Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The gift of love in marriage...

I have the tendency to see the ugly before the pretty. The negative before the positive. In this post, I am going to remember the beautiful, for days when I think its all ugly...

I love the darling. Sure he is busy and swamped and there are challenges in marrying a man that is significantly older (eg: His impatience with my driving, being impatient about what seems easy...) but at the same time, I am thankful that we really like each other, and still trying to love each other better...

Somedays love means a romantic weekend... driving for too long to see the gardens as well as the house that Monet was in (Days like these include too many self portraits or the 100+ photos of the same scene...)  On more normal days, it means eating together, cooking and cleaning up, and catching up on each other other's day... some days eating Asian, some days, something European...

Love is also there despite our fights. And it is what brings us together when we reconcile. I am thankful also that it is love that will convince him to love me when I am homesick, hormonal, watching in melancholy as leaves start falling in Autumn...

Today, I am focusing on the gift of love that is my darling. While not perfect by any count, he does make an effort with me, and has not given up on us. He continues to tell me I can do it when I feel overwhelmed, and tries to make me smile when I am crying in pain. Thank you Jesus for darling.

Monday, September 02, 2013

surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life...

from the Van Gogh's hospital at St Remy
hello 1st September. Where did the time go? It almost feels like the year is coming to an end, and I have no idea where it went... At the same time, I am feeling completely exhausted, the type of exhaustion that makes me sleep and sleep and sleep. After the flurry of activities in Summer ( it actually makes sense now that I live here, not just a cool term to use), I crashed this week. Note to self... I am too old for this intense activity followed by no activity.

I spent the week pretty much crying, bawling, finding energy to do the most basic of activities. Reasons for tears include feeling trapped by fear of what the future holds, worrying about Jesus being born in the Roman empire (?!?), wondering about what I am doing with my life, basically being scared, and paralysed.. Not a good place to say the least. But yet this wave of tears had to come and go, it was a place to battle my tiredness... I tried hard to battle it with eating lots of home cooked food, exercising, listening to sermons etc... The darling tried his best to be patient and kind too I must say... (as far as his patience runs...)

Anyway, suffice to say it was a hard week. Also an extremely unproductive week. Not sure what I really did besides potter around. Tried the whole week to write my proposal for some money to continue studying and was constantly faced with doubts. The week learning Acts was difficult. Learning the bible from the lens of an academic (sorta) does strange things to me... It makes me doubt the infallibility of the Bible, the relevance of this to yellow people like me (who did not belong to the roman empire)... I love the fact that I am exposed to a more holistic understanding of the Christian faith, but at the same time, I am challenged... to believe and have faith that Jesus is for me, even when he is born in a place and time so far away from me... O the wonder of His love.

In my desperation this week, I remembered good old Manning (he wrote Raggamuffin gospel) and went to Amazon to find a book I could buy. (This is the reason why I have a kindle, to buy an English book where I need one,... instead of waiting forever from the UK or US).. I like Manning. I feel like he gets it. He understands that I don't deliberately be depressed. He is a man of God who i see struggle with the same issues with me.

Anyway, something that struck me... halfway through the book....

(on trying to trust)... Like faith and hope, trust cannot be self generated. Why reproach myself for my lack of trust? ... What does lie within my power is paying attention to the faithfulness of Jesus. That's what I am asked to do: Pay attention to Jesus throughout my journey, remembering his kindnesses (Ps. 103:2).

Praying to Remember. To remember God's goodness in my life thus far, and to continue to remember that it will follow me. 

Love to all. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

A little bit of summer fun...

Some memories from phone. Just to document before they get lost in the abyss of life.

Beach near Nice. Beaches at Nice were closed due to the storm the day before.. It was also nice to see some sand since beaches in Nice were all pebbly...  

Avignon. Apparently there was a time when there were 2 papal palaces.. This was where the other one was at. 

Lavender.. that frankly looked a little 'chao tar'... We went to the Asylym where Van Gogh was for 1 year, where he painted over 100 pictures. Interesting...(sidenote: On days when I don't feel that the darling loves me.. I should remember he went to a mental hospital with me to see where a painter stayed for one year...)

Beetle. Growing up in a complicated situation...Her on one of her more carefree moments. We both love our sweets!

More thoughts. But thought I should post some pictures before too long...Am glad to begin life again in all its glorious mess after summer. :) 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

for my little sister- things i hv learnt so far about being married.

