Category Archives: christianity

A Sitcom and Hope Revealed

Hope, it is a strange thing. It fires people up even when there seems not much to cling on to. When one loses it, though, it is almost impossible to muster up strength to hold on, to fight, to stay. One of the ladies where I work is on the brink of despair.

I have known her since I started work. It took her a while but she finally knows me by name. We don’t really have much to chat about because most of the time I see her is when I do morning and afternoon tea rounds. Our conversations are limited to, “Hi, how are you? Would you like a cup of tea today?” Recently, it has been, “Hi, a cup of milk?” because that has been all she wanted to drink for the past few months.

Two weeks ago, her husband passed away. He was admitted into the hospital shortly after I started work, and returned for only a few days before he took his last breath. I heard the news via the company’s text message. When I went back to work the following week, there was a flurry of visitors – her children, grandchildren and friends – to check up on her, to keep her company. Her room was bright with colours from balloons and flowers, but her face was pale. Despite the effort, it was obvious that hope started to seep out of her and took the blood that usually shed her cheeks pink away with it. She begged, as one of the staff members went in to assist her this morning, “Let me go. It is time. Let me die.”

I tried to put myself in her shoes. If I had to battle cancer alone in an aged care facility, nearing the end of my life without Joel, I would probably be begging the same thing. I really don’t know what is going through her mind at the moment, but I am praying hard for peace and a glimpse of hope to shine in her again. That when she sees the faces of her loved ones, she would realise that there is so much to live for – that she has a reason to stay.

Maybe it is selfish for me to wish that for her. Maybe all she wants now is to be reunited with the love of her life. And to try to keep her is just delaying the inevitable.

Today’s event made me look at Ecclesiastes 3, where King Solomon wrote,

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (3: 1,2,4)

Though it was difficult seeing someone willing herself to leave this earth, I was still reminded of joy through a 92-year-old war veteran, who beamed at the picture of his great-grandson and who continued to tease my ability to balance all the cups and plates in one hand. I was blessed to hear an old lady, who I had passed off as being paralysed and mute, address me in a very clear and precise manner (I was almost knocked off my feet when she spoke to me! I was seriously yelling joyously inside, “she talks and she eats all by herself!”).

Yes, I often complain about my work, and blame God about being stuck in a job that I don’t want to do. But from time to time, when my heart is clear, I can see His hands in my life; and His face in the residents I serve – from the “three musketeers” ladies, who  laughed at my sneeze, to the grumpy old man who always lost his glasses (and guess what, they were in his shoe!).

Going to work is like watching a sitcom, really, except I am in it. There is stress, oh yes, but there is also humour. There is all these emotions, but at the end of the day, when I come home, I am thanking God for the rich conversation I get to have with Him throughout the day; and for the part I get to play in these people’s lives even though it may seem insignificant at times.

And I suppose that is hope for me – not that I will get another job soon, but that whilst I serve people food here, God would continue to build me up spiritually so that those who surround me may see Him at work in my life. And isn’t that something we all should strive for? To make God known wherever we are in everything we do.


Basil & the Living Water

It is December in Canberra. I should be outside in the sun, with my singlet, shorts and thongs. Instead, I am sitting with a wool blanket on my lap, a cup of tea on the table, and a heater blowing at my feet. It has been wet and cold for the past week. But we did have a nice break in between last weekend, when the sun came out gently. It was a perfect day to start gardening – my first ever herb garden.

A friend from church, Janette, offered to help since I had zero knowledge about gardening. All I knew was that if I stick a root of a store-bought spring onion in a glass of water, it regrows. But otherwise, my lack of knowledge in gardening had proved true when I watered my basil that I bought from Woolworths every day until it wilted and almost died.

When Janette came over, I showed her my drooping basil. I wondered if I could transplant it into the soil still, considering that it had mould growing near the stalks. She had a quick look and pointed out straight away, “Oh that is a sign of over-watering.” With her fingers, she gently pulled apart the soil and said, “See, the roots are made to search for water. They have to stretch and grow in order to find and absorb moisture. What you did was feeding it too much water, so it stopped spreading. In a sense, it drowned.”

