The Call

Yay, another guest post!  Since I'm frequently talking about my nail polish obsession, what it means to be a Christian female, or my legal studies, I asked my one friend who has/ is/ does none of these things to share from his perspective.  And he agreed!

Alex F. is a long-time friend of mine and supporter of the blog.  In fact, you've unknowingly read a lot of his ideas before because I often plagiarize from him (though, mostly with permission).  My favorite Alex-inspired post came from a comment he made about childhood when we were watching our PK running around the church with reckless abandon.  More recently, he was "the friend" in this post about goals.

At this point, I would provide a link to his blog, if he had one, so you all could benefit from his wisdom and wit.  But until he starts a blog of his own, he has an open invitation to guest-post here on TSN.  I might even start a new tag for his posts.

The Call

The Call. Have you ever received it? That little miraculous moment when apparently God reaches down from heaven, extends his finger, and taps you right on the head and you know just what you are supposed to do with your life. Recently I've been thinking about this concept and trying to piece together what God's "call" for my life is.

Then I did something dangerous. I actually took a look at my life. And as much as I know that the "T" in TULIP stands for Total Depravity, it always surprises me just how deep my sin goes. Through some Godly direction from some close friends I realized that I already was pursing a calling of my own making. I apparently had my own idea of what my purpose in life was and pursued it with an, ironically, religious fervor. Being single, I assumed my highest calling in life was to get married. I honestly believed that God really was not using me to my full potential by keeping me single and sought to rectify His oversight. Certainly He would be pleased with my ingenuity. True to form, I underestimated God.

So now I write this, still in the process of breaking down marriage as an idol in my life. But worship abhors a vacuum. If I truly wanted to cast down any idols in my life, I had to replace my "highest calling" with God. So again the question is, what is God's highest calling for me? And through the example and advice of Godly friends and through reading through the gospels I found God's calling. It is a pursuit of Him and a reliance on Him. God's purpose for my life is His sanctification of my life. The gradual removal of sin and reorientation toward Christ-likeness. If that is God's purpose, then there is no higher calling for my life than that. So now I resolve (and re-resolve, and re-re-resolve) to pursue that purpose. To pursue, love, and enjoy God in and with my mind, my heart, my strength, and my life.

For me, at this point in my life, I turned to marriage as an idol. But now, at my job, I can see the same temptation to turn toward work or the pursuit of money or a career as my highest calling. I could devote all my time and energy to work harder and do better and look to these things for my peace, and hope, and joy. But that would be walking into the same trap, that by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit I now see clearly. Marriage and a career both do take hard work and striving, but they must be pursued in a Godly way. They can't be central. They can't be ends unto themselves. They are means by which God fulfills His plan to sanctify us and sanctify and save those around us.

Now I have contentment in God's plan for me, whether it includes marriage or not. God's plan for me is my sanctification and to accept me into His kingdom when His work for me here is done. And I can think of no higher, no better calling than that. So I am satisfied that God will complete that work that He set out to do. I can be thankful that where I am now, even in my singleness (which is crazy to think, right?), is where God has chosen to best sanctify me. I think for the first time I understand Paul's words when he urges the Corinthians to "remain as you are." So praise God for that; at the very least, I understand His word better.

So what now? What of you? Is there a calling you pursue wholeheartedly? Are you thankful for where you are now? Thankful that you are there by the grace of God, for the work He has for you, in particular, to do? Just remember there is no greater calling in life than to pursue the One who called us to life.

Guest Post: To Fight the Good Fight

I'm writing a brief for a competition coming up, so I asked a couple of friends to help me out with guest posting. And let me tell you- I'm super stoked about the rest of the week.

Today's guest poster is the fabulous Ashley C. I had the privilege of having her in my community group for a number of years, and she's a real "Barnabas," if I've ever met one. Honestly, when I was reading "Practicing Affirmation," Ashley's always-smiling face immediately came to mind.  She's that good.

A martial artist as well as a Christian, Ashley is starting a blog, "To Fight the Good Fight," about where these two fields intersect.  Below is an excerpt from her appropriately-titled post, "The Gospel."

