Friday, July 31, 2009

specks, logs, and plagerism...

You really should clarify it. People are going to get the wrong impression of you, she cautiously warned me. She raised her left eyebrow, pursed her lips, and nodded to affirm her own statement. The office secretary and I have a sisterly relationship and she always has my best interests in mind. I thought long and hard about my previous blog post and said to myself, Maybe I was too honest, too open, too transparent. But my entire life I've lived trying to give people an impression that I'm holier than I am, healthier than I am, happier than I am. But I'm not. I'm a broken person who is in a transformation process, searching the good Lord for His will and answers for my life.

I mentioned that I was caught for plagiarism in college, but here's the full story:
Whittier College hired the W.O.R.S.T adjunct professor the Art History department ever seen. She was horribly disorganized, read books with commentary as her own lecture, and at times she even looked like she was going to fall asleep in the middle of her lectures. In addition to this, she breathed funny.

The entire semester I saw students skip class, download term papers from the internet, sleep in class, and even walk out during group discussion. I cringed knowing that I was paying $378 per class lecture while members from the lacrosse team who had taken the class the previous semester gave their term papers to their teammates to resubmit and they received stellar grades. I was appalled. In short, I felt like I was the only one not cheating and the only one struggling to get this professor to find my work worthy of an A. It was the final term paper and I needed to nail it to get an A in the course. Four people downloaded entire essays from the internet, three people used finals from the previous semester, and two people bought essays from other students. I had studied, I had researched, I had done the work... except I needed a knock-out introduction and thesis which just so happened to be on an essay I found online. So I used it. And I was caught. And my entire academic career was obliterated in one conversation with the Dean of Academics. I was devastated and humiliated and because of one stupid decision I could not graduate summa cum laude, magma cum laude, or even cum laude. Poof! My hopes disappeared.

I wanted to drag my classmates under the bus with me! I wanted to drop dime on everyone! If I was going to go down, so would everyone else! I only copied one paragraph, they copied entire papers for the entire semester. But I said nothing because cheating is cheating, copying is copying, and sin is sin. Yesterday I was reminded of this while reading a book on leadership. Matthew 7:3 reminded me that I am not to be a hypocrite:
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

So this is me. I have specks (and logs) in my eyes, I walk with a limp (not because of my short leg), and I'm broken but beautiful because God uses perforated people to do the impossible. Before we start calling people out on their "big" sins of adultery, drunkenness, and idolatry, remember that cheating is cheating, copying is copying, and sin is sin. Specks, logs, sex, lies... it's all the same. All we can do is admit it and ask for forgiveness.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

biancaology...

My life is normal. I go to work, eat with friends, read, hit the gym, wash, rinse, repeat. I never said it was uberfabulous but it's my life and I like it... most of the time. But for some reason I've been meeting girls who read the blog and are shocked to discover that I'm normal. No really, they use that word specifically. My response is stuck somewhere in purgatory. Like it doesn't know if it's good or bad so I reply with, Uh, thanks?

Now that the summer is slowing down and speaking events are tapering, I am ready to embrace normalcy and love my life. For those that don't know me, here are some tidbits of information that are useful only in a demented game of Biancaology. And really, it's a boring game so don't bother playing it.

I'm quite boring.
I saved a life once.
I think that I'm normal.
I wear heels four days a week.
I'm 5'3'' but my licence says I'm 5'5''.
I can eat peanut butter out of the jar.
I'm a fierce competitor and I'll cheat to win.
I have brown hair, but I've always wanted red.
I'm a amazing bargain shopper but won't share my secrets.
I like to dress up because I never want to be thought of as poor.
I want to grow up and work from home in my underwear everyday.
I plagiarized an art history term paper in undergrad and got caught by my teacher.
I have long eyelashes but like wearing fake lashes to be extra fabulous when I need to be.
I have inner monologues with myself in third person (No you don't, Bianca, you don't).
I hate cleaning my room so I'll throw a pile in my closet and pretend it's not there.
I use self-deprecation as a form of motivation which wigs people out.
I love saying I do yoga more than I actually like doing yoga.
I love working-out until I feel like I'm are going to faint.
I love my Dad more than any other person in my family.
I have some the greatest friends in the whole world.
I binge eat in secret when I'm having a bad day.
I have one leg that is longer than the other.
I brush my teeth religiously.
I read my Bible everyday.
I don't dream.
I hope.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

matador...

You were like a bullfighter, she said in her accented English. For the past six weeks you have baited and courted listeners to dive at danger and avoid getting hurt. And last night you gently pierced us to the heart. My aunt called me this morning to encourage me in the only way she knows how: through analogy. Analogies are how my family communicates best because we are visual learners and story-tellers. Though language barriers and generational differences caused blurred biblical explanations, my auntie supported me and believed in me like a fan cheering in a bullfight for six continuous weeks.

