God Welcomes the Mess and Brokenness

I’m back here with lots of thoughts. I’ve been kind of lost in my head these days. I’m a big dreamer. I’m always thinking; I always have ideas. But in all honesty, I haven’t liked to think much lately. Especially when that thinking involves myself, my life, my emotions, or my thoughts. Why? Because it has been a dark place recently.

If you know anything about me, you know that I love people and being around people. It is a rare occasion that I don’t want to be with people, but that is what has been happening more often lately. I have a lot of moments went I just don’t have the energy to be with people. I’d rather hide away. I don’t respond to texts or messages. Everything takes so much more effort. I don’t feel like I can be my “normal” self with people so I’d rather not be around them at all. Instead, I spend a lot of time sleeping.

On the other hand, sometimes I go to the opposite extreme. I attempt to fill my time with things to do. I like to work as much as possible because it keeps me distracted from my thoughts. I work on school. I spend time with friends and attend every event that I possible can. I spend way too much time scrolling through social media losing myself in other people’s “perfect lives,” not interacting with anyone. The “busyness” helps me to not think so much.

But I’m realizing that no matter what I do, I can’t stop myself from thinking entirely. I try to push it all down and move on with life, but it still creeps in. It effects my mood, attitude, and emotions. I am very frustrated and irritated all the time. I feel like crying so often and I can’t be entirely happy because my thoughts are still “there.” It effects my energy levels. I am constantly tired and would rather sleep than do anything productive. It also dictates whether I want to be around people or not.

What’s worse is the fact that I know it’s there. I know that my thoughts are dark. I know that it’s effecting everything. I know there are things that I need to address and process. There are things that I need to work out, but I don’t do that. I avoid anything involving having thoughts. This entire cycle makes me angry with myself.

To tell the truth, turning to God has been the last thought on my mind. I have distanced myself from him just like I have tried to do so with my thoughts. Thankfully, I can never truly distance myself from God. I try to though. Why? I know what I should do. Why do I not do that? I believe the answer may lie in the reality that I’ve never felt this broken. I’m a broken mess. I always have been. Everyone is a sinner and broken to God.

But I believe this is the first time that I’ve felt so deeply broken. To the point that I question God and his planning. How is he working? Can he fix this mess? Does he even want to fix this? Everything happens for a reason, but I’m not seeing any kind of point to all of this. God is good and he desires the best for us, but sometimes I wonder if that’s true.

Here’s what I’m learning though. God delights in us. We are a blessing to him. Is that not a crazy thought? That we are a blessing to God? There is so much talk about how God blesses us, but we are also able to bless the Lord. We are a blessing to him. Another aspect of God, he does deliver us from our struggles and suffering.

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

-Psalm 34:17-19

God does deliver us. He knows our mess and brokenness more than we know ourselves. Despite how deeply and fully he knows us, he still desires a relationship with us. He welcomes the mess and brokenness. He is near to the brokenhearted. He sees us. He hears us.

“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!”

-Psalm 40:17

More so, God thinks of us. He wants us to bring everything to him. He truly wants us to live our best lives and we can’t do that without him. While we do not always understand God’s timing or plan, it is still good. It will always be good. Though we may doubt how something or other can be good, our definition of good is limited by our sinful human nature. That is not the case with God. God is perfect and so his definition of good is perfect.

Knowing this and believing this are two different things though. That’s something I’m working on. Trusting God with the mess and brokenness. God can and will deliver me. All I need to do is run to him and bring it all before him. I’m not too far gone.

Hoping to lighten your burden,

Gabi

Mere Fragments #2 // New Beginnings

Hello. I am alive. I have not died. Despite my lack of writing, I am here now. I took an unintentionally long time away. There’s a comforting feeling coming back here, to this blog that has been around for awhile. At the same time, it has been so long that I feel like I don’t even know how to write a blog post. What is blogging? Where do I even begin?

It has been about eleven months since I left Taiwan. In that eleven months, a lot has happened. I currently live in North Carolina. I found a job as a barista at a local coffee shop. I really love it and the community that I’ve found there. My coworkers are the best. Wouldn’t survive those crazy work days without them. The locals who come in regularly are pretty cool as well. Between my coworkers and the regulars that come in, I have made some great friends.

