Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vendor Fair!

I'm so thankful to announce I'm selling my crafts at the upcoming Patchwork craft shows in Orange County!

The first is Sunday, May 15 in Long Beach!

The second is Sunday, May 29 in Santa Ana!

Here is a bit more information about each show:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This world is temporary.

This past week was a bit of a solemn one internally. I was just thinking a lot about death and eternity, and it overwhelmed the rest of my thoughts and actions. Not at all in a bad way, just in a really awakening way. There are just times when the fragility of life seems so much more real, and it puts everything in perspective. It makes me feel so weak, to think that everything and everyone I have in my life could be taken away in a moment. And yet, that is exactly where I want to be. When I feel that weakness, when nothing in my life seems stable except for God, I have to turn to Him for all my comfort. (Which is the only place real comfort can be found!) This kind of perspective encourages me to live in such a way where everything I do is done for God, and everything I hold is held with open hands. I am asking God to make that lifestyle a reality. I praise Him for the ways He's already done that, but I long to live it out even more. I know that when I empty myself of the things of this world, I can be filled with Him! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Do not be Anxious!

When I go the Barnes and Noble, (a favorite past-time of me and my fiance) I always head toward the Do-It-Yourself Craft book section. There are thousands upon thousands of pages covering every inch of the crafting world from paper flowers to screen prints, from recreation to business. I am certainly inspired by the projects and success tips provided by these books, but I have found that another emotion surfaces when faced with all these stories: I'm overwhelmed! I realize all the styles and projects I have yet to explore, and all the ways I could improve what I've already done! I look at the success of others and think "I'm not there yet!" Thankfully, I immediately call on the Lord to correct my perspective and pray for his vision. I don't need to be overwhelmed by what other people have accomplished! As as I'm praying for the Lord to guide me and give me the progress He wants, He will have me right where He wants me! I don't need to have a fancy website, published book, huge business, until the Lord takes me there. He knows exactly what's best, and He has the power to bring the success that He desires. Until he takes me there, He will teach me great things. He might have other plans, or He might have a different path for me to take. I don't need to be anxious! When I am anxious because other people are successful, that shows the deep rooted pride in me. "If someone else is having success, I want to have more!" I'll foolishly desire that deep inside! The Lord is teaching me to enjoy the great work of others, and trust the Lord's timing and great plans!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thinking, thinking, thinking.

I've been thinking. About many, many things. I bet you have been too. It has the potential to become overwhelming, doesn't it? But then, wait! Our Lord has overcome the world, and He can overcome anything we've got on our minds.

Some topics I've been pondering: My selfishness, poverty, forced labor and slavery, sweatshops, civil wars,  my abundance of material possessions, clothing, decorations, how I spend my time, and what God would have be do about all this.

There are some serious issues in this world, and I want to please the Lord with my response.  But for any of our responses to please the Lord, we MUST start with the heart. Is my heart's desire to please our awesome God, or is it to look incredibly generous as an attempt to please men?  Will I sacrifice whatever the Lord asks of me because I treasure Him most, or will I give the minimum amount to look like a good person, and to have people applaud me? Do I think I can solve the world's problems with a hearty dose of good deeds, or do I confess that the Lord alone has the true power to save people?

When we start valuing the wrong things, it becomes about US instead of HIM, it becomes about helping people temporarily instead of saving people from hell eternally! What must we do to prevent this form happening? Because, it really can happen all too easily.

I recently listened to a fantastic and convicting sermon by pastor Mark Driscoll (of Mars Hill Church in Seattle). He passionately argued that life's problems and man's sins are really a result of one thing: idolatry.

Idolatry is the worship of anything beside the one true God. Driscoll explained (by quoting another pastor whose name I forget!) that humans are CONSTANTLY outpouring worship to someone or something. Whether you are Christian or not, we are always worshiping. It takes many forms: we can worship with our time, our money, our thoughts, our excitement. We can worship many things: our reputation (that one hit home for me), our comfort, our favorite sports team, our job, our education, our money, our humor, our image, celebrities, anything! So when we hear that God wants us to worship Him, it really is a gracious invitation to stop wasting our time with flawed idols, and to be fully satisfied by enjoying Him!

