there is a season for everything under the sun.

You remember when you were a kid, like in elementary school, and people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? I remember my default answer was a teacher or something like that because that’s really I knew. As I grew older, and I learned more about the world and myself, my desire to work in a school did not completely go away. It has looked different over the years since high school– transforming from teaching graphic design to becoming a school social worker to tutoring after school to being a tutor with her own classroom. Even though the way I participate in the education field changes, my passion to work in the field does not.

I’m not sure what it is about education that I’m passion about. I don’t think I truly understood it until I moved to Los Angeles. My eyes were open to the injustice of the system and ultimately the injustice many people in marginalized communities face. So I did what I thought I did best: work directly with people. Maybe if I change their life, their community is going to change. I have been teaching them how to fish and while that’s great, that’s not all that needs to be done.

Before I even submitted my application for a new job, I was hesitant. Like I said before, I’ve been working in education in some way for six years. It’s basically all I know. I shared this anxiety with my boyfriend.

“Even if I do get offered the job, I don’t think I’d take it.”

“Why not?” he asked

“Because I feel like if I leave, the whole school will fall apart.”

“Well, maybe that’s reason to leave. You’re not called to hold the system together, but to be a part of restoring it.”


I never thought I would be working with a church. I guess if I did, I thought it would be something with missions or with kids. Perhaps I like to be in the thick of it where the fruits of my labor can be immediately recognized. Serving students directly granted me that satisfaction. Sometimes though, it felt as though I was pulling unripe fruit off the branch. And instead of letting go, I continued to tug the fruit even though it was not ready. But then I hear the gentle voice of the Gardener: “I call you not to grow the fruit. I ask you to be patient and tend to My fields. I ask you to wait for My timing. do you trust Me enough to know that I will be the one who ripens the fruit?”

It was (and still is) a strange transition from teaching to administration, from a school to a church. Mostly because I feel like I have abandoned my students (as though I am the only one that can teach them). But the Lord gently affirms me: “Well done, good and faithful servant. I have entrusted you with a little, and now I will entrust you with more.”

And now it’s off to cultivate another area of the garden.

act justly, love mercy, walk humbly

I used to think I had a genuine servant’s heart. I thought that it was my gift to give to everyone and all who needed it. But instead of stewarding this talent sacrificially and humbly, I developed a selfish perspective. My ego swelled with every “Thanks, you’re awesome!” Instead of seeing people and places with strengths, I view them as of list of needs only I can fix.

Here comes Super Becca, on her way to save us and our broken souls!

But I’m broken too. Oh, how I’m broken. How can I think that I can restore an unjust system when I myself am still being restored?

I’m not here to fix people or systems or structures. I’m not here to give them what I have determined what they need. I’m not here to create dependency.

You don’t give people dignity– you affirm it.

John M. Perkins

So I’m learning to stop asking what can I do to help. I’m learning to stop asking what do I have that can fix it but rather:

What is God doing here right now?
What strengths do people have?
What resources do people have?
Do I have a part here?

I’m not a savior and I’m not called to be one. My purpose to point to the One who saved me, who is still repairing my brokenness, and join Him in restoration.

2015 in review

January

January

Spontaneous trip to a beach off the PCH

remind me that my identity is solely founded in You.

“be confident. be confident in your identity in Me. I am always your reward for obedience.”

“one day, someone will pursue you the way I pursue you”

February

February

Celebrating my birthday by making my friends run around LA for a scavenger hunt

God was doing mighty things in my life. I was asked to be a panel at Reality discussing race and ethnicity within the Church. it was a time where a lot of unaddressed issues surfaced.

While volunteering at the Hollywood Winter Shelter, I was told about a graduate program at Azusa Pacific University that fit my wants out of a master’s.  There was even the the possibility of living and serving in Manila, Philippines– an opportunity that simultaneously excited and frightened me.

“will you surrender your comfortable life in Los Angeles and step out to what I have for you Child? I will be next to you every step of the way and I have paved the way already.”

March

March

Yosemite close to sunset

“why are you trying to get ahead of Me?’

“remember: the reward of trusting in Me is Me.”

