“Quick Review of 2013” ;D

NY Eve 2014

Deciding to make changes to the better doesn’t have to be done only when we’re approaching a New Year. Changes can be done anytime when we are willing to. Nevertheless, I commit this time to just having a quick review throughout my year in 2013, while giving God full access He deserves to bring good changes in me everyday (not only during first weeks of every New Year) 🙂

Entering 2013, I remember I made somewhat like a ‘mission’ called as ‘2013 Project’ inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s book (intermezzo to “Happy New Year 2013“). The point is, I’d like to see some good changes related with four main practical life aspects; those are “Time, Money, Talent, and Relationships“. My effort to journaling every insights I gained in this blog regarding those aspects simply DIDN’T WORK. Hahaha… Well, it only lasted until month of February, my apology. However, sitting here once again twelve months after, I can say God truly has brought some major changes related to those four things! Once again, the changes haven’t reached any perfection yet in me, but here I just want to share how life experiences within the last twelve months has been making me see things in renewed perspective than before.

From those four aspects, I can say that I gain most changes in the “Money” and “Relationships” aspects. Regarding “Money”, I receive much deeper revelation than “less is more”. Sure I learn to spend my money wisely and limit things I ‘want’ and prioritize on the family needs instead, but not until for the last few months I see this whole money thing from a different angle. If you read my earlier posts during the last few months, I’ve written how we had been struggling with our finance to the point that we had no idea how we could afford paying for our important bills. During those difficult times I learnt to rejoice for basis needs that God has fulfilled. For the food, the shelter, choice in clothing (while many unfortunate have to stick with the only clothing attached to their body), for friends and community, even for clean water to drink and have a shower! How could we forget to give thanks to those basic needs, when we only want to give thanks to God if He fulfills our wants? I call it as “giving thanks selectively” to God, in which we only give thanks to God if we have things we want. For example, only giving thanks to God when we could have that branded bags or shoes, for a new laptop, new camera, new car, new mobile phone, or else. I can see now that those things are only “bonuses” from God. I had times when I envied those who could get things they wanted easily. But now I see as long as I can pay the bills on time and have my basis needs fulfilled, those have been SO MUCH to rejoice! God is so good even the basic needs He provides to us are more than enough. I give you one example; I don’t have to feed Aimee with canned soup, I still can make it from fresh ingredients plenty in my fridge! It’s not easy to live against the stream of the world filled with materialism and consumerism and I admit it’s hard at times for me too. I still have many unfulfilled desires and wants and every now and then I “complain” to God saying why can I have things easier, why some people seem to have both money and God? (e.g. rich believers hehe…)

I become to wonder what does it mean when Jesus said that He can give me a life, and a life that is abundant? What is an “abundant life” means? (Oh, btw, that is one of my prayers as I’m entering 2014, to have God reveal the answer to that question personally for me in the next year). When life nowadays is very much centered on “having plenty of possessions and wealth” even in many Christians’ life, you start to wonder why your life is not abundant in that kind of way.

When our life is “OK” and we have enough saving and financial security, we don’t really give a thought to “God is our Provider”. Sure a good Christian must know God is the Provider of his job, salary and things he can buy with it. Yet many times it can also be very subliminal for him to think that he can buy things because he has the power to…? Only when I’m weak, I can see that only God is strong. When I’m “strong” (judging by physical things we posses in this world e.g. things going well, enough saving and security, being healthy and wealthy), I tend to see God’s strength lesser, dimmer. Do you understand what I mean? I know God is strong, God is my Provider; yet only to the point that I am in shortfall, I truly see that He really is. What an important life lesson for me.

god provider

Then to the second aspect of “Relationships”, I give thanks to God that through a marriage bible study I had between July to October, He has brought many changes in me in seeing and treating my husband. To cut it short, I don’t bother to spend my energy to nag on my husband to speak the same love language as I do anymore haha.. I don’t expect him to buy me things or give me surprises anymore (note: my love language is “giving gift” while his is “act of service” :P). Just because he doesn’t speak the same language as I do doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me. I now can appreciate more of who he is, not someone that I hope he could be. It’s OK for me that he is also not a romantic man. Thinking that earlier this year these ‘simple’ things could ignite a “war” between us (because my ego didn’t want to let go of my ‘demands/expectations’, my ego wanted him to treat me ‘right’ the way I wanted to) and how throughout that bible study Holy Spirit could make me ‘suddenly’ willing to let go of my pride and expectations – WOW. God’s word is truly powerful in changing someone’s heart and how this has liberated me so much! Indeed, His truth set me free 🙂 It feels as if tons have been lifted up from my heart since then! (tons of selfishness and pride).

