The Pain of Betrayal

In being vulnerable, we reach for our greatest need while risking our greatest pain.” -Danny Silk.

hurt photo

No one likes talking about pain. Especially their own pain.

And I am no exception.

We live in a world where pain is weakness and strength is ultimate.

While I worked in the fitness industry, everyone that came through my gym doors had every intention to become stronger, fitter, and, more often than not, to go through a complete transformation to become the strong conqueror they know they can be.

Unfortunately, though, a huge percentage of those that begin with all good intentions to get there never actually change, never reach their potential, never truly become strong.


Because they refused to face the pain.

At one point they decided the pain wasn’t worth the change. So what happened? They walk away from reality, that they are at risk of heart disease, that they are vastly overweight, that they will die years early because of bad nutrition and no exercise, and the really harsh reality that the pain they’re running from is minimal compared to the future pain that will destroy them in the end.

It’s only an example, but somehow it draws a good parallelism to other deeper, emotional pains that we face every day.

Certain pains hurt more than others. I’ve had my own fair share of pain in my life and recently I’ve been on my own journey through pain, not away from it.

And that is the pain of betrayal.

being betrayed, cheated, lied to, disgraced, used.

Of all pains in the world, it’s hard to imagine one much worse than the absolute agony of betrayal. Suddenly it changes your whole reality, realizing that you were living in a dream of lies and deceit and actually believed it. It goes deep down into your identity and challenges everything you thought you were and who you were affirmed to be.

I’m going to share my experience and journey not because I want to. I would gladly love to bury it and move on, only referring to it now and then when it becomes necessary to, and only when I have completely come out of the other end all strong and understanding.

As I’ve lived the nightmare of this pain, I’ve realized that, first of all, it’s a process and you can’t run from it and expect to be “OK” the rest of your life. I’ve found the process starts with accepting Reality, entering the Pain, searching for the Escape, and the decision of Living.

Accepting The Reality

I was in a relationship that was discovered in such a fun but authentic way. I got to express who I was outside of work (which at that point took over most of my life), develop a friendship that naturally turned into a deeper relationship. We connected on all levels and were oddly similar. It wasn’t fast-paced, but initially slow and methodical. I thought and prayed through it so much. I don’t take any relationships lightly and this wasn’t an exception.

He pursued me, I responded gladly, and the reality? I was so very happy. I had so much fun. I had learned so much about the choices and self-sacrifices of love and now got to live it out in a way I’ve never gotten to before. It felt good, real, satisfying, and honestly I couldn’t remembering being happier in my life with another person. He treated me special, called me his angel, affirmed who I was, made me laugh, made my days worth living.

But then I came to realize…that wasn’t reality. And that dream world all came crashing down on me when his ex-girlfriend texted me in the middle of the night from his phone telling me that, as she just also realized, there was 2 of us. And, as I came to find out in the next day, it had always been that way. From the first day we met until the day I found out, it had been 2 stories completely hid from each other.


It was all a lie.

Reality all of a sudden destroyed me. It punched me in the gut, stabbed my heart, sucked my breath away, and numbed my mind. That Friday I couldn’t even feel, much less actually cry. So paralyzing.

It’s at times like those that eventually you have to look in the mirror and realize that you indeed were that girl. The girl I never wanted to be and thought I could avoid. The girl that fell for the guy I had advised against to my friends and girls I had worked with. I was the used one, simply a tool in his game.

And reality was the last thing I wanted to face. I immediately wanted to run, hide, pretend. Pretend that it really wasn’t that bad.

Pretend that it I hadn’t really liked him and chosen to love him.

Pretend that I’m strong enough to get through this.

Pretend that what he did wasn’t really that bad and that he’s just a flawed person just as much as I am and that the good Christian thing to do is forgive and be friends again.

Reality was much harder to face. The reality that he had lied about everything, so much so that I still don’t know what was truth and what was real. The reality that I was deeply hurt and seriously wounded. The reality that when we first started seeing each other I had even written my dad and told him that I knew that this guy would never intentionally hurt me– and, ironically, that was exactly what he did.

The reality that this was not only intentional, but also flagrant and totally personal, that I wasn’t worth it. And also, to push the knife in a little further, I was the extra one. I really wasn’t the wanted one, the loved one. And the pain that it hurt so much.

The reality was that I had been cheated on, that I was betrayed.

And I had to accept it.

Entering The Pain

As if dealing with reality wasn’t hard enough, that was only the spring board for the pain to follow.

