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Giant Lightbulb

So right as my mosquito bites were healing, I got extreme TMJ pain … the worse that I’ve ever had. And I used to have TMJ pain that I would have to take four ibuprofen four at a time. But I’ve been using ibuprofen so much that I feel like it doesn’t even have an effect on me anymore.

Like I mentioned a few posts ago, things have finally gotten scary. I went from feeling, “okay, well, this sucks but it’ll get better” to “now I’m getting worried, what am I doing wrong?” to “what’s going to happen next?”

And so today, as I was swimming in a sea of pain while lying in bed, I realized that I’ve been praying to God about this pain and looking at random verses but I have never really been investigating His word. So I decided to put on a sermon about God and health issues while laying in bed trying to not throw up.

As I listened to the sermon, I had a couple of strong realizations:

First, that maybe this is happening because I need to become humble again. If you know me, you know that I love to be active and workout. It’s what gives me that extra burst of energy. But I haven’t worked out in months because it’s been one health thing after another. And each one is getting worse.

The ideal image I had of myself was always of an energetic and athletic person. Before all this started and went into full swing, I was doing more cardio and loving it. Now I’m lucky if I get my daily walk in.

If you asked me to envision a scenario where not exercising would ever be good for me, I’d laugh. But now I realize that maybe this is happening so that I can become more down to earth again.

Second, maybe God wants me to slow down. Part of the reason why I was so anxious about going out there and exploring new things once I graduated (had plans to travel, go to resorts, sky dive, learn a new sport, etc) was because I felt insecure whenever I slowed down.

Even just lying down there was a huge obstacle for me. Unless it’s to sleep, I don’t like to down and just close my eyes and wait. It took this huge wave of pain radiating across my face and my shoulders and my neck and even my stomach to make me lie down and be still.

I realized also that life won’t end when I work. I can do these things when I work too. Maybe not as much but maybe just on the weekends. The hours will be rough but I can still live life and be happy.

Third, I was keeping most of this to myself. At first, when it was all unusual and not normal and chronic, I told my friends about it and they would all be very sympathetic. But like I mentioned before, it’s only a matter of time when people get sick about hearing about your problems. Eventually when they see you it’s the first thing they ask, “how’s your pain?”

But then in this sermon I realized that I haven’t really been going to other Christians and trying to investigate why this is all happening. The speaker spoke about going to the elders of the church and being prayed over. Why, in these six months, have I not done that?

Instead, I’ve been praying and reading random Bible verses but maybe God wants me to go to church so that I can ask other Christians – especially my pastor – about it.

Recently, I’ve been wondering, “What WILL God do next? Am I going to break my arm? Am I going to get yet another infection? Is all my hair going to fall out?”

But really, the only way to find out why this is happening is to ask God. And I’m barely starting to realize that to find out what God thinks, maybe I have to turn to other Christians too. Maybe I can’t just rely on my own prayers and random Bible verses.

So when the speaker mentioned ruthless independence in his message and how sickness can move us to want to go to other people in church for help, it struck me. I plan to go to church this Sunday and prayerfully, I can talk to the pastor after service and ask him.

Before all of this happened, I really did live in my own world where life was like a television show and I was the main character. It was the Ophie Show. But now, now maybe it’s not. What do you do when all the lights in your studio turn off and the cameras stop working? You start to realize who you are beneath that once confident, slightly arrogant exterior whose biggest worry was that her arms would get flabby again.

If you are a Christian and you are reading this, I really ask you to pray for me. Any prayer will help. 

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Loving God Through Fear

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It’s been a crazy six months, that’s for sure.

It’s been almost a month since I had an issue with my bite. It has somewhat fixed itself now that I’ve been wearing my retainers full-time.

Before the issue with the bite happened and it felt like my teeth were on fire, I remember praying to God and just asking Him to heal me. He sent me this verse:

LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.

Psalm 30:2

I thought I was finally going to be able to feel normal again soon after the issue with my wisdom teeth and my bite were fixed.

Long story short, I had a few red bumps pop up where my impetigo had been months prior. The impetigo I had was rather severe and seeing it really worried me.

Itchy, upset and afraid, I knew that I could go a variety of routes. I could do what I usually did, which was freak out and withdraw from God for a few weeks. Whenever a random health thing would pop up, I would stop studying God’s word, stop writing in my prayer journal and stop praying.

But this time, I decided to run to God and change the course of doing what I was used to doing. I felt that God had allowed those red suspicious bumps to pop up again because my heart was still not changed to the way He wanted it to be. And it made sense.

