Saturday, November 17, 2012

sunshine and yellow butterflies

feel like watching a video?
all you need is love.

i often struggle in knowing if i should share what god is doing in my life, or rather what i am doing in honor of being in his, because of the verse, “do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.”

i don’t want to sound haughty, am fearful to find personal pride in what good god has done or has allowed me to do, and would much rather have a heavenly reward than an earthly one.  i do wonder if i should share more and am trying to figure out a balance.  this story though, is not about me at all, only god and his love for me.  

my huangshi girls (leslie and camille) and i have been reading captivating by john and stasi elderidge in our small group study (thanks to camille who brought the books from home).  we meet every wednesday for dinner and discussion.  this book has rocked my heart, mind, and soul.

what’s so crazy about this is that a couple of months ago i started to realize that although i have sung, jesus loves me, since i could speak, 36 years later i am still not convinced that i truly know what it means to love him.    i’ve attributed this unfortunate case to the fact that i’ve done so many things in my life of which i am not proud.  i’ve sinned against people, made terrible choices, and sinned against god.  i reasoned, i was the reason for this disconnected love.  i prayed and hoped god would restore me.  

aaron, one of the guys in our group, and i were engaged in a discussion one day after church (which is at our house) and he mentioned something like, “i can tell that you really love jesus.”

really,” i thought to myself?  do i?  i don’t think i even know what that means.”  or rather, “i don’t think i even know what that feels like.”

so i started the mission to find out.  how would i enable my heart, mind, and soul to truly love jesus?

turns out it wasn’t about me.  turns out it was about how much he loved me.

and by love i mean in love.  definitely seems a bit weird, even for me, a lifelong christian.  but as the book so poignantly explains, the god of this universe IS LOVE and loves us deeply, not because he is god and he has to, but because he is our father in heaven and wants to.  

the beginning of last week was busy.  we had been away with our zhong relations friends in wuhan the previous weekend and in the commotion i never received the week’s small group reading assignment and questions.  camille kindly typed up everything i needed and sent it to me in an email on monday. 
but there were so many other things going on!  i had graduate school stuff that needed to be done.  i had to prepare lessons for my english classes.  i had a baby who seemed to be awake whenever it was my turn to be home.

by wednesday i had yet to get started.  leila charis so considerately fell asleep for her afternoon nap and i started reading.  i wanted to make sure that i did not hastily try to get through the chapter.  i really wanted to focus and thus be impacted, so i decided to take notes in my journal. 

30 minutes later lc woke up, but i wasn’t finished.  i tried to squeeze in a few minutes here and there when i could.

the book mentioned that we needed quiet time, alone with god, away from kids, telephones, distractions.  brad got home from his afternoon of classes around 5:15 and i asked him to take leila out to wherever it was he was going to get dinner.  i let the girls know i would be late, and i finished as much as i could in the next 45 minutes.

the chapter was entitled, “romanced.”  stasi was writing.  she shared a story of her husband.  one time when he was out-of-town for work he needed to get away.  he went to the beach by himself for prayer and time alone with god.  as he was alone, sitting on the sand, he saw a massive amount of water shoot up into the sky and a huge humpback whale appeared right before him, very close to shore (this was after the annual whale migration time had passed).  he knew instantly this was a gift from god.  he returned home and shared his story with staci.  she was so happy for him, but wanted a gift as well.

stasi went on to say that soon thereafter they were speaking in northern california.  she snuck away to the beach and asked god for a whale.  “I know you love John, Jesus, but do you love me too?  That much?  If you do, may I have a whale too?” (pg. 117) 

after a while of waiting she got up to leave, rounded a corner, and saw a beautiful orange starfish.  she stopped, appreciated, and thanked god for her personal, perfect gift.  then she rounded another corner. 
                “There before me, behind me, surrounding me, were hundreds of starfish.  Zillions of them.  
                 There were purple ones  and orange ones and blue ones, all sizes.  I burst into joyful laughter,
                 my heart exploding inside of me.”

He Loves Us - John Marc McMillan
amazing, right?   how he loves us so. 

at the end of the chapter she told her readers to get some “worship music that moves you” and then went on to say that “one friend just told [them] that her current favorite [was] ‘All I Ask of You’ from Phantom of the Opera” (pg. 126). 

as i was still journaling, i tried to think of a christian song i really loved.  i came up with “your love oh lord” by ThirdDay, and then felt challenged to come up with one outside of the christian music box.  by this time i was starting to rush a bit.  i didn’t have much time left and i still needed to get to the questions. 

i had a song in mind that i had heard recently a few times on pandora.  i wanted to get that song again.  i knew that god would give it to me immediately, because that’s how i’ve found god to work.  in the past, when i’ve done my best to get all my things done in an honorable way, he has helped me out a little in the 
end.   i knew that he would help me out this time by giving me the song immediately. 

but he didn’t.  he gave me something better.  and as pandora was displaying the lyrics, I had those too:

I Won’t Give Up On Us – Jason Mraz
When I look into your eyes, it’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise, there’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars, I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are, how old is your soul.

I won’t give up on us, even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love, I’m still looking up

i stopped there and cried.  i truly believed those words were from jesus just to me.  he hadn’t given up on me and he knew that i “had come so far” to be right where i was with him.  i also liked that he called me an old soul.  i sometimes wonder if i am a sort-of old soul - i really love 70s music and because of that feel a little different from many others in my same generation.   just as the book was trying to tell me, jesus knew me and loved me perfectly.  

i quickly got through what questions i could and went off to the girls’ apartment.  through our discussions it was revealed that i was not the only one who had received a special gift. 

lesley was at her school, sitting outside on a bench while she was doing her study.  she asked god to give her something special, something for her.  just then the sun came out from behind the clouds (it was a rainy and cold week).  “is that it?  that’s for me, isn’t it god?  i am always cold, and hate being cold, and that sunshine is just for me, isn’t it?  thank you so much!”  but, like stasi’s experience, it wasn’t over yet.  she got a ride home from school that day (about a 20 minute drive – her school is far away from the city’s center) and it seemed the sun kept following her in the car – shining through the passenger side window, shining down and playing with the view in the distance.

and camille.  she has a special story.  she sees yellow butterflies.  once when she was going through a difficult time she asked god for something special, to let her know he was there.  god gave her a yellow butterfly.  she still sees them, even in china.  whenever she is having a rough day, god sends her a yellow butterfly. 

i can’t tell you the last time i’ve seen a butterfly, no less a beautiful yellow one.

amazing, right?

Want to listen???
that sure is something beautiful.

now for a little home video....

A song story.  Check it out on vimeo.


  1. "but he didn’t. he gave me something better." oh how i love jesus. oh how i love you. xoxo
    ps looking forward to this summer & hanging out w/ you for hours and hours...all the while with 70's tunes in the background.

  2. what an amazing post, loved reading this and i needed to be reminded of all of this:)