When we really do worship Him by enjoying Him, obeying Him, and being satisfied by Him, we will be increasingly willing to give up other less awesome things! Like the parable in Matthew 13:44. "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

All of our sins stem from our worship of things other than the Lord. (Again, this is borrowed from Driscoll's sermon.) If we didn't worship materials, we wouldn't steal. If we didn't worship our reputation, we wouldn't lie. If we didn't worship comfort, we wouldn't remain idle. The list goes on.

And so this applies to every aspect of our life, including how to serve the Lord and serve the poor and the afflicted. When we worship the Lord, and don't worship other things, we will desire to go where God tells us, sacrifice what He asks of us, and do it all for His glory! It's the best of both worlds: those who are hurting receive help, and the Lord receives the worship that He really deserves.

These issues of oppression and pain exist, and God calls believers to respond in tremendous generosity.  But He wants it to happen as an act of worship and confession that God is the greatest treasure of all. He cares about His own worship more than He cares that someone is fed, because He knows that no one will truly be fed unless they worship Him! (Woah, did we just go in a circle there? Yes, we did! An awesome circle where God's wisdom is displayed!) John Piper says "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." He is the source of all satisfaction and joy. As much as we can try to solve the world's problems, the only solution comes in knowing God! Every problem is solved when we find ourself satisfied in Him, giving Him all our worship!

So if we are overwhelmed with the problems in this world, with the pain, the poverty, the disease, the lies, the abuse, the insecurities, the confusion, the adultery, the murder, the only real solution is to draw closer to God! Then He will use His willing servant for His perfect and gracious plan!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why Not Advertise?

Hello all! If you didn't know, I have a small crafting business called Emkats where I sell journals, bookmarks, and other paper crafts.  To promote the business, I have a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, and most recently, a Tumblr blog.  I've decided to get rid of those things for a few reasons, and if you're wondering why, read on!

Over the years, I've heard a few pastors say something to this effect: "Live your life in such a way that if God doesn't come through, everything will fall apart."

What they mean is that those who profess to trust in God often plan their lives as if He does not exist... that if God never intervened in their lives it would make no difference because they trust on their own devices.  Trusting in our own devices might sound like the only logical thing to the world. How else will you ever accomplish anything, they might ask.  But I believe God calls those who trust in Him not to trust on our own devices, but to lean fully on God and be amazed as He constantly provides for us in His own brilliant way.  I know that kind of living will bring the joys of knowing God more intimately, and the rejoicing that comes when we watch Him work miracles.

I've been praying lately how to live that out.
(Crazy Love by Francis Chan really influenced me in this way, check it out if you haven't!)
So today was I thinking about my craft business and the thought hit me:

What if I don't trust in my own device of advertising, but trust in God to bring the income that He desires for me? What if i trusted Him to "advertise" for me?

Honestly, it was an unsettling thought at first. I love advertising online! I have a hundred ideas of how I can really get the name out there: how I could contact semi-famous youtube celebrities and have them promote the product, how I can have awesome contests each week on my blog, video how-to's, pictures galore, tweets and updates... and the list goes on. I don't think any of that is bad, and some people might use that and that's exactly what God wants for them. He wants to teach us all different things at different times in different ways, so what He's teaching me right now may or may not apply to others.

But it's on my heart today to stop advertising myself, and trust that God will cause things to happen by His power.  Who knows what that will look like, but ,seriously, how much more powerful is God than a youtube celebrity? (The answer is infinitely more. =) ) If God wanted to, He could bring me a thousand sales today. (Which might never be His will for me!) If He wanted to, he could bring me the connections with buyers that I couldn't have gotten through months of advertising.  But sometimes it's a lot easy for me to trust that a youtube celebrity, or a thousand tweets are more powerful and practical than the influence and power of God alone. I trust in my heart that God is in control over this world, but do I trust on Him on a minute level over something like selling journals? I sure hope so!  I want to be overwhelmed with the work of God and his reign over this world. I want to set up my life so that it falls apart if God doesn't provide.

And God's provision may never bring me "wealth." He may bring me just enough sales to pay the bills. I might actually make thousands more by advertising, but I would be missing out on the most important thing: being close to the heart of God, and being completely satisfied with Him. So by giving up the advertising, I hope to be saying "God, I trust you to bring the income you want for me, whatever that may be... even if it leads to failure (maybe that's telling me to pick a new path.) It's also saying, "God you are more satisfying and worthy of my attention that the thrill of becoming a big business with a lot of sales."

