I still remember how I didn't really know what was my life for even as I entered my early adulthood years… noone prayed or guided me in finding the answer to that big question "what is the purpose of my life?". Thankfully, God's grace found me, and through His series of orchestrated scenarios, I finally found the true calling and the meaning of my life now (find on my blog on the header, one of the pages "My Moment of Truth" to read more of my early journey in finding Christ personally).
I desire to be that person I missed in my own life; a mother who faithfully prays for my daughter. It's not an easy answer and everyone has an unique calling. I believe she will find hers in God's perfect timing. Until then, and forever, I want to pray for you my little darling. For your life, talents and gifts be used for God's glory and blessings to others. I pray may the Lord equip me and your father to nurture, train, and to give learning experiences and opportunities you need. I pray may the gifts and talents You placed in her life be released to find their fullest expression in glorifying You.
We don’t have the budget to hire a professional landscaper, so our front and back garden rely solely on our willingness and determination to transform them from bare soils to (at least) have something greens 🌱 BUT other than the weeds….
Speaking of which (the weeds), I spend my morning trying to pulling out all the weeds from our miserable planter box on our front yard. Luckily, it is such a lovely weather with the sunlight and my kids playing cheerfully (before I have to yell repeatedly to Aimee to please stop blowing off the bubbles directly on to Arielle’s hair 😒).
Sadly, I cannot finish the job, it’s too tough for me and my mum muscles… the weeds already grow so thick and deep (my giant shovel doesn’t work either to uplift the root, it’s too deep planted down the bottom I suppose. I. Need. My. Husband).
As I stand there feeling my back starts to ache #oldladysysndrome miraculously, His Spirit speaks to my heart – about all these weeds, how they relate to my marriage.
Marriage is supposed to be a beautiful garden full of colorful flowers blossoming throughout the seasons of the year. That’s the ideal, but we all know (don’t we?) that is not always the case. Very rarely the case, if we don’t work out the garden on DAILY basis.
Sure the weed wouldn’t seem to appear in just a matter of days; but add the busyness, laziness, indifference, life with kids, works etc etc days become weeks and weeks become months.
By the time we have the moment to draw back, and watch and observe, the weeds have been crazily growing up to all side of corners. It’s become too messy. Too deep to uproot in just single (or couples more) pull. And you can’t do it by yourself either pulling off the weeds, you need your other half to #workittogether with you.
This is what I experience.
Usually my moment to “draw back and watch” is when we have fight 🔥 by then it seems too late, the garden has been overpowered by the ugly weeds. They are green and add color to the garden rather than plain brown/black soil, but they add NO value to the garden ⛔️
Over time I have grown tired and thinking something have to change. Prevention is the key. Start to pulling off the weeds when it’s only a tiny sprout. It requires diligence, but it is more manageable and easier to pull off rather than waiting to work them all only after the weeds have gone too thick and deep and spreading everywhere else (like me this morning).
I’m learning to accept the reality, that a beautiful garden needs work, great works. That a beautiful garden won’t just grow by itself. There will be no rose (or peonies and hydrangeas, few of my favourites haha) if I don’t plant them. Easy peasy, very logical. But, how often I’m living it without realizing this truth.
When marriage is between two sinners and we are living in this fallen world, YES it needs great (sometimes gruesome) works!
God is teaching me so many things from the last month, maybe one day I can share more with you. But for now, I know God is teaching me to have a listening heart, humility, and a gentle heart. They’re not easy for me for sure. But when I am weak, He is within me is strong. And He is the One who will bring out the change in me, from the inside out.
I would like to see a stronger marriage between me and my husband. Deeper and stronger unity. Not so much about conforming more to what other party wants, but we can deal and handle better of our DIFFERENCES, and make them to compliment one another.
I would like to see my heart is more willing to let go of my little kingdom with its too little wants, and trading it joyfully with God’s greater kingdom and purpose for this marriage.
I would like our marriage to bless our children, and others.
I am not alone, the Lord is with me. I know when Christ is at the center of this marriage and the head of this family, other things will fall off at its places accordingly. Christ is our factor of success, because efforts from two sinners alone are simply fruitless. This is my conviction.
And I have to bear in mind there would be a lot of pain for my flesh, saying “no” to pride and “yes” to respect (my husband) and be humble. There would be days when I will cry out to God to save me from my own self. But I’m praying it will worth it, and my husband and children can taste the fruit of change as the result of God’s grace working in me.
And btw, the above picture is my baby succulents haha. I cut some from the front yard and plan to replant them (maybe create diy terrarium? sounds like good idea, thanks in advance to Google and YouTube lol).
I shall close this with a verse from 1 Corinthians 3:6 written by Paul:
“I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow”
It is halfway of the year 2017 already… not a surprise, but I still can’t believe how fast time flies…
I come to think to the earliest days in 2017, in which I chose the word “THRIVE” as my “word of the year”, a practice that I’ve been doing for the last 3 years (my word of the year in 2015 was “BELIEVE”, and “FAITH” was for in 2016).