I’m also getting close to being finished with my bachelor’s degree! In December I transferred my credits to Thomas Edison State University. I have one last course to take and then I’ll be graduating with a BA in History! It is crazy that I’ll be done with school in a few months. In many ways, my life has revolved around schoolwork for so long that it is hard to imagine what life will be like without it.

With school finishing up, my thoughts have turned towards the future. I’m in a weird stage of life. I have some friends who are college students, some that have graduated. I know people who are single, those who are married, and those who are having kids. As for me, I have no idea what the future holds. I have thought a lot about just getting through college, but not really past that. For sure, I definitely have ideas, but nothing is thought out.

In all of this, there’s plenty to be excited about and so much to be thankful for. In June, I got to be a part of one of my best friend’s wedding as her maid of honor. To be a part of my friend’s special day was absolutely thrilling. I couldn’t be more excited or happy for her. I love her so much. The wedding came together beautifully, despite the hiccups and craziness beforehand.

Weddings make me think of new life, fresh starts. It’s a time of new beginnings. It is a step into a new stage of life. Maybe, just maybe, this will be a new beginning for me. Every day, every moment is an opportunity to change. To do something different. To try something new. To start again.

The same applies to God. God has, is, and will always be here for us. He doesn’t abandon us even if we abandon him. That’s one of the most amazing things about him. God doesn’t leave us. He is there for us every single day. All we have to do is turn towards him. We don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to be anyone. God is here, wanting to hear from us. He’s ready to listen. Nothing is too big for him to handle. Maybe believing all this is hard. But here’s the thing, that’s when God steps in again. He helps us with our faith and trust in him. We can have new beginnings with God and he will help us every step of the way.

So here I am, hoping and trying to believe this for myself.

Hoping to lighten your burden,

Gabi

Invest Where You Are

Hi. It been a long time. I’ve come to this blank page multiple times, always planning to write a new post, but words have failed me. It’s been almost four months since I’ve left Taiwan, but it feels like years. I miss Taiwan. I miss what was “normal.” I miss my friends. I miss my students. I miss teaching. I miss church. I miss the struggle of using Chinese. I miss the convenient transportation. I miss bubble tea.

Now, I’m trying to adjust to this new “normal” in the United States. In almost four months, I’ve lived in three different states and I’m about to move to another state. I haven’t really settled down since Taiwan. Things have been kind of up in the air since then. I don’t know how long I’ll be in any place right now. Everything is very temporary.

I’m tired. So tired. I have ideas and dreams, but I have no thoughts onto how I’ll attain them. I don’t even know if any of these things are things that I should be pursuing. Where should I be? What should I be doing now? These questions cross my mind all the time. There’s this overwhelming pressure to just DO something, anything, but I find myself doing nothing.

Then I was brought back to my word of the year. Invest. Investing is probably one of the hardest things to do right now, but it’s probably now one of the most important things to do now. With COVID-19 that puts so many restrictions on what were “normal” activities and with my living situation being very temporary, making commitments and investing is hard.

Community is what we all need, especially now. As a Christian, it is even more important. We all need to invest where we are and find community. God has put each of us where we are for a reason, for a purpose. Sure, how we invest and make community will look different for each person, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

-Hebrews 10:24-25

I love these verses. Don’t we all want a community like that? One where people love one another and encourage each other? One where people can reply upon each other in time of need? That’s the kind of community that we could all use no matter where we are in life.

So that’s where I’ll start. I don’t know where I’m headed or what God has planned. I feel so very lost sometimes, but thank God that he is capable of using a broken mess like me. I don’t have to know everything, but I am capable of investing in the people around me. I am capable of building community.

Personally, it’s extremely hard for me to be present. I’m always looking towards the future. And I’m not saying it’s bad to look towards the future, in fact, it’s good to look ahead. But it’s also so important to be present. And no one should be looking so much towards the future that they miss the present, that they’re not really “there” to the people around them.