As I knew would happen, the initial unsettled feeling has turned into a sense of freedom, peace, and excitement. (As it often is when we give things up to the Lord.) I do this, not because I want to earn God's favor, but because I believe that we experience so much fulfillment by giving our lives to Him.

A few clarifying things: I won't be stopping me etsy shop (where I sell my items online) because that's where people actually purchase the items. Also, if God brings me advertising opportunities, I will take them! I just mean that I don't want to go out and search for them on my own.  If He brings them to me though, I believe that is a way of providing.  For example, if that youtube celeb says "Hey, I randomly happened upon your etsy site, can I promote your product?" I will say, "Wow! I had nothing to do with that! Thanks, Lord!" It's not that I don't anyone to hear about Emkats products, it's that I want to leave the control in God's hands. Does that seems to fit with what i've been explaining? If you have any opinions, people let me know!

I would love your support in this. It might be tempting to just take things into my hands, or I might feel at times like God isn't providing. But that might be when I need to trust in Him more, or need my perspective to be changed.  Speaking of perspectives, all of this really helps me see with a more eternal perspective.  Eternity is what it's always about.  Someday I will have to give up control of this business because it won't follow me into Heaven. It's freeing to give up that control now, and focus on what is eternal.

Alright, that's all for now. Thoughts or questions? I'd always love to hear them! Leave me a comment. =)

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hello Again, Irvine.

I'm back in Irvine again for the first time since graduation. It's fun being back on the campus, visiting friends, seeing the old sights, reminiscing, and feeling like I never left. Okay, so it's only been two months. But people's lives are already moving on to new chapters! The residents from Oakenshield have moved out of the dorms and into apartments. I'm staying with one lovely resident Manisha as I type. Thanks Manisha!

Now, the transition from dorms into these apartments got me thinking. Our appreciation and love for things can be so affected by what we think we are entitled to. Last year I was a resident advisor in the dorms. As an RA, I was so blessed to have a three-room single, meaning I had a little common room with a couch for residents to come hang out in, a back room with my bed and dresser, and a bathroom with my own shower.  When I first saw the room, and how much space I had, I was AMAZED. I was so thankful for the abundance! Whenever residents came into my room, they were blown away. "You have TWO ROOMS?" And the bathroom would really get them. "YOUR OWN SHOWER!?" And they were right.  It was incredibly convenient, spacious, and luxurious. I was blessed with more than I deserved!

But does that excitement translate when one walks into an apartment? Even when the apartment is offering MORE than the three-room single at the dorm, and ironically, for a cheaper price, I know sometimes my thankfulness would wane. So what changed? Well, the accommodations didn't change. So maybe its my heart that changed. Maybe its my sense of entitlement that changed.  Do the expectation for what a dorm room should be and what an apartment should be shape our appreciation? Is our thankfulness determined by what other people say something should be like, or what the standard is? I think mine is often determined this way! I can find myself complaining about something when I think in my mind or hear others tell me "You know, you really deserve more than this... apartments are typically much larger than this."If my dorm room last year were re-located into an apartment complex, and I still payed the same amount of money, would I be great-ful or jealous of all the other apartments?  Instead of shifting my standard on what others say, or what my culture says, I would like my thankfulness to be firm in the standard Christ sets. Basically, that is, that I deserve nothing, and everything is a gift! (Oh how often I fail to do this!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Back to School?

Well, for the first time in 15 years, I will not be going back to school this fall! It is a bit strange as the time rolls around. Many schools begin instruction tomorrow, and I am reminiscing over my childhood (and early adult) school days. I had so much anticipation on the eve of a new school year. I would lay in bed and imagine all the exciting things about to take place. And yes, I do mean exciting! School was an amazing time for me and a blessing! Sure, there were sleepless nights, difficult moments, and never-ending homework. But why not be immensely thankful to God for the incredible blessing of school. And not just the blessing of school, but the fact that in every circumstance, school, work, or my current state of the in-between, I can praise God and rejoice in the righteousness His son has earned for me! He is faithful through it all. =)