Her phone call reminded me that two years ago I saw a real bullfight in Madrid, Spain and I left the stadium sick to my stomach and in desperate need of paella (it was actually my excuse just to eat paella but don't tell anyone). It was the worst experience ever. But I left happy because I got to scream Ole! as the bull charged the matador with fury. I even bought the famous red shirt with the black bull on it. What can I say? I'm a tacky tourist who wears cheesy shirts and orders paella at every meal.

In her simplicity, my aunt reminded me that sin, like a raging bull, is dangerous and deadly. We are called to be like a matador, gentle as a dove yet wise as a serpent (Matthew 10:16), and kill sin thoroughly. It's an ugly and horrific experience, but when completed we can stand and scream Ole! To download last night's vodcast, click here. It'll be posted by 3PM pst. For more on killing sin, check out John Piper's devotional here.

Ole!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

my crush...

I make no qualms about the crushes I develop because they are spiritual crushes. Yes, spiritual. For instance, I can have a huge crush on Hudson Taylor because he was strong, brave, smart, daring... and dead. I have can a crush on John Calvin because he's relentless, bold, wise, dutiful... and dead. But anyone who is anyone knows that my not-so-secret crush is Paul the Apostle who is brilliant, verbose, theologically sound, loves to travel, heals people from the dead, can survive a ship wreck and prison and, coincidentally, is dead. I somehow will manage to squeeze a scripture in from one of his written works in every study. Every. Study. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed or carnal because really, they're dead so put your stones away and remove the scarlet letter from my chest. I'm still holy ;)

I am moved to my core when I read his works and today was no exception in light of my fumbling through what I am going to say tonight. I was encouraged this morning during my devotions and was affirmed that if I was alive during the times of Paul, he'd love me. No really, he would love me. I'd make him. We're totally alike in so many things and if I'd ask him to wear the same Hawaiian print outfit out in public, he would. He'd totally would. We're that alike.

In the book of Acts Paul is writing his farewell letter to a group of people he knows he'll never see again. Because he's WAY smarter than I, I'll just quote him on this matter and say that I made it up. But it's totally okay because boyfriends let girlfriends do that ;)
19I served the Lord with great humility and with tears... 20You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly... 21I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. 24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. 27For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. [Acts 20: 19a, 20a, 21, 24, 27]

For those that have joined me on this journey, thanks so much for your commitment. For those that can care less and think I'm lame, be careful because my boyfriend can beat you up then heal you instantaneously. So there. If you want to join in for the last study on laziness, click here at 7PM (pst).

Monday, July 27, 2009

live like you're dying...

I'm sitting at my desk preparing for the last Se7en Deadly Sins study and I'm stressing out. The kind of stress that makes you break out in a cold sweat (or hot flash if you're menopausal)... the kind of stress that makes you wish you had another week to prepare... the kind of stress that keeps the people at Proactiv in business. The reason for this stress is that it is my last study, so what are my parting words going to be?

My goal each day is to live like I'm dying. Sound morbid? It's not. If I die today, I would regret not telling [insert name here] I loved them. If I died today I would regret not eating the Godiva chocolate covered strawberry given to me. If I died today I would regret not hugging my little sister even though she habitually steals my clothes. If I die on Wednesday, what should I tell the hundreds of women I speak to tomorrow? What could I say that would move them to live a life worth living? Live like you're dying!

Shakespeare in his wisdom had it right, To be or not to be, that is the question. How do we be? How do we take Sunday morning studies and turn them into Monday morning living? That is the question. I'm trying to figure out the answer :) I'll be the frazzled one at Starbucks at the Block with a pink MacBook, water, and my bible trying to figured out how to BE.



video

Friday, July 24, 2009

ashes, God, and project runway...

I grew up poor which forced me to be resourceful. Sell lemonade in the winter, cut neighbors lawns so I could utilize their pool, and regift gifts at holidays (regifting is when you take something you already own and wrap it like it's new). As a poor kid I had to work miracles in my closet as well. I wanted to be the Diane Von Furstenburg of clothes from thrift stores, clearance racks, or bargain bins. It was tough! I tried looking fabulous, but it always ended up up fabuLESS. It’s tough to create miracles and I’m a firm believer that Jesus and the designers from Project Runway are the only ones who can do it successfully.

I’m not one for television, but there is a reality show where fashion designers are given junk and asked to create something fabulous (aka create a miracle). As a viewer, you look at the pile of scrap and think, There’s NO way anything good is going to come from that. But 60 minutes later a gown made of coffee filters takes my breath away, a dress made of strawberry baskets and twine looks like the cover of a fashion magazine, or a blazer made of rubber tires and safety belts makes me drool.