In this time of transition after transition, that’s what I’m going to work on. And I hope that this encourages you, wherever you are in your community building, to continue investing. No human being is perfect, but it’s encouraging to know that God continues to invest in us despite that. What an example we have to follow.

Hoping to lighten your burden,

Gabi

So This is the New Normal

time just flies by and now it is april. time is like sand. i try to hold on it, but it keeps slipping between my fingers.

things have changed a lot in the last few months. i know. it’s on everyone’s minds lately. the virus. the coronavirus. or COVID-19. whatever name you put to it, you can’t go a day without hearing about it (much less a few hours).

an unknown virus has changed life as we know it. everyone has been effected, whether in big or small ways. we can hope that things will go back to “normal” soon, but for now this is the new normal.

unfortunately, so many people are struggling in this time. we have people working in the medical field or working for the government or working in the food industry. there are more, like all the first responders out there. i could go on.

these people are essentially risking their lives day in and day out, some more than others. either way, there is always a possibility, always a chance that they could come into contact with the virus. they still work though, because they are needed and necessary.

then there are all the people without jobs. people who are trying to figure out how long they can survive like this. how will they take care of their families? their relatives? themselves? no one knows when things will get better. everything is up in the air.

but while many struggles are visible, there are some struggles that go unseen. those who have mental health problems. for many people, they now have to practice social distancing. they have to stay at home. if they go out, it’s only for necessities or the occasional walk…by themselves. for those who struggle mentally, i can’t even begin to understand what they are going through.

(thankfully, here in taiwan we have yet to practice social distancing. we are just trying not to travel a lot or associate with too many different people. and we’re always wearing masks and washing our hands.)

and lets not forget all the plans that were cancelled. weddings, graduations, birthday parties, and more. some of these were monumental events that people only experience once, but the virus changed that.

people are stressed. worried. anxious. the list goes on. and what is God’s purpose in all of this? i’ve been asking myself that a lot lately. and honestly, i’m not sure that i’ll ever know, not until i see God. that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use this time for good.

there’s a lot of fear in the world right now. people are scared. while they have no hope, we, as Christians, do. we have hope. we may be scared, but we can act despite the fear. we know there is someone who is greater than this virus and he is in control. even if we can’t see him, he is with us. we may not know his plan, but we know that he is good.

“i pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

-romans 15:13

in this dark time, let’s be that light to others. send a text to that friend that you haven’t heard from in awhile. call up that person you’ve been meaning to talk to. it can be something as simple as that. you don’t know fully what people are struggling with. you never know when something as simple as a message saying “i care. i see you.” may make all the difference in his/her life.

Christ poured out his love for us. we can definitely take the time to show that love to others. small acts of kindness really do make all the difference.

and i hope that when things do go back to “normal,” that we, as a people, won’t. we will be changed. i hope that we learn something from this time. that we appreciate the small things. that we don’t take for granted the time we have with our families and friends.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

what have you been doing during this hectic time? what have you learned or taken away from this time?

Word of the Year: Invest

we are already almost in the third month of the year. i barely feel like this year has started and we are almost a quarter of the way through it.

i say all of this as i see some kind of spider or bug crawl across my screen. ugh. apparently it is not cold enough to make all the creepy crawlies go away. i really dislike all insects. i love snakes and lizards, but i can’t stand bugs.

anyways, back to the topic. i didn’t have a word for this year as the year began. i felt like i could still work on the word that i had last year (that is, trust), but i think that’s how i’ll think about every word that i have. just because a word isn’t my “word of the year” doesn’t mean that i’m not still working on that word. it only means that it is not what i’m focusing on for the year. it’s still important.

well, i racked my brain for a word that would fit this year.

i first thought of the future, one which is full of unknowns. i know that the beginning half of the year i’ll be spending in taiwan. as for the rest of the year, i have no idea of what it is going to look like. of course, do we really know what even the next hour will look like? only God truly knows.

then i thought of the past, was there something that i could see from last year that i could work on this year? last year was full of travels and change and adventures and transitions. from home to australia to the u.s. to four countries in europe to the u.s. to taiwan where i’ve been living since august. so much has happened. it’s been quite the whirlwind of a year.