I submitted my application for MATUL and I went to an event to discover how intricate the Lord’s plans are for our lives. I also went to Yosemite for the first time and fell in love with the majesty of the surrounding trees.

April

April

Huntington Beach for a fun day. This was pre surfing.

I was offered a position to the MATUL program. so many fears came along with the acceptance. but the Lord reminded me the beautiful freedom in surrender. I learned that in the waiting, the Lord shapes our character. I decided to participate in the program and I had to 8 months to prepare to leave 8,000 miles.

May

May

Overlooking the vastness of Joshua Tree


“I want to remind you how great of My beloved you are…so I ask to wait actively.”

I went Joshua Tree for the first time, and fell in love again, in a different way.

June

June

Twin Peaks for a women’s retreat

“I am strengthening your faith and trust in Me.”

You give and You ask me to be faithful with what I have been given

July

July

Senior selfie (plus a teacher)


I’d been anxious about leaving. I got news that the international program had been postponed a year. I was relieved. the Lord reminded me that I was called to restore streets with dwellings, rebuild ancient ruins, and repair broken walls in Los Angeles

August

I felt incredibly unloved and unlovable.the Lord helped me to love myself.

“just was the scars on your skin heal, so will I heal the wounds on your heart.”

September

September

1st day of school!

I went on my first solo adventure to Big Sur and started my first semester of grad school.

October

October

Camp Morning Star to help with childcare at Destino Fall retreat

“grow in grace, Child..”

I started feeling more free to be myself in various parts of my life.

November

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Friendsgiving 2015

“please remember you have nothing to fear.”

I understood what it meant to be a work in progress.

I went to London for the first time with a group of close friends. It was my first international trip and I loved that it was spent with people who mean so much to me.

December

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Outside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

I also went to Paris for the first time (same trip as London). The magic of the city still leaves me in awe. It was a memorable trip, one ending with the beginning of a relationship.

grow where you are planted

For one of my classes, we were tasked to start conversations with our community about the themes we learned about. The hope was to not simply study theology, but actively engage in it within the urban context. I wrote about the discussions my students partook in about their family, values, and aspirations. I  presented my findings to my classmates. Despite feelings of anxiety, I found sharing what I learned from my students made their words much more significant. After presenting, the floor was open for questions.

“What was your lightbulb moment?” I was asked. “Like what was the moment you realized that this is exactly where God wants you to be?”

I mulled over the question.

“There is a couple that lives a few blocks away from work named Jeff and Jacqueline. They have lived in the community for years and actually know a few of my students. They planted a church close by and open their home to their neighbors. A couple of weeks ago, Jacqueline shared with me something my student told her. He said that when he walks into my classroom, he feels like he is in a home. At first, I was upset. I wanted him to feel like my classroom felt like home, but then I realized that maybe home isn’t a place he wants to be, but a home is what he needed.”

And that’s when it struck me. This small moment, one that I wasn’t even present for, was spurred from millions of others. It was a result of moments of doubt, frustration, and disappointment held together by moments of joy over small victories. Being a teacher is not easy. Sometimes I struggle with the desire to control the actions and decisions of my students because I desire the best for them. And I have come to understand that good healthy relationships aren’t built upon dominance and manipulation. They grow from grace and authenticity and time.

be faithful

I think time is frequently overlooked as a key factor in relationships. We want friendships, work relationships and romantic relationships to happen effortlessly. I think we undervalue the awkward moments we will have when we attempt to live life with another person. We want to move past the struggles and skip straight to the good parts. But I have to remind myself that patience and faithfulness produce greater results than commitment only when it’s convenient.

I wondered why I lived in Los Angeles for a solid year after I moved here. I pondered what my purpose was in a place I had no connection to. It made no sense to stay. But I did. In a transient city like LA, it is easy to move from apartment to apartment or from job to job. I think change is good and inevitable, and we need to embrace it. But there is also good in consistency. I think when we find a good place to live, a good place to work, a good community, we should invest ourselves there.

stay. stay. stay.