The pain that I lived under lies, believed them, and then realized none of it was true.

The pain of seeing text messages he sent to his ex while he was literally with me that was degrading not only me, but also my family. Of all the pain, this was the worst. The very things he said he loved about me he used to discredit me and used to claim that he really could care less about me.

All of a sudden my entire life changed and I began seeing everything in relation to my pain. “How are you?” people would ask. I wanted to reply, “Hm, on a scale of 1 to I-want-to-impale-myself-with-a-knife, I would say today has been a 5, so a pretty good day actually!”

There was pain that I wasn’t completely present, that I lost total connection with people, that I was suddenly fake. I’ve always chosen to be a confident person, but in a split second that Friday I lost all confidence. Completely. For the first time in my life I truly didn’t believe in myself anymore. I thought I had been so right about him, about my life during those months, but I’ve never been so wrong in my life before. How could I believe myself again?

Now everything was challenged. Every person, every situation. My filter used to be truth, but now it was all lies.

He said he never even talked to his ex. He called and texted her how much he loved her daily.

He said he wanted to be with me. He never had any intention of being with me.

He said he loved my confidence. He actually believed I was socially impaired and the most naive person he’s ever met.

He said I was beautiful. I must not be beautiful.

He said I am going to be great things. I must not be able to do great things.

Other people have affirmed talents and strengths about me. Those things must not be true either.

I believed goodness about so many people. People probably aren’t good and probably are hiding something.

Unfortunately lies make a human most unlike a human than any other sin. It totally destroys people, hope, love, belief, faith and trust.

I’ve always been a trusting, believing person. Now I was second-guessing everyone. “Do you really like me as a person, or do you just plan to use me to get what you want?” And I hate that. It hurt that those thoughts were (are) even crossing my mind frequently.

It hurt that love seemingly turned on me. That it was all in vain. Again. I had given so much and it was just used and easily discarded.

And I was so angry. I’ve never experienced anger like that before. What a benefit I worked at a kickboxing gym. Hashtag therapy.

Was I angry at God? No, not really. I mean, he was and has been the only faithful one. Truly. He received me back with open arms even after this huge mess-up, after making my own wrong choices and allowing my beliefs about truth and God to be challenged as “maybe not exactly true.” But what I couldn’t get past was “God, it seems like I keep giving and loving, and I never get anything back in return. All I ever get is heartache.”

Searching for an Escape

The problem with accepting reality and then choosing to deal with the pain that follows is that inevitably you want to escape. It’s just too much, too strong, too hard.

I wanted to escape the reality, the pain, and living in light of what had just happened. I considered not even telling details to my closest friends, the ones who have been there for me my whole life. I wanted to cover the most hurtful details, swear him off as totally meaningless to me now, and bear my own issues alone. Because the thought of being vulnerable seemed much more painful then dealing with it by myself. Many of you reading this will be shocked– “I had no idea you were going through this!” Exactly. Transparency is really hard and painful.

Unfortunately (but fortunately) my job itself was totally personal and I saw dozens of people every day who knew the ins and outs of my life. My members were my friends and naturally when I talked about a relationship I’m in they follow-up with questions. And because I’ve practiced transparency for years now, I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t become the liar that I had just been abused by.

“Yeah, we’re not seeing each other anymore. Why? Um, well it didn’t end so well. Yeah, he was hiding stuff from me. Cheating? Yes, yes I was cheated on. Yeah…the whole time. I had no idea. I’m, um, honestly not doing well. I’m really really angry. I’d like to take a baseball bat through a glass factory. I’ve never gone through something like this, only with other friends’ issues. Never thought it would happen to me. Yeah, I’m sorry it happened too.”

It’s amazing how healing it is just taking a minute to be transparent with someone who actually cares about you, like aloe on a sunburn. Aloe doesn’t just soothe a wound; it actually reaches into the skin and pulls out damage.

So a lesson I learned: the moment I feel like I need to hide, that’s the very moment when I need to release and open up. It’s for my journey of healing as well as for someone else, because more often than not, I surprisingly found, each time I shared even just a small bit of my experience, I got the “Me too!” reaction.

And there’s nothing better than knowing that you’re not alone.

Often, though, talking about it wasn’t enough. I was overwhelmed over and over by my own mind, the memories, the choices, figuring out what really happened, wondering what was my own fault, feeling shame about my own choices, feeling guilty about allowing myself to be deceived.