and that’s where i found it. something that was lacking from my life.

last year i was so focused on what was coming. i was always looking towards the future. and that’s not a bad thing. it’s good to look forward. you can’t always be in the present. then how will you ever prepare or make plans for the future?

in the same way, you can’t be looking towards the future all the time. how will your ever be present if your eyes are turned towards the future? can you truly live if you are unable to focus on the present?

this past year i spent way too much time focused on the future. even when i was home and not traveling or anything, i didn’t really feel “there” most of the time. i spent so much time last year adrift. never present, never home. i felt somewhat lost, always scrambling or looking for the next thing.

and from personal experience, that’s not healthy. i felt out of touch with the world and the people around me.

i want to change that. i want to be present. i want to invest in the people and the community that i’m surrounded by. i want to be someone who is “there” and active in the moment.

instead of always worrying about the future, i want to enjoy the moment that i’m living in right here and now.

so whether i’m in a place for a few weeks or a few months, i want to invest. God has placed me where i am right now for a reason. i want to make the most of my time, wherever i am.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

what’s your word of the year? do you struggle with being present? please, share your thoughts!

It’s Been Awhile

i didn’t mean for three months to go by without a single post, but look where we are. we’re nearing the end of february and i haven’t posted since the beginning of november.

november and december were two hard months for me, if i’m being honest. i was working on a eight week college course. it shouldn’t have been that hard, but i procrastinated every single thing in that course. it didn’t matter whether the assignments were big or small, i would wait until the last moment to do them and turn them in.

it was my own actions that brought on so much stress in my life. i hated myself then. i hated what i was doing, but i didn’t change. no matter how much i told myself to stop procrastinating, i kept procrastinating. and that made me feel depressed. it didn’t help that this was the first time that i wasn’t spending thanksgiving or christmas with my family.

it was hard. on christmas day, i went to bed crying. i wasn’t sleeping enough. i wasn’t drinking enough. and i just in general wasn’t taking good care of myself. i couldn’t seem to get out of this loop of stress and depression.

then, the day after christmas, my friend celebrated christmas with me. we went to dinner and she showed me all these videos that her and my mom had worked to get from family and friends wishing me merry christmas and telling me that they were thinking of me. i cried.

it made me realize that God has a plan in the mess. things began to look up after that. there’s still stress at times. there’s many choices and big decisions that i have to make soon. but i’m trying to put God first in all of it. that’s something that i haven’t been doing much at all. sometimes the easiest/simplest things to do are the hardest things to do, you know?

i have a lot of things that i need to work on in my life. one of those things is prayer. prayer is something that i’ve really neglected lately. but i want to do better. it’s a new year. a new day. i want to change. i want to grow. i want to improve. and i want God to be at the center of everything i do.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

People are Still People

if you know anything about me, anything at all, you know that i love to travel.

sure. traveling can be stressful. there’s booking all those flights. finding the balance between price and location for places to stay. figuring out how to get from one place to another (and hoping that it doesn’t cost a small fortune). and let’s not forget, trying to decide on what to pack.

then when you’re on the actual trip it is a race between needing to do, see, and eat all the things and exhaustion. you usually end up acquiring too many things and then you have to somehow figure out how to get it all back home. of course, there’s the whole living out of a suitcase the entire time. it isn’t necessarily the most convenient thing.

despite all of that, i love it. i love the thrill of going to a new place i’ve never been before. every place is different and unique in its own special way. some places are more different than others. it all depends on your perspective. and the more you travel, there comes another realization: that there are similarities. you start to see how have different places have little similarities that connect them in a way. it is fascinating to see how one things relates to another which relates to another. things start connecting like links in a chain.

that leads me to my made point. people are still people. that’s a silly statement, isn’t it? but think about it. think about how we have the tendency to act different towards people different from us. now, some of it’s required. like having to speak slower for someone who doesn’t know the language as well or you may have to treat a little differently someone with a disability. then there’s the age difference. you wouldn’t treat a baby the same way as you would an adult. still, think about how often we treat other people differently for unjustifiable reasons. it happens a lot, doesn’t it?

