A Whole New World


Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Growing up, Aladdin was my favorite movie. I wanted to be Princess Jasmine, and “A Whole New World” was one of my favorite songs. Never did I imagine that I’d one day title a blogpost with the name of that song to talk about a worldwide quarantine. The world will be different after this. The world is different even now.

Last night, I asked God to give me a passage to read. After just waiting on Him and meditating on Him in complete stillness and quiet, I tried to decipher His voice and really felt like He’d told me to land on Ezekiel 5. I read the first several verses and forgot about it.

This morning, I read the entire chapter. Look at how the chapter ends:

“Epidemic disease, unrestrained murder, death—and I will have sent it! I, God, have spoken” (Ezek. 5:17, MSG).

I don’t think it’s ironic that God told me to go there. Epidemic disease. We know God is sovereign, so why does He allow diseases like COVID-19? It’s a very intense chapter. The chapter is titled, “A Jealous God, Not to Be Trifled With.”

It’s a chapter about God becoming jealous because the people had all these idols before Him. If you think of idols as just being carved images like a golden calf statue, you’re not understanding the full picture. Today, idols more commonly manifest in money, fame, careers, notoriety, fancy cars and mansions.

Could it be that God has put His foot down and said, “Enough. Enough of putting your busy life ahead of spending time with Me. Enough of putting your careers before family. Enough of deliberately going against My commands in the Bible that are not meant to limit you, but to give you the best life possible.”

Perhaps this time is God’s mercy giving us another chance to get our priorities straight. Are there talents He’s given you that you’ve neglected? When was the last time you spoke with your immediate family? When was the last time you’ve just sat still in His presence, waiting to hear His whispers to you?

In no way am I saying God is necessarily punishing us, because we can’t know for sure why this all happened. All we know is we live in a sinful world and it’s horrible that so many people are dying, and healthcare workers are risking their lives every day to be on the frontlines. That’s incredible and I can’t imagine what that’s like. This is a traumatic experience, and some people are feeling it more than others.

What I do know is we have hope. We know in the future Jesus is coming back and this world will pass away, every tear will be wiped away, and evil will be no more. We can trust God for peace and strength during the trials. But we also know hardships and suffering are inevitable on this earth.

Regardless of why the whole world is experiencing this plague, it’s no doubt also causing mental illness to rise. When we don’t respond properly to a pandemic, such as by running to God, family and friends for the encouragement me need, it’s easy to become depressed from loneliness. How will you choose to respond? (Note: I’m not saying depression is always caused by circumstances. I actually did an entire mental health podcast series here, where I discuss the importance of counseling and even medication in extreme scenarios.)

I know for me, this quarantine has prompted me to spend more time with my immediate family than I ever have before. I’ve been singing while my mom plays piano. I’ve been playing cards with my sisters. I’ve been writing handwritten cards to my best friends to remind them how much they mean to me. This is my new normal. And though I was upset about having to adjust as recently as yesterday, I’m becoming more grateful today.

Sure, I don’t want this social distancing thing to last long. I don’t want to wear a face mask in public like I have to do now. I miss my boyfriend and my other best friends, seeing them face to face over dinner or a cup of coffee. But I’m cherishing the lessons this unique time is teaching me, and doing my best to focus on those more than what I miss.

I’m grateful for technology like Zoom where I can still participate in virtual Bible study. I’m grateful for YouTube where people are sharing about their enriching experiences at home, such as this father and daughter who made a channel to share their music during quarantine.

What are you grateful for today?


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I’ve been hearing God tell me to remember a lot in this season. It’s so easy to forget where we’ve been and all He’s brought us through to get us to where we are today. Looking back on the good things God has done is a wonderful practice of gratitude that’s so crucial to do daily. We’re forgetful creatures! Remember all God has done. He is faithful. He’ll do it again.

I’ve decided to print an excerpt from my time with God today. He told me to get out a pen and paper and start writing. So I did:

“Remember who you are. Envision yourself atop a mountain, looking down at the valleys below. Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil. I am your rock, your comfort, an ever-present help in time of need.

“Should you ever need anything, I’m one prayer away. I’m readying you for something great. Your ears will tingle. You were in the valley, but I’m bringing you to the mountaintop. You were confused about who you were, but now you will walk in freedom.

“I need you to focus in this season. Rid yourself of distractions so you can spend time with me. Make that a priority. I’m tugging on your heart. Just let me in. Your questions will be answered.

“You belong to me and I am in pursuit of you. I want you to come to me with all your anger and just yell. Come to the secret place. I’m waiting. I am your ultimate therapist. I desire to hear all that’s on your heart.

“You’ve been feeling heavy—let me lift some burdens off you. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. … I will give you reassurance. I will give you peace that surpasses all understanding. Trust me. Sit with me awhile. De-stress. Be like a child. Have faith.”

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Season of Fears

This is a very fitting lesson from God, given that Halloween is right around the corner! God has me in a season of facing my fears. And it’s both terrifying and refreshing to see how He’s molding my character to make me more like Him.

This season started in June, and it’s still going on. It started with two friends betraying me. Then, I quit my job to move back in with my parents. Then, I got confronted at work about something I don’t know how to fix.

Basically, without giving too much detail, several people who have wronged me in the past are in my life again. I’ve set up boundaries for my own mental health, but I feared ever speaking to them again. God is softening my heart to one of unconditional love and impartiality.