I wanted to escape and often I couldn’t. Working long hours became a relief. Anything to keep my mind preoccupied. But it was those moments when I finally had to be still and lay in my bed and try to fall asleep, I was assailed. Some nights I slept, some nights I didn’t. I’ll never forget this one particular terrible week where the pain was relentless, unbelievably intense, and non-stopping. My mind felt like it was under siege. It was the first time I’ve experienced panic attacks. I couldn’t get him and the experiences out of my head. I would make me short of breath, nauseous, and sometimes shaky.

I would do anything to escape.

And that’s when I realized, “Oh, this is why people get addicted to alcohol, drugs and contemplate suicide. Gotcha.”

That’s when I realized that those with the most pain are the ones that are the most extreme in their escaping, i.e., addictions.

Do not ever judge someone and think that you would never succumb to an addiction like they have. Many are simply trying to silence the pain, though unsuccessfully. Drugs, pain killers, pills, alcohol, work, money, sex, fitness… you name it. What you think you have under control one day may actually become your addiction and escape tomorrow.

I learned a lot about habits. Because when you are suddenly cast into pain and hurt, you will naturally turn to what you’ve made a habit in the past. What did I do? Well, those evenings and free time when my mind was assaulting me, I reached for what I had access to in that moment: my Bible app. Earbuds in, I’d listen to one book after another from the Bible.

Now before you start thinking how epically spiritual this was, let me assure you that in the moment it was not really what I wanted to do, and it seemed each verse was punctuated with my own swear word. The Bible… it seemed too simple and cliche. But honestly, this is something I had made a habit doing since I was a teenager, reading the Bible, turning to the Bible in the good and bad. I’ve experienced healing in the past from it– I know it works. So because it had been a past habit, it was easily accessible, and it was free, I went to it.

And you know what? That was the only escape that worked for me. Work didn’t solve it. Friend and relationships didn’t solve it. But the truly healing power of God’s words did. It was the only thing that put me to sleep during those dark, depressing nights.

You know what I think people, especially women, also turn to for escape?


Hear me out.

Somehow in the name of “forgiveness” we look at someone’s choices, sins, and actions, and instead of dealing with it, accepting reality and the pain, we decide to simply forgive it and “forget.” And it feels righteous and good because now I’m such a good person to see someone’s mistakes and sins, and still forgive them without any action or boundary-setting despite that.

That is not love, and it would be unloving of me not to say that. Sometimes we believe we love someone so much that we can forgive anything, but in reality it’s a selfish way of dealing with our own insecurities.

For instance, I had a friend who, in the name of love, decided to “forgive” her boyfriend for repeated instances of terrible physical abuse, would not turn him into the police, and ended up going back to live with him. An extreme example, but do we not all do that in our own lives? Instead of facing the objective reality and loving ourselves and them enough to walk away, we decide to be the ultimate judge and be the one that releases them and changes them. If you’re going to be committed to love, then you must also be just as committed to justice and boundary-setting. You cannot have one without the other. I believe that in each circumstance you must be led by love, grace, and justice. 

Speaking to those who are in some sort of abusive or manipulative relationship, don’t make forgiveness an escape, but rather a means of healing for yourself. True forgiveness is for your benefit. And don’t let someone you’re in a relationship with talk you into forgiving them and staying with them because that would be the righteous, good thing, and you’re a good person, aren’t you? You’re the most good person I know. So please forgive me and let’s stay together. I need you and you don’t want to live with the regret of not forgiving me. God wouldn’t do that. I mean, you’re not perfect either, so you walking away from this relationship would be saying that you’re better than me, which you know you’re not. Don’t be judgmental like all those fake Christians out there; you’re actually the most real, authentic person I know. I’m working on me and God has totally convicted me and I want to change. Let’s even go to church. Please don’t leave me? Wow, I don’t deserve someone like you. You’re so forgiving.

How manipulating and abusive. Believe me, I know. I’ve seen it and lived in it enough. Forgiveness is never a tool to cover up your faults and to escape from the reality and responsibility. You have to deal with it. Yes, anything can be forgiven, but someone else’s choices are never under your control. And whether or not you forgive someone should never be dependent on that person changing. If this is something you’re running in circles with, please email me if you need someone to talk with about it:

I had to deal with my insecurities and decide how to “escape.” I could’ve turned to other escapes and I’m sure people may have said, “Well, that’s understandable.” But you know, in the end, I really didn’t want to simply escape.

I wanted to live.

