Success Story

What is success?

A quick Google search of the definition seems fairly simple. In summary, to succeed is to accomplish something, or to reach a certain position in life (of wealth, fame, etc.) that is considered desirable (or to be the person/thing that has achieved these things). 

I think there are a few ways we can see success. The first is personal success. An accomplishment that may not mean a great deal to others but is significant to you. 

Take this blog, for instance. When I had more time to write and publish, it would attract thousands of visitors a year. This was a blessing and, to me, certainly a success. I never expected to have hundreds of people visit my blog, much less thousands. While I know there are countless blogs and websites that have achieved a great deal more than mine has, I still consider it a success.

The second view of success is far less personal. What was success to me would not be in the eyes of many others. Perhaps if my blog reached hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, (still falling far short of other websites/blogs), I would finally be considered a success. So in this view, success is more determined by other people’s opinions of me and by how my accomplishment compares to similar things.

There’s a problem with both ideas, however. They make people and opinions the main factors in deciding success. With the first, I felt that I had achieved this personally great thing, and therefore my blog was a success. With the second, I rely on the opinion of others to tell me whether or not I have done well enough to be considered a success.

Very often, I find myself desperately hoping to be told by others, in one way or another, that I have succeeded. Caught in the ever changing current of people’s opinions (if they even consider it worth an opinion) is not the most pleasant place to be. And to be subject to my own idea of success isn’t ideal either. 

So what does this mean? Is success only available to the few who have caught the public’s hearts and attention, or who are able to see success in themselves? 

I’d like to present a third option. Let’s leave our success, or seemingly lack of, in God’s hands. Place it at the foot of the cross.

This may seem an obvious answer (you probably saw it coming), but I’d just like to invite you to consider how this would affect your life. To leave our success to God is to take our eyes off ourselves and place them on Him. The question becomes less of “How does the world see me?” or “How do I see myself?” and more of “How does God see me?”

And God sees a success. Not in the way the world might consider you a success, having achieved something through your own merit or hard work. Instead, God sees the child He lovingly created, the one He laid down His life for. You did not earn it (thankfully, for we cannot) but were given it. You are His success. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV)

Because of this, everything we do for the Lord is a success. It’s not about how well we do, how “great” it is, or how many people know about it. It’s about living for God. We may or may not achieve the worldly idea of success, but we don’t need to. We are a success in a far more important way. We serve God with our lives, and trust Him to take the things we do and make them great, for His glory and not ours. 

This isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s difficult to let go of our own idea of what success should be and take hold of God’s. It isn’t a one time deal either. It’s a daily choice to live our life for Him. To walk with Him and trust Him with our success. Will you take the first step?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV) 


Meet Maui

My sweet new kitten. 😊

The Willow Is Poofy Blog

Say hello to the newest member of the family! Maui is an adorable three week old kitten. He and his siblings were found at my dad’s workplace, and we couldn’t say no!

We’ve all managed to fall in love with him, only four days after bringing him home. I hope you will as well!

Until next time!

~Willow’s person

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Feelings, a poem


Life is more than what you feel

The ups and downs, the pain so real

Happiness but for a moment

Sadness, wearying, beyond our knowing

Feelings make us want to fly

Or want to kiss the world goodbye

Feelings shape the way we see

Make us do things differently

But feelings are not everything

Only echoes of what life brings

Remembrances of days gone by

Kept in our hearts, not in our minds

So embrace the feelings from your heart

But don’t let them tear you apart

Cherish the humanity that they give

And remember that life is how you live

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)


Through Our Imperfections

Beauty from imperfection

I am imperfect. But, of course, you knew that. We all are.

Sometimes, I find this thought very depressing. My mind would dig up my imperfections and flaunt them before me. If only I were a better person. If only I were kinder. If only I were more diligent, more hard-working, more focused. If only I could stop being less than I know I should be. If only….

It’s a difficult, lonely place to be in.

What really makes those thoughts hurt is the fact that they are often very true. I should be kinder. I should be more focused. I should be better. But no matter how hard I try, I’m never as good as I think I should be.

Last week, I was thinking about how God works in our lives, and I found myself immensely grateful that He could still work through me, as messed up and broken as I am. Despite my imperfections, He blesses me by working through me to touch the lives of those around me.

