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By Grace May

When I accept me at my worst, not darting God’s eyes or making excuses, then I can live into a different reality, where I live not only as forgiven, but transformed. “If anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation. Old things have passed away; behold! all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17). Hearing God’s call of mercy each day invites me to hum a new tune, because I am a brand new person.

There is true strength in being able to accept myself.

I recently made a rather big decision in haste without consulting a close cadre of confidents and ended up regretting it so much that I texted a number of them to pray.  Over the course of three days, God not only did damage control but brought a resolution so sweet and so good, it was rather miraculous.  I may have been impetuous — my weakness — but God took the opportunity to show me mercy and grace.

Or take my “wonderful” spirit of helpfulness, arguably a strength but nine times out of ten, it’s not.  In my mother’s own words, yue-bang yue-mang, “the more I help, the more work I make for everyone else.” In fact, when our ministry, WOW!, launched, I made a conscious effort to do as little event planning as possible and entrusted that work to our associate director, who drafted a program that looked and ran like a wedding planner’s play book.  Talk about a success!

In the company of friends, others’ strengths can cover for my weaknesses.  Together we can laugh at one another’s foibles, cheer one another on, encourage, pray, and hear God better.

Recently at a week-long silent retreat, I discovered that my strengths and weaknesses begin to dissolve as I let myself be. . . enfolded in God’s love and forgiveness.  I discovered God’s reassuring presence wading by the beach, watching the sunset, meeting with my spiritual director, and partaking of the Eucharist.  In reading, God’s words overflowed and filled the crevices inside of me.   In my extended pause called “silence,” the flesh sloughed off more easily.

I’m more me. God breaks in again and again, and wonder resumes.  Abiding with God lets me recognize God’s beauty and appreciate more who God is and who I am. And when I’m more at ease with God, I’m better by myself and in the company of others.

Grace May is the Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at William Carey International University and the executive director of WOW! (Women of Wonder!). Manni Lee is the associate director and director of mentoring, and May Lee is the director of discernment.  Our motto is, “We are better together.”  Supported by a faithful team of ministers (prayer warriors, donors, and other volunteers), WOW! seeks to see sisters soar.  

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By Wendy Choy-Chan

A very familiar verse from the Bible is, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). It follows Paul’s pleading with the Lord to remove his thorn, something Paul was unable to do himself. It was a weakness of incapability, of powerlessness. I cannot help but think (cynically): What else can we do but to rely on God’s power, when we cannot do anything to change the situation? But how about when we do have something to fight with and fight back? Continue Reading »

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By Tina Teng-Henson

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Continue Reading »

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By Liz Chang

In my work with clients who have a history of abusing substances, it is a common theme for drugs to be a tool for coping with difficult emotions and challenging situations in life. But drugs aren’t the only distraction available. There’s Netflix, podcasts, books, pets, shopping, social media, parties, chores, errands, and the list goes on. Distractions are plentiful and not inherently bad. But they often give us the easy way out from facing difficult emotions and challenging situations. They can be cause for us to miss out on opportunities to reflect, grow, problem solve, and engage with the Spirit of God.

When I think about the many stories of Jesus walking through a crowd or walking in a crowd, I realize that Jesus had his options for distraction too. While he didn’t have all the technology, he had plenty of social situations to dilute his attention and presence. But he paid attention. He took notice. He heard. He saw. He responded to individuals who could have been overlooked in the crowds.

The list of distraction options are my crowd. When I am walking in my crowd in day-to-day life, sometimes I use that as a gut reaction to avoid grief, disappointment, stress, anxiety, and other unpleasant emotions. My crowd can help me minimize my experience of those emotions that seem unbearable in the moment. But those can be missed opportunities for experiencing the ease of God’s yoke. When the Spirit of God is what empowers me, can I learn to pay attention in the crowd and be strengthened to take notice and respond?

Jesus modeled this for us during his ministry on earth. He didn’t react to questions from Pharisees and Sadducees with avoidance, defensiveness or fear. He didn’t allow the crowds to distract him from taking notice of those who reached out to him. He responded with thoughtfulness and compassion.

Presence requires willingness to move beyond quick reactions into a mindset of thoughtful and compassionate response. This takes practice. And catching those opportunities builds on our sanctification and foundations of faith and relationship with the living God.

What’s in your crowd?
Who or what are the things in your life that are reaching out for your response?
Can we take the time to notice and respond to what God is doing in our lives?

Liz Chang resides in New York City and is a family therapist at an intensive outpatient treatment center for drug addiction. She is a License Marriage and Family Therapist and graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a Masters of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is an aspiring photographer and is a cat mom to Instagram cat @bennyslyf. She and her husband enjoy going for walks and exploring new neighborhoods, parks, and restaurants.

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By Debbie Gin

Can you be present to someone online? Can you practice presence online?

These are questions we’ve been asking in our work with theological schools. More officially, our
questions have centered around: Can people be formed online? (Formation can be about your spiritual
life, your faith, your pastoral skills, your intellectual skills or knowledge, your capacities for human character, your commitments to justice or social justice, etc., but this is for another blog post.) Whatever your context includes in “formation,” can that occur online? Continue Reading »

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By Sharon Lee Song

Emmanuel means God with us. God is with you always. Take a moment, and reflect on this. Do we know this truth? Do we know that God is present with us, moment by moment? How present are we to ourselves, to one another, and to God? Are we paying attention?

There is power in the ministry of presence. As a spiritual director, we often refer to the ministry of spiritual direction as a ministry of presence. I have seen how powerful presence is for me, for my directees, and most importantly, with God.
Continue Reading »

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By Diana Kim

It is undeniable to say that youth pastors have high turnover rates. This is no exception of youth pastors in the Korean church; when culture, language, and subtexts get in the way, it is difficult for 2nd generation (and beyond) pastors to be committed long-term. During the 5 years leading up to my start as the youth pastor, there were 3 different youth pastors, along with a list of pulpit supply speakers, at my church. Continue Reading »

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