people are still people. no matter where you are, the people you meet have hopes and dreams. they have beliefs and values. these people have emotions. they experience happiness and sadness. they know what it is like to be scared and excited.

and when you realize that people are just people, you’ll come to realize that they are a little bit easier to talk to. it becomes a easier to communicate with them. there’s no reason to be afraid. they are people, just like you and me. just treat them as you would want to be treated. that’s all it takes.

so maybe you’re like me. maybe you’re in a new environment. or maybe you feel like you’ve been “stuck” in this environment for awhile, but nothing has changed. you still feel alone. don’t wait. don’t wait for someone to reach out and connect with you. for all you know, they could be just as nervous and afraid as you might be.

you take the initiative. you reach out. they are just people. give them a chance. you may be surprised. we were not made to go through life alone. relationships are important. of course, our relationship with God is first and foremost. but that’s just the beginning.

having other people walk through life with you is essential. i can not say it enough. it is so important. i can’t say that the same people will stay with you from beginning to end. people come and go, some stay longer than others. but God will bring the right people into your life at the right times.

just don’t be afraid of taking an opportunity and reaching out.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

So Let’s Love

recently, i read a chapter from the Bible with a friend of mine. we discussed some of our thoughts afterwards. i hope that i can make this kind of thing more of a habit in the future.

anyways, 1 corinthians 1 brought some very similar thoughts to our minds and i think they are worth sharing and exploring more.

first of all, God invites all sorts of people to salvation. it doesn’t matter what you’re from. whether you’re from the united states or brazil or germany or saudi arabia or ethiopia or china or anywhere, all can believe in Christ.

your background doesn’t matter either. it doesn’t matter if you were buddhist or muslim or atheist or any number or religions or beliefs. it doesn’t matter if you’ve come from a wealthy family or a poor family. all one has to do is realize he or she is a fallen, broken human being. he or she must also realize that God is the only one who can save him or her. there are no exception to the rules. one can’t be saved by doing good works. one can’t be save by believing just as faithfully and diligently in another god. no. God is the one and only true god.

this invitation is open to all. all people. isn’t that incredible? there’s no discrimination on race or gender or background. the only division is between those who believe and those who don’t. and whether someone believes or not does not change the fact that we are to love all people. and when i say all people, i mean all people.

just because we love someone doesn’t mean that we’re encouraging his or her lifestyle or that we agreed with everything he or she is doing. no. when we love someone, we love him or her with all our hearts. we may disagree with the choices she or he is making, but we love her or him anyways. love is unconditional. love has no bounds. that it something i think we easily forget.

i think the world could use a little more love. in all honesty, these are very dark and depressing times. technology is continually advancing, but i think our interpersonal relationships are quickly degrading. the family and all the different relationships involved is becoming a rare thing to see. we are more “connected” through all the technology that we have, but we are relationship-wise more lonely and lost than ever before.

so let’s love. let’s spend a little less time on the internet or social media and spend a little more time with the people God has placed here and now in our lives. we are all where we are for a reason. the people that are in your life right now? they are there for a reason. you never know when the time you spend investing in others may be life-changing for them. it also works vise versa. the time you invest in others may be life-changing for you. you never know.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

You Have Meaning; You Have a Purpose

the rain continues to pour outside as i start to write this post. it has been cloudy outside ever since i woke up this morning. apparently the weather is like this because of a typhoon.

don’t worry about it much. typhoons are kind of a common thing here. it’s just another day of life in taiwan. typhoons are nothing special here. haha.

i love the sound of rain. the sound of the water falling and hitting the ground. it is very soothing. the smell of nature and the outdoors seems so fresh and new when it’s raining.

i’ve been learning so much lately. living in a foreign country where you know absolutely nothing forces you to learn so much at once. even the most basic things become complicated and hard. it doesn’t matter how much you prepare or how much you are expecting everything to be different and new, it still hits you when you are surrounded by it.