In these past few days, however, I’ve realized that this isn’t the whole picture. Yes, God works in us despite our imperfections. Even though we’ve fallen, He can still do great things through us. But the beauty of it is that God doesn’t just work through us despite our imperfections. He works through our imperfections.

The truth is, I will never be as kind as I should be. That won’t stop me from trying to be kinder every day, but, in this life, I will simply never be all that I should be. But I’ve realized that that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Our imperfections show us that God is greater than we could ever imagine. Every day that we grow better, we realize that He is bigger and better than we ever knew, and yes–we are still imperfect, but that’s okay.

Our imperfections show us that even though we’re messed up, it isn’t the end. God works through our mistakes, and He uses those mistakes to make us and the world around us better.

Our imperfections show the people in our lives that we have something greater than anything in this world. Everyone is imperfect, so everyone can relate to that. But through our imperfections, we are testifying to the world that even though we’re messed up, there is One who takes our imperfect selves and makes us whole.

I was sharing with a friend today about one of the many times that I was imperfect. It’s a memory that still causes me pain. I wish I could go back and do what I had been to afraid to do. I wish I could turn back the clock and move past my imperfections. But whether I couldn’t or I wouldn’t, it simply didn’t happen.

What my friend helped me realize is that maybe God was using my imperfections to do something great in my life. I missed an opportunity. I messed up. But you know what? That mistake turned my life around and turned me into the person I am today. And for that I am thankful. Thankful that God made me who I am, and thankful that He would use my imperfections to change my life for the better.

We look forward with great anticipation to the day that we will be made perfect. But until then, the Lord will continue to bring beauty from our imperfections.


Hong Kong Trip Photos

Hello everyone!

During my recent absence, my mom and I spent a month in Hong Kong!  So before we get into the regular articles, I wanted to share some photos of the trip with y’all. Enjoy!

HK park

Hong Kong Park

HK Times Square

HK Times Square

street market

A street market.

HK park

View of the city from HK park.

Stanley Beach

Stanley Beach

HK at night

View at night from the tram.

HK harbor

HK harbor, taken from the Star Ferry.

HK skyline

HK skyline

God bless!


Growing in Selflessness

At my church, we have a weekly puppet show put on by the youth for the younger kids. The skits are cute and funny, with a Biblical message. Part of one week’s skit has been bouncing around in my head lately. In it, a boy and girl are having a discussion about spiritual gifts that goes something (sort of–this is from memory!) like this:

“I just don’t know if I have a spiritual gift,” sighs Willie, the boy puppet.

“Don’t be silly,” the girl puppet, Betsy, replies. “Everyone has a spiritual gift. As a matter of fact, I have three,” she adds rather proudly.

“I don’t suppose one of those gifts is humility,” Willie says sarcastically, to which he receives the following surprised response:

“Why, yes! How did you know?”

Right on cue, everyone in the room laughs. Holding my puppet in the air, I cringe inwardly. I may just be playing the role of Betsy for a few minutes, but in that moment I think we had quite a bit in common.

Growing up, I always considered myself to be rather selfless. In fact, I was rather proud of it (I know, I know). The truth, however, was that I didn’t think of others quite as much as I thought I did. A couple years would go by and I would look back on my life, thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe how self-centered I used to be! I’m so glad I’m not like that now.”


Eventually–that is, in this past year–it occurred to me that this was an ongoing cycle. I would never be as selfless as I thought I was, and there would always come a day when I realized just how self-centered I had really been at any given time.

I also realized that this was okay.

Here’s the thing–am I a rather self-centered person? Yes! (Aren’t we all?) But the beauty of it is that I’m not as self-centered as I was last year or six years ago, and I (hopefully!) will be more selfless next year and in the time to follow.

GrassWe as humans are not unchanging. And we as Christians are continually changing to be more like our Savior. We grow. We blossom in love, purity, joy, understanding, and selflessness.

We cannot fall into the trap of becoming proud of the person that Christ has made us, a person who is in fact still changing, still growing! Nor should we become consumed with guilt over what we may have done in the past. I’m definitely prone to wallowing in my mistakes, but we should rejoice knowing that Christ has made us new, and that He is transforming us into His image.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!   (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

Rejoice! We are new creations, becoming more like Christ with every step we take in our walk with Him. And I know that one day I can look back and see, yes, a rather self-centered young woman–but also one who is striving to become more like Him with every breath.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NLT)


Wrap your arms around the pain…

This was exactly what I needed to hear today. I’m sharing it with the hope that it will continue to bless others as well!