Yes, what they do is difficult and we laud them, applaud them, congratulate them. But what God does is impossible. See, He takes nothing and makes something. But not just something, He makes something beautiful! Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, and Michael Kors extol the artistry created, but who created the materials they used? Even more, who created beauty?

We are told in Isaiah 61 that God takes ashes and creates beauty (Is. 61:3). No matter how talented these designers are, they wouldn’t be able to take ash, remnants of nothing, and create something. They can do the difficult, but they can't do the impossible. Even if YOU feel like nothing more than ash, God can take you and create beauty. Why? Because this is the message of the gospel. God will restore the years gone (Joel 2:25) and make all things new (Revelation 21:5) because we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Thanks to all the women who came out last night! I had a blast meeting new friends and being welcomed by old one :) Christina, thanks for being part of this blog! Evette, you win the TRAVEL award! Two hours and ten minutes is worth a shout out and some blog love :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

six degrees of separation...

Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, that everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on the earth. I've always wanted to know how I was connected to a Tibetan monk or Italian clothing designer, but I'm content just to be connected to my own family and anyone else is just a bonus.

Bonus: Two weeks ago at the Se7en Deadly Sins series I'm teaching, we had Dominic Balli join us for worship and it pretty much rocked the house. His dreadlocks swayed back and forth as he sang praises in reggae melodies and rock harmonies. Let's just say that Bob Marley ain't got nothing on this guy!

Rewind: Several months ago a pastor's wife from Lake Arrowhead contacted me to share at a women's event she hosts annually. I was honored that she, never having me heard share, would invite me to the church. When I asked how she heard about me she said, My daughter heard you teach at a retreat in Big Bear this past winter and she told me I HAD to have you come out. I laughed to hide my embarrassment and the wave of nerves that rolled over me. We found a date and moved forward with planning.

Today I made the connection after several months of correspondence. (What? I'm slow, okay?) Dominic was invited to do worship for the Reality retreat in January. Dominic (from Santa Barbara) invited his sister (from Lake Arrowhead) to check out the worship. Dominic's sister went home to tell her mom about me. Mom is the pastor's wife who called to invite me. So crazy, right? Six degrees of separation has come full circle in sharing God's word with people I don't know. If you live or are near the Lake Arrowhead area, join us tonight for Liberty and Lettuce Wraps at 6:30PM. If you can't make it out, please pray for me! Lordy knows I need it ;)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

naan of your business...

Today I had lunch in Orange County with two friends because a work meeting fell through. I was so frustrated that I had to trek across three freeways only to miss my appointment but connecting with old friends and devouring Indian cuisine was a great compensation prize. We discussed life, love, and dreams over naan, curry, and veggie samosas. Because I'm such an non-humorous dork, I actually tried to use some preplanned wit and incorporate naan (bread-like deliciousness) into conversation.

I don't want naanthing to drink, thank you.
Well, it's naan of your business.
When the bill comes I will have naan of you chip in.

My attempt to use my wit and charm thankfully didn't come to fruition and I'm sure my lunch companions were happy. But I will say this, I have naanthing to write about today because work is naanthing but stressful. If you caught last night's message, 1. sorry for crying a bit (super sensitive topic), and 2. apparently hot rollers do naanthing for my hair because I looked like a hot mess last night. I'm sure you'll forgive me for both of those mishaps! If you didn't catch my naan-hot hair, your can check it out here and get a study on gluttony too ;)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

fillings, cavities, and root canals...

The good news is you have beautiful teeth. I tossed my hair over my shoulder with great pride and smiled like the Cheshire Cat. The bad news is that you had poor dental work. The smile melted and I felt like a fraud as my dentist explained to be that I had not one, two, but THREE cavities. I sat there in disbelief because I handled these minor problems in 1992 with large ugly pieces of silver amalgam to let the world know I had fillings. As preventative measures, I floss everyday, brush my teeth like my life depended on it, have Listerine and a toothbrush in my car, and a toothbrush and floss in my desk at work.

But seventeen years later shoddy dental work has revealed deep problems. Apparently the fillings weren't fully removed and have now grown into full cavities and I had NO clue. Ignorance is bliss, I wistfully said to my dentist. Not until you have root canals and dentures, she dryly retorted. She explained that this had gone unnoticed and potentially could've led to tooth decay and loss of nerve sensation. So essentially, your ignorance will lead to becoming a toothless women with no feeling in your mouth.