As we worked on our knees planting my store-bought basil into the soil, I mulled over Janette’s words. I did not know that watering plants too much would hinder their roots to stretch; hence, their growth too. And God reminded me of something. In our attempt to succeed or in the hours of our loneliness, we searched for something to quench our thirst, even for only temporarily – acceptance in the workplace, praise for the job well-done or respect from our peers. We also filled our time with shopping, television, video games or pornography to ease our longings. But they only dulled our senses, and we became complacent. Our roots had become shallow, our growth slowed down. In a sense, we were drowning in the sea of temporaries.

Yet there is another type of Water, the one the Bible talks about. It is the Living Water, the kind that flows like a river and gushes like a fountain. It is the water that fills you permanently. John 4:13-14 says,

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'”

In this story, Jesus encountered with a Samaritan woman. It was about noon, and Jesus was tired from travelling. As the disciples went into town to buy food, he sat down by the well, where the Samaritan woman was drawing the water. Customarily, this is a bit unusual because in those days women would usually do this chore late afternoon or in the evening, sometimes early in the morning, so they could use the water in their cooking, washing or feeding animals. It would also be the time where they would catch up with their neighbours, maybe with their children playing nearby. Yet this Samaritan woman was alone, drawing water at noon, under the scorching sun. We can argue that she might already have come out in the morning but already ran out of water. But we could also speculate that she felt obligated to seclude herself out of shame, of who she was and how she lived, that led her out to do this heavy task under the noon sun. For whatever the reasons, she met Jesus.

Another unusual thing about this encounter is the fact that Jesus was a Jewish man conversing with a Samaritan woman. In their culture, Jews and Samaritans were enemies. Their hatred for each other was dated back to the Old Testament time. For a Jew to engage with a Samaritan would have been abhorrent. Now Australia and New Zealand have a big rivalry between them as well. We argue over the origin of Vegemite and Pavlova. We fight to be the first in either Rugby or Cricket. We tease each other over our accents. But we are not enemies, at least not in the Jewish-Samaritan sense.

When Jesus initiated the conversation, he crossed the barriers of racial and gender classes to meet with her – this woman who had been in five failed marriages and now in a de facto relationship. She was not a woman acquainted with status, but more familiar with sorrow and shame. She trudged to this well every day carrying loads of burden that were not just the weight of her pitchers but the sense of failure and guilt over her life. Then Jesus turned up and said, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This Samaritan woman had been watering her parched soul with temporary companionship and security. Her life, her identity have led her to the margin of the society. People gossiped behind her backs and tolerated her presence. But that did not stop Jesus to cross all boundaries to offer her the Water of Life. Through Him, she would no longer thirst because He had found her. All doubts, fear, shame and disappointment were gone. Her past had been forgiven. She found a new identity in Christ.

So did we.

But her story did not end at the well. She ran out to tell the people in town about Jesus. And everyone came to believe that He was the Messiah they were looking for. Now that we know Jesus is the Water of Life, what do we do? How should it look like in our own lives?

Well, for a start, it should look like my transplanted basil, that hopefully will grow because I have decided to not over water it anymore (it could still die…but I keep my fingers crossed). Janette has taught me to gauge if the soil needs water by sticking my finger into it. If it is still moist, even though it looks dry, it does not need any more water. Hopefully, the roots get the message that there is plenty of moisture under the soil there… and they will stretch, absorb, and grow.

For us, instead of feeding our souls with temporary fulfilment, we should pursue God in every way we know how, whether through studying the bible, praying, going to church, serving in a soup kitchen, teaching children in remote areas, going on mission trips or telling people about Christ. Practising spiritual discipline is a way we can access that Water of Life that Jesus has offered to us. Christianity is a combination of faith and work. We cannot have one without the other. For us to grow and mature, complacency must have no place in us.

Before Janette left, she parted with some words of advice. “The hardest part for any gardeners is waiting for their crops to grow. Be patient.” We can get impatient and discouraged when our patch of dirt still looks like…the same old boring patch of dirt. But by doing the right thing – feeding the plants with right food and giving it sufficient water, they will hopefully bud and sprout. God’s creation, becoming the beings they were created to be. Just wait, and see.


Separated For a Purpose

God is wooing me to Him. There is no doubt. Each day, He fills me with His love and keeps pouring more and more. While I try to take in as much as I can, I am aware of my human limitation. Have you ever felt this longing for more of God so much that it makes your heart ache…because you know that you can never have enough of Him but if you have too much of Him all at once, you may just suffocate? That is exactly what I experience. 