The Decision of Living

It’s now been about 9 months since I began writing this post. I would try to sit down and write, but often would end up dissolving into tears, burying my face in my hands, feel like throwing up, then closing the laptop and walking away. It’s just so hard.

Especially this section. I’m supposed to write about “How To Live Life After Being Misused And Betrayed.”


I could fill up the rest of this space with cliche phrases and quotes from several OneRepublic songs. Actually a Carrie Underwood song comes to mind about someone’s suped-up 4-wheel drive, but come on, let’s be adults here.

Part of living forward is dealing with struggles daily, struggles that are compounded because they’ve never hit you so intensely before. This is what I and those that have been betrayed deal with:

Major insecurity– When you’re deeply invested in someone who you deeply trust and then they betray it and choose someone over you, it’s very personal. Insecurity is simply a daily battle you have to deal with. Don’t try to fix those of us who have gone through this, but walk with us into truth and freedom. Just listening is helpful.

Shame– Because when you have been in the direct line of fire with someone else’s shameful actions, you have at some point believed in them, thus deceived into their shameful decisions. So you start bearing their shame. And typically narcissistic people will blame you and dump all shame and guilt on you. It’s a terrible mental war.

Anger– This ranges from anger to the person, to yourself, to others who may reveal characteristics that reflect the person that hurt you.

Lying– How ironic that after you deal with the anger at all the lies, the very thing you want to do is lie about yourself, the situation, everything. Unknowingly you can become the person that hurt you the most.

Running Away– Not that this is you by nature, but because you’ve had to leave and run from this relationship, it becomes a knee-jerk reaction to relationships that give you flashbacks to your experience.

Self protection– Since he didn’t protect you, you have to be the one that protects yourself. You never want to be hurt like that again, so you imagine ways to set up walls and not ever be risky in relationships.

Loving and Accepting Love– It’s a double-edged sword. Not only are you afraid to open up your heart to love deeply, but accepting love again seems to be impossible, that it will probably be misused.

That’s a scary, rather intimidating list. But that’s the reality, when no one is around, when you only have your thoughts and memories accompanying you.

Those things that we feel, those are very real. It’s no use pretending that I’m somehow excused from it. We need to be transparent. Please, let’s be real.

But reality is also looking outside of yourself, to see truth. Truth that is greater than your pain, greater than your past, your pain, your shame, your misuse.

Your life is a story. And this chapter is now part of it. You cannot erase it. Yet it does not define you, but you choose how you define it.

So it’s not necessarily about becoming a good-doer and inspirational Pinterest pinner, but how you will allow this negative turn in your life to be redeemed.

We’re not talking about silver linings or being positive about the whole thing. What happened to me sucked and it was horrible. I’m still not over it and I will forever have a scar. The thought of dating is rather terrifying and so is loving people in general.

But I’m going to show my scar with defiant purpose and tell you what role it plays in my life, and NOT the other way around.

You see, for me to let what happened to continue to be “what happened to me”, then I will always be a victim to my past.

However, I get the opportunity in life to stop hiding my scars, expose them, and tell everyone what it was and how it’s being redeemed in my life.

For me, that looks like giving my life into sharing hope with street prostitutes, abused women, drug addicts, sex slaves, and the broken ones of Chicago, my city.

Though I may not have a total understanding of each circumstance they’re in, I “get” it. I get the feelings of rejection, the pain from deep emotional wounds, the craving for escape.

Something else I had to realize was that although I had lived under lies, I was honest and truthful the whole time and my choices and love were authentic. Just because someone else misused you doesn’t make you fake. What someone else does or says to you says everything about them, not about you. At the end of the day, though I may have made poor or misguided choices, I know that I was honest. I know that I repeatedly said, “My loving you has nothing to do with you, but it’s about me and my choice. Since when did my loving you have anything to do with how you treat me?”

Yet as I came to learn, love also looks like walking away and setting boundaries. But the love is still real, still authentic.

I’m not fixed up yet and I still have meltdowns. But I think that’s the beauty of redemption, that you can be a channel of hope when you’re seeking after it just as much as the one you’re offering it to.

I think we need more people that stop hiding their scars and start finding other people with similar scars and start walking through life together.

Remember: there is nothing to be ashamed of.

You are free from guilt.

Thank God for Jesus, because he bore than pain so that I could be set free to allow my story to be redeemed.

Things might not get better anytime soon. But in giving hope you receive that in return. It’s a step of faith, because you know the truth, and you choose to walk out in faith to share the truth.