And here I am feeling a bit down and running of hope… and make me thinking in which way I have “thrive”?
Things are not getting “easier” this year… problems and conflicts arise (even more!), disappointments lurking very often, “my faith” is also getting volatile than it’d ever been…
Of course, setting aside the gloomy weather and my weary heart at the moment, there are so many things that I am thankful for this year. But yeah, back to the word “thrive” – I don’t think I am “flourishing, growing vigorously, growing well”, just yet.
I feel it is so hard to let that first bud coming out, let alone blossoming into a beautiful flower.
But then again, sitting here alone by myself make me thinking even deeper… maybe…. God is putting me at the best soil and surroundings for me to thrive…? Maybe, this is just what I need… Through the hard conditions, the heavy rains, the storms, the scorching heat.
2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds,3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I haven’t been able to see all of these trials as “joy”… Maybe I still don’t understand what’s “steadfastness” for in my life… I still have hard times to accept that God’s wills for me not to be happy, but to be holy… Maybe I don’t want that “perfect and complete” (according to His ways/view)… Just maybe.
You know my every thoughts and my every struggles.
Please assure me that I am not alone,
every time the world clouding my mind heavily.
Show me and give me the understanding of Your perfect love,
and let it be my greatest comfort, assurance, and joy in my life.
Help me, Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 55:6, 8-9
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
I made this art couple of months ago, because I admitted that this was true. “A family that PRAYS together, STAYS together”.
However, every now and then I (we) often let ourselves catched off-guard; fence down and weeds reappear. We “forget” every now and then about #UNITY in #marriage.
It is not about our own (too little) kingdom, but it’s about God’s kingdom on earth.
Then when conflict arised, we weren’t prepared. By then it felt like it was “too late”.
Yesterday I had a talk with my close friend/cousin/sister #thebest about this topic, I told her I don’t want to pray out of fear as the result. You know, fear that “if I didn’t pray, things will get chaotic“.
I believe this isn’t the right motive and the correct heart condition to pray. And it soothed my soul that she understands! She knows and experiences the same thing (the beauty of sisterhood in Christ).
This morning then His Spirit reminds me this verse:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of POWER, LOVE, and SELF-DISCIPLINE” (2 Tim 1:7).
I can, CAN, pray not out of fear – because His Spirit enables me to!
Praying out of flesh will result in burn out, praying in spirit will take me to higher places with Him.
This morning I choose to reject the lies and intimidation,
This morning I choose to listen to the Shepherd’s voice.
He knows my name, and I belong to Him.
I will keep praying and become the “pillar of prayer” for this family #istriadalahtiangdoa
I will not complain and asking God (again), “why me? why do I have to be the one who prays?”. I know now that the Lord is reassuring and reconfirming me once again, to pray is my calling. I am called first and above all as an intercessor. Not in the church, not in my cell group – but firstly at my home! Just between me and Him, beneath the silent walls of my home.
When later I get weary, I shall take rest in Him, again and again.
“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it” – Isaiah 30:15
We’ve been back from our month long holiday, life with its all routines has gone back to places. Some has changed; I’m talking in particular with Arielle, who has just turned 9 months old. She has started crawling actively, pulling herself up and standing and back to sitting position less wobbly, pulling drawers in and out (my first experience putting on the safety guards for the drawers turned out to be pretty much an accomplishment to myself as a mother lol – I didn’t use any of these safety guards when I was with Aimee); my little trinkets aren’t that safe anymore ~ welcome to the new phase with a crawler baby at home!
Not forgetting to mention, she becomes more clingy too. I guess (I HOPE) this is just a temporary phase that soon will come back to “normal” again, and maybe mostly caused by the frequency we had to carry her more often during our holiday (you see, the perks of coming back to our own lovely #homesweethome is we get to enjoy clean floor again – one which is really up to my standard! I am not a total clean freak, but yes I like to keep my home clean and free from hoarded stuffs lol).
Oh, and her cries and screams become louder too *sigh* *lol* (but I’ve got myself used to the higher pitch her sister has so this one isn’t that threatening, perhaps haha).
While with baby number two I am more demanded to excel in “physical fitness” lol, maybe not so much anymore with my first daughter (turning 6 years old in September!!). With her I am “forced” more often to get down on my knees and pray asking for wisdom, even for the simplest task like assisting and keeping her up to her premier’s reading challenge this year. All these new things I get to experience with a prep student is fun and exciting, but because they are also “new”, I lean on closer to my Father in Heaven. Why? Because I know I won’t be able to do it all without His strength, His wisdom, and His grace. Of course, I can ask advices from my friends with older kids, I can read some practical tips from magazines/internet; but I still firstly trust in the One who has assigned me this calling as a mother.
Well, they are about my kids. Then the rest of my other life roles as a wife, as a homemaker, as a handmaker, as an artist, as a friend, as a minister, as an intercessor, as a daughter – and much much more. I admit I don’t have all the time to do this equally “good”. I am torn between many responsibilities, I have to prioritize some roles above others, and contribute more hours according to my life focus.