So here I am at my desk trying to not mystify my life and my calling, but many years ago I thought I dealt with my personal struggle with eating, addiction, and shame. I thought it was given over to the Lord and I've surrendered by addictions because I've lost the weight that caused me to be in the 48% of obese children in America. But I haven't. Speaking about sins I don't deal with or have conquered is easy. But how do I discuss a sin that I struggle with everyday? I refuse to be a hypocrite. I refuse to pretend I have conquered and overcome. I refuse to hide behind the sheer fabric of perfection. Why? Because Jesus is the Truth, He has conquered and overcome, and He is alone is perfect and in Him I have the strength to speak what needs to be spoken.

Yesterday, Lindsay commented on my blog post and ended it with some powerful words of Paul. She was the one who inspired me to post this today. Because really, I feel so weak.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." There I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness... in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

An arm and leg later, I left the dentist with four beautiful white porcelain molars and zero nerve damage. Tonight I hope to remove the decay of my heart and salvage the damage that has been done to my nerves. That is unless I lose my nerve and call someone else to fill in. To watch LIVE click here at 6:55PM.

Monday, July 20, 2009

doing things we don't want to do...

I called my sister and told her I was going to flake out on the mud run because running a 10k is bad for my health and my inordinate long leg (yes, one leg is longer than the other). She told me to stick it out and enjoy it for what it was. So you want me to enjoy running through mud pits and sand traps? I'm supposed to enjoy rolling around in dirt? I rolled my eyes and muttered, Whatever. But, alas, she was was right. Running around in mud pits and sand traps with team Hot Mess was so much fun, I can't wait to do it again!

I thought that I'd have some epiphany or something like a spiritual enlightenment when I crossed the finish line. Apparently I'm not that holy because I didn't. The only thing I wanted to do was remove the dirt from my hair and throw away my shoes. But having processed the event and spoken to a few people about the challenge it was for me to actually do the event, it's prepared me for what I have to do tomorrow.


God doesn't give more than we can handle, but He does strengthen our endurance by giving us trials for preparation of the future. James 1:2-4 says it like this: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. In some weird way, the mud pits, sand pits, tire runs, and river team Hot Mess had to conquer are like the trials in our life that produce perseverance. Faith in my physical endurance was tested this weekend. But faith in myself will be tested tomorrow in front of almost 500 women as I share my personal struggles through life's mud pits, sand traps, and waist-deep rivers of my obsessions, struggles, and addictions. Afterwards I hope to finish and feel as I felt when we posed for this picture; relieved, accomplished, and happy it's over.

Friday, July 17, 2009

mud run II...

So--tomorrow is the day. Not just a regular Saturday morning, but the Saturday morning when I will partner up with some friends from high school to run in the 10k OC Eco Mud Run. I wrote about my fear and hesitation about participating on a previous blog entry, but in all the preparation I guess I forgot about the actual event. Until this morning.

See, I've been ill for the past four days and haven't worked out since Tuesday. I also painted my nails a light color last night and mud would totally ruin my manicure. I read that mud strips essential nutrients out of hair so maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to jump into pools of mud and roll around on piles of dirt. Oh yeah, and I have a bad knee which goes out when it so chooses. So I'm full of legitimate excuses as to why I shouldn't compete, right? Riiiiight.

In spite of my illness, manicure, coiffed hair, and bad knee I will be heeding Paul's encouraging words to the Corinthian church, Do you know in a race all the runners run, but only one received the prize? Run in such a way that you obtain it (1 Corinthians 9:24). Did someone say win a prize? Then count me, sucka'! Tomorrow morning I will be running with half a lung, chipped nails, clay wads in my hair, and a knee brace.

Wish me luck and have a great weekend :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

laundry, lust, and life...

Ever heard the expression, a little leaven leavens the lump? Or what about, a rotten apple rots the bunch? How about my new favorite, one red sock will ruin your whites? If you haven't heard the last one it's because I made it up. Today. Yes friends, I now have pink socks and tees that were once bright white. [Note to self: Self, marry someone who does laundry well!]

On Tuesday night at our Se7en Deadly Sins study, I discussed lust and the effects it has on ones life (read James 1:15). But lust isn't a flashing neon sign or a deep pit with orange safety cones around it. No, lust is a cute little red sock that mysteriously ends up in my piles of whites on their way to get laundered. Stealthily, surreptitiously, sneakily, it waits until the water is hot enough then leaves stains which indicate its presence. Sure, whites can be bleached again... and again... and again to try to get back to their original state of being, but the damage is done and important things are ruined.

Life is WAY more important that a pile of white laundry. The stains left by lust are seemingly irreparable, ruinous of all things pure and stainless. But Isaiah 1:18 says this:
"Come let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they
will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson they will be like wool."

Wool? Did someone say wool? Great! Because my favorite white wool socks are now pink?! But more importantly than my heinous wool socks is the fact that the Lord can wash me new. The scarlet letter that has marked my chest is washed whiter than snow. Can I get an amen and hallelujah for the saving power of Clorox bleach and the blood of Jesus? Both are in the business of making things white again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to salvaging my laundry and dealing with Life :) If you want to hear the message on lust in it's entirety, click here and download the vodcast through a one-time subscription!