Recently, I received an email informing me that the international option of the grad school program I am a part of will be postponed another year. I applied with the intention of serving abroad, however, sometime in the first semester, I had decided that I was going to stay even if the program was available. This came as a surprise to me as I had planned to move to Manila for a year and a half. But God kept reminding me of my purpose in LA through working with my students and cultivating community.

A tree can only bear fruit if the roots are grown. This cannot occur if the tree is uprooted all the time. Given, trees do not move unless by human force, but aren’t we a lot like trees anyways?

rest(oration)

Rest is originally designed to prepare for busyness. For years I’ve treated it as a result of exhaustion. Meaning, I would desire to rest when I felt out of energy instead of desiring it for energy. I knew my perspective needed to change. This upcoming year is going to be chaotic (part time grad school, part time working) so before my time is consumed with studying and learning and teaching, rest was vital. Here are my takeaways from the day.

I love adventures. I’ve had the privilege to share most of them with my closest and dearest friends exploring brand new places. I cherish those memories immensely. However, I desired to take a trip all by myself without meeting someone at the end of it. I wanted to purposefully plan an adventure. The desire to travel alone sparked a desire to take a day of rest. My sights were Big Sur, but I wasn’t about to go six hours for only a day. I researched other options and discovered southernmost part of Big Sur was only four hours away from LA. It was called Salmon Creek: it included a hiking trail and even a waterfall! A friend suggested Cambria when I asked what was her favorite central coast town. Moonstone Beach State Park was a highly recommended place. After gathering more information, I wrote my plan out in detail. I reviewed it as much as I could leading up and edited minor details. On Saturday September 5th, I left Los Angeles in the early hours, arrived to the trail at noon, departed Big Sur late afternoon, and returned to my apartment around midnight. There were several stops along the way (Mugu State Beach, Starbucks, a gas station in San Luis Obispo, Ragged Point and In N Out), but the main trip consisted of Salmon Creek and Moonstone Beach State Park.

As I shared with my friends about my adventure they asked if I was afraid when I encountered surprises like caves made out of rocks or narrow trails with no one else. I said no. Fear was absent the whole day. I think the reason behind it was the feeling of freedom. Fear holds you back. In the past, it has definitely kept me from stepping out. It has held me in a place of comfort and tricked me in believing that I was safe. But it was freeing to not worry about a time schedule. It was freeing to pull over to the side of the road at a whim. It was freeing to accomplish a feat such as a 6.5 mile hike by myself. I altered my plan several times before the trip and changed my mind during the trip. Certain things I wanted to do didn’t happen, but I didn’t dwell on them. There was no need to consult others about the changes. People-pleasing is nonexistent when you travel alone. No one influences your opinions. I love people, but I’ve come to realize that interacting with people can be emotionally exhausting. As I reflect on the day, I realized how much I rely on others’ thoughts about my surroundings and decisions in everyday life. I also learned I didn’t need to sit down at a coffee shop sipping a latte and writing in a journal to meet with the Lord (which I tend to believe always needs to happen.) My three favorite things in nature were seen in one fell swoop: ocean, mountains, and trees throughout my hike AND drive. “I love California” and “This is so amazing” were two phrases I repeated over and over. The Lord speaks to me in a plethora of ways: through His word, through prayer, through people, and through nature. On my day of rest, He continually loved me through prayer and nature.

I’ve taken many days of rest before, but nothing like this. What I experienced was absolute pure freedom. And it was that freedom that gave me rest.

Here is the playlist I played on repeat during my drive:
Dust- Little May
My Life, My Love- Family and Friends
If I’m Lucky- State Champs
Goodbye- Who is Fancy
Cloudline- Joseph
Take Me There- Trip Lee
Kanye- The Chainsmokers
When I Get Older- Wild Party
Morocco- Moon Taxi
Say My Name- ODESZA
Hanging By a Thread- Aaron Espe
First- Cold War Kids
Changing of the Seasons- Two Door Cinema
Ignition (Remix)- The Wine and the Wave
Unbreakable- Jamie Scott
Belly of the Deepest Love- Tow’rs

If you’d like to scroll through the photos I took during my adventure, visit my VSCO Journal

and if not, He is still good.

