Finding the Divine in the Secular


Let’s play a game.  It’s no secret that, with a degree in English language and literature, I am a sucker for classic literature.  Shoot, I’m a sucker for a good story in general.  I love love love to get into the nitty and gritty – theme, plot, character development, allusion, language…even grammar!  But one of my favorite things to do is find Jesus in non- overtly religious texts.  I’m not talking about the Piers Plowmans written by the monks and prioresses in the middle ages.  I’m not talking about Pilgrim’s Progress written by the Puritan preacher, John Bunyan.  These are literal allegories with heavy religious influence.  I’m talking about the pop literature (of any time) meant to entertain.  Art reflecting life.  Human stories. So play the game with me for a minute.  Find the divine in the secular. Henry V In the first round, I’d like to get you started […]

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Where is God?

fireman wearing firesuit

Our world is on fire.  I mean this mostly figuratively, but I live in Northern California, and we currently have  several wildfires ravaging our terrain.  Their frequency and intensity are not like we’ve seen in this region before. In Haiti, a poor nation still reeling from the assassination of its president, a devastating earthquake struck in the same area that is still recovering from a paralyzing earthquake that happened eleven years ago. Hurricane Ida made landfall 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.  It ripped its way through the region again and this time made its way all the way northeast, causing record flooding in New York and New Jersey. As we come upon the twentieth anniversary of September 11th, there is renewed unrest in Afghanistan and a resulting humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.   Globally, there is the raging Delta variant overfilling our hospitals and […]

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“I’m not depressed, but…”

woman on bed

In the beginning, when the world grinded to a halt and everyone stayed home, I received a huge dose of validation as a stay-at-home mom.  Suddenly people were realizing exactly what I do every day, and how demanding it is.  After several weeks, we all settled into a new routine and got used to the new norm.  The good feelings of validation wore off, and I started to feel the struggle. But I’m a stay-at-home mom.  It’s literally in the name.  I’m supposed to have the stay-at-home thing down.   DOWNWARD SPIRAL Initially, it wasn’t too different from our day-to-day.  The biggest change was we were no longer going out.  We were no longer having play-dates.  We were no longer doing our activities.  You see, “stay-at-home” is a misnomer.  We actually go out a lot.  So we, like everyone else, were stuck at home and feeling the struggle.  However, now I […]

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Living on Mission: Are you my neighbor?

person on doorstep gift

This is the second part of my thoughts about Living on Mission.  For its companion, read Living on Mission: What is it Anyway? What was your favorite Bible story growing up?  Maybe it was the story of Noah and all the animals, David and Goliath, Joseph and his very colorful coat, or Jesus walking on water.  For me, it was the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).  (I actually called it The Good “Cemetery,” but hey, I was little, ok?)  I’m not really sure why it stuck with me all these years, but I do know I was drawn to the person who saw a person in need and helped. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest command is, the second part of His answer included: ”Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). It may lead you to wonder who your neighbor really is.  This is the exact […]

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Home for Christmas


The pandemic has brought about a lot of changes this year.  For one, it has invoked a whole new meaning to the phrase “home for Christmas.”  Sure, our holiday plans look quite a bit different this year, but one of my primary laments is I deeply miss church. Many parts of the United States differ in their various COVID restrictions, but where I live in California, we have not been able to gather as a Body since March.  Our church is one of the larger churches in San Jose, so we have had the ability and resources to produce a lovely online service.  We can still have “church from home.”  We still have worship. Our pastors still teach and speak to our hearts.  We have had baptisms and guest speakers and missions updates.  We take communion – separate but together.  We meet for Bible studies, prayer groups, and other ministries […]

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Living on Mission: What is it anyway?

arrow pointing

In the middle of a pandemic, when your every day to day is suddenly flipped on its head, it’s pretty easy to start contemplating life and its purpose – specifically your own.  Who am I?  What am I doing?  Why am I here?  If you are a believer, the answer is simple.  Your mission is Christ’s mission. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”   Matthew 4:19 During a recent sermon by Calvary Church’s Steve Dang, he said, “When we place our faith in Christ, we don’t go into ministry, we are in ministry.”  In other words, when you accept Christ, you accept the mission of God.  And God is in the ministry of reconciliation  (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  From the time of the The Fall in Genesis 3, God has been working to win us back to Him.  He did this through Christ, and […]

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The Privilege of Privilege


This piece is primarily addressed to my fellow White American brothers and sisters. When I was little, I would revel in the collection of stickers.  I always loved finding pretty ones and shiny ones.  I loved the ones with special characters and big vinyl stickers and traditional gold stars.  I always had high hopes for these stickers.  I wanted to use them for projects and to decorate my notebooks and water bottles.  I would wait for the most special moment to use those stickers, but whenever a moment presented itself, it never seemed to be the exact right occasion to use them.  I never wanted to risk messing them up or using them on a subworthy project.  They would remain in their packaging, always admired and held with great expectation, but never used. Several weeks into this pandemic, I, like so many others, began feeling deep grief and lament.  But […]

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Managing Fear in the Midst of a Pandemic

For those of you who don’t know, I live in San Jose, California.  Now, in most contexts, that would not have much significance, but drop that piece of data into a point of time, say March 2020, and suddenly, its significance is great. San Jose is the scene of the third-largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.  The situation is changing so rapidly, that as I have been writing this over the past week, I have had to edit the information I am about to present several times.  The World Health Organization has officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic and our governor banned all gatherings of over 10 people across our whole state.  In my county and the counties surrounding mine, we are under a “shelter-in-place” order, meaning we can only leave our houses in cases of supply runs and emergencies. The President has shut our borders to […]

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Help (Un)Wanted

I’m not good at accepting help.   There.  I said it.  I say that like you twisted my arm to admit it, but honestly, who is?   Our culture thrives on that “pick yourself up by the bootstraps,” “stand on your own two feet” mentality.  By accepting help, we feel like we are admitting defeat. We just can’t do it. We’re just not good enough.  We’ve failed. And in that vein, asking for help requires a vulnerability we are loath to live out.  We have to show others our messiness.  We can’t hide behind the picture-perfect Instagram life we share online because when we allow someone in, they see the behind-the-scenes.  They see the imperfection. They see the real. Or maybe you, like me, don’t want to burden others with your burdens.  You don’t want to put anyone out by asking for help. You don’t want to add to anyone else’s load […]

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You Can’t Do It Alone

Every summer, I find myself marking time.  It’s the time all my regular activities take a recess for some R&R.  I’m a creature of habit and routine, and while it’s nice to have the freedom and fluidity in my schedule for a while, I find myself genuinely longing to go back to that structure.  I crave regularly meeting with my community. I would consider myself a better than average person at self-discipline.  I get up early and have a quiet time with the Lord and actively attempt to seek Him.  I regulate my calorie, caffeine, and alcohol intake. I work out regularly. I complete my task lists and try not to have too much screen time for myself or my kids.  But my will is not strong enough to do this long-term. Pretty soon this structure and routine becomes habit. It’s a box to check off. It’s a gold star […]

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