God has been working in my heart through school, nature, people and His word. Sometimes that urgent feeling to worship comes crashing in the middle of a class, during a walk along the beach or while listening to people’s stories. It usually flashes in and rushes out…always leaves me desiring more – this beauty in brokenness.

God breaks my heart through people’s brokenness. I see under their smiles the yearning that only God can satisfy. I hear the cries beneath their laughter for help…for rescue. I feel their struggles and pain to survive and to live well behind that confident look. But I do not know what to do besides seeing, hearing and feeling.

What can one do when she has already allowed God to break her heart for what breaks His? What can one do when the King shows her something she is afraid to see? What can one do when obeying Him means separation from her own dream, passion, comfortable life and even her own self?


Was not this what the Lord did when He created the world? Did not He separate the light from darkness and, therefore, create time for us? Did not He separate water so there would be land and oceans for us to work and enjoy? And did not He separate man and woman from other animals, and call them His own, so they could tend and rule with Him? In the beginning, everything came into being for a purpose – God’s purpose.

One thing I learned during class the other day was – there is order to God’s creation. Before Genesis 1, there was nothing in the world except darkness. Nothing was functioning or serving a purpose. The void was just one useless space. For people in the ancient near east, where the word of God was originated and spread around, anything without use, function, role or purpose would not come into existence in the first place. So when the Lord began to separate this and that and started to call the names of the sun, the moon, the stars, the ocean and the animals, He had something specific in mind for each creation. And He definitely had a grand purpose for human as well. 

When God made human, He imparted something unique and extraordinary that other living things did not share – feelings, or I would put it in this post – yearnings. Being created in His image, we partake in His heart for the broken world – this longing for healing and reconciliation. When you see a child naked, will you ignore him or clothe him with your own shirt? When a mom with frail baby slung over her shoulders beg you for food or money, will you walk away or will you quickly go into a nearest shop to buy some bread for them? When a homeless man wanders into your lawn, will you shoo him away or invite him in for a cool shade and a cup of cold water?

Brokenness we see nowadays is not what He intended: domestic violence, corrupted governments, resentful nations and bitter church congregations. We all know that when the Lord created this world, everything was good and in order. His purpose for humanity is so that EVERYONE can enjoy this relationship with Him and worship Him. But until we realize and truly understand how fearfully and wonderfully we were made, whom we belong to and why we are even here, we will not be able to fulfill God’s purpose in the world. 

Will we not help one another to bring the beauty within each of us out? Will we not allow our hearts to be broken for what breaks Him? Will we not use our god-given talents to serve our families, neighbors or even strangers? And will we not pour our hearts, thoughts and spirits in seeking and searching for Him in order to have more of His love every day?

We are children of the King. Let us do all this, and many more.

Conversation with Cherry and the Reflection of Burma

cherry is a petite Asian 59-year-old lady. her brown eyes are bright but they shimmer the sorrow that is buried deep in her heart. having lived unde the long years of the military oppression has deepened creases and wrinkles on her kind face. cherry’s family runs a small Shan-Indian restaurant, where scrumptious fresh tea leaf salad, or “la pat tho”, is served with a glass of hot tea; and where you can dip the home-made “dosa”, the rice flour cake, into the bean soup and refreshing tamarind leaf sauce. one fine afternoon, i had a chance to sit down across from her and listened to her story.

“we have run the business for about ten years now. in the past our house was much smaller, but it was homely with flower beds and plants in front of the house. in my childhood, everything was beautiful.”

cherry’s little shop is located on a quiet street, just 50 meters away from the main street light. the road is paved with cement, and like the usual Burma, it is dusty and can barely find a tree shade. the result of this is from the government’s “nationalizing” policy.

“i am a fruit of a mission school. that is why i can speak good English. but when the British left, and the military had ruled, everything…EVERYTHING…had to be turned in to the government,” said cherry.