And you know what? The truth will set you free.

You were made for more. Think about your story, your whole life, and imagine the line of your story continuing 20, 30, 50 years down the road. The pain you have today TOTALLY has purpose. It will affect and change not just your life, but also those involved in your story every single step of the way.

It’s your choice. It’s your perspective. You were made to take the heat, and to then transfer it into warmth for the broken around you. And then… get ready to receive. Good things ahead. Keep the vision.

Don’t forget your purpose.

How Good Is Today!

Today is good.

I am sitting here in a lovely, local coffee shop looking outside the window at gorgeous old houses listening to soothing classical and jazz music in the background, seeing the sights and sounds and people dropping in to get their morning coffee on their walk to work.

I have the freedom to sit here with warm clothes on, writing on a computer that was given to me, money in my bank account, work for me to depend on next week, good health, and an apartment to go home to with a roommate I like living with (who by the way just texted me that I need to go move my car before the street cleaners ticket it. What a gem, people). I’m in a city that reflects everything I enjoy about life and people and living. I am intrigued every day and my sense of adventure always has an outlet. Shoot, I even enjoy this cold and snow. It’s something different and reminds me of how I can adapt to different seasons with flare!Coffee shop

It’s a good day because I have heart dreams and desires that are shaping into reality, even if it isn’t exactly in my present. My heart for the broken ones and my community– I have clarity of going full-heartedly after that and what that looks like today (for instance, Thanksgiving party tonight at my place. Come if you want!). My work and business passion– I have a much clearer direction of what that looks like and I’m walking forward to it. I have work with businesses who believe in me and pay me because they believe in me. I have such a supportive loving family who laugh like I do and stick together. I have friends nearby who understand me and take a real interest in me. I have friends far away who still love me and remain faithful to me no matter where I’m at, where I go, or what I do.

But above all, I have someone vast and indescribable and powerful and wise who I get to call Father.

He is so great and awe-some, yet he is so aware of all the details in my life and cares about each tear, each laugh, each care, each hope. He has led me and stayed near me every step of my journey.

And he is the only one that has.

At times when everyone has left me or disappeared, when life itself rejected me and threw me to the ground, when I couldn’t even muster the will power to look up or even say his name, he never left me. Not for a moment. He is my only hope when all hope is gone, when darkness is all I can see, when I’m all alone with no one to pour my heart out to.

And this, my friends, is why I can sing and bless the Lord. Because my hope is totally outside of myself. It’s actually IN him. When I’m in that hope inside of him, then my whole being and actions in life actually have peace and not bitterness. I am purpose-driven, not tossed around by every emotion or unstable circumstance.

This is not a fake reality; this is who I really am, and that’s not about to change. Because when I’m with the One who never changes, I can be steady when changes and injustices and wounds and surprises and rejections and loss swirl around me. They tell me to move, to change, to react, to punish, to withhold.

But I can turn and look at those things in the face and say, “You have no control over me. Get out and stay out!” and then walk into my life, of which I’ve only been given one shot. And there’s no way I’m going to allow something else to control it and say what is or isn’t possible.

Because everything is possible. Which includes my attitude.  So that’s why I can say, “How good is today!”

Psalm 103: Bless the Lord my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name! May I never forget the good things he does for me.

April Fools! You’re Not Who You Think You Are!

Have you ever had an April Fools joke pulled on you before?

I mean, a really good one. Where you were all in and totally believing and then… the truth came out.

You didn’t win an all-expense paid vacation to the Bahamas. Your work computer didn’t mysteriously burn to ashes overnight. Your mom didn’t get a belly-button piercing.

And you have that sigh, like, oh man. You totally had me going; I was wrong the whole time.

I feel like in the past week or so I’ve had that feeling, that I now understand a truth that I somehow got confused for so long. This new understanding has set me free.

And that truth is in the power of names. What I’ve been called. What I’ve called myself.

I have unearthed some names that I have been called. Names that I chose to allow to hurt me. Names that sent me for an emotional roller coaster of despair and insecurity.

Names like, you are worthless.

You are stupid.

You are inconsiderate.

You are unloving.

You are ugly.

You are fat.

You are unattractive.

You are dumb.

You are pathetic.

You are a lazy bastard.

You are a bitch.

You are poor.

You are mediocre.

You are a loser.