It's a God thing...

What’s your brand of pain?

I’m encouraged tonight by these words by Rick McKinley on the Storyline site…

“When we stand in our pain, wrap our arms around it, accept life on life’s terms, we learn we are not alone. There is another set of arms around us, the pain, the situation, this moment. Then the fear dissipates and gives way to hope, and love and faith. That there is The One who has gone through pain to bring life, and He holds us in our pain to create a new place within us, for his life to grow.”


Whatever our struggle, let’s remember that Jesus pushed through incredible pain and came out the other side – rose from death to life – for us.

He knows – deeply – both pain and triumph. And we shall know it too. You might not see the ‘answer’ – or the…

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Beautiful Creations

Brace yourself; I think of strange analogies sometimes!

I recently got my hair cut. I didn’t want to at first (I loved having long hair), but having a new haircut is always thrilling–for me at least–and I got caught up in the excitement.

Today, for fun, I Googled new hairstyles I could try. My French braid turned out rather horribly, so I improvised and ended up with this:

Pardon the odd angle, taking a photo of the back of my head with a tablet was not easy!

Pardon the odd angle, taking a photo of the back of my head with a tablet was not easy!

You may think me silly, especially those of you more experienced with this sort of thing, but I was so excited! There’s something about creating anything with your own two hands and having it turn out right! I mean, it’s not perfect, but I love it!

Here’s where the analogy comes in. As I was thinking about all of this, something occurred to me. I’m a creation too.

I think we can all recognize that feeling of pride, of accomplishment when we create something. It’s the work of our hands; it’s a joy! But have we ever stopped to attribute those feelings to God? To think that He also feels that way when He looks at us?

We are His creation. We live in a beautiful world, though fallen, in which every detail was carefully crafted by Him. He lovingly designed every part of us, from our cells to our soul.

Have we sinned? Yes. Do we fall short of His glory? Yes. But thank the Lord, He loved us, His creation, enough to die for us. To save us from our sins, to pay the price for our transgressions! And because of that, we, His beloved creation, have the opportunity to come into His presence, to fall into the loving embrace of our maker.

And yes, all of this came from a braid. He works in mysterious ways! But I would like to leave you with this: Whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, God loves you. He knew you before you were born. If He didn’t care about you, He could have let you continue on the path we had all chosen, the path we chose in Eden. But He didn’t. God gave His Son that you, His beloved and beautiful creation, may have life everlasting.

Never forget that.

He Remains


My health may fail.

I would say that most people worry about their health. How can we not? To lose one’s health is an inevitable and painful truth of life. We fear it; and many of us struggle with the realities of it every day.

Psalms is a very poetic book, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t speak the truth of what happens in our lives. In fact, it does so very often, and I see the beginning of this verse as a striking example.

“Health,” the psalmist says. “It doesn’t last.”

My spirit may grow weak.

Then he moves beyond the physical. Those five words strike a chord with me. This could mean a lot of things, but ultimately, who hasn’t felt weak in spirit? Perhaps this reminds you of those days when the thought of tomorrow is overwhelming. Maybe it brings to mind struggle against temptation, and the feeling that you aren’t strong enough to fight it. We know what it means to be weak in spirit, and the psalmist knows it too.

Our health may fail. Our spirits may grow weak. When we can no longer rely on these things, what can we turn to?

But God remains the strength of my heart.

We can’t rely on ourselves; the psalmist has laid that out for us. But when everything else fails us, God is still there. He is our strength! To trust in our own strength is folly, but to trust in God’s is hope and life! There are painful realities in this life, but this statement is just as real as any of them. No matter what comes our way, if we are a child of God, we face nothing alone.

Our God is strong. Stronger than our fears. Stronger than our pain. Whatever troubles you face, God is bigger than any of them. And through it all, He remains.

He is mine forever.

Maybe you’re wondering what the point of this was. After all, you already got to read the entire verse at the beginning! I think that too often, though, we rush through the Bible. We forget to slow down and take time to absorb what it has to say.

This particular verse, once I took the time to slow down, truly spoke to my heart. We face things, the verse says. Hard things. But God is with us every step of the way. He never leaves us; He remains our strength, our hope, our Father.

And He is ours and we are His, forever.