“i remember how we had to line up to get our rice portion, and text books to go to school, when i was in the fourth standard (grade four). it was a desperate time.”

it is no wonder that most streets of Burma are consisted of big compounds: hospitals, universities, government offices,etc, most of them are under the government’s name. simple enjoyment like gardening at cherry’s house had been uprooted, and instead, replaced with hard cement. the nation needed order. and what would be a better way to bring order than to rid the citizens with joy and instill fear in order to polarize power?

under the close scrutiny and tight grip of the government, people in Burma struggle to thrive. the majority of its citizens work for meager wages despite the wealth of buddhist pagodas and temples on every street corner. as a biographer of adoniram judson, rosalie hall hunt, described  in her book “bless God and take courage”,

“the size of that giant monument of gold must have stunned the judsons, for it reaches nearly as high as the great pyramids of Egypt. legend takes its founding back 2,500 years. this incredible mass contains over sixty tons of gold, more than is housed in the bank of england. the spire is covered with more than 13,000 gold plates, the vane at the top studded with 1,400 precious rubies and sapphires and crowned by 5,000 diamonds weighing 2,000 carats. one enormous 76-carat diamond is positioned to catch the first light of the morning sun. there is nothing of poverty about Shwe Dagon, buddhism’s most sacred shrine. yet it looms over a city and country so impoverished by a military regime that, in spite of rich natural resources of teak and precious gem, Burma ranks among the world’s ten poorest nations.”

recently, there seems to be a ray of hope in Burma. the news of ceasefire with multiple tribal groups have been all over the front pages of newspapers and broadcasted it on television. and because of the current south east asian games (SEA Games) and the upcoming ASEAN, the unification of countries in south east asia, the country has begun to open its door to foreigners. even though my friends have to report to “the office” of my visit, i have been allowed to stay at their houses, which would be impossible had it been five or ten years ago. but ask any Burmese, and you would be surprised to hear the similar response of uncertainty.

cherry tilted her head a little as she pondered her answer,

“things definitely look better these days. but we can never know what’s in the mind of our leaders. it is like…we are at a theater watching a movie with pictures flash by on the screen. but we cannot change anything. just watch.”

her smile is then glazed with sorrow again – the kind that does not come from the years of living under the oppression only but also of the uncertain destiny of her future, and her soul. as i wrote in the previous post, the town of pyay oo lwin is diverse with cultural background, races and religions. within two-mile walk, i ran into a buddhist temple, a chinese temple, a hindu temple, an islam mosque and an anglican church.

cherry and her family are muslims. her remark to me when i told her that i will go to the bible school next year is, “i hope you are lucky with your choice. because if you are unlucky, your life will be bad”, to which i reply, “auntie, i am a Christian. and i believe that whatever circumstances i fall in, God will always be with me. and that in itself is already a blessing.”

i was not trying to be indignant or overly zealous. but i had prayed that God would allow me a chance to speak of His name, even just a mention of His beautiful name to His beautiful people here. and how He has been faithful. my presence or my speech may not be as significant as to bring any souls to Christ. but my prayer is that one day the government will not only realize that their people are suffering but that they will also move forward in transforming Burma into a nation rid of political pollution forever. i pray that the seeds that have already been planted in Burma through sacrificial missionaries and faithful christians will continue to be watered and nurtured so that the people of Burma will get a chance to be redeemed, to freely live and to make their own choices and to be a part in creating this country the true “golden land” – full of lush nature, exotic culture, creative minds and Christ-devoted souls…and that, eventually, the Burman souls will be set free from the oppression of godlessness; and we will see more church steeples mingle with the spires of pagodas in this land.

Most People Don’t…

there was a piece of paper that slipped through my Bible pages. i was going to throw it away because i thought it was junk. but i had to make sure that it was not something important. so i skimmed through the passage.


“Most People Don’t…”

those three words ping-ping in my mind over and over like pebbles against a glass window.

i pause, “it’s true. most people don’t spend so much time sitting in front of a laptop and writing.”

and then it comes, “what’s the matter with you? why can’t you relax and be more like most people?”

you’ve had these words thrown like stones at you too, haven’t you?

most people don’t…wear themselves out in the kitchen because they believe a meal feeds hearts and fills bellies.

most people don’t…throw off their entire schedule because they take time to listen to the stranger in the grocery store having a hard day.

most people don’t…pore over spreadsheets until their eyes are red because they see numbers as a sort of art and a way of bringing order to a chaotic world.

most people don’t do what you do, love what you love, feel the kind of passion you feel about that thing.

i started thinking about this recently and i realized we’re in good company.

here, i started wiping tears that trailed down my cheeks, that would trickle down all the more when i continued reading…

most people don’t…build an ark.

most people don’t…lead people through the desert to the Promised Land.

most people don’t…die on a cross to save the world.

but aren’t we glad on person did?