For a while, I’ve been dealing with a lot of pride and competitiveness and discontent in my spirit. I think we all have a little bit of a control freak in us and for a while, I let mine run free.

Since I’ve been out of the “spotlight” for over a year now, I failed to see the sliver of pride and conceit that still lay buried in my heart. It was distracting me from God and causing me to turn into a snob. There are little moments that escape me during the day. Maybe when I see someone do something that I don’t approve of and I judge them for it. Or maybe judging someone by the way he or she looks. Maybe thinking I’m ‘too good’ to associate with certain people.

So just when I thought that I could reach the end of the tunnel, God presented me with yet another dark path.

I saw this horrible doctor on Amwell and he had no tact at all. He took one look at my face and said, “yup. that’s impetigo.” I asked him questions and he didn’t really answer any of them. He shrugged off any questions I had and looked like he was ready for the conversation to be over.

Thankfully, I called the company for a refund and they are processing one for me right now. I had to follow up with a quality control specialist and everything but she was very sympathetic as I told her what had happened. As someone who works in client service and will be having a full-time career in it soon, I think that this doctor really needs a lesson in learning how to deal with his patients especially when they’re worried and upset.

I saw my physician the next day and she said it did not seem like impetigo but it looked more like acne or another type of infection. Regardless, the ointment she prescribed me helped. I think I got my impetigo from my yoga mat which I had stupidly not washed since December, when I had impetigo…

I’ve been getting sick lately so I have not been able to exercise and haven’t really used my yoga mat since then. I’ve wiped down my mat with lysol wipes and also a disinfectant spray.

Anyway, the day after the impetigo issue I started getting pain in my teeth again. This made me feel really upset and I wondered if I was cursed. I even looked up “am I cursed” on Google.

“If you experience health incidents continually, you may be cursed,” the internet said. “Curses tend to ebb and flow.”

A chill ran through my spine. Could it be?

I prayed to God and I asked Him, “Lord, am I cursed or is this really all coming from You?” I closed my eyes and just prayed for Him to answer me. I went to a random Bible verse generator and the first verse that popped up was Psalm 39 – a psalm where the psalmist is dealing with sickness and is crying out to God to heal him.

Every single verse in that Psalm touched me.

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth—
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”

Psalm 39

This confirmed to me that this impetigo  might be God’s way of taking my hand and bringing me back to Him. Before this, I had never realized how much pride and contempt was in my heart. I did not realize how far and how quickly I was drifting away from Him. I was not surrendered to Him in the least. It’s going to be a long journey.

Everything that’s happening to me is from God and God only. He doesn’t allow His people to be cursed but He does discipline them. And this is my discipline. This is my hard lesson to learn.

And even if it seems foolish to the world, I’m going to wait on God and put all my trust in Him and let Him change and mold my heart.

An now, strangely enough, I’m growing closer to God in a way that I have never been before.

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Full Circle: A Lesson Learned One Year Later

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In Job 42, after Job goes through all of the trials that God had allowed him to go through, it says that:

After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10

This verse came to me this morning in the aftermath of an emotional week.

Strangely enough, it helped to illuminate something important that had happened just last year. Elections. It all came full circle. In short, what happened with elections was a lesson in accepting God’s yes and nos. It was a lesson in learning to have faith and being rewarded for that faith.

Sometimes I like to ask God what’s on His heart and let Him lead me to passages in His word. Occasionally I’ll do it by praying and using a random Bible verse app. The morning of elections and the days before, I’d ask God what was on His heart and would be led to this verse:

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

Although I try not to rely on my feelings, that week there was this feeling that wouldn’t go away that me being president was not meant to be. I had worked really hard for elections and the whole semester long it was a priority for me. But it just didn’t happen. And the way that elections heavily affected me and the way that I see people now.

A friend told me that afterwards the club elections are a minor event in my life. But another friend told me that the election is a minor event that had a major impact. It was something big that had happened to me.
I worked really hard to have a good shot at being president. I spent a lot of money and a lot of time. I did things like making sure I had lunch at least once a week with other members, making buttons, and even forming my own committee. It came out of a passion to help others as well as an urge to have something to validate my self worth.

After I lost, the current president at the time didn’t stop there. At the awards banquet when he would pass on his role to my opponent, he shaded me in his speech. I won’t say how but people noticed. Regardless, my opponent did a great job as president and so would those who came after her. The way it happened though is something I will never fail to forget. I’m tired of trivializing it.

After a year of struggling with accepting what happened and trying (but failing) to not feel angry or upset, it all makes sense now. God was saying no in that time and I had to learn to trust Him and His answer. And so, now I realize that by having faith in God and accepting His no, He’ll give me something even greater in the future. He will give me twice as much.