God is. God has always been. God will always be. He exists outside of time and outside of all Creation because he is the Creator.  Nothing that exists was made outside of him. He is all powerful, fully capable of doing anything and everything, with raw power the force of which we can only imagine. He is bigger than anything we can imagine, holding the universe in the palm of his hand. He knows all things simultaneously, from the smallest particles of energy to the massive galaxies we can only glimpse. God is the single most powerful entity that there is. He is the source of truth, as he created all existence. Only he knows the full extent of his creation and the reason for everything within.  He is also absolutely righteous, the single source of everything that is good, pure, right and lovely. God is the source of true hope and peace. He is the standard by which all things must measure against because he is the Creator and God. He exists in heaven; heaven is the place where God the father is. In heaven he exists in his rightful glory, on a throne that shines blindingly bright and with angels surrounding him continually crying out how holy he is. God, and God alone, is entirely worthy of all glory and praise.

Read the rest on her blog, and be sure to subscribe!

Want some Proverbs 31 action from your woman?

Responses to Proverbs 31

I have a love/hate relationship with Proverbs 31.  I love it because it is a divinely-inspired depiction of a wise, godly, and strong woman.  A woman who I aspire to be.  I hate it because it has been absolutely bastardized (Am I allowed to use that word?) by contemporary Christian culture.

I realize that the blog has been relationship-heavy as of late, and after my review of Redeeming Singleness (which, seriously, everyone should read), I made the conscious effort to stay away from relationship/ gender issues for awhile.  Until my friend told me about a Facebook comment she read:

I can't wait for some Proverbs 31 action from my lady.

She also told me about her involvement in a conversation where a man proudly declared:

I would marry someone who was godly, even if she were ugly.

What?  Wait...What?

I'm pretty sure the Proverbs 32 man wouldn't say that.

In fact, even the Proverbs 31 man doesn't say that.  He arises and praises her strength, dignity, wisdom, skill, business sense, and provision for her household.  He does not, however, sit at the city gate of Facebook waiting for (demanding?) more Proverbs 31 action.  He also praises because she exceeds and surpasses all other women- without qualifiers as to how her physical appearance compares with others.

Reworking our standards

Proverbs 31, while divinely inspired, is also a fiction.  The Proverbs 31 woman- who can find? She doesn't exist.  She is a fictionalization, a hypothetical created by King Lemuel.  Modern evangelicalism misses this in analyzing the text.  Instead, we have elevated this "perfect woman" in our minds and have demanded that our young women and wives attain this goal and chided them when they have fallen short.

You know who was perfect (and not fictional)?  Jesus.

The calling for Christlikeness is the same for both men and women.  We both have the same unattainable standard.

So if you're a man waiting for some Proverbs 31 action from your woman, chances are, she's waiting for some as-Christ-loved-the-church action from you.  Seems like we can all use a little grace.

My Christian Resume


Though I've been trying to post more regularly, I'm having issues getting the post out on time.  Today's excuse: I was cranking out cover letters to send to potential employers.  Looking for a job is an interesting process.  You take all your qualities and write them down on paper.  You convince someone, not only that you're the best person for the job, but that they're the best for you.

The Christian version

Weirdly enough, I find myself doing the same thing when shopping for churches.  At some point, someone asks you about your church history, and I find myself going down my Christian resume:
- said "the prayer" as a kid
- led a few Christian student organizations
- was a small group leader/ deaconness at my former church

Pride and Prejudice

At first, it sounds like I'm listing all my Christian credentials.  People are generally impressed, considering the fact that church involvement in my age range is sparse, to say the least.  The problem, though, is none of this was for a pat on the back.  I'm not trying to get a job or win brownie points with this person.  This was and always will be for God- and not by my power- but by His grace and strength alone.

This works the same for those with a less-extensive Christian "resume."  I have friends who are newer believers that feel awkward in the church because they feel like people expect them to be someone that they're not.  They feel judged (real, or perceived) because they haven't had the same experiences as others.

But here's the catch: there's no pride in having an extensive Christian "resume," and no shame in not having one, either.  Grace.  Faith.  Obedience.  That's it. 

Paul says as much in Philippians 3.  If anyone had a resume, it was Paul.  But what does he say about it?
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of(S) the surpassing worth of(T) knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
 And what about those who don't have Paul's background?
But one thing I do:(AD) forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for(AE) the prize of the upward(AF) call of God in Christ Jesus.


So let's extend grace to one another and embrace God's grace for ourselves.  It's not about what we do or our personal histories.  It's about Christ and grace and the cross- what he has done in our lives (every conversion is a miracle) and what he continues to do in our lives.  It's not about our resumes and convincing others that we're good enough.  It's about Christ reaching down, coming to our level, and declaring us good enough.