Some day I read your blog and I wish we were once again just chilling and talking bout many different random things. I wish that I was present when you are bouncing off your thoughts, just to annoy you, challenge your thinking a little or to quietly encourage you.... But the fact remains, I am many thousand kilometers away from you and the only way I can access your thoughts is through what you write for the big world wide web... From the many things that you have written, I see a trend of wondering what it means to be married... my 2 cents worth, after being married for a little more than a year (though some days it feels like a lifetime)...

Marriage is not just bout falling in love, but about staying in love. It is a feeling, and on days when the feeling dissipates, a choice to act in a certain way. It is no accident that love remains when hope and faith disappears. Many books talk bout marriage being a covenant, about it teaching us holiness, and about us being an example of Christ and the church. I think that they are all very true, but yet at the same time, I do not think that they are reasons enough to marry or stay married. These thought needs to develop into something loving, or risk becoming bitter, legalistic etc. I can learn holiness, about Christ and the Church, about covenants in many different ways, I do not need to subject myself to marriage. or to stay happily (purposefully) married. Haha, as such, I think that only love can compel us to such an act that somedays feel ridiculously insane.

Some new revelations of love that I've had since being married (besides the long long impossible list in 1corinthians 13).. which continues to leave me in awe to the depth of God's love.

 - Love is redeeming.
Some days, I think about the wrong we do to each other and think that maybe it's time to call it a day. I fantasize about coming home, or going to a faraway land and having a butler who will not give me emotional pain. But love redeems... it chooses to remember that the person that has done you wrong, is as loved as you are by God. And the sins done to you is nothing compared to those they have done to God. As such, if God can forgive them, so can you...

- Love is humble.
Humble in remembering that at the end of the day we are all sinners. And that from the posture of being a sinner, I do not always need to be right.And I can somedays overlook the wrongs done to me, because I have also somedays done things that are not right. (ps: ALOT easier said than done)

- God is love.
Somedays love is the last thing I will choose. Somedays I want my right. The right to be heard, to be understood, to be loved etc. But some of these days, these 'rights' will not be given, and I will be left to choose. To insist on having them (risk a world war) or to love unconditionally, drawing strength from the well of love. I love because He first love me. (again, ALOT easier said than done)

- Love is wise.
I find this one of the hardest. When to make a stand, and when to let it slide. Too much of one, and a woman is said to be naggy, contentions, difficult. Too little, the woman is a pushover, has nothing to say and is 'submissive'.It almost sounds like the better option to let things slide and I find myself wishing that I did not have an education some days.. .Though on good days, I believe that God has a better plan than making me a maid, stepford wife, and that 2 are better than 1...
It is also a lot easier to not have an opinion on matters that do not concern me, though marriage is nothing like that. So many decisions impact both, as they should... finances, time,  priorities etc. What then does it mean for the man to be the head of the household when there are 2 different lives that have been brought up with very different upbringing? After countless fights, I am increasingly asking God for wisdom. Wisdom to know if this is worth the fight, and if it is, to grant me a lot of grace to say it in a way that has the right tone. (God saves us all!)

- Love is revealing.
In the ups and downs, I see in my fallen nature my deep seated fears of abandonment. Where on bad days are reinforced by a man who sees running away his coping mechanism.  However, I have increasingly seen this as an opportunity to remember that ultimately, I belong to Christ. My help comes from him alone.

There is the element of iron sharpening iron in this relationship, and it is on some days, horribly devastating. But God continues to reveal his face in these moments. Through the glimmer of hope that comes from reconcilation, the peace you feel knowing that it is ultimately well in your soul.... It is a space to see God, when our hearts are not hardened.

Some thoughts for now. May it also remind me on the bad days, to not lose hope!! :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

meditating on this currently...

Psalm 27

Of David.

The Lord is my light and my salvation
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me
    to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

People to grow old with

The past weeks have been filled with visitors. People from home that have known me forever and whom I suspect will continue to stay in my life for a long time... Some pictures and  thoughts....

On a wonderful walk with my aunt around the city, one of the rare days where the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming...