That same semester, I entered into a case competition which one of the judges, a director in a Big 4 accounting firm, said was the most difficult she had ever seen. The subject material was more complex than that of previous semesters. We managed to place in the top four out of around 9 teams even though the memo that I wrote came out of 3 hours of work and a cup of tea.

Before I went to submit my memo, I bumped into a friend who was also applying for the competition and she said her team had been working on it for hours in the library. We were sure we wouldn’t get selected but we did.

The presentation for the case competition was the day after elections. Judges from accounting firms and the accounting faculty would come to evaluate our presentations and ask us questions. I practiced for the competition just hours after losing and I kept stopping to cry during practice.

The day of the presentation, some of us kept forgetting our lines. We all wore black and walked into our presentation looking like we were going to a funeral. We walked out looking like we had just left a funeral. We wouldn’t find out until awards banquet if we would place or not in the top three.

During the presentation, I remember when it came time for me to speak, I smiled brightly and spoke my first lines. The judges sat up and smiled back. Then somehow, something inside of me deflated and I sort of just wilted there on the spot. Then I was like “p_p”.  And the judges were like “T_T”. Later on, one of the judges smiled at me and made eye contact but I was like “:|”.

I told myself I wouldn’t let elections affect me in the case competition if I lost but I didn’t expect to elections to happen the way it did. I was like a wilted flower the next day.

On our way to awards banquet, I remember having a strong feeling that God would help us to place. But I didn’t want to say anything because none of us believed we had a chance. Our presentation… was not so glamorous.

However, when I arrived at the banquet, someone came up to me and said excitedly that my team did place. We placed third – but we placed. I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t know what to make of this.” It turns out that we had the answer that was technically the most correct – so that’s why we placed above the other team.

That semester was a lesson in accepting God’s yes and nos. Elections, something I worked really hard for and which I lost friendships over, was God’s no to me. But the case competition, something I didn’t expect to win, was God’s yes. It makes God’s role in my life all the more real. I can work so hard for something and still fail if I don’t have His blessing, but at the same time, He can make even the impossible happen if He wishes. 

I’m about to launch my career in a few months and I’m barely just starting to feel somewhat normal again after all the random health things I’ve been going through since December. I haven’t exercised in months and my parents said I gained weight. But I’m grateful just to feel okay again. Hopefully, it will last. I’m still taking things slow.
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Reaching For Righteousness

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So far, so good. It’s been a few days since I’ve finally started feeling normal again. By normal I mean less itchiness, swollenness or infections. I am very, very grateful that I feel normal (at least, for the most part). Apparently, the swollen gums from my last post were from a weakened immune system so I’m really glad I’ve been taking these probiotics lately. I really do feel a difference!

I’ve also had more time these days. Studying for the Audit section of the CPA exam has been chiller than studying for FAR. I study more efficiently now so I’ve been able to save more time and retain information better than when I first started. I’m on track with studying with time to spare.

Now hat I’m feeling better, I’ve noticed something important. I’ve realized that I’ve been staying at home quite often. Although I do take walks in the morning and play tennis sometimes, I feel like I should be doing more.

There are moments when I feel worried that I’m not doing enough or that I’m not challenging myself as much as I should. My track-record says somewhat differently. I’ve been able to mentor a lot of other students, profit from a hobby that I enjoy, get a job offer with a great firm, be super involved on campus and help make a change but now I’m floating in momentum.

It feels like the train’s come to a slow and steady stop.

That’s because I don’t start work until September and I put freelancing on hold so I could study full-time. Besides a few good friends, I haven’t really talked to anyone since graduating and I don’t plan to walk. In those moments of worry, I’ve been praying and asking God ways that I can really pursue a righteous life. Maybe not a fast-paced and exciting one – but at life that really pleases Him and where I can have the assurance again that I’m helping Him make a difference in the world in some way (even if it’s a small difference).

I asked God how I could pursue righteousness and I knew that this started with reading His word regularly again. And I felt Him lead me to the book of Acts. And what an experience that has been. I’m seeing all these ways that the early apostles and the early church served God, boldly preached His good news and gave to all who were in need. Although I’m not yet at the point where I can sell all my possessions to give to the poor, I want to serve God step-by-step more-and-more each moment of my life. I want to serve God and be proud of my faith and not be afraid to share it with others even if it risks me getting ridiculed or outcasted.