You want and do not have


I had a bit of a meltdown the other day.  It's crazy how years and years of disappointment and hurt can rise to the surface in a moment and the armies of bitterness be triggered by the mundane.  One thing goes wrong.  Then another.  Then your backup plans D, E, and F fall by the wayside.  And all you're left with is the trapped feeling that "It's always been like this" or "Things are never going to change."

I don't have a particularly volatile personality.  I'm pretty even-tempered and level-headed - not in a passive/aggressive way, but a lot of things just slide off my back.  But on the occasion that I get mad, it feels good.  Righteous, even.  After all, I'm right (of course) and this person or this situation deserves my anger.  And it feels good.  Until I realize that brewing poison isn't the safest occupation, and this anger is toxic to my soul.  Good feeling gone.


I had a meeting with an old friend a few cities away, so I jumped on the train.  I grown to love trains.  Sometimes, they're very entertaining.  This time, it gave me time to reflect.

I was so frustrated with my circumstances, but James 4 came to mind.  I didn't have a Bible on me, so my recall was more like:


but it's the same general idea.

Pastures Green

I want because I do not have.  I do not have because I do not pray.  I do not pray because I know I want the wrong things, and when I do pray, I pray to have the wrong things.  This puts me in a very bad feedback loop, and I get angry (a murderous attitude) and frustrated (leading quickly to quarreling) because my passions are at war within me.

However, the Lord provides peace.  Peace- the opposite of anger and frustration and quarrel and warring passions.  It comes when we understand that the valley of the shadow of death isn't so scary, when we taste and see the banquet that He has already laid out before us, and when we are filled with the overwhelming knowledge that surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.

Instead of praying for hands to grasp my desires, maybe I should pray for eyes to see my blessings.

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

Edit: This has nothing to do with my earlier book review, by the way.  The timing of these pre-written posts gives a deceptive timeline sometimes.

Redeeming Singleness Book Review (5/5)

Though I kissed dating books goodbye, I was captivated by this gem because it is thoroughly theological at heart. This is not a dating book. This is not a how-to book for singles. This is not about praying for your future spouse. In other words, Redeeming Singleness is unlike anything I've ever read. And as a single woman in her 20s who was raised in the church- HALLELUJAH!

"In an age in which evangelical Christianity has been strongly identified with the politically active 'family values movement,' Jesus' statements in reference to family relationships sometimes seem surprising" (166). Growing up in the church, singleness was often considered more of a holding tank for people until they get married, in the sort of way that unemployment is a holding tank for people looking for a job. It was only when someone went a substantial number of years without being married, people said that person "had the gift of singleness" (which barely sounds like a gift at all.)

However, in Redeeming Singleness, while recognizing the tremendous value and blessing of the God-glorifying call to marriage and family in the Church, Barry Danylak also highlights the tremendous value and blessing of the God-glorifying call to singleness as presented by a painstakingly detailed walk through the Bible.  

Danylak does not merely provide his personal opinions with a few scattered verses to support his thesis. Neither does he cite sociological or psychological studies for his argument. Instead, he starts "in the beginning" with Adam and Eve and the creation of the nuclear family. He then examines God's covenants to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God's promises, commands, and curses at Mt. Sinai; and God's renewed covenant to David. Though these former instructions and promises were very family-centric, Denylak identifies a shift in the prophets, particularly Isaiah, where we see an increasing emphasis on blessings coming through Jesus as opposed through a familial connection to the Patriarchs.

The latter chapters focus on the Gospel: the work of Jesus on the cross and the implications for a new kind of family, individuals bound to God and each other through spiritual adoption instead of physical and familial kinship ties. Denylak also focuses on Jesus' and Paul's teachings, particularly Matthew 19:10-12 and 1 Corinthians 7. The crux of the book rests on these key passages, where both Jesus and Paul place value on singleness, even "singling" it out as a God-given spiritual gift with God-given blessings for the person who is willing and able to receive it. Lastly, Denylak details the blessings conferred on those with the gift of singleness and makes some final comments on the issue.

Christ redeems all things, and He certainly redeems singleness. Here, what Denylak has done is to re-redeem singleness from a reactionary, cultural context and bring to light a theology of singleness as presented in both the Jewish Scriptures and the New Testament. This is a must-read for singles, anyone who was formerly-married but has become single, anyone in formal ministry to singles, and anyone in informal ministry who has contact with singles.  My only critique is that it may be too theologically dense, particularly in its study of the Old Testament covenants, to be palatable to everyone, but those interested in the "takeaways" of the book may skim the beginning chapters for a foundational understanding and focus on the latter ones starting with "Prophetic Paradox."  Excellent read. 5/5

(Disclosure: I was given a free copy of "Redeeming Singleness" by the publisher but was not paid for my review. The opinions and impressions expressed herein are my own.)