Jiamin came to visit on her way back home!  she thought 1 week would be too long... but time flew by, with those 5am sleeping times and 9 in the morning classes. This photo was taken on a trip where I cajoled (more like coerced) her and the darling to a Jazz concert..I thought that it was fun to watch the buildings turn red! Jiamin thought that the band was ok, being spoilt by the wonderful band at her church... :)... I was happy to be out "so late"... 

Mari, who calls me her oldest friend... this sounds strange to me.. So I will call her my first(life long) friend :) (defined as first friend I met when I was 9 but still keep in contact with) We went roaming around Brussels, Holland shopping, getting lost/stuck in traffic, looking for cafes, checking out pretty old buildings...

I love how different we are. While starting at similar situations, we have turned out quite differently..  from the jobs we choose to the men we marry. I am amazed at how through it all, there is genuine love and concern between us.

My parents who visited for 2 days and left for the UK. This was a photo of them eating ice cream (shared via watsapp). I love that they look happy with their ice cream. I am happy that my parents have the opportunity to do stuff together at this stage of life. My mother has taught me to be proactive in going for what I want. I think she is before her time... and my dad, his sweet (sometimes blur) nature to be with the mother and care for her... Apparently, my mother thinks that they are good friends now so that's nice... 

Little mumu who is not here,but is in many of my iphone photos. He is growing very quickly.. and looking more like Sue Anne! :) I think that my love for technology has increased tremendously since being here. I love being able to connect to show love, pray for and think about and ask how they are at any time I want...

So many different thoughts, but I think the main one is... it takes work and effort to keep relationships...  we need to do life together, in flesh or virtually. I hope that all you special people know how much you mean to me (EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT FEATURED HERE!) ... that I hope that we will continue to love and be there for each other as life continues to unfolds...

A virtual Pass it On Card... :) I love you all very much.. and I know God has you all in his palm as well. With love and happy happy thoughts!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Devotional from Rick Warren

“Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20 LB)
Faith is like a muscle: It can be strengthened. It can be weak or it can be strong, depending on how much you use it.
How does God build your faith? He uses a very predictable pattern. If you understand it, you can cooperate with him in developing greater faith. It’s like when the father, seeking help from Jesus for his son, said, “Have pity on us and help us, if you possibly can!” (Mark 9:22 TEV)
Jesus replied, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’? ... Anything is possible if a person believes” (Mark 9:23 NLT).
The first thing God does to build your faith is give you a dream. When God wants to work in your life, he always gives you a dream — about yourself, about what he wants you to do, about how he’s going to use your life to impact the world. 
There are many examples in the Bible of this:
  • God gave Noah the dream of building an ark.
  • God gave Abraham the dream of being the father of a great nation.
  • God gave Joseph the dream of being a leader that would save his people.
  • God gave Nehemiah the dream of building the wall around Jerusalem.
How do you know when a dream is from God or when it’s just something you’ve thought up yourself? The Bible tells us that God “by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes” (Ephesians 3:20 LB).
In other words, if a dream comes from God, it will be so big in your life that you can’t do it on your own. If you could do it on your own, you wouldn’t need faith. And if you don’t have faith, you’re not pleasing God, because the Bible says whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
God starts to build your faith by giving you a dream. He may be speaking to you now, but you just don’t recognize it for what it is. That dream you have, the idea or concept you’ve been thinking about doing that would be of real benefit to other people — where do you think that idea came from?
God will never tell you to do something that contradicts his truth. In other words, he won’t give you a dream of leaving your family and kids and moving to Hollywood to be a movie star. If you have that dream, then you can know it is not from God.
God starts with a dream as he works within your life to build faith.

Talk About It
  • What is it that you’ve been dreaming of doing?
  • If you believe this dream is from God, what should you do with it?

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional © 2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Friday, May 10, 2013

being 30...

I am officially 30 years old and 8 days :) A new decade, a new season of life... Besides feeling a little uncertain about being in my 30s, I am glad to welcome a new year. 29 has been a difficult year. Perhaps the hardest yet, I look forward to a new year, a chance to start "anew"...

One tangible way to start anew includes changing the blog layout... What do you think of it?  After something pink for so long, I like the simplicity that comes with this... There are few reasons to write. a) to share my story, albeit with a tiny audience. My sister says that if I don't make an effort. she won't know me one day... So I better write! (Or rather Instagram.. Tweet.... blah...I cannot keep up with technology!) b) to remember to live life. I think I have the tendency to think about life instead of live it. I want to remember to intentionally make new memories, to have something to "blog" about. I can't quite remember what happened in the past year, and this needs to change. c) to remember God's goodness. I write a lot about my experiences with God. I want to remember that when I don't "feel/understand/know" him at the moment, there is a context that I am in, which will remind me that he is indeed there, and is way bigger than me. Because of this. I will write, and try to write more. to intentionally live. 