if most people don’t do it, then it’s probably not the plan of man. there’s probably the heartbeat of God somewhere within it.

we need you, just you, to fulfill that purpose, complete that project, bring that gift to the world in a way no one else can.

most people don’t…but you do.

and that’s amazing.

i was transfixed to my seat, and indulging in the words that spoke not only encouragement but reality of Christian life to me.

this morning, while on my knees, i felt inexpressible sorrow rushing through my heart. it was because of His undying love for such ungrateful generations and of our continual sinful ways, ignorance, indifference, inconsistency and unfaithfulness. despite all of these ungodly qualities, God’s love continues to manifest itself in our daily life. my daily life.

while i was praying, i remembered Jesus standing over the hill, His eyes looked longingly for His people. and He, the King of the earth, the magnificent Savior, lamented for Jerusalem,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

His heart was broken for the Jewish. for you and for me. it was because of His love, devotion and commitment to us that led to  do something most people never even thought of doing. something most deemed foolish and insensible.

and that is the thing – most of the time, what He inquires of us in day-to-day life tend to look just like that, foolish and insensible. many times, questions rise among our families and friends, or even within ourselves, if we are in the right mind of doing such and such things. but remember – we are doing what most people don’t do.

maybe it is holding on to your purity for your marriage bed, or refusing to do drugs even though it means losing your popularity among friends, or quitting jobs and leaving your comfort zone to live for the Lord’s purpose even though it means obvious hardships on the way.

sometimes we get freaked out, and are ready to turn our backs on God. it is okay because we, human, are short-sighted. we may see only thistles and thorns, hardships and pains ahead of us. but remember this – God needs His people to do what most people don’t do. He needs us to be different when the world is mainstreaming everything and giving values to things that do not last.

so be unique. be different. be driven by His love. and be proud that God has chosen you to be distinctive from the world. then go and show your families and friends the way by doing what most people don’t do.

“When God is Your Reason to Live, You’ll Never Have to Quit!”

so i found this quote “when God is your reason to live, you’ll never have to quit!” on a facebook page called “women after God”.  and i just thought how suitable it is to my life’s circumstances now. but bear with me. my words and thoughts are not collaborating with my mind at the moment. they are floating around in my head like dust particles dancing in the ray of sunlight. i cannot grasp a thought long enough to fully understand and elaborate it as i wish. but i have been wanting to say this out loud – God is good and faithful.

i was a bit hesitant to write it for everyone to see because it is not catchy nor will it grab anyone’s attention…sadly. the words “good” and “faithful” have been used often in Christian lingo that they have become sort of mundane and boring. but this is one thought that has taken up most of my heart and mind over the past week. and i feel like it is worth saying it, mentioning about it and telling others about it.

i would probably be on the other side too if i had not experienced how good and faithful He is in my life right now. if God did not intervene, and almost thrust His blessings into my hands, then i would probably shrug my shoulders and walk off the scene because it was all too familiar.

since last month i had been praying for some divine intervention or defining moments so i could turn my life around. i was sick and tired of not knowing what was going to happen. i thought i would have fun not having to work and getting to sleep in. but a life without reasons is a lonely way to live. i can say that again. life with no one to be accountable to or nothing to be responsible for is meaningless. 

when the Lord created us, He filled within us the eternal plan of salvation. with that plan as the finished line, each of us was birthed, trained and prepared to sprint and run towards that goal in different ways, according to our talents, desires and visions. the scripture from proverbs 29:18, which says, “without the vision, people perish”, kept coming back to me when i was groping aimlessly for a purpose to live.

when i was at Compassion, i knew that there would be reasons for me to be there every day. a story to write. a project to work on. a trip to plan. a place to travel to. i felt needed, empowered and valued. i knew that i could meet my every needs and even wants because i had the strong financial back-up to fall on – social insurance, reimbursable medical support and monthly salary. i did not have to deal with the feeling of being a disappointment or a burden to my family much because i could be counted on.

but now that nothing was regular or predictable, i lost a sense of purpose. it took me a month to figure out what i need – to find my reason to live in God. it was Him who suggested the idea of leaving work in the first place. why would i go look somewhere else for the answer when the answer was right here – with me, in me? when i put myself back into the center of God’s presence, my unstable, uncertain and unbalanced life was reversed.