Eg. at the moment I’m still not ready yet to get back to my business life. I haven’t got back to any painting yet, my mind is cluttered. I need to ask the Lord once again for the purpose and direction. Meanwhile, I know that my family and kids are my number one priority with my time at the moment, and life as a mother of two hasn’t been any better. My kids grow up so fast, this isn’t a secret anymore and I don’t want this phrase to catch me off guard one day in the future and leave me with any “I wish”.
While my mind was racing with these kind of thoughts (in between talking to my own self and praying to Him on the other), one still small voice whispered in my heart, “worship Me, and all the other things will fall at its places accordingly“.
His Spirit reminded me to not get caught in life busyness, that I forgot to sit down at His feet and just enjoying His presence.
Take one part, the best part, and do it heartily.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
In the midst of this life busyness, let me choose “what is better”. One that will not be taken away from me.
One day when life and all its routines and responsibilities end – HE is still my portion.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The world can wait, yes, the world can wait.
But my soul will not.
My soul thirsts and hungers for more of You.
Soak me with Your presence.
For only in Your presence I can see what is true, precious, and noble.
This morning when I read the story of the woman with her alabaster jar in Matthew 26, my heart is somehow drawn toward this jar which has taken a significant part in this wonderful story and become a symbol of devotion.
I searched for more information about this particular jar; it was made from precious stone in Israel, resembles marbles in colors and textures.
And interestingly, unlike most of perfume bottles nowadays, the top has to be broken and the perfume inside the jar could only be used once.
Isn’t that just like our life?
The word and principle of living #YOLO is popular in this world, because it is true that we only have ONE life on this earth to live it to the fullest.
However, when God is not at the center, this precious life will be used and dedicated mostly for OUR own pleasures and satisfaction – which will one day also come to an end when our momentary time on this earth runs out.
The truth is, we were created for something that lasts even longer. We are all eternal being.
Life does not end when this one short life on earth ends.
Brokenness in our life is also inevitable. But just like this alabaster jar, the sweetest smell of the perfume can only escape when it is broken. And God is able to turn this brokenness to bless others and bring glory to His name.
“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor”
I sometimes complain to God, “why I have to be the one who need to ask forgiveness and/or give forgiveness (even when my husband didn’t even ask for one) and/or initiate good conversation after a conflict/disagreement happened?” #whyme #thatquestion
This morning this statement from the book I’m still currently reading (“What Did You Expect?” by Paul David Tripp) ring again:
“We must fix our marriages vertically before we ever fix them horizontally”
The core problem is not that I don’t love my husband enough, but my problem is I don’t love God enough, and because I don’t love God enough, I don’t love my husband as I should.
I let my little kingdom reign instead of the Lord’s.
To forgive and to seek reconciliation first of all mend my relationship with God. Can you really pray to God when in your heart you are disliking someone? (Other than the prayer “please Lord change him/her” #haha).
I hope over time and with intervention of His Spirit when a conflict arises (yes, it is ‘when’, not ‘if’), the question I wrote the earliest won’t matter anymore. It is easy to write this when things smooth sailing ⛵️ I’m praying there is grace we both need when we are required to put into practice what we know/learn.
(Today’s post is quite long, I must say it is one of those significant moments in my journey following Christ).
Going back to the devotional I read on the March 8 this morning, because the truth is awakening and I feel like this is the first time I have my thoughts explained in words so descriptively, and I need to digest it more thoroughly.
Sometimes I have this worry and “fear” that I still don’t get God’s characters right after all the years I follow Him.
It’s so easy for us to be trapped inside our own bubbles of theology.
“Theology” is not something that only priests and church leaders have or get to understand. Every one of us has our own view of who God is, and that is the theology we actually live in, not really what the church or our cell group leaders teach us to believe.
I still often think that as God’s children, I “deserve” easier life. When I experienced difficult circumstances for quite a long period, I pleaded God over and over “Lord I need Your grace”. But still I have to endure the hard situation/s for months, some for many many years. Then where is the GRACE?
Does that mean that I am not experiencing grace when I don’t receive the relief that I need yet?
This is where my eyes been opened. Apparently the “grace” that I was asking is the “grace of relief/grace of release“. Like when Paul asked God three times to set him free from the thorn of flesh, and God answered him instead that His grace is more than enough for him, YET the thorn remained.
Yes, this is the view that I apparently see and live in, my own “incorrect” bubble of theology.
I cannot define God’s grace according to what I want or think right. That way I leave space for disappointment toward God whenever my prayers don’t get answered the way I’d want them to be (regardless how “good” they may be).
When God allows me to endure difficult situation just so I can learn to TRUST Him more, that is GRACE.
When He allows me to endure hard circumstances and people just so I can be TRANSFORMED more into like His Son, that is grace.
When you think of the word of “grace”, what do you really expect from God?
So much to chew on this truth, and so much more to live them in.
May we be courageous enough to find and to live in the truth, no matter how unpleasant sometimes they can turn out to be.