*Edit to post: The vodcast will be ready at 3:00PM PST.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

love... [III of III]

My parents have been married for over 35 years and have a great marriage. He loves all her idiosyncrasies like the way she eats chicken, the smirk which betrays her innocence when she knows she is wrong, or the pile of to-do lists that never get done. But in 13,140 days that they have been married, the man who vowed to love her through sickness and health, richness or poverty, good times or bad, has let her down. Not because he doesn't love her but because he is human. You can ask any married woman if their husband has let them down and if they're honest, they'll agree. But there is a man whose love never fails, waivers, or weakens. 

Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my lovingkindness shall not depart from you... 

A pastor in Bangor, Maine uttered a statement in a  sermon that has branded my heart and mind since the moment he stated it: Love can make us do what the law cannot. In part one of this series I mentioned Deuteronomy 6:5 which is a law that states that we are love the Lord our God will the totality of our being; our heart, soul, and mind. The entire book of Deuteronomy is law! We are forced and expected to love the Lord, to walk in His ways, and obey His commands.

But true, effecacious love of triune God is different. 1 John 4:20 tells us that we love Him, for He first loved us. It's reactionary! Innately I'm inclined to love me, myself, and I. But I am compelled by awe and amazement to LOVE the Creator of the universe, the Hope of the nations, the Friend to the friendless, the Father to the fatherless, and the lover of my soul.

We are fickle and forgetful human beings who fall prey to leaving the most important man in our life. May we not become like the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:4 who left their first love. He is a gentleman and will never force Himself upon you or force you to love Him. God Almighty stands with Living Water for those who are thirsty and Bread of Life for those who are hungry. With arms open wide, He is calling you back into His arms of love, crying out to the very depths of our soul saying, Let me love you, forgive you, and make you whole. For I am the lover of your soul...

What is LOVE? God is love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

love... [II of III]

I'm sure at one point in our life we've heard the following portion of the Declaration of Independence: ...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
But what does unalienable mean? Unalienable simply means that something is incapable of being transferred, surrendered, or alienated. 

We know the same to be true of the love of God. No matter what your station in life is, it is reassuring that nothing can separate from the love of our father, friend, and savior. Paul is writing to the Romans and breaks out in a 'flow' if you will. There is a sing-song quality about the portion of text that I can hear in my head. If I was a rapper, I'd come up with a sick beat and bust it out like it was 1996 again... ficky, ficky, ficky, yeeeeaaahh! Somebody stop me.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we are killed
all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yes in all these things we are 
more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death
nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the 
LOVE of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

No matter what we are going through, God is on our side. Whatever trial we are traversing, God is on our side. Though the fire be hot and the waters deep, God is on our side. Why? Because God's love is unalienable.

Monday, July 13, 2009

love... [I of III]

For the last 55 years, there has been one genre of literature that outsells all historical fiction, crime dramas, and mysteries to win the title of best-selling novels. Know what it is? Romance novels. Yes, the paperback books with wind blown hair of a half naked buxom blond languidly laying helplessly in the arms of a buff Fabioesque male in the grocery market checkout lines. What about highest ranked movies for female moviegoers? Yup, chick flicks. Why do women want to see these films? Simple, we want to get lost in the love affair of the characters! We want to feel that love! We love love! In an email from a friend in New York, he reminded me of how passionately I feel about love:
    I feel that there's a small club of us who love love the way we do, and you, Bianca, are the PRESIDENT of the club. I want to see you succeed like I want Obama to succeed. This sounds ridiculous but it's true. I feel like you need to succeed so that hope that was promised to us by individuals we believe in comes to pass... so that I know everything is the way it's supposed to be. 

But people, we've been duped! Contemporary media, medieval literature, and archaic Platonic philosophy has created an idealized version of love. We wait for someone from Seattle to meet us at the top of the Empire State Building, a maverick who snuck onto a doomed ship dodging icebergs confessing our undying love to someone they've just met, or having a man by the name of Jerry say, You complete me. But this is not real. So what's a real love story? The whole bible is a love letter from God to His people. Not only does God long for us, but longs to be loved by us (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37-38). Though there are many examples of God's love in the bible, I've isolated three to touch on lightly.

God's love is EVERLASTING. In Jeremiah 31:3 we are told that God loves us with an everlasting love. The ironic part about this is that it was written for the children of Israel who were spoken about through verbal imagery as virgins (v. 4), but we know from previous scriptures that they had been whoring about with other nations, giving themselves to other gods. But His love is eternal and everlasting and incapable of forgetting. 