every day i wake up with a sense of purpose – that is, to spend time reading the Bible and study His word with as much time as i have. i am following the year plan, which allows me to read four chapters from four book each day. the more i seek Him, the lesser i worry. even though i do not have all the questions in my head figured out, and i will probably make a lot of mistakes along the way, i know that i now get one thing right – i am doing what matthew 6:33 says, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…”

one thing i miss from work at Compassion, though, is writing. not just personal diary’s writing…but the kind of writing that brings myself into other people’s worlds. i miss the insights i earned from talking to the locals and the new relationships i gained by spending time in their villages. and as if i am not surprised at myself enough, i am going to say this – that i even miss the deadlines! that is hard to come by. but i guess with too much time on my hands, this can happen. haha.

yet God is good and faithful. He has given me jobs that have provided for me to cover all my necessities this month. even though it was not a big wad of money, this was the answer to my prayer. the divine intervention. the defining moment. i remembered why i decided to step out of the comfort zone – to walk into the unknown adventure with the God i love, who calls me to Him every day. it is not the money that i live for. it is the experiences and deeply rooted love relationship with Jesus that i am after.

so even though i could whip up an impressive long-list-of-experiences resume and send it to multiple targeted organizations; or apply for graduate schools in different countries and get accepted; i would not be satisfied if it was not where He wanted me to be. or in short – there is no better place I would rather be than where God wants me to be right now. 

please pray for me as i am seeking His presence daily…that i may cast anxiety into prayer. pray for trust in His plan, faith to obey, peace that transcends my current circumstances and, most importantly, hope for each day. pray that i will let Him to be the reason i live and that i will continue to discover more of Himself and myself each day. and, lastly, pray that at least i will get to share the blessings in my life with someone other than myself.

01 women after God

The Reason I Feel Foolish

How can I say that things are going so crazy when I barely do anything? I should not be complaining when I get an unlimited vacation I have been pining for, should I? But I am entering into the third month of unemployment. After I left Compassion, I told myself I would not be looking for jobs because I wanted to give myself time to rest. Yet my soul has been anything but rest. In fact, I have been asking myself if I made the wrong decision leaving Compassion.

However, when I come back to where this all started…to the place God first prepared my heart and impressed upon me through Abraham’s story repeatedly, I must admit that this is no mistake. And I must get past the doubt, and get on with life. The thing is – I am not sure how to live.

With a major chunk of my financial income completely cut off, and a huge portion of time returned to me, I need to be creative and careful in spending money and stewarding my time  as much as possible.

When I tell people the real reason why I left Compassion, the wonderfully Christ-centered and strongly financially supported organization, that I got too comfortable, I can almost feel their stares through the back of my spinal bone. I knew that they did not judge but I could almost hear the million questions in their heads. Suddenly, I felt foolish.

The only comfort I find is in God’s confirmation in the beginning of this year, and many stories in the Bible – how the Lord used the weak and the foolish to shame the wise and the powerful.

Like Abram, leaving his country and not knowing the next destination, except God’s promise to be with him and to let him be the father of nations. It was the promise Abram never got to see come true. But he went anyway. Or Noah who obeyed God’s command to build a massive ark when the world’s population barely knew what “rain” meant, let alone flooding. He diligently followed God’s instruction, listened to no one and even mercifully invited others on board. Noah was looked down upon. But he and his family were safe from the severest destruction in the mankind’s history back then.

Moses, born and raised by Egyptians, had to choose his loyalty between his Egyptian family and God’s family. He might have pondered on the word “betrayal” for a long time. But he chose God above all else, and did many seemingly thoughtless things. Yet the Lord was there to guarantee his and his nation’s safety throughout the plight. And Joseph, whose betrothed became pregnant. He could have shunned and punished Mary for breaking the culture’s law but Joseph chose to live in the scandal because the Lord called him to stand up and fight, not only for Mary, but for His Son too.

God often calls His people to do senseless things, especially to human’s eyes. But isn’t that just God? I mean if He is who we say He is, then there is nothing extraordinary about Him or His plans. Isaiah 66 says,

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.’”

We cannot live a safe and simple life because our God is neither safe nor simple. When He called us from the depth of the earth and brought us into our mothers’ wombs, He already had our whole lives intricately planned out with exactness. There would be no surprises even though He knew that we might just choose a totally different course instead of His plan. But the best part is this – because He knows, He has all things covered. No surprises. Just permission. And no matter what we perceive as wrong, unfortunate or destructive, God sees it as liberty well – exercised.

