2017 In Review

Omo! It is already 2018, and I have neglected this blog for too long. The last time I wrote a year in review was way back in 2015 when I summarized 2014.

Each year has its theme. If 2013 was my year of testing and of experiencing bitterness, 2014 the year of transitions, and 2015 the year of beginnings, 2017 was… honestly a year of exhaustion. Being an adult is fun, but it comes at a price. That’s something they never tell you at school. I actually began 2017 with a bang by having a severe panic attack that resulted in me being rushed out from a restaurant to the hospital (sounds more dramatic than it really was.). I tried to roll back on what freelance work I was taking in since I wasn’t sleeping or eating properly. Despite that, however, I ended 2017 feeling just so drained and tired. A small trip–a sort of retreat–was overdue.

You know, taking time off is a good thing.

I returned feeling refreshed spiritually and with a more positive outlook on my life. I did not experience exhilarating moments of clarity or spiritual ecstasy, but that is fine. I know that those mountaintop experiences are brief, but are no match for determined  daily prayer.

I am teaming up with a few of my church friends so we can read the bible during 2018. I’m gonna try to do that. I have read the Bible cover to cover, but one can never read it too much.

2017 Professionally: So many opportunities. I took them all but how I struggled to get to work. I was exhausted. I didn’t want to work. I was burnt out. However, recently there has been an interesting turn of events that may stoke the fire of creativity that I feel has gone out from within me. I also got a nice raise at work, so let’s see how 2018 plays itself out in this area…

2017 Personally: So I haven’t made new friends, but those I have I was determined to keep and love more. One of the things I realized early on in 2017 was that I wanted the mission of my life to be to love others more. I am not one to go and make dozens of friends. I only have maybe one or two close ones–counting my mom. But I realized that the reason why I often felt so left out was because I was not interested in the needs of others. I decided to correct that this year with positive results. Doors were opened. Got job offers, I was invited to preach, I got involved in several volunteering endeavors. It was very rewarding. As to romantic love. Same old story. Nothing there.

2017 Health: so in 2016 I lost about 50 pounds. in 2017 I gained 18 pounds back. So bad. Again I attribute this to my general feeling of bleh this year. I stopped running, and I stopped being careful with what I ate. But I am back on track by juicing and eating many more vegetables than sweets.

2017: Spiritual. Gahhhh! The biggest bad here. When you are too busy and burnt out you THINK you don’t have enough energy to read the word, but that is all an excuse. In 2017 I read dozens and dozens of those trashy novels you are too embarrassed to recommend to your mom, and reread the stormlight archive books and many other fiction favorites. So that is a lame excuse. But being imbalanced in this area is bad.

Also there is a major point that threw my balance out of whack, but also helped as a wakeup call. Troubles at church caught me off-guard. I was angry, confused, demoralized. BUT this helped me to realize the reason why I was so confused was because I had somehow lost sight of my Jesus. I do not do ministry to follow a pastor. I do not do ministry to uphold a church. I do ministry because that is my calling: To love and serve Jesus in whichever way I can.

So, here is to 2018. Lets make it a year of new beginnings (again), and of revival and prayer. There are many friends and family members who are right now struggling and in pain or who are quietly and courageously bearing some untold burden. I will pray for them, and love them more.

I’m Trying . . . But it’s Not Enough

I let go of your hand and let the torrent of life take me along. I figured we’d meet again somewhere downstream, right?

I let go, and you kept on calling. Running after me. I told myself it was ok… so long as I could see you, so long as I felt you near me… So long as I did good works for others and for the church… So long as I heard you inside my mind I knew I was anchored and I could return.

Just today, I need to do this.

Sorry, I don’t have time to pray.

Oh no! I will be late for work, I guess no devotional time.

I was wrong. I want to go back. Take me home, because I’m terrified of what I’m becoming. I know you’re there, and you’re still reaching out for me. But now I’m too weak to even go halfway. I can’t. I’m trying to raise my hand… But I can’t.

Please…. save me

For Those of Us Who Wait

God never fails to come through for me. I’ve been revisiting some of my entries from the Journal category…entries that just bare my heart open to the world, and I see how God has guided me in the past.
If you are waiting for an answer to God, remember that we all have to go through the discipline of delay. Hang in there.