 

Before I end this, I’d also give a short review over the other two aspects “Time” and “Talent”. Earlier this year I was struggling to not be satisfied just by “eating bread crumbs” (what does it mean? you may want to read this earlier post “Mommy’s So Much of a Better Mommy When She Spends Time with Jesus”) The point is, I was struggling to find time to be intimate with God in my daily life. Even when I was in church, I could not sit and focus on listening to God’s words without being interrupted since I still had to take care of Aimee. I felt my devotional hours were irregular and could not get ‘feast’ on God’s words and presence, so I was only left with “breadcrumbs” (reading bible verses only randomly, praying casual prayers, for example). Then thanks a lot to God, He provided a way for me to be back to a disciplined life of seeking God’s words and presence! I’ve written this experience in this blog too (“Returning to Our First Love With Jesus… How?”) I learn that to know God more needs discipline. Yes, the Holy Spirit can give us the desire, but our flesh also must want to cooperate with His prompts too.

word

Lastly, on the “Talent” part, hmm.. maybe nothing really much on this part? Other than I’m writing this blog more regularly and managing to be more honest in my sharing. Is writing my talent? Maybe. What I know I just love writing and sharing through my writing. Not trying to be the “21st century’s C.S. Lewis” but just want to be ‘me’ in writing, sharing my own life and thoughts (things I know best). Then, I’m also glad that I and my husband can re-join the Praise & Worship team in church this year after was being absent in Jakarta while I took a break after having Aimee. Other than writing, I always love singing and music, too. So I guess it’s just my natural ways to serve God with the passions He has put in my heart. My principle in this “Talent” thing is, even if God only gave me one talent, I will make the most of it. I used to compare myself with those who are more talented in a way. But yeah, then God put that conviction in my heart and I’m content and happy 🙂

Thank You so much Lord for these changes in my life! One thing I realize as I’m writing this post, those changes are only the result of His works in me. My own will and effort mean nothing without His power to make them real. I can only give thanks for His goodness and faithfulness in my heart.

Indeed, you don’t need New Year to make a new resolution. God can change our life in any day of the year, as long as you are available.

But still I think it’s also the best time to just sit still and think of  where we want our life to be going, rather than moving directionless 🙂

Have a cheery New Year’s Eve, everyone!

Thanks a lot for those who have been super supportive for my blog and my passion in writing, God bless you all 🙂

new year 2014

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Are You in the Pity-Party Guests List?

Hello, how are you fellow readers? Hope you are all doing fine, healthy and content (keep your body fit during these days of Melb’s strange weather in spring – alternating sun and rain and wind ^^”) I just need to share this thought about ‘loving myself the way God loves me’.

First of all, I love a quote from what Ko Dan (my BIC pastor) shared last Sunday, “Count yourself the way God’s accounting you” He said so many times we unconsciously don’t respect what God says in the Bible about us and other truth, by our unbelief. He gave an illustration about how good our friend plays his piano, how we are so touched by the melody came out from the play, yet when we approached him and gave him the compliment he deserved, instead of accepting it and said thanks, he gave a despise look saying ‘you must be lying!’ What would we think and react in his response? Wouldn’t we feel offended? Here we are trying to give a sincere compliment yet our dear friend didn’t believe us, didn’t pay a respect and judging us as a liar!

Yet so many times that is similarly what we do toward God, when He said to us that nothing is impossible for Him, our response instead was we chuckled and said inside our heart “yeah right, easy to say but the situation I’m facing isn’t as simple as what you think!”

Or when God said to us to not be weary in doing good because at the proper time we will reap the harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9), in our heart we still complain about how we don’t see any result at all in loving this difficult person, we don’t trust God that there is truly a reward and harvest waiting for us, if, we don’t give up. Or, we are accusing God to not being capable of taking care of our life and needs by worrying constantly. Plus so many other examples…

For me personally, this week I’ve had another truth be opened by His Holy Spirit about my mistake in not trusting God’s words wholeheartedly.

Let me share some personal stories of mine… 🙂

I have a kind of ‘unique relationship’ with both of my parents (I was meant to say ‘rough’ or ‘absurd’ relationship yet I realized how God’s been so so good to me, He continues to fix my heart and my mindset so slowly I started to extend God’s grace to my parents. So yeah, a term of ‘unique relationship’ will be so much better :P) It’s such a long story to describe why I’d say it as an unique relationship, involving constant yet decreasing (praise the Lord!) battle of fighting with bitterness and letting go of forgiveness. It had resulted in me many wrong thinking and mindset, one of them was how I often be tempted to invite myself to gathering around the “pity-party”.

Because I didn’t receive the kind of ‘unconditional love’ I deserved from my parents, I had this big hole in my heart craving for that need to be fulfilled. I carried this heavy, unmet expectation into my marriage and not a surprise to whom I passed on this baton of heavy expectation? to my own husband, of course!