And that’s not even counting the names that I have told myself again and again. Names like fearful, failure, inadequate, shallow, hopeless, lonely, weak, dirty, prideful, and deceitful.

but, um…

April Fools!

That’s not me.

And I’m here to proclaim right now that no one can ever make me anything, including myself.

I am exactly what Christ says I am and I have a really righteous sense of I don’t care what you think about me.

Because me only caring what Christ thinks about me actually frees me to sacrifice myself for you. I love you too much to care what you call me.

Let me tell you who I really am.

I am Chosen.

I am Precious.

I am Loved.

I am Clean.

I Am Fearfully and Wonderfully Created.

I am Beautiful.

I am Bold.

I am Worthy.

I am Holy.

I am Without Fault.

I am Joyful.

I am Secure.

I am Victorious.

Because I’m in Christ. And if there is no condemnation, why would I repeat and believe that first list to myself as if it were truth? It’s not. ever. List 1= lies. List 2= truth.

We call it identity. And Ephesians Chapters 1-3 will turn your world upside-down if you read it aloud about yourself. Do it. Seriously.

I used to repeat List 1 so much to myself, including themes like guilty, ashamed, and broken. And I thought I was learning learning truth about myself and God by doing that.

Only problem is, if Jesus only calls me names from List 2, why would I exercise the arrogance to call myself a name that he believes is unworthy of me?

See, when I decided to allow my coworker’s comment to me about being a lazy bastard to injure me and control my emotions, I was actually agreeing with him and giving him power over me. Again, no one can ever make me anything unless I first give permission.

Things have changed. completely. I now see myself as the gift that God intended me to be. You see, when I was living under the lies of List 1, I couldn’t be a gift to anyone. Who gives dirty gifts like that?

However, now that I am living in the reality of who I really am, I’m free to gift myself away. My happiness and my cleanness and my security can be given to others in abundance. Because it’s a really good thing. And people find joy in good gifts.

Here’s where the tipping point for me was: recently, right when I was at the brink of grasping my identity, a friend referred to me as a World Changer. And that sealed it for me. I heard it proclaimed and affirmed by someone else. And you know what happened? I got to name a friend at church last night a World Changer, and I have a sneaky suspicion the domino effect is going to keep happening to others.

So here’s the final truth thought: the power of life and death is in your tongue. When you speak negative names to people, it’s not just being mean; it’s proclaiming lies. Please, don’t do that. Let’s proclaim truth. See past the brokenness and call out the potential. It could change someone’s life today.

Let’s start renaming.

Because you are not a lonely, insecure student; you are Renowned Royalty.

Because you are not a worthless parent; are you Loving and Compassionate.

Because you are not an adulteress; you are a Beautiful, Accepted Daughter.

Because you are not a porn addict; you are a Chosen, Invaluable Son.

Because you are not unwanted and lonely; you are Desirous and Complete.

So let’s upset this day and get real about who we really are.

And I’d say that’s a pretty good April Fools to boot.

Do I starve or feast?

“I am so much more godly and spiritual if I can do without this good thing and that amazing person in my life. I love Jesus so much that I don’t want any of it.”

I used to believe that. or at least a softened, revised, religiousy version.

On surface, yeah, sounds so good. dedicated.

But now?

I think it’s ridiculous.

or at least … off.

Maybe I’m just starting to realize some obvious truths.

God made everything.

If I see it, feel it, smell it, experience it, desire it, then it began with God.

So he must be in everything.

I am made of God, so any desire I have stemmed from his imagination in the first place. Evil doesn’t create anything new. It simply distorts the good, twists the innocent.

Greatest commandment: love God with my whole heart, who he is and every attribute. Yet that also means I love all the things he has made and has placed me in. To love his creation and his creativity is to love and appreciate him, the Artist, not to discredit him. To be overflowing with God is not found in starving but in feasting!

And this is why it takes faith to see God in everything. faith.  that thing we claim is the bass drum of our life.

And, yes, my world seems wrong when these good things are taken away. It’s ok to feel that struggle, the longing, the upset feelings. because of this:


Hope is knowing that one day all those good things will be restored, because when I get to heaven I will get Jesus, who is the substance of everything and all good in the first place.

So I can love my good health, but if bad health comes, I’m not necessarily going to automatically become more godly because I have to suffer now. The biggest difference is I’m exercising more now. He’s bench pressing me on the weight of his glory. My mind is working hard to think in his goodness and grow in grace and seeing through eyes of faith I may not have had to have during the times of plenty. I know I can love him more than good health because he is health and happiness!