My waiting continued an extra year after I wrote this entry, but he guided me in that year and manifested himself in my life in the most powerful ways. Looking back I connect the dots and I SEE how his plan played out.

Now I have a job doing what I love most in the world for a Christian organization, I count myself as one of the most fortunate people in the world. It is my passion spent on what matters most: God’s work.

I had to wait, and work, and live though so much. But was it worth it?

Yes. It was.


I am waiting for my laundry to be done.

To distract myself and take a break from these myriad household tasks I check my email for the twentieth time today. You see, while I’m waiting for my laundry to be done, I’m also waiting for word about a possible job opportunity.

But . . . there is not a single new message in my inbox. Nothing—not even those emails from WordPress that I like so much.

The timer goes off—it startles me, and then I remember that the laundry is now done. Well at least there’s one less thing to wait around for. I go with my laundry basket downstairs, and as I fold clothes and pair up socks I glumly think about my life and complain and whine in my head to my ever-constant companion.

Father, this waiting is maddening. One email, one phone call, one reply is all…

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Story of the Month: Paula Perez

Hey check it out! A chapter of If You Only Knew was featured at River Ram Press as Story of the Month. Awesome! and Thanks the RRP for featuring it and Ms. Alban for the lovely illustration. 🙂

River Ram Press #InspireWriters #InspireReaders

SOTMonth Header October


With falling leaves and hot beverages we welcome the month of October- featured this month is a touching piece by Paula Perez entitled “Zuri”. In this short work, we view a very thoughtful interaction between the antagonist and Zuri, the story’s namesake. Part of a larger work, please enjoy this excerpt. To read more of Paula’s work, please visit her blog, Tree.

To read the original piece, click here.


By Paula Perez

Wednesday found me once more on my way to prayer meeting. As usual, Zuri asked me how my day in school had been, what interesting new books I was reading, and how my cousin’s health was. We lapsed into silence after that, because it was obvious that I did not want to talk, and Zuri was one of those rare adults who didn’t take that personally. She left me alone with my thoughts and  cheerfully navigated…

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We Were Made to Worship

I have started a new blog. it is on the production of a church service–mostly focused on the visual media aspect. Join me there too!

If visual media is not your thing–worry not! I wrote an introductory entry on the importance of worship. We all could use a reminder now and then 🙂

Church Visual Media

“ You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.” –Revelation 4:11

Someone once said that we were all made with the inherent desire to worship.

We can worship ourselves. We can worship money, sex, power, fame–all of them gold and silver idols of our own making–or we can worship God.

If we choose to worship Self or any of those little man-made idols, then we are curved within ourselves. We may develop physically or mentally, but are–in a sense–emotionally and spiritually stunted. We are incomplete. Letting God take the throne of our lives is more for our sake than His because in him we find fulfillment. Worshiping the one whom we were originally intended to worship lets us achieve spiritual clarity and our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves grow and develop…

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I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies… I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem thy precepts concerning all things to be right…  Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them

Psalm 119:124-129

Sir Isaac Newton was a scientific man of prominence. He is credited with discovering gravity, inventing calculus, and making a great many other contributions to science. Yet for centuries a significant amount of his work and published material on a particular subject lay forgotten—so much so that few people know that for a time Newton’s interests veered from the scientific field to the obscure art that was alchemy.

Alchemy dates back to antiquity, and some form of alchemy or another was practiced by ancient civilized peoples, including the Greeks and Romans, the Chinese, Indians, and the Muslims—all of whom, through differing methods, sought the same end: transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of a panacea, and the ability to prolong life indefinitely.

But the prize was elusive, and though there are some tales of men who were successful, the validity of such claims is highly debatable. More often than not many an alchemist ended up much poorer than he began—if he was fortunate. Others, not fully understanding the substances they were dealing with, were killed, maimed, or blinded by fire while others were poisoned by noxious fumes or suffered horrific illnesses from tasting mercurial compounds (Newton himself narrowly escaped such a fate, though he did display sure signs of mercury poisoning[1]).

