw at me to acknowledge your authority. This word will not be reduced to something so petty.

This word means hope. It means acceptance. It means love—love unconditional, love to the point of sacrifice, love for life.

This word is too precious to me now. You cannot define it for me any longer because I know what it is now.

My Father told me. He showed me with His loyal love.

I have a new family now. Maybe you can join it some day. But you’ll have to understand, it’s on His terms, earned by His death.

I hope you can give up your small definition for His great plan.

Do you wish to get well?

Jesus asked the man at the pool if he wanted to get well. The man made lots of excuses in his response: no one would help him; people keep getting in front of him (John 5:1-17).

Jesus asked a simple “yes or no” question. And I think the message underlying it is, “Say ‘yes,’ and I’ll make you well.” He was there. He was ready. Like in Isaiah 65, God made Himself available. He made Himself ready to answer when His people cried out to Him for help.

But no one did.

Not the Israelites. Not this man.

Not me.

Sometimes we convince ourselves we’re too dirty for God to want anything to do with us. It’s easier to believe God doesn’t care than to ask Him for help. Why is that?

“I’ve screwed up too many times.”
“God has better things to do than care about me.”
“I need to atone for this myself before I can be ‘clean enough’ to see God.”
“God bailed me out of this exact same thing last week; His patience has to be wearing thin.”
“I’m afraid to face the people I’ve hurt.”
“I’m afraid to face the people who hurt me.”

We make so many excuses, but are they actually valid?

How can they be if they are keeping us from God?

We hold onto everything: our excuses, the reasons we think we’re “doing God a favor” by keeping away from Him; and they are poisoning us slowly.

It’s time to let them go. As the chorus from “Yesterday is Over” goes, you have to “open up your hand.”

And let go of what’s behind you
The past can’t hurt you anymore
Or keep you on the ground
Will you let this be the moment
That you let go of yourself?
Let His love hold onto you
And He won’t let go

“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me” — so let us ask for Him.

“I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me” — so let us seek Him.

“I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation which did not call My name” — so let us call His name.

(Isaiah 65:1)

“I called, but you did not answer” — let us answer.

“I spoke, but you did not hear” — let us hear.

(Isaiah 65:12)

And be healed.

“Do you wish to get well?”

Yes, I do.

Good job, baby

Good job, baby! Good job! Daddy’s so proud of you! Good job!

I decided extremely last minute that I would go to City Rock Fest this last Friday. It had been several months since I’d seen Disciple live, and I didn’t know when the next opportunity would be.

This small decision healed my heart in a way that I didn’t expect to ever experience on this side of eternity.

When Kevin shared a story about teaching his daughter how to walk, a door in my heart that had been swollen shut from the ache I felt beyond it had managed to crack open. This story let me see what a father should be like, what it’s like to be loved like a daughter. As she learned to walk, she fell often and sometimes with great harm to herself. And with patience and joy, he would pick her up, place her feet on his, and show her how to use her little legs. She would still fall; he would still pick her up and teach her again, never tiring of doing so.

Then one day, she propped herself on here feet and walked, and he applauded her and rejoiced with her. “Good job, baby! Good job! Daddy’s so proud!”

This is how God teaches us to walk. He picks us up and walks with us, showing us how to do the same. This is how we learn to give up our sin and choose Him—because He had been tempted in every way but remained blameless.

In Isaiah 65, God talks of allowing Himself to be found, to be sought after, of having His arms open and ready.

And no one looked for Him. No one received Him. No one asked for His help.

But when we do seek Him, He still allows Himself to be found (Jeremiah 29:14). When we ask for His help, His arms are still open, and He is still ready. He picks us up, comforts us, puts us on His feet, and teaches us to walk all over again.

And the day we prop ourselves on our feet, the day we take one step… and another… and another…

Good job, baby! Daddy’s so proud!

The day I take my first step away from my addiction.

Good job, baby!

The day I decide that sin will not ensnare me any longer.

Good job, baby!

The day I stop shaming myself but accept His redemption.

Good job, baby!

The day I stop atoning for all He’s already atoned for.

Good job, baby!

The day I choose Him above all else.

Good job, baby! Good job.

Daddy is so proud.

This is the relationship I’ve been missing my entire life. This is what a father looks like. This is how a daughter can be a daughter to her Father.

I have lost sight of what it means to call you “Papa.” After last night, I wonder if I ever actually knew.

But I’m thankful that with you, it’s never too late.

You are my Papa.

I am well loved by You.

Good job, baby.

2/20/15 Disciple

eternity

Where the desert is covered in roses [Isaiah 35:1]
Where I can outshine the stars in a single day [1 John 2:25]
The face of God isn’t hidden [Revelation 22:4]
When I wake into eternity [1 Corinthians 15:51-53]

Where the shadows are never discovered [Revelation 22:5]
Tears are nothing more than a memory [Revelation 21:4]
Death isn’t alive any longer [Revelation 20:14]
When I wake into eternity
Eternity (Horseshoes & Handgrenades), Disciple

ben

This is what he opened his eyes to when he closed them for the last time on earth. This is his life now. This is the life that awaits all of us who love and seek after God. He lives now where death has no home, where death itself is dead. He dances with his Savior on streets of gold.

Friends and family came from all around to remember and honor him, to give praise to God for allowing us to be blessed by his friendship in the time we had together. In twenty-nine years of life, he loved deeper than some do in eighty.

Everyone who knew him describes him to have been a man of incredible faith and love. Those two things in his life drove each other forward, shaping and perfecting each other to prepare him for eternity. He was probably more equipped for eternity than many of us will be at the end of our lives.

I miss his smile, his joy, his absolute thirst for life, and his evident passion for his Lord. He was a man who never let life knock him down, who never took himself too seriously, who rescued ducks and appreciated serious conversations about Batman.