As I celebrate God's faithfulness thus far, I want to remember that he will continue to be with me. I am his beloved and he is mine. His banner over me is love... This does not change, even if circumstances change, or time goes by... One of the scariest things about growing old is the effects that the hard knocks of life may have on us. Instead of being more "kia-si", I want to continue to be brave.. in him. 

I also want to be more free to be me. It is a fact that I will "forever" be an "alien" in Europe. I will never be 100% culturally acceptable, or say/do things that Europeans do. But I want to learn to be more ok about it, instead of feeling bad all the time. There is beauty in being the "yellow person", while sometimes I don't see it, that should not make me feel bad that I am yellow. I am not going to feel bad that I value the collective, instead of the mere individual. I am not going to feel bad about being "nice" and gentle is it is understood as slow, and that might surely result in someone taking advantage of me.. I want to smile even when people are grumpy and only talk about their rights. If I think that the logic may not be the all or the end all, that's ok, because logic is only one part of who we are...we are multi faceted... There is beauty, emotions, relationships etc, and these are also important. 

And as always, i want to learn to be still and know that God is God. At the end of the day, "It is well" because God is involved... 

Have a good day, looking forward to a wonderful year 30 ! May the adventure continue! 

Monday, April 08, 2013

Saturday, April 06, 2013

An Article I wrote for devotionals for the church I am attending (based on Psalm 107)

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story
I love Jesus and seek to honor him in the decisions I make. I trusted God in my move to Germany, where I would embark on post-graduate studies and at the same time evaluate a relationship and prayerfully contemplate the possibility of marriage.
 After what felt like confirmation, we started planning our wedding and in a span of a few months, I found myself moving from Germany to Singapore, and then back to Brussels, married. It was intense to say the least. Few months later, I found myself questioning the work that I have done thus far in Germany as staying in my current university was becoming less of an option. The changes and uncertainty felt enormous and overwhelming. Feelings of unworthiness and doubt filled my days, Brussels weather definitely did not help.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
Through this season, I prayed and meditated and sought to be still and remember that God is God. I came to a point where I knew that at the end of the day, I am a Child of His. And because I belong to Him, this is enough. With this knowledge, I forced myself to reach out of my dark bubble and to make contact. One of the first contacts I sought to make was with Serve the City as we lived very near Gare du Nord and came to find out that they helped out with the people there.  A few months later, I also began volunteering my time in the library in Leuven.
With time,  I found God given friends to love and to be loved by. I also enjoy going to VUB on regular Wednesdays, playing with the children and giving them a sense of worth. Recently, I also got accepted into the university in Leuven and will slowly try to integrate into that new environment.
Throughout this time of flux, God continued to show his faithfulness in very tangible ways as well. I was granted an extension to my part time contract for one more year. My boss was very understanding, a man of God who sought to look out for me in tangible and intangible ways.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind
God is good and remains God despite my feelings and worries. I have learnt that being thankful is a way to channel my wandering thoughts from what-ifs to what-God-has-already -done. He continues to teach me to depend on him, despite what I think the worst possible outcomes may be, that he does make things beautiful in his time. I continue to learn to walk by faith not sight.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

my faith being challenged...

  1. I have been sitting in on classes bout missional theology and postmodern thinking and hermeneutics. All interesting things to think about.  I also applied for school here.. and finally made peace bout the fact that I might be starting seminary soon!!!? GAH. 

Some random thoughts that I need to write down... 

- I believe that God, as sent by Jesus is truly the answer to this world. While I may not understand his mind, I can continue to learn about it, and to this end I believe that theological understanding is important. However, I will never be part of an establishment purely for the sake of the establishment. God uses institutions to His end, but he is God. I see the wonderful things that institutions do, but also the falleness of them. 

- But God is perfect and He is in way more than institutions, or doctrine. He is in the flower that is slowly appearing with the fading of winter, he is in the poor, regardless of how they got poor. If my mind cannot imagine Him there, it doesn't mean he is not there.... I need to remember that at the end of the day. I am small.. very small. also in the Roma families that have to eat out of the trashbin. I cannot limit God in my experiences...  