Wealth, health, and eternal life—mankind’s ambitions, discoveries, and pursuits through all time hark back to those three, explaining why even “kings, popes, emperors, and other notable figures” took an eager interest in the art.[2] And while alchemy has been debunked by modern chemistry, the relentless search for that which will satisfy the soul continues on.

The avowed motive of “true” alchemists was spiritual rather than material gain. They claimed that the ultimate goal was “perfection, not the gain of gold. They sought to prove that the figure of transmutation of the ‘base’ metals into gold symbolized the salvation of man” tangible proof—if you will—that the transformation of man into a holy creature was possible.[3]

This concept was not limited to the Christian alchemists. Wherever it was practiced, alchemy was linked to spirituality. Eastern scripts were full of accounts in which the successful transmutation of a base metal into gold inevitably brought about enlightenment.[4] Christian adepts claimed that because the process required such great patience, devotion, and humility the “self” died, and salvation was achieved. Indeed, it was a means of salvation and a sign of divine favor.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think many people practiced the art for the spiritual riches that could be gotten. Few people, I’m sure, derived spiritual enrichment from the fumes emitted by foul-smelling and bubbling chemicals.

 It’s impossible—more so than getting gold from lead or iron—to draw closer to the heart of heaven by going off and living our lives in pursuit of our own goals. We can’t devote the majority of our resources and attention solely to our job, school, loved ones, and at the end of the day prop our feet up, check our Facebook, and finally go to bed with a sigh of satisfaction because we are nigh the gates of heaven.

The sophistry of Satan is deceptive, but God is much stronger, and he wants to give us wisdom and salvation freely. He blows away the confusion and all the noise that surrounds us and offers us salvation—without asking us to first perform a miracle. Let’s remember that although we have to lead our lives and meet our obligations, we must deliberately set aside time to draw closer to Christ, and ask for the salvation and the spiritual riches that he alone can give.


[1] Schwarcz, Joe. Genie in a Bottle. (New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2001) p.90

[2]Holmyard, E. J. Alchemy. (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1990)  p.15

[3] Redgrove, Stanley H. Alchemy: Ancient and Modern. (New York: University Books, Inc., 1969) p.2

[4] Klossowski de Rola, Stansilas. Alchemy. The Secret Art. (London: Thames and Hudson, 1973)   p.21

The Song in my Head

I am–at last–learning to drive.

I am learning in a little silver-colored 2003 Hyundai Accent–our family car. My dad sits in the passenger’s seat sipping his breakfast shake while I drive. My hair is wild because it’s too early in the morning for me to care about my appearance. I am wearing shorts and sandals.

Our car has no radio or CD player; nothing at all to produce music, so as we go about cruising the residential streets of my modest neighborhood, we go about in silence. We talk a little, complain about the sun hitting our faces, and he gives me general instructions and tips on where I am to turn, as well as points out the occasional cat.

The song in my Head is The City Harmonic’s Manifesto, and as we drive into the perfect sunshine I am thankful just to be alive.

I am Paula. 26 years young, and my life is full of uncertainties–a college degree but no permanent job, in a veritable wasteland when it comes to romantic relationships, my savings are not too bad but only because I live with my parents (and that’s ok by me). By all of the world’s standards I am somewhat of a failure. What happened to the promising writer and artist of my High School days? What of the brilliant university student who was among the top two of her graduating class? Nothing, really. No tragedy or accident took place to derail my life–thank God. This is just life–the unnexpected. So today instead of being frustrated by my lot I am simply thankful this morning because the one I love gently woke me up and filled my mind with reminders that he loves me and he is THERE.

I am learning to be patient and wise. I am learning to persevere. I am learning some hard truths that I would not have learned if I had continued working where I was. I am seeing the goodness of God by the way he is making me grow and learn to trust in him completely. The song fills my head as we drive. I don’t need a radio or to be in church to praise God. So I suprise my father when the song in my head becomes the song in my lips.

We believe in the One True God
We believe in Father, Spirit, Son
We believe that good has won

And all of the people of God sang along:
Amen Amen Amen

God is good ALL the time.