there have been countless times in my life when the Lord calls me to do something, only to redirect me in another direction. He asks me to obey faithfully and to trust in His promises. if i am honest, sometimes that’s difficult. it’s difficult to step out of my comfort zone and not be in control. it all comes down to fear. i’m scared of the unknown. i’m scared that the God of the universe has a better plan that i have for myself. i’m scared to let go. but time and time again, the Lord proves His sovereignty, His faithfulness, His unending love.

my last blog post revealed big news in my life. in case you missed it–i have been accepted into grad school at azusa pacific university. i’m participating in the transformational urban leadership program. there are two tracks to the program: los angeles and international. when i applied and accepted the offer, my intention was to pursue the international track. this meant, i would study a semester in los angeles and then depart overseas january 2016. the plan was spend the rest of the program in manila, phillipines. well, now, i have yet another redirection in my life. early last month, i found out that due to low enrollment this upcoming semester, the international program has been postponed until fall of 2016. the biggest change with this news is that i will not be leaving to go abroad in january. i spoke through my options with andrew, the program coordinator. there were several, but this one is my final decision: i begin the program in september as a part time student here on the los angeles track. if the international program is open next fall and if it is still the Lord’s command to go, i would leave january 2017. otherwise, i’m able to finish my degree in here. which meeeeeeeans i’m staying in los angeles for at least the next year and a half!!!

the question most people ask me is how do you feel? and to that, i say, “relieved.” don’t get me wrong, i was willing to go live and learn in manila. i knew i needed to obey. and while it was difficult for me to think about leaving los angeles, i was (and still am) for certain of the Lord’s faithfulness. i was ready to follow wherever because i know He would be with me as He is with me now. but i’m relieved. i’m at peace with this redirection and ultimately, i know that the Lord’s sovereignty will shine through.

it’s easy for me to believe that it was a waste of time and energy to think i was leaving in january. but that just simply means that i lack faith in the Lord’s perfect timing. when i have my own plans and pursue them instead of His, redirections like these will frustrate and anger me. but when i understand that in every moment i am in the palm of God’s hand, i know that this change has a purpose. it is a redirection to know and love the Lord even deeper.

from this, i learned a lesson i apply to other aspects in life: when things are going well, when i have a solid community, when i get that pay raise, the Lord is good. and if not, if life isn’t going as i planned, if i can’t attend that friend’s wedding, if money’s a little tight this month, if no one is pursing a romantic relationship with me, i have to remember– He is still good.

small leaps

many may know that i was born in manila, philippines and adopted at an early age. when i share this, many questions spew from this bit of information. a common one is “have you visited since?” and i have to say “not yet.” this question though continues to awaken a desire placed in my heart for five years. it’s the desire to return someday, specifically in a serving context, perhaps like a mission trip. sometimes, i find organizations stationed in the philippines and i feel my heart ache in the good way. but i know working for an international nonprofit with no experience overseas is not ideal. so my research had brought me to graduate programs instead. pursuing a master’s degree has been on my mind even before transferring to illinois state mainly because the field of social work usually requires one. as i continued my education though, pursuing a master’s degree in social work didn’t seem to fit where i wanted to go even though i wasn’t entirely certain where.

since moving to los angeles, i have been able to refine what my passion is exactly. living and working and serving in the inner city are heavy contributors to the discovery. by far and wide though, the stories of people that have collided into mine continually confirm my purpose. i like working with people. i like encouraging them to grow towards their potential. i like being a part of restoring a community. however, i didn’t know all of this when i arrived in los angeles. i needed to leave and take a step out of my comfort zone for it to be revealed.

i know life is to be lived like a story. stories contain chapters, a variety of characters and settings. i know life is about constant change and growth.

the day before my 26th birthday, i volunteered at an event called the hollywood winter shelter with my community group at reality LA. we provided food and conversation with folks experiencing homelessness. there i met the young woman who coordinated the dinner. she spoke of living in an intentional living community and mentioned that one of her roommates just left for the philippines. my ears perked up and i asked her to continue. her roommate is participating in a master’s program at azusa pacific university and part of it was to serve overseas in different urban cities. of course, i was instantly intrigued.