it can be overwhelming. legit so overwhelming. i don’t know how else to describe the feeling of being alone (though you may be with people, but only people you’ve recently met). the feeling of being thousands of miles away from everything you know. the feeling you get seeing all these different sights, experiencing all the different smells, tasting all the different foods, and just plain living an almost entirely different lifestyle from the one you lived before.

there are times when i feel absolutely exhilarated. i love it here. i want to experience everything. i want to try every new food and drink. i want to learn all the Chinese. i want to meet all the people. other times i am so tired. i miss having pizza. i miss being able to just “talk” to people. i don’t want to spend any time socializing. i just want to sleep or scroll through social media.

what is God’s plan for me?

what does he want me to do with my life? am i doing it? is what i’m doing right now really what he wants me to do? is there something more that i should be doing? am i missing something? my thoughts go around and around. i feel unfulfilled. dissatisfied.

other thoughts enter my mind. is anything i’m doing right now truly meaningful? it is hard to know whether or not something is meaningful or has any kind of effect if you don’t always get to see the results of it. that’s something i’m just going to have to trust God with. as long as i’m doing the work that he wants me to do, then it is meaningful. no matter how mundane or boring or normal it may seem.

and i think it becomes more meaningful, the more of yourself that you’re able to put into your work. God, no matter what we do, wants us to give our best. in everything that we do, we should give our best effort. now i’m not saying that you should over do it and give everything you have and then more to the point where you are literally hurting yourself. no. everyone has a limit. and that limit looks different for each person. you do what is your best for you. you give your all, in the way that only you can do.

wherever you are in life, i want you to know that what you’re doing. right here. right now. is meaningful. God has you there for a reason. you may not know the reason right now. and honestly, you may not know the reason until you’re in heaven with him. but that doesn’t make what you do any less meaningful.

you are you. there is only one person like you. and that’s you. you can only do what you can do. God gave you a purpose. and only you can fulfill your purpose. no one else is able to do it for you. everyone’s purpose looks different. each was uniquely designed for the person it was created for.

so don’t ever think that what you’re doing has no point. you don’t know God’s plan. only God does. and whatever that plan is, it is just what he wants for you.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

Word of the Year: Trust

did anyone else choose a word for the year?

i first heard about choosing a word for the year around the end of last year. and i found it to be a very fascinating idea.

for one, it’s not really defined with any set list of requirements or “must do’s.” so there’s a lot of freedom in that. personally, i love the freedom to make something your own.

but without defined terms or rules, it does open the door for that word to come in and be a part of more situations than you would think possible.

of course, i know that there’s a lot of things that happens in one’s life in the space of one year. not everything is going to be focused around that one word. but you will be surprised how many different circumstances and situations that one word does cover and effect.

anyways, those are just my thoughts on choosing a word for the year. as i’m sure you’ve already guess by this point, i chose a word for the year. since this is my first time trying to do this, we’ll see how it goes.

i wanted to talk a bit about my word for this year. trust.

a lot of things happened in 2018 that made me realize that trust is something that I really need to work on. trust is something that i don’t have a lot of, especially when talking about God.

trust is important. in fact, it’s essential. in fact, it is an crucial cornerstone in having a strong relationship with God. more than that, salvation itself requires trust.

in many cases, i’ve found that trust and faith go hand in hand. faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something” and trust is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” they are both very similar in my opinion.

then as a christian, i should have the whole trust and faith thing down pat, right?

no.

definitely not.

as i have learned in the past year, i have a real hard time with trust. i’m quick to rely only on myself. a lot of the stress i deal with comes from there being no trust. everything is on me. i need to complete this. i need to somehow make this happen. etc. etc. etc.

and this brings me back to a point i made in my last post.

God is in control.

it is easier to say than to believe. this doesn’t mean that you can sit back and just believe that God will make happen what needs to happen. trust requires effort made from both sides.

and i’m not going to say that there is going to come a point in your life where you’re going to be able to say that you trust God in everything. i think for most of us (if not all) trusting God is going to be a constant work-in-progress. we’re going to have to continue to push to believe that everything is in God’s hands.

that constant effort is worth it though. to know that you are not in control of your life, but God is. what a relief that is.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

did you choose a word for the year? please, comment below! i’d love to hear from you!