I would demand my husband to love me the way I wanted to be loved. For months I nagged him to ‘speak same love language’ of mine and rarely appreciated his own love language to me. I’d demand him to ‘go an extra mile’ to make me happy and yet I was difficult to be pleased (thank God I have a super patience soul mate :P). I had this “false philosophy” thinking or wishing that my husband’s love could redeem what I didn’t get from my parents. I compared myself with other people who seemed to have ‘good loving parents, friends, and family’. I used to think to myself, why were these people was simply ‘lovable’ and seemed like people would be wiling to do nice things and spoiled them? Why didn’t I get the same kind of ‘loving treatment’? What was wrong with me that my own parents and husband (or friends) didn’t seem to be wiling to make an extra effort just for the sake of my happiness? Was I not loveable?

These were the thoughts from a Christian who has known very well that “God loves me that He sent His own Son to die for my sins” and that “only God can fill that black hole in your heart, not any human being”…!

This is my honesty 🙂

I struggled questioning God, saying “Lord, I know that You love me, but why I seemed not deserve to be spoilt by my closest people? Why other people could be loved by You and people? Why couldn’t I have both? I know that Your love is the most important thing beyond love from human, but didn’t You show Your love through people around me too, God?” I used to think that I very often did not get what I wanted through an easy way while others seemed didn’t even have to ‘ask’ to be spoilt yet they still got it voluntarily from others.

Of course on the other hand, I knew this was not right, and I fought this battle hard and all of the times I thought I failed yet somehow I started to see God’s invisible hands carrying me through and higher reaching His throne of grace. One intimate appointment with God to another slowly had lower my false expectation and erased my desire to be loved by ‘human’. Another one I had was yesterday, when I was in quiet time having my Bible Study (topic this week is ‘loving and accepting myself the way God does’) and reading God’s words in Isaiah 49:15-16

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
    and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
    I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are ever before me”.

Reading these verses and remembered what Ko Dan said “Count yourselves the way God’s accounting you”, suddenly my eyes be opened. I didn’t know nor understand why it only had to be yesterday! Suddenly I started to see all these self-pity thoughts about myself were all LIES! The devil tried to feed my mind with these lies and manipulated situations around me to believing into his lies! I finally come to see that my value is not determined by how others treat me, but by how God treats me! By how God thinks of me…

and in Isaiah clearly He thinks of me very very deeply, He has my name engraved on His palms! The Bible didn’t simply say it was ‘written’, but ‘engraved’, meaning it is there and will be there eternally, forever on the palms of God’s hands! Something’s written on our palms may be removed (by sweats, for example), but to be engraved will forever leave a mark. That is how much I am valued by God!

Overleap with joy and conviction I straightaway prayed to God, that I wish from now on I don’t have to be self pity anymore regardless whether I received expected treatment from those who are important for me or not. I prayed asking God for victory to stand firm on this truth and not to be deceived by the lies anymore.

Then finally the moment came when my heart prayed to God, that I wish I would stop denying that truly only God’s love can satisfy me… not God’s love through others… but the kind of love I directly receive from Him, through an intimate relationship with my Lord…

I guess my struggle and question along this time have been answered yesterday… with that stronger desire to be fulfilled with God’s own love, and not by human’s love.

My question along the time of whether could I have both love (from God and people) was not the main focus anymore.

Then as I sat amazed by how the Holy Spirit had opened the eyes of my heart to this truth, I started to wonder, what other lies that I still don’t realize and I still live within…?

I can’t wait to have new revelations and have my mind be changed, resulting in life changes…

I am excited with so many revelations God’s given me throughout this year, began by when I came back to my first love with Him…

I’ve started writing my spiritual goals and at the same time have many life questions that I yet to find a personal conviction. I long to not just know, but seek to understand. Just like this sharing I write, I know God loves me but not really understand the truth. I rely on God’s grace to uncover one by one of the truth… There is still a lot more to uncover about this great Person!

Meanwhile, I am so happy to not be invited to the pity-party anymore. Next time the invitation comes, I prefer to attend to GRACE-PARTY instead! 🙂

pity party

“Men are from Japan, Women are from French”…?

comm

This week in my marriage bible study I learn about communication issue! Very interesting as communication between men and women can be defined as ‘hard hard easy’ (susah susah gampang literally translated from Indonesia lol). Judy Rossi, the author, wrote:

‘Sometimes being in a marriage is like being in a foreign country, because communicating with our husbands requires to be bilingual, to learn their language’

The allegory is very true for me therefore that’s the reason I pick the title of the entry this time. For me French and Japanese are amongst the most sophisticated languages in the world haha.. I love to hear the accent yet they sound very complicated, so I kinda imagine what would happen if a Japanese man talking to a French woman (neither speak English) each in their own native language??!!! Calamity!! hahahha….

I guess that will also happen in marriage if we don’t make effort to understand the way our spouse communicates!