- God is love. He is the perfect love that takes away all fear. My actions need to reflect the loving nature of God. even where sometimes I fear that they are doing the wrong thing. This fear of their actions needs to be smaller than the love God has for them, and by extension, the love I have for them. I need to learn to love people...

- Song that I think about when I am in this mode.... 

  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Have a good day, write soon! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

good reminder...

In His Presence: Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7).
Position is a distraction—everybody wants to be somebody. When you accepted Christ you became somebody, but if you are seeking position independently of God's purpose, you have been duped by the deceiver. Your name may be up in lights today, but years from now people won't remember your name. Remember the apostle Paul was quite a man in his day and age, but he said that his claim to fame was only that he was a bondservant of Jesus Christ.
People also become distracted from their purpose when they spend their lives living for other people. People are very important to God; we are to serve, love, and minister to people. But pleasing God is more important than pleasing men. God wants us to live for Him and His glory, and to do that we must sometimes go against what other people want. When it comes to fulfilling our calling, what matters is what God wants us to do.
Another distraction from moving forward in God's purpose is dealing with the past. Paul said: "I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I d forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). We all have regrets, but Paul said we are not to allow our yesterdays to determine our tomorrows. Instead of living with a rear-view mirror mentality, we should focus on the windshield and the big picture that is in front of us.
Dear God, please teach me to be still and know that you are God. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life is a battle

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places ~ Ephesians 6:12

This world is not Disneyland. I need to remember that constantly. Somedays, I get frustrated at how life feels difficult. Simple things are not simple and leaves me with guilt as I fail to get them right.  I was talking to the darling on how I need to learn to be more joyful, but yet at the same time, feel really wrecked by feelings of depression.

This week has been one of those weeks where waking up has been particularly difficult. I listened to the bible for a few chapters before I can finally move and do something that feels useful. Some thoughts  this week...

 I went for a run  and listened to a sermon about spiritual discipline during the run. It was also the same day that Commissioner talked about discipline on his blog. Discipline is thought to be the flip side of discipleship, or as the sermon says, means of grace. This is definitely something difficult but nobody said that being like Jesus was meant to be easy... I want to do this more often. To run and to fill my mind with more thoughts on being like him.

I have been in awe that it is 2013. Time is flying. Even when I refuse to do something, to face my monsters, time flies. I remember the zeal to live a life of fullness that I had a while back. I wanted to tell stories worth telling to my grandchildren... today, I want to hide and not be in pain and not feel lost in my life of flux... I have had opportunities to do stuff but I did not want to.  we went for a ski holiday last month but I couldnt bring myself to learn something new. I could not keep up with my own life. There is the feeling that if i don't do anything, time will stop moving, and I will be okie. Quite funny (if this is not me) but also quite frustrating. It almost feels like the bad effects of growing up. The world becomes big and bad and there is no way I can control it so I don't do anything... There needs to be the feelings of urgency, instead of drifting.

This week, we were told that the squatters that I was helping at will close by the 1st March. This is essentially a building in the university compound that is currently housing Roma people (what we call Gypsies) from Slovakia. They have come to Brussels for a better life but end up sleeping on the streets, or in squatters. Even then, most believe that this is a better life to going back to Slovakia. I play with the children, make them laugh, help them feel like they can accomplish something (even if it is just a puzzle) and my heart breaks to know that in a few months time, they will be stripped of warmth and a roof over their heads. Bureaucracy is tough. Life is unfair. They have asked us for tents so that they will be prepared for the time when they will need to rough it out in parks and other places. What feels ironic is that at the same time, the darling says that there is apparently lots of money budgeted for these people. Between the budget and the actual implementation, I see a black hole that seems impossible to bridge.

I like Pink's song TRY. haha. it goes with the theme of " when the going gets tough, the tough gets going" One needs to fight back. Except this fighting is the kind that is not easy. It is against things I cannot see, things that might seem socially insane. But yet I need to remember that this battle belongs to God. At this point, the battle is very much a fight of hope. a fight of joy, a fight of togetherness. I need to continue to be intentional in thinking about the armor of God, to wear it and to be at a place where I am His good and faithful servant.

 Thank you Jesus for your love. I need to learn to abide in you better.