The 1L Sorting Hat

If law school was Hogwarts, then students would be sorted into legal fields by their first or second year internships. What would your house be?

Knowing what you want v. Being too picky

Edit: I actually DID have this ready by midnight!   I'm so mad that it didn't auto-post haha.  Well, enjoy!

I love nail polish.  (Stick with me here.  I'm going somewhere with this.)  I admit, makeup and coffee are my two money-spending vices, but I try to curb my spending by finding good sales.  Today, I saw that Urban Decay had a sale on one of its nail polish sets- just $10!  That's a fantastic deal!  The drawback?  $7 shipping.  Granted, the sum of $17 would still have been significantly cheaper than the original price for the set, but I wanted an even better deal.  Immediately, I used my mad Google skills to find Urban Decay coupon codes and found - to my dismay- that they had a 25% code two days ago!  But that didn't stop me.  I tried every expired code I could find.  In fact, I looked at the five top hits for "Urban Decay coupon code" until I realized that half the codes were from April, and the results started to repeat themselves.  By the time that I decided that I exhausted all my options, I was able to buy the on-sale nail polish without feeling like I was settling.

Apparently buying nail polish is like picking a spouse, or so the debate goes.  In the past couple weeks, I read 3 blog posts from major authors on the topic.  Some say that it's of utmost importance to know what you want, and don't stop until you get him/ her.  Others say that this sort of "pickyness" will leave you single until the metaphorical pond of fish is depleted, and you'll miss someone good who is right in front of you.  The cumulative sum of advice is essentially: have standards! but not too high!

The same is true for church-shopping, really.  There's a remarkable amount of similarities between looking for a spouse and looking for a church (and buying nail polish).  Find a church with community and strong teaching!  But don't shop around too much or else you'll never get established!  The difference, of course, is we are commanded to be a part of a church body, but we are not required to find a spouse.  And as much as I might think I need nail polish, I really don't need that, either.

How good are you at knowing what you want?  Are you too picky in your preferences?  What would you consider a happy medium between the two?

Court Appearance

Live-blogging my train ride

Two of my favorite activities are people-watching and blogging.  So I thought to myself, what if I combined the two?  Train rides can be pretty entertaining, and what better place to people-watch than in a narrow, confined space with people rushing to/ from places they don't want to go?

So the following are a few of my thoughts I live-posted to my Facebook status (and some that I didn't).  (Why not use Twitter?  I may have gotten logged off from my phone and forgotten my password.)  Before anyone complains about this not being a "true" live-blog, keep in mind that I'm from California.  All the cool stuff happens here, but it's always "LIVE! (previously recorded)" by the time it gets to the TV, so I have no sympathy.  But without further ado:

5:11 Apparently there's a metrolink student rate. Why am I just finding about this now? But God bless the lady at the ticketing window- made her day by telling her she made mine.

5:26  Someone just sprayed fragrance on the train. It's like some foul, feminine-smelling version of axe. My eyes are burning.

5:33 Older Asian women always make a beeline to sit next to me when there are plenty of open rows.

5:41 If you've ever wondered what can overpower the smell of axe, the answer is: corn nuts.

6:00 Oops,I just locked eyes with another people-watcher.  What to do?

6:12 Man has giant band-aid stuck to his shoe. He shuffled by before I could tell him anything.

Thankfully, my commute is only about an hour long, but even that one hour is usually fairly eventful.  If you would like to hear more of my thoughts "live" as they come to me, here's where I post them.  (And I'll try to remember my password for next time!)

Do you people watch?  What are some of your favorite public transit stories?

Want things to go your way? Become wise.

What I pray for

A lot of the time, I pray about things that I want God to change.  X situation isn't going well.  That Y person is being difficult.  God, if my life was more like Z, everything will be so much easier!  And of course, there is nothing wrong with praying for our needs, wants, and desires.  God encourages, and even commands it.  It is our privilege to do so as children who have been adopted and made holy by the blood of the Lamb.

However, as I read through James, I was convicted.  So often, my prayers reveal my selfish and sinful heart.  My desires are divided and are at war within me.  I desire, but I do not have.  I covet and do not attain.  James calls this reasoning "earthly, unspiritual, [and] demonic."  Yikes.