We miss you dearly, Ben Price. We rejoice that you are finally cancer-free and worshipping God at His feet. And we love you.

See you in eternity, where nothing will part our friendship again.

Death isn’t alive in eternity.

home sweet home

Hard to believe I’ve been home for a little over two months now. I keep promising an update, but truth be told, I haven’t really been in the mood to say much. Not a whole lot is going on in my life right now, and I guess I want to write when something takes a turn for the better for me in this chapter. I keep thinking that I want to write when things are finally going properly in my life.

But that’s not why we’re here. That’s not why we write.

We write through the pain and the awkward, through the rough times, through the valley, as well as on the mountain, during times of peace, through healing. Otherwise, it gives a false sense of who we are if all we show is our highlight reel.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” —Ernest Hemingway

Whether I realized it before or not, I’ve always lived (or survived) like life can only happen after the transition; I just have to hold out until I get through the awkward part and into the life part. That’s when I’ll write. That’s when things get good. That’s when I’ll be alive.

I was reminded yesterday that living happens during transitions as well as during times when roots have become established. And it’s in these times of upheaval where we can live the most freely, simply by choosing to live. “Transition” is kind of a fancy word for “fork.” At this fork, you can choose to go God’s way, or you can choose to take it on yourself. (*Hint: God gets His way eventually, and it’ll really spare you some heartache and wasted effort if you pick the former to begin with. I need to take my own advice on this one.)

These forks are the most exposed area, however, and your indecision can open you up to an ambush from the one who wishes you harm. It’s in these times when the enemy advances his ranks and tries to overtake us. It’s in these moments when we are most vulnerable to his attacks. He got me pretty good just a few nights ago.

I’d been surviving, redirecting what little energy I had left in order to keep me going to the next day and the next and the next. I was not prepared to defend myself. I was not equipped to resist and flee. And so I fell on my face. But rather than dwell and dig myself into a pit and allow my life to spiral out of control like I’m prone to do, I was surprisingly able to get up, dust myself off, and choose to live for Jesus.

It’s in these moments of transition where we can see God work most clearly. In these moments, we can choose God. In this moment, I can choose God. In God there is life, and in that life is the light that overcomes darkness (John 1:4-5).

If Israel simply sought to survive in the desert, would that mentality have allowed for them to get through forty years of wandering? It was one big transition time out of captivity and into freedom, where they had to learn to take on a new identity as a free people and shed their slave identity. They were completely physically removed from what they knew to be a way of life so that they can achieve the promise of something more. The entire identity had to be re-written. You have to be alive to allow for such a shift, or you cannot survive it.

I have not been alive. I have been existing, surviving. I’ve allowed my circumstance to define my being. Unemployed, passed over. Failure. This is the identity I’d taken on in the last five weeks. I survive in hopes that I can live again.

But I’m living now. Or rather, I can live now. Life is happening whether I choose to live it or not. My tomorrows are about as guaranteed as anyone else’s. Each breath I take is a breath borrowed from God.

I have a lot of fear in this time of unknown, this fork. However, the sky’s the limit every single day, especially now. I don’t have to protect God from my fear and lack of faith; He knows they’re there. The only thing to do is bring them to Calvary and leave them at His feet.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

Beyond my strength, beyond my ability, beyond my means, God is greater, bolder, and He is with me always. Because of this, I can have joy even now. There is life and joy in the tension and the transition.

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” —Romans 5:3-5

God pours grace with a generous wrist. I will have what I need to make it through.

wake your dreams

“A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.”

I came to Seattle in chase of a dream. I was positive that this dream was in my future, so I looked for reasons to be up there. The ones I found were so good that I myself was completely convinced.

In my time in the Pacific Northwest, I’d grown leaps and bounds spiritually and emotionally. I attributed the growth to being far away from home and therefore having only God to rely on and no one else. So I thought I needed to stay here in order to keep growing. But really… God is all I have no matter where I am.

I wanted to have more experience in my writing and learn more in order to use this gift properly, so I decided to check out a graduate school. I fell in love with the Bothell campus of UW. Then I got my first student loan bill for my Bachelor’s, and the honeymoon was over. While it’s not as bad as it could’ve been, it is enough to rethink grad school and postpone it indefinitely.

So then, where does that leave me?

I’ve enjoyed this past half-year in Washington. God taught me a lot about trusting Him and growing with Him. He taught me truly what it meant to have faith in Him when all that was around me made no sense, and I had no way of providing for myself.

I’m waking from that dream now, but the end of one dream allows the birth of a new one.

I’m going home.

It’s time to go back to California.

Four years ago this month, I set off on a quest to finish college and get a degree. I’ve gained so much more than an expensive piece of paper in these four years. I’ve become emotionally healthier (though there will always be room for more growth); I’ve healed from wounds I’d numbed myself to and hadn’t realized they’d never properly healed; I gained new family; and I learned to love deeply from the part of my heart that I’d thought was too broken to love at all. It’s time to put that healing to use and stop running from the past.

I love who I was in the Northwest, and that person will always be me in some way, shape, or form.

“Times change and so must I. We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives and that’s okay. That’s good. Gotta keep it moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.”

I was uneasy making this decision. I was so sure I was supposed to be up here; if I was wrong about that, I could be wrong about this. But when I could finally see past my pride to remember the dream that brought me here, it did not seem such an ordained step after all. Still, I can’t call it a mistake, not after all this place has given me.

Sometimes you have to take the long way home to know that you belong there.

“He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?'” —Hebrews 13:5-6

One of my life verses of this year has been this: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

I will wake and live this new dream and do so bravely. I will trust in God’s sovereignty and believe that I cannot escape His will. I will take this step into a future known only to Him.

See you soon, California.

“Our destiny is in the stars, so let’s go and search for it.”