The qualities I see in Abram, Noah, Moses and Joseph were these – that despite how wild, how foolish and how insane God’s call was to them, they ended up with full obedience, complete trust, unwavering faith, wholehearted submission and humble diligence. Once they realized that God meant it for real, they put themselves to work right away. Abram prepared for the journey, and set his eyes towards the land uncharted before him. Noah gathered wood, drew out the plan and built the ark. Moses pleaded with Pharaoh, called out to his people and led them through the desert and the sea. And Joseph took Mary in, endured the social’s scorn and loved Mary as a husband should to his wife.

With my circumstances, the first thing that I need to do is to stop doubting because God has proved His faithfulness true times and times again. While I was in Mah – O – Jo, I saw a vision in my dream – God, being enthroned in a room, and I at his feet like Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to His words. Jesus and the Holy Spirit were around me. And I remembered hearing three words, “Worship. Wait. And work.” It might have been something I had been pondering about during my devotions. But it was also the confirmation as to what I should do.

Instead of running aimlessly after people or job application, I will come home to be with my mom and sisters. I will trust in His provision when I do not have a full-time job because the Lord will not allow His children to go hungry. I will do my best in what is entrusted to me – family, house, dreams and desires. I will live a life as an act of worship to Him, in my thoughts, in my feelings, in my words and in my actions. I will be fearless. And I will wait patiently on Him, not just for Him to answer my prayer…but just wait on Him…to be with Him.

Broke Through, Eventually…

finally, it is here. this ability to let go. the fight has been long and hard, but not meaning less. the strings of wordy prayers, the endless hours of anxiety, the furious scribbles in my journal pages and the tears-stained pillows were not all for nothing. tonight, i stood on my little balcony as a freed woman. i am experiencing again the joy of being in God’s hand. tonight, i say with a weightless heart, “Lord, i do not know what my next couple of months will be. and my relationship is still a mess. but i give them into Your hand. i trust in Your plan”.

i am thankful for His word through the pastor at church’s bible study this week. he encouraged us to pick a seat – between the seat of jealousy and grumbling or the seat where God’s power can be manifested through our lives. and all we had to do was to stop being envious or complaining, get up and move towards the place we want to be.

i had wanted to be done with this sorrowful and uncertain life. so i decided to say, “i need to change. i am tired of being tired, bored, despair, bitter and discouraged. i need to make the shift i want to see, by starting with embracing God’s calling”, which is to live a life that pleases Him…a life that reaches its fullest in all areas for His glory. and i knew that sulking and moping around in my room was not a way to reach that destination.

i am reminded of the ecclesiastes wisdom once again – of how there is time for everything. my time of sorrow and uncertainty is over. and i am ready to move on. i chose to give back things i cannot control to Jesus, and look forward to this present moment, and count the moment as a present itself.

this is my breakthrough. and i want to testify God’s goodness in my life so it may bring encouragement and assurance to you – that all things work together for good for those who love Him. it may be hard to your ears right now (i refused to listen to such statement when i was in the pity party) but God’s truth never wavers. i also want to thank you for praying for me. keep praying. God knows how much i still need your prayers. i am still unemployed and single. but i am happy.

so i guess i will end with a quote from c.s. lewis…just to lift the bar of intellectual quality of this post. something that goes well with my life’s theme now.

“It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise.”

Trails of Tears: I Cry Because…

the music is reverberating around the house. and i sit here alone with a pint of rocky road ice-cream, drenched in my own tears.

i thought this crying has been because of “pms”. but that period has passed. and i still weep puddles of tears every day, or nights, for the past two weeks. when i shut the door of today behind – be it laundry-hanging, errands-running, friends hanging-out, movies-watching, cooking or translating, when i am left alone with nothing and no one but me, it is hard to suppress the feeling of sadness.

i cry because i am here in Chiang Mai, and my family is there in Bangkok.i cry because i have wonderful memories with this guy, whom i want to continue building more memories with. but the timing is not right. and we just have to press “pause” in this beautiful friendship. i cry because God tells me to wait, when i would rather race and reach the finished line. i cry because i feel so helpless, and all i can do is to accept God’s will. i cry because i am paying a high price of full obedience, and even though total surrender to Jesus is sweet and i would not trade anything in the world for this peace, this submission to Christ is. still. hard.