Second, if you really know me, you’d know I crave stability — yet God called me to quit my job after 9 months to become a reporter, something I dreaded in the past and told myself I’d never do again. Not to mention, I don’t like confrontation so when someone confronts me and I don’t know the solution to the issue, I panic. Though interviewing was hard at first, I’ve gotten more of a hang of it now. I’m also learning to be confident that God approves of me, and if He called me to something, I need to move forward boldly and joyfully no matter what people say. I’m still trying to move out, so I’m still living in an uncomfortable place of both physical and financial instability (also with my health, but that’s another story)…but for now, God is teaching me to “laugh without fear of the future” (Prov. 31) no matter what my circumstances.

Finally, I have several things in my life I haven’t mentioned here that I’m also uncertain about. They’re things I’m currently investing lots of time into. And I hope that’s God’s will, because as a planner, uncertainty is a threat — spontaneity is not my cup of tea. Yet I must say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised in the past — God is teaching me to be more dependent on His timing and provision than ever before. Thankfully, I’m not the master planner — He has the right to interrupt my plans, and He knows better anyway so it’s good (even though I may wrestle with God a bit at first!).

Betrayal, instability and uncertainty aren’t fun things to learn to be OK about. They’re terrifying. Naturally, a lot of us fear those things. But God doesn’t want us to fear. So He’s making me face those fears head-on to teach me that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). The only thing I should fear is Him — because He wants what’s best for me and will never withhold what I need.

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Nothing Is a ‘Coincidence’

As I was watching the new movie Abominable, I was not expecting to be surprised or for God to speak to me. *SPOILER ALERT*

As the yeti pulls the little girl on their journey to Everest, we see him take her to myriad places—through fields of yellow flowers, to a mountainous place that reminds me of Avatar landscapes, and to a peaceful setting facing a Buddha. What she didn’t realize is that the yeti wasn’t just trying to get home to Everest after being stolen by the Chinese government.

No, this was a magical yeti who is a lot smarter than we think. He knew her dad died and gave her postcards of all the places he wanted to take her to—so the yeti took her to all those places! When that hit her, she was blown away.

In the same way, I often don’t see God moving in my everyday life. But I know He’s there. And in the many times I do see Him moving, I’m reminded He’s always with me, and no place He brings me is by coincidence.

For example, I really didn’t like my last job. I also grew up with a lot of depression and anxiety. What I didn’t realize until recently is that God allowed all of that for a reason. It all led me to the job I’m at today, where I can see God already using me to tell my story of depression with others who struggle with it, to make a difference.

I’m blown away by how intentional God is. Nothing is in your life by accident when you’re following Him. Every day is an adventure. Even when we can’t see Him all the time, He’s there, and we have to dwell on all the good He’s done to stay confident He will never leave! Here’s to adventuring with Jesus! You never know what’s up His sleeve every new day.

Here’s to gratitude no matter the circumstances. He’s faithful, loving and always provides for our needs.

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Evil is rising from within

audreyAs I was watching Descendants 3, I couldn’t help but see the parallel between their fantasy world and reality. As I watched Mal and Ben talk about protecting the people, I was reminded of our government talking about securing America’s borders and keeping “criminals” out. As Mal made the wrong decision out of fear, I see the potential for us to come to incorrect conclusions also.

See, I’ve heard many people say the issue is with the terrorists, the immigrants, etc. But what about the crazy white men rising from within, committing mass murder? No one saw that coming. *SPOILER ALERT* Just like many were caught off guard when Audrey, who is one of the “good” girls, turned evil.

Mal and Ben, prior to Audrey’s crime, were discussing closing the barrier so that no “immigrants” or villains could enter their land. Yet they did not expect one of their own citizens/people to rise up and attack.

So, no, the solution to our security crisis is not to prevent immigrants from entering America — I do, however, believe they need to enter legally. The solution is not to live in fear that a terrorist is going to come over from the Middle East. What we need to be aware of is the HIGH likelihood of evil rising from within our own borders. And, unfortunately, because of our Second Amendment preventing us from making many laws against assault/automatic weapon possession, there may not be much we can do — except for enhancing background checks.

The LA Times did an amazing piece on the lives of these white men and their mass murders. You can read it here. To summarize, they normally: 1) experienced early childhood trauma that led to depression or anxiety; 2) reached a crisis point shortly before the shooting; 3) sought validation for their motives somehow from others; and 4) had the means to carry out their plans (one way was by taking weapons from family members).

To expand my analogy with point #2, in Descendants 3, Audrey reached her breaking point when her grandma criticized her for not winning the king over after he proposed to Mal. Audrey was supposed to marry king Ben, not Mal. One of the lyrics in Audrey’s song “Queen of Mean” was, “you have nothing to lose when you’re lonely and friendless.” That’s the sad truth about many of the murderers. As was the case with the shooter in El Paso, not only was he politically motivated, but he spent eight hours a day on his computer: ISOLATED. Lonely. Probably friendless.

So, what, are we supposed to get rid of technology? Unfortunately, technology has appeared to do us more harm than good in the wake of the rise in mass shootings over the past 24 years. But, no, we can’t get rid of technology. Nor can we get rid of automatic weapons, which Australia did (and they actually saw mass improvement: read about it here).

It appears that we will continue to have issues with mass murder / random shootings from random citizens within our borders. The best thing we can do is pray, and not live in fear.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. — Matthew 10:28

The hope that keeps me going in these evil, dark times is that the after life will be amazing. This life on Earth is short (thankfully) in light of eternity. All we can do is love EVERYONE and help each other through it, while spreading the good news of Jesus: our great and mighty RESCUER!

Unfortunately, because of sin, we have darkness sweeping across this world, and it will continue to get worse until Jesus comes back. But don’t lose heart! Most importantly, cling to your loved ones, serve those in need, repent of sin, and pray — a LOT!

… in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. — John 16:33

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