He hasn't forgotten about us. He knows our names. He knows our every thought. He sees each tear that falls. He hears us when we call. Isaiah 49:16 tells us that He has inscribed us in the palm of His hand. This is the best visual for me because at one time I had two cell phones, a PDA, a laptop, a calendar, a zillion post-it notes, and a notepad on my desk. But even now, the most important things I need to remember are written in the palm of my hand. To know He has me etched in the palm of his hand moves me to my core... to know that my name is near His nail pierced hands means more to me than words could describe. 

Live  today in LOVE. Live in God's everlasting LOVE. 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

a plan for your life...

I drove to Twin Peaks, California knowing that it was going to be an exposé of my life. Proverbally stripped and naked in front of women my age, I knew I had to candidly share my lot in life. Not what I have overcome, conquered, or achieved; just me, slightly dazed and confused, but not alone. 

The small retreat was held in a large cabin full of 30 women excited to hear about reckless abandonment in life; letting go and letting God move. I was the evening speaker and I knew I had to put aside my facade of dutiful service unto the Lord and unmovable faith and just share what the Lord was doing. I paralleled the message to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland as she falls down a dark, deep, never ending pit of black because in that moment, I felt like Alice. I knew at some point I was going to hit the bottom, but it was the in-between stage that was most frightening. The evening was amazing and I don't know if anyone else was blessed, but my socks were blown off at how God moved! 

The next morning before I left, one of the directors of the group reached into a gift bag and pulled out a tacky, fluorescent colored key chain. I hate key chains. They're tacky. But something about this key chain caught my attention. The large plastic covering had pink flowers and a yellow background. It screamed: Look at me! I'm tacky! I smiled as she handed it to me. B, I think the Lord wants me to give this to you. I'm obviously carnal because I said to myself, But the Lord knows I hate key chains. As I flipped it over Psalm 138:8 was printed in bubble letters:
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;
your love, O Lord, endures forever--
do not abandon the works of your hands.

I knew that I was obedient to share what I believe the Lord had asked of me. This measily key chain was a reminder from the Lord that He hadn't abandoned me in the deep, dark, never ending pit. He was right beside me with a tacky, flourescent key chain letting me know that He has a plan for my life. 

Today is the two month anniversary of my blog and if I die today, I know that over 24,474 people have visited this site to read about my life and what the Lord continues to do in the lives of others. According to my stats, there are people checking in from all over the world like Australia (good day, mates!), England (cheerio!), Barcelona and Palma, Spain (hola amigos!), Germany (guten tag!), Vienna, Austria (um--guten tag?), Panama (ciao!), and yes, even the Ozarks (howdy, y'all!). If this was God's purpose in my life, I know that He has not abandoned me and I'm going to keep on, keeping on! 

Life is not easy, but God's burden is light. Sin is ugly, but God is beautiful. I am messed up, but God is perfect. I am sick, but God is the Master Physician. If all this ends today, know that God has not abandoned you, the work of His hands. If you walk according to His ways, He will fulfill His purpose in you. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

love leads to repentance...

Whittier College circa 1999: Stauffer dormitory heard me beg for mercy like my life depended on it. Because it did.

I was caught in a little lie that turned into a massive lie. Let's just say that my attempted cover-up involved Nermin, the resident aid, John, the campus security guard, the Whittier Police Department... and my Dad. In order to cover my stupidity, I made up a tiny fib that covered my tracks. Nermin sighed relief, John left the dorm room, the police department was notified that I was okay, and well, Dad hung up the phone and that was that. Or so I thought. 

Jasmine was my roommate and apparently a hot version of Elliot Stabler. She knew I was lying. She just couldn't prove it. The next day everything was exposed in our small dorm room and Jasmine was filled with righteous indignation. She was so angry with me she almost slapped me. Not because I was a liar but because I lacked the moral fiber to tell the truth. She stopped in the middle of our blue throw rug and stared at me with hot fire in her eyes. You have two options, she said. You call Dad or I call Dad. Oh sweet Moses! Oh sweet Abraham! Oh sweet baby Jesus! Please.Don't.Make.Me.Call.Dad. I could tell Nermin, John, and the entire Whittier Police Department that I was a big, fat liar, but there was NO way in this great earth that I was going to tell my father. Um, let's just say that we rumbled and tumbled in our third story room, then I chased her down the stairwell, then I busted open the pay phone door, then I pulled the pay phone from the wall (yes, the wall), then I chased her down the walkway of Whittier College yelling at her in tears to please have mercy on me and not call Dad. 

She looked at me with the seriousness of a nun and said, I'm calling Dad. 