The secret? To have Jesus is to have everything. But to live for the everything without Jesus is to actually lose it all.

C.S. Lewis said it this way: Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

And if all those good things were swept away in a moment? I can lift my hands in praise and proclaim, “Who do I have in heaven but you? There’s nothing I desire on earth but you!” My trend with Jesus is always #winning.

I also love how Tozer compared the gifts to the Giver: God’s gifts in nature have their limitations. They are finite because they have been created, but the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus is as limitless as God.

So here’s what I think: heaven’s going to be the most pleasurable experience and amazing party ever because God is there. And he is the essence of everything I enjoy tactically here on earth: music, food, kickboxing, clothes, love, coffee, hugs, dancing, laughing, colors… He is in all those things, yet it won’t be until heaven that I will be able to enjoy it in complete fullness. So I look forward to it and practice enjoyment in real anticipation.

And that’s hope. Which takes faith knowing the best is yet to come. But while living the reality today.

So with that in mind…

this black Americano with white chocolate is dang good!


A Taste of Italy: Enter the Country


That is precisely how I arrived in Venice, Italy on June 24, 2011. The past month had been a whirlwind of language immersion, culture shock, long work days, and a challenged life system as I knew it. Because of some scheduling conflicts, I ended up arriving via train at Stansted Airport in London on Thursday at 11:00am and leaving the next morning at 8:00am. I had never slept in an airport, much less by myself, much less in a foreign country.

Yes, I was obviously well-prepared.

Having just watched The Italian Job a day earlier, my imagination kicked in overtime and everyone was a potential stalker and/or stealer. My sleeping defense strategy was to have a limb protecting each of my possessions: head on my purse, arm draped over my carry-on, leg hugging my 50lb suitcase. At any moment I felt I could explode into a total round-house kick to the face. And you thought I didn’t know a thing or two about security. Thank you TSA and Walker Texas Ranger.

Barely 2 hours of sleep and a massive body cramp later (yet with all my possessions still intact), I finally got to head to my flight. Even after being in some of the darkest, most crime-infested parts of Madrid, this was ironically the scariest moment of the trip. I had to get from Stansted, to Cologne Germany, find my connecting flight to Verona Italy, find a bus to the train, buy a train ticket to Mestre, and somehow get in contact with the Carls to let them know when and where I’d arrive.

No phone connection, no 3G network, no translator, no experience, no friends.

I could’ve been lost. forever.

Thankfully, at that time I didn’t think that far head. I realize now that every part of this experience from beginning to end was moment-by-moment steps, having often to choose to move even when I had no idea how to accomplish the next step. Not that this is the way I think I should approach every life circumstance, but that is how God led me those few months. And boy was it adventurously scary!

The flight from London to Germany to Italy was the most beautiful scenic experience in my life. Crossing the English Channel at sunrise, entering into mainland Europe and France barely minutes later, seeing winding rivers in Cologne, and the ultimate: the Swiss Alps. Any words and pictures cannot do justice. For the first time I saw jagged mountains that towered into the sky, the snow caps shooting through the clouds, and then to watch their steep inclines collide into these tiny green summer villages that were snug between the mountains. It was incredible. A masterpiece. This one huge mountain-side plunged from it’s white-capped summit straight down into a huge lake that we were flying parallel to, and where the water met the beach there was only enough room for a single row of houses that stretched for several miles. I admit—I was gaping. I became aware that my mouth of hanging open, and I was about to adjust myself until I realized that this was indeed a gape-worthy moment. It was my rightful duty to leave my mouth open. Perhaps even my expression of worship.

We passed the mountains and the plane began it’s decent. This was it. The moment I was so excited for and one that many people dreamed of getting to do and I actually had the opportunity… stepping out into Italy.

When I finally did step through the rotating doors to enter the country, I was greeted with a blast of humid air, and there were definitely not any vineyards, fresh bread stands, or olive oil fountains around. My secret stereotype dream was dashed.

But now I had a real problem. I didn’t really know what to do next. Oh yes, get to the train station. Once I got to the train station, I could figure out the next step. One step at a time. Hm, no signs for a train, at least ones I recognized. You’d think with all the centuries of art in Italy that they’d have more visuals for public transportation.

So I tried wandering. You know, the prideful wandering. Pretending like you’re just browsing around when in reality you’re lost as all get-out and am feverishly looking for some sign or help. Thankfully an Italian lady that knew English approached me and asked if I needed help. She showed me where to get a bus that would take me to the train station. Thank God for sweet old ladies.