within the following week, i received more information about the transformational urban leadership program at apu. as i spoke with andrew, the program coordinator, i realized that a philosophy i’ve had simmering in my mind for a while was the backbone of the program. i strongly believe true transformation of a community occurs within, not from the outside. i see too many people with savior complexes creating visions for communities without assessing strengths and resources that already exist. i believe that when those who are called to serve the urban poor experience life like the urban poor, hearts are renewed (not just of the people in the community, but of those serving as well). this takes time. Jesus spent His last three years of life living like the poor while teaching and serving them. in order to change a community, one needs to learn from the people and love them well. the program is founded on this idea. after the conversation with andrew, he connected me with candice, an alumna who graduated in august.

we met for coffee. it only took minutes to notice the similarities between us. we both are filipinas who grew up in the american culture with little knowledge about our own. we also think and perceive the world in a similar matter. what i enjoyed most about the time getting to know her and the program better is that she did not sugarcoat the difficulties and struggles of her experience. i appreciated it. by the end of our meeting, i knew nothing much was holding me back from applying.

a couple of weeks later, i was invited to attend an event hosted by the program. sometimes when the Lord confirms His command for me, it comes quietly or magnificently. this time, it was magnificent. after the discussion, i met three people. one attends reality LA (the same church i do) and led a volunteer group with center for student missions several years back (the non profit that brought me to los angeles in the first place). the second lives in an intentional community in hollywood. when she told me the name, it struck a familiar chord within my mind. as i racked my brain, i remembered why. the first time i heard it was i volunteered at the hollywood winter shelter. her roommate was the coordinator for the dinner. the connection i had with the third person blew my mind. within distant chatter, i overheard the words pico-union. i inquired more about why it was mentioned. “i work at a school in the neighborhood; on the corner of 14th and union.” i added. “i need to your principal,” she surprised me by saying. it turned out that knows a couple of students there (one in particular with whom i have a strong connection). she also knows a thoroughly involved couple in the neighborhood planting a nearby church. we talked more in depth over dinner.

by the deadline, my references, transcripts, and essays were received. the following week, i scheduled a screening interview with the program director. the purpose was so the viv could explain further what i can expect and for me to ask any clarifying questions. as he reviewed my essays, he commented on how my writing reflect filipino thinking. his expertise on the filipino culture stems from living and serving with the urban poor in manila for ten years. i spoke of my journey of discovering the program and the not so coincidental connections already established. at the end of our conversation, he offered me a position in the program. he noted how he saw this as a fitting season to take the opportunity. immediately, i asked if i could defer the acceptance. i wanted to be faithful with the job i currently have and work just one more year. he said that is a possibility, however 90% of the people who defer don’t actually participate in the program. i had a decision to make.

sometimes selfishness can disguise itself underneath good intentions. for example, my desire to defer my acceptance was with good intention. consistency is important to me and staying another year with most of the same students is how i wanted to practice it. in my selfishness, i wanted to stay in los angeles. i’ve developed a sense of community and purpose here and to leave that terrified me. but the more i thought about it, the more i understood that i wanted to defer the hardships and trials i know i will experience. i knew the Lord called me to live and serve in the philippines for a season and i knew that this is the way to obey that command.

so i’m here to announce that i accepted the offer into azusa pacific university’s masters of art in transformational urban leadership program. this begins in september and lasts for two years. during the first semester, the entire cohort takes classes at the LA campus (which is blocks away from my koreatown apartment). then come january of 2016, we head off to the field whether that is continuing in los angeles or abroad. i am going into the program with the intention of serving in manila, philippines. my time will be focused on learning the culture and living among the people i’m serving. the first seven months i will be taking language classes in addition to the course load for grad school. then, i will intern at a variety of non profits organizations focusing around education, community and economic development, advocacy, and healthcare. i return august 2017.

as i begin this new and unexpected season, i know support is essential. i have been overwhelmed with joy from the positive and encouraging responses of loved ones. it has been evident that i cannot do this alone. i am delighted to share this journey with you.