this year, God has called me to do unimaginable, out-of-comfort zone things. leaving my job. being rid of financial security. telling me to wait. pulling people i hold dear out. bearing me naked, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. all of these, so i may be completely, totally, wholeheartedly dependent on Him.

the only thing i am holding on to is the vision i received from Him while i spent time up in the mountain. God, enthroned, and me at His feet with Jesus and the Spirit wrapping their presence around me. the sense of safety. and the whispers of Him, “while you wait, worship Me. serve Me.”

so i am here, sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, with an empty pint of rocky road ice-cream (yeah, i finished all of it). my face is still streaked with trails of tears, and all i have in my chest is tired sobs.

but because He is God, and i am me, i can say, even with gritted teeth, that “Lord, You can have your way…in me.”

because Jesus Christ has already paid the price, i am willing to be broken and molded new…so i can strive to be perfect, just like Him, by His power and mercy.

because although there are a million ways we can choose to live, doing what God thinks is right is the only best way to live.

and even though i will cry a thousand tears for the next 143 days, because i am human and can’t get over my obnoxious pride, thinking that i deserve better, i am still willing…to be at His disposal.

And I Thought I Had Been An Honest Person

i am lost. at this moment, i am. i thought i was found. but now i cannot even make one confident decision about what to eat for breakfast.

who would spend her morning contemplating which church to go to? should it be a dilemma in the first place? i thought i was committed to a church. i honestly don’t know why i go to church anymore.

and a part of me screams, “a good Christian must never say this!” then my voice inside me whispers, “at least, not out loud.”

wait a second, i thought i just came back from a spiritual revival retreat. and i thought i had made peace with God. a week has not yet been over, and i am now back to the same spot again?

i am…actually, i have been wandering in the wilderness for a while. and i am just starting to see the light. after the retreat, we all came back with clearer focus on God’s purpose. many have come back with clarity and transformation. i, among the few, came back searching for more. God revealed the most shocking aspect of my life to me – a root i never thought i had. He let me peek into the crack, and invited me to open the door wide so i may go back and search for the cause of today’s mess.

i am just starting to dig in. and i already want to stop.

my insecurity is this – that i am not, and will never be enough. if i were to find a place in this world, i had to work hard, pretend hard and be on top of everything. i said “shocking” earlier because i had never seen myself this way. my own perceived characters are a soft, sensitive and emotional woman, who does not like competition, who avoids conflict…and likes to wait until the last moment for her creative side to bubble up before she completes a project.

i am all of the above. and more. deeper in my heart, i strive to be better than others…just so i can look better. i envy women who use more reasons than hearts in making decision. i feel intimidated by those who are on top of everything, who are capable of juggling tasks at work and at home well and can make confident decision that earns other people’s trust. i am jealous of them because i cannot be what they are. my insufficiency.

i am now seeing a very ugly side of myself that i had never thought i would possess. i always tried to let humbleness walk before me. but this atttiude is definitely not a fruit of meekness. but pride. oh – how i have walked with pride.

God has challenged me since then to accept the person i am, and the person that i am not; to appreciate the uniqueness of my own personalities and characters – with all the flaws and scars and to allow Him to heal and fulfill the broken and empty parts. what kind of a cup i would be if i refused to let the creater smash me into pieces, and let him mke me new?

yes, to be made new, i must endure the beating, the pounding, the scorching heat. during the retreat, i heard God say to me so clearly, “I want your heart to be set right with Me. So tear your heart, and not just your clothes.” let me tell you, the tearing part is very ugly.

the more He tears at the outer layers, which i have carefully placed around my heart, the more pain i feel…and the harder i try to shrink back from His hand. but He will not stop until He gets a hold of me. all of me. and that is another thing He said to me. “i want to take a hold of you, Mink. let Me.”

so i have let Him do to me whatever He wants. and my way of cooperation is to be as honest about myself, my thinking and my feeling as possible, no matter how ugly or unconventional or radical they may be. there is no need to hide anymore.

and God says, “Mink, whoever you are, whatever you do, you are enough for Me. My love for you does not waver with the size of your clothes or the number of praises you receive from your workplace or the type of jobs you hold. i love you because i made you. and you are enough for Me. My portion of love will always be just right for what you need at the moment. so as I have accepted you and loved you, do so to yourself.”