There was only one other person on the bus and she looked about my age, so I asked if she spoke English. I found out she was German and yet was fluent in English. And amazingly she was heading to Venice in a few days to study Italian for 2 weeks! How providential! She was very kind and we exchanged emails so that we could connect as soon as she arrived in Venice.

The train station. I thought, I can handle this. How hard can a train station be?


Basically from here on out everything was this sick form of a guessing game: I wonder if this is the right line to buy a ticket. Is this ticket actually going to take me to Mestre? I need to contact the Carls…That looks like a payphone—I hope these buttons work. Nope. Guess I need to buy a prepaid card. Maybe they sell them here. Ok she doesn’t understand the word “phone” “prepaid card” or “help” for that matter. I hope this 5 Euro card works. Nope. Ate my money. Multiple tries. Sweating in the heat. Forget this. One more try with the credit card– it worked! And Lewis answered the phone! Quickly told Lewis when I’d arrive. Whew.

Where are the platforms? Seems like everybody is going this way. I’ll just go up this way…and that was wrong. Opposite direction. Ok I think this is the right platform. Maybe. But… I can’t tell if my train number is showing up on the arrival list. A moment of hyper-ventilation in the possible event that I miss my train, and would be stuck in Verona forever, living on my short supply of Cadbury chocolate, tea biscuits, and olive oil…

Oh I think this is my train… I hope. On the train, barely juggling my luggage. And…there are no seats left. Not one. Uninhibited, I sank to the floor for the hour trip, desperately needing a nap and/or shoulder massage. But I couldn’t miss my stop. If I did I’d go all the way down the line and the Carls wouldn’t know and would be waiting for me in Mestre and I’d be lost and homeless in the back streets of Venice… Stressed. Breathe in and then out. Be strong and fake it. Oh I think the next stop is mine. Finally to the platform, down the millions of stairs, through the gates, and on to the streets of Mestre.

Now where were the Carls going to be? Hm, I’ll just act American and lost. At this point I could care less about patriotism. Oh there they are, with toddler Amelia in tow. Finally, safety and security. I was not lost forever.

(note: I am not exaggerating any of these details. In fact, I’ve left out several frustrating, scary, intimidating moments. Sometimes I look back and think, “What the fat world was I thinking?? Borderline insanity, sufficiently stupid.”) 

We had our introductions and briefly caught up about my trip as we walked about 15 minutes to their apartment. By this time it was 4:00 on Friday afternoon and I had pretty much been awake since 11:00am the day before. I was looking forward to a cold refreshing shower, finally getting to let go of the 100 pounds of luggage, and then a blissful sleep. About half-way there, as I was dwelling on this plan, Lewis says, “Hey we have our Filipino youth Bible study tonight, and I was wondering if you would share a devotional with them.”

Ironic. There are a couple things that are ironic about this opportunity. First, obviously, I was being asked to give when I wasn’t sure if my thoughts and capabilities were logical or coherent. Yet I knew, as I often experienced in grad school, God always gives grace in order to give when physically I feel like there is nothing left to give. So I knew I could go forward in that strength.

Yet the other ironic part was the fact that spiritually and emotionally I was entering, and somewhat already in, the darkest time period of my life. Dark as in lost. Dark as in purposeless. Empty.  Void. Even now I feel it’s very hard to express, though 6 months later. In the past month, God had turned my world upside down, then took my identity, and crushed it. How am I supposed to “lead” a devotional?

In this present state, I showered, took a power nap, and went to the Bible study where I got to share a lesson that I had heard a week ago from Acts 3. Just like the beggar entreated Peter and John for money to buy to food to survive, we often go to God for things that to us are absolutely necessary and life sustaining, yet He wants us to leave that behind because He has better plans in mind. The beggar asked for money in order to have food to survive; Peter said that he had no money to give, but instead gave the ultimate Treasure and Meal, eternal life in the name of Jesus.

We are so narrow-minded and much too easily satisfied. It was a simple devotional, yet never in my life had I felt so unworthy and unclean, thinking, “I should not be doing this right now. I totally don’t feel complete in Christ. Everything’s a mess inside and I don’t really know why.” I couldn’t really express anything because I didn’t even know yet what exactly was wrong.

Yet again, often He tells us to give when we perceive we have nothing to give,

because once we are useless, maybe that is when he can actually use us.

And this was only Day 1.