I knew I had to beat her to the punch so I hopped in my black Pontiac and sped down Washington Boulevard until I reached his office. I ran past the secretary, the office technician, the custodian, and into his office. My face was tear stained and swollen from crying during the drive. I bolted into his office and before I could even say a word he said, Bibee, it's okay. It's okay and I love you. Speechless and weak in the knees, I capitulated on the floor and began to sob. He reached down and stroked my head assuring me that he still loved me and things would be okay. 

In Luke 15 we see that the true love and forgiveness of a father led to true repentance in a wayward son. After wild living and squandering wealth on hoochies, a starving man feeding debase animals realizes that life with his father is better than anything money could buy. From a far distance his father ran with open arms to receive him, lavishly pouring kisses upon him. The love of the father motivates a true heart of repentance. For a full discussion and explanation of this parable, the talk from last night is live and ready to download here

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

heresy and translators...

I talk fast when I'm nervous. Like really fast. Sometimes it's so fast things get lost in translation and heresy is created.

For example, I was asked to work on a project for a children's bible Thomas Nelson publication wanted to create. I was SO excited and I couldn't wait to tell some of the girls from my discipleship group. That night at youth group I blurted out, Ohmygoodness! Iwasaskedtowriteforaprojectforanewchildren'sbible!!! [inhale] TheyaskedmetowriteanarticleonpuritywithabunchofamazingspeakersandteachersandI'msoexcitedIcouldcry[exhale]. When some other kids came around, one of the youth asked what the commotion was about they replied, Bianca's writing a bible! Um, no, that's heresy. But it was hilarious to hear how my MexiRican language was translated. The good news is that my article is in English so I won't need any translators.

The project was such an honor for me to participate in not only because they had AMAZING teachers and authors contribute articles, but because I believe in the project. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us, And these words I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, you shall talk about them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise. Teaching children God's word at a young age in imperative. Sarah Yardley, editor and chief of this project, gave me an opportunity to mold and shape young minds on the issue of purity. I couldn't be more excited to announce that the project is complete and will be released this month!!! If you're looking for an amazing bible to give to child, I highly recommend this easy-to-navigate bible. 

I mean, come on! I wrote the bible for crying out loud ;)

Speaking of translations, I promise to speak slower tonight at the third installment of our Se7en Deadly Sins series. Like I said, I talk fast when I'm nervous. Like really fast.  [click here to watch LIVE worship with Dominic Balli and teaching at 6:55PM]

*Edit: The editor emailed me today and told me that they sold the first copy of the bible EVER to one of my blog readers?! How blessed am I? Beyond words.

Monday, July 6, 2009

three seasons and life lessons...

If you've followed this blog for awhile you know that I have this thing with movies and searching out unrequited meanings in the plot. While reading zie uber fabulous book Prodigal God by Tim Keller I was reminded of a foreign film that caused me to cry rivers of tears for days after viewing. Reason number 342,457,364 why I want to grow up and be Tim Keller: he watches movies like I do. (Now if he ate popcorn with jalapenos while doing so, I'd be his indentured servant.) His comparison to the love of God in one of my favorite foreign films is genius and a perfect way to start my day.

The acclaimed foreign film Three Seasons is a series of vignettes about life in postwar Vietnam. One of the stories is about a Hai, a cyclo driver (a bicycle rickshaw), and Lan, a beautiful prostitute. Both have deep, unfulfilled desires. Hai is in love with Lan, but she is out of his price range. Lan lives in grinding poverty and longs to live in the beautiful world of the elegant hotels where she works, but in which she never spends the night. She hopes that the money she makes by prostitution will be her means of escape, but instead the work brutalizes and enslaves her. 

Then Hai enters a cycle race and wins the top prize. With the money he brings Lan to the hotel. He pays for the night and pays her fee. Then, to everyone's shock, he tells her he just wants to watch her fall asleep. Instead of using the power of his wealth to have sex with her, he spends it to purchase a place for her for one night in the normal world, to fulfill her desire to belong. Lan finds such grace deeply troubling at first, thinking Hai has done this to control her. When it becomes apparent that he is using his power to serve rather that use her, it begins to transform her, making it impossible to return to a life of prostitution.

Jesus Christ, who had all the power in the world, saw us enslaved by the very things we thought would free us. So he emptied himself of his glory and became a servant (Philippians 2). He laid aside the infinities and immensities of his being and, at the cost of his life, paid the debt for our sins, purchasing us the only place our hearts can rest, in the Father's house. Today let's live not like prostitutes trying to survive, but like children of God who were born to thrive.

Friday, July 3, 2009

proud to be american...

Not too long ago an nine year-old boy crossed the United States border with his family in flight from an abusive patriarch and oppressive country. They traveled with green cards but knew they would illegally stay in the Land of Opportunity when the cards expired 72 hours later. In the crevices of their mind and the veins in their hearts, they knew Life would be different in the Estados Unidos. With nothing more than hope and love, a family of five lived on one income from a single mother working in a sweatshop in downtown LA. 