It seems that it’s best to start with smaller steps at first. So – I’ve decided to give going to church again another try. I’ve visited many churches in the past two years and have never really made a connection with any of them that made me want to stay. BUT I’m going to start trying again and see where that takes me. In the meantime, I’ll keep you all updated and please let me know if you have any tips for fellowship or anything church-related. I’d really appreciate it! 🙂

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No One’s Good Enough

 

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I’m a perfectionist. So it’s easy for me to idealize myself or the way things in my life should be.. When something deviates from that, it frustrates me. Being a perfectionist can lead to a feeling of duplicity and then anxiety. There’s moments when I accomplish my goals and feel really great about myself but then moments where I fail or when I do something that doesn’t ‘seem like me’ and I feel frustrated and, for lack of a better word, worthless.

In the end, I read something today that showed me simply that I’ll never really be good enough during my time on this earth to be perfect. That idea I have in my mind of the way things should be may never come to fruition. If I was perfect and I could line up my Ps and Qs perfectly, then Jesus wouldn’t have had to die for me. But He did die for me and because of what He did, I can be perfect in God’s eyes without having to BE perfect. And that’s the beauty of the Resurrection and what Jesus did to me.

He freed us from the law and helped us find freedom in His grace. There’s no need to perch up on your toes so you can meet a minimum requirement. You can meet it just by coming as you are.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 

I fail God every day. There’s no skating around this fact. But He died for my sins when I didn’t know Him or even wanted to know Him.

It’s been eight years in my journey with Christ and back then, before I chose to follow Him, I seriously doubted that I would ever call myself a Christian. It took me a week to even consider giving faith a try. One of the things that changed my mind was reading the Psalms every night out loud and realizing that God was far different than who I thought He was. He’s a merciful and kind God who’s understanding and slow to anger. Although He’s not by any means safe, He’s not some sort of angry Zeus in the sky launching lightning bolts at people like they are extras in The Purge.

At this time, I didn’t deserve in the least to know God or have a relationship with Him. Regardless, He was looking out for me and I discovered Him even when all the odds were against it.

So to be right with God, I don’t need to be perfect. I just need to come to Him every single day and when He offers me that cup of living water or solace in His arms, I’ll do my best to choose to accept.

And so, Romans 5:6 is one of my ‘life verses’, a verse that means so much to you that you remember it by heart. I’m proud to share it with you here today :-).

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 

Romans 5:6 

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Reflections on Micah 6:8

No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 

There was a time when I felt guilty for not ‘doing enough’ for God. Whether it was not reading the Bible enough, going to church enough or donating enough money, I just felt guilty and, for lack of a better term, unworthy to follow Him. As I reflect on this passage, I realize that following God and having a relationship with Him is more simple than I thought.

Micah 6:8 is the prophet’s answer to the Israelites’ question of simply what God wants:

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? Micah 6:7 

In the words of Henry and Richard Blackaby in Experiencing God, “At times, we try to make the Christian life far more complicated than it is.” Maybe following God is more simple than one thinks.

When I was praying and asking God to show me how to live a life that honors Him, Micah 6:8 came to me. I realized that at the heart of it all, I need to walk with God day-by-day. In order to do that, I am called to live with integrity, give mercy and have humility.

To seek justice means living with integrity. Whether I’m studying for a test or working on an order for a customer, I should do each of these things with integrity which means not to cheat or plagiarize. To love mercy means praying for the strength to be patient with others and giving them a second chance.

Until recently, I used to enjoy gossiping and finding out the latest dirt. Then I realized that even if they may not be there to hear it, I’m hurting another person by gossiping about them and encouraging that negative word-of-mouth. I’ve been the subject of gossip before as well and it can be pretty discouraging to know that people are talking about your business.

And to walk humbly with Him means living life with humility. As Blackaby says, “God does not ask us for spectacular acts of service – He asks for humility.”

When I started to pray regularly again, I asked God to reveal sins in my life that He wanted to bright to light. Soon, the issue of pride came up and I realized that for a very long time, I’ve been walking around with a chip on my shoulder. Instead of treating everyone the same, I’m ashamed to admit that I thought I was ‘better’ than some people just because of my status or accomplishments. I took myself way too seriously.

After God brought my pridefulness to light, I worked on being humble. I decided to actively work on treating each person equally, letting things go, and taking myself less seriously by not getting easily offended.

In his memoir, “Born Again”, Charles Colson writes about how when we are prideful, we tend to look down on others so we never look up at God. So if I want to pursue a close relationship with God, I have to recognize my pride for what it is and crucify it for His sake.

And so, even though this verse is thousands of years old, it has helped encourage me in my walk with God. It reminds me of the three elements that are crucial to join in His work, to hear from Him and to live a life that glorifies Him.