An Alternative

But how can I combat such attitudes?  Well, certainly the answer isn't to stop praying.  Instead, I can pray for wisdom, which God gives "generously and without reproach."  And what is this wisdom that God gives?

Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

While our desires are described as warring factions, wisdom is characterized by peace and gentleness.  While I am given to discontent and mixed motives, wisdom is characterized by reason and sincerity.  While my spirituality may become stagnant, wisdom produces mercy and good fruit.

The source

How do we cultivate wisdom?  Proverbs 4:7 is kind of hillarious because it says, "The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight."  Well thanks, Solomon, or whoever wrote that.  Real helpful.  James is a bit more descriptive when he says that God will give us wisdom if we ask in faith.  Still, I think there is more we can do in our pursuit of wisdom.

What is the ultimate display of God's wisdom?  His peace, gentleness, and mercy?  The cross.  In God's wisdom, he chose that the cross would be the time and the place where he displayed his character and showed us who he is.  Likewise, as we become students of the cross, we become students of his wisdom.  The more we understand and appreciate the cross, the more we understand our peace with God and will become quicker to make peace with others.  The more we understand God's gentleness and mercy, the more we ourselves will become gentle and merciful.  And the more we understand the work of God in us, the more good works will be produced by us.

It is this process that makes us wise.  Friendship with the world is emnity with God, but if we become humble students of the cross and seek God's wisdom, God will give us grace.

Spiders and Webs

After a long and exhausting weekend, I was really stoked to go to bed early last night.  Of course, as is often the case, my ability to sleep was inversely related to my level of exhaustion.  Around 1am when I got up to get a drink of water, I noticed a giant spider with a web right above my bed.  Too tired to get a fly swatter and climb up, I pulled out my bed half a foot from the wall and went back to sleep.  After all, I would be able to kill the spider tomorrow.

By this morning, I realized the error of my ways.  The web was there, but the spider was not.  Of course, I could get a broom and sweep down the web, but the spider will just climb up and make another one.  Getting rid of the web does not get rid of the spider.  In fact, it will probably just produce an angry spider.  The last thing I want is an angry, web-spinning spider hoovering over my bed.  I should have gotten the spider and the web when I had the chance.

The Bible is constantly reminding us to be vigilant.  Why?  Because the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak.  Because it's easier to sleep than to fight.  Because we think we can take care of things at a later time.  Because it's easier to get the web when the spider is away, than to face our problems head-on.

If you see a spider, don't let it get away.

How not to pick up guys at Starbucks

I've entertained notions of some nice guy striking up a conversation with me when he sees me reading at the local coffee shop, but I'm guessing that's rather unlikely to happen today.  Nevertheless, I've been pleasantly surprised by this book so far!  I would recommend it, even with just having read the first 80 pages.  Book review coming soon!


Today I took a trip to the DMV (the Department of Motor Vehicles, for my international friends): where the lines are as long as Disneyland, but it's definitely NOT the happiest place on earth.  The reason why people wait in these lines, though, is because transportation means freedom.  It means going where you want and when you want.  The "end" of being able to drive definitely justifies the "means" and the hoards of people, even if you have to wait for hours (pro tip: register for an appointment online.  I noted the person who would have been in front of me in line, had I not secured an appointment.  I was in and out before she got to the front door of the building.)

Just as the ability to move and go places is a manifestation of freedom, so is the ability to not move when you don't want to- any Tourette Syndrome, Huntington's, or Parkinson's patient will tell you that.  Because freedom isn't limited to movement, but to one's will.  The will to do or not do what you want or don't want.  The will to make choices and get results.

But sometimes our will leads to imprisonment, not freedom.  What happens if we are bent on getting our way and don't?  We wanted good health for ourselves, parents, and children, but we got sickness instead.  We want to call someone into account for a wrong, real or perceived, and no one got what they deserve.  We wanted- not even a good job, but enough to get by- and we got laid off.  We wanted so much for this broken relationship to mend, but it slips away by the day.

A person's will can be like wood or like bamboo.  Wood is strong and unyielding, but it will break.  Bamboo is also strong, but it will give and bend.  A wooden will that is obstinate leads to disappointment, heartbreak, and grudges against others and against God.

On the other hand, a bamboo will possesses a different kind of strength: the strength to adapt and change while still staying rooted.  It is a flexible sort of steadfastness.  Sometimes the way to grasp freedom is to live life with an open hand.  Sometimes the way to gain life is to lose it.