Sun rise. Sun set. Sun rise. Sun set. Like in Fiddler on the Roof, swiftly passed the years and the eight year-old boy decided to fight for a country which gave him the right to be who he wanted to be: a legal citizen. Viet Nam took the lives of many Americans, but it gave my father back his. He returned to the United States of America as a legal citizen and flaunts this privilege in the simplicity of hanging a red, white, and blue flag on his porch everyday and pushing out his chest with pride everything we pass Camp Pendelton or anything USMC. He still proffers the Jarhead mantra, No blood, no pain, and has a collection of Marine Corps paraphernalia in his office at work. I make fun of my father on occasion for his obsession with Hoooorhaaah'ing every Marine that passes him and believing he can still run a mile in six minutes flat.

But in all antics and sentimentalism that I'm expecting to see tomorrow, I know that my father will be sincerely and aunthentically moved to tears when our national anthem is played. Why? Well, because he is a citizen by choice, not by right. Through fighting for the public's right to speak against American officials, boycott the war, or lambast American foreign policy, he proudly stood on foreign soil fighting for a country he CHOSE to be a part of. Now I am a grateful recipient of his sacrifice. Because of him and millions of others, I am free to live in this country I call home, proud to say I'm American, and humbled that I have the privilege of waving my red, white, and blue flag tomorrow while celebrating the birth of my country. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

lifeguard on duty...

I held my whistle loosely on my lips, I donned black ray bans, and my candy apple red toenail polish matched exactly to the color of my swimsuit. I totally looked like a lifeguard. 

Unbeknownst to me a seven year-old girl by the name of Emily was drowning right beneath my candy apple colored toes. Six weeks of lifeguard training went out the window when I saw Emily's blue eyes the size of saucers from under the water. I impulsively reached down into the water like Conan the Barbarian and pulled her out by her hair. Yes, her hair. David Hasselhoff  would've been ashamed at my skills especially after all those Baywatch episodes I watched, but she lived. So there. 

Emily was crying... Her mother was crying... I was crying. Come on, it's tough living up to Wendy Peffercorn and Pam Anderson!

One thing I will never forget about my lifeguard training course was an exercise my instructor taught us. He said he was going to pretend to be a typical drowning victim and we had to attempt to rescue him. Simple, right? Wrong! I dove into the water and swam as quickly as I could to "rescue" the victim. However, when I reached him he was frantically reaching for me and grasping on to me so tight, we both went under. As I coughed up ten pounds of water and put down my pride he explained that an active victim is so gripped by fear that they will ruin a rescue attempt. 

The drill was done again except this time he told us to use our discernment as to when we should dive in. A new student was chosen to do the rescue. He waited patiently on the pool deck until our instructor was so tired he would no longer fight against his own will to survive. The moment he surrendered to the struggle, the trainee dove in and quickly cupped our instructor under his strong arms and pulled him to safety. This visual never left me. Til this day I remember the look of exhaustion on the face of my instructor and the look of confidence on my fellow student. 

I realized that Jesus Christ is our lifeguard. He performs CPR on us when our heart is under attack, He protects our life and discerns danger, He gives us warnings to keep us from danger, and when necessary, He waits until we have completely surrendered our will to fight only to reach out and save us. There, in that moment, Jesus cups us under His nail pierced hands and pulls us to safety. In His arms is Life and Life abundantly. Stop fighting the inevitable and let Jesus save your life. For as it says in Mark 8:34, What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Live out a paradox today: give up the fight, win the battle. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

wrath...

For those who wanted to come to the study last night but couldn't (ehem, Jasmine and Diandra), I've posted instuctions to download last night's study on wrath! Click here for simple instructions for a one-time subscription

If you would like a instantaneous podcast when we load them, our wonderful IT coordinator extraordinaire created simple instructions. Three cheers for Roland Lew!
Manual Subscription:
To subscribe to CCM podcasts/vodcasts manually, follow the steps below.
1) Copy this link:
feed://media.ccmtb.com/podcasts_special/ccmtb.xml
2) Open iTunes.  There are other programs available, but we recommendApple iTunes.
3)  Go to the "Advanced" menu and select "Subscribe to Podcast..."
4)  In the "Subscribe to Podcast" window, paste the text you copied in step 1 into the window and select "OK".  After selecting "OK," your subscription will be processed and you will immediately begin downloading the most current Podcast!
5)  Watch or listen straight on your Mac or PC or just transfer to your iPod and enjoy!


For those who came out last night, I'm so blessed to see how God is moving in your hearts and minds. The best is yet to come...

Live in the name of LOVE,
B

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