Judy listed several general differences in terms of thought process and tasking (keeping in mind that there are always varying degrees of exception), here I only write some that when I read I straightforwardly said aloud in my heart “that’s so true between me and my husband!” 😉 (male in blue, female in pink color)

  1. Well-developed spatial skills – he acts (makes a good warrior) + Better developed expressive/verbal skills – she talks (makes a good nurturer)
  2. Excludes what’s going on around him until task is completed + Includes all around her in her tasks
  3. “Fixer” – wants to do something about a problem + “Feeler” – wants to talk through a problem
  4. Thinks through feelings, then shares (maybe) + Talks through feelings while thinking
  5. Talks to exchange information: factual, bottom-line talk + Talks for connection, emotional intimacy, relationships; more detail plus feelings

There are lots more others (like women are multitaskers while men singularly focused – we all know this :P). Reading those points above enable me to understand more as (finally) they give vivid explanation of why I and my husband often do or say things differently (I don’t read “Men are from Mars and Women from Venus :P)

For example, related to point 2, now I get a better pic why it’s difficult to talk with my husband while he’s watching TV! (he simply ‘excludes’ me until his ‘task of watching TV’ done LOL). Or related to point 3, many times when I share things or feelings with my husband, I simply just want him to ‘listen’ or ‘sympathized’, but many times also what he does is he straightaway offers me a solution of how I should ‘fix’ the situation, then I’d think why he just didn’t understand I only wanted to be heard. Another example, related to point 5, I often complained to my husband he didn’t say “I love you” as many as I do hahaha…. then I’d “blame” him that’d mean he didn’t love me as much as I love him 😛 His default answer “you know already that of course I love you, why you need to hear it again?” Well, apparently for him that is not a ‘factual information to be exchanged” while for me, I just love to hear that coming from him first as it builds my emotional intimacy with him.

Well, those are some examples that I could think of from my side of story 😛 I know some of my male friends who naturally aren’t hard to express their feelings, fluent in writing many sort of poems, love letters/cards (my husband really isn’t this kind of man ^^”), and some of my female friends who are more ‘reserved’ about their feelings and much more of a ‘thinker’ person, so again, the above differences may not describe exactly you or your spouse’s communication style.

Yet, you know these differences don’t mean that one is better than the other. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean that he’s wrong. Judy put it this way,

“She has what he doesn’t, and vice versa. As both the husband and the wife learn to bridge both worlds – the language of the head and the language of the heart – they’re able to close the gap between them so that their differences become enhancers rather than destroyers

I have a confession to make.

Yes... I confess.. I'm sorry.. I'm guilty... :P
Yes… I confess.. I’m sorry.. I’m guilty… 😛

 

Many times I don’t like these differences, and often use them against my husband and demanding him to communicate same language as mine. It was very difficult. I know now after I learn this chapter this week, it is even impossible for him to communicate similarly as me! I have to make conscious effort to learn, understand, accept, and respect the differences and I will not be able to do it unless I receive the power from the Holy Spirit. That is the first commitment I have to make.

 

 

 

Furthermore, good communication requires three things: speaking correctly (watch over words that coming out from my mouth)

Psalms 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips”

listening carefully,

Proverbs 1:5 “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance”

and understanding clearly

Proverbs 13:15 “Good judgment wins favor”

The ‘listening carefully’ part hit me hard.

Through the study God revealed to me many times I complained about my husband didn’t have good listening skills when in fact, my listening skill isn’t excellent either! I find myself sometimes looking at my husband while he’s speaking but hearing nothing because I am busy in my mind with other things and therefore distracted. Other times I am busy forming my own thoughts and not hearing him, or judging what he’s saying rather than hearing his heart. Worst, sometimes I’m focused only on the opportune time to interrupt! I can put these kind of examples of I’m being a poor listener after reading what Judy wrote and then thinking in my heart “o-oh… I actually do those…!”

Now I try to put a conscious effort to evaluate my listening attitude when my husband’s talking. Whenever I realize I’m facing temptation to interrupt (I believe there’s nudge from Holy Spirit too), then I force myself to be silent and keep focus, hold on what I have to say until he finishes. I desire to do this to every person I’m talking too. After studying God’s truth, I really want this verse to be alive in me:

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” – James 1:19-20

I admit this is hard. Challenge is, I’m a talker, I love to talk. It’s like what I do is the opposite of this verse! (slow to listen, quick to speak, quick to become angry)… phewwww….

Lord, please help me to put Your words into practice!

I now understand that listening with intent takes discipline (for me lots of it), just as speaking with purpose does (be careful with speaking ’empty words’ – Matt 12:37). And discipline listening requires mostly HUMILITY – to raise my husband above myself and regarding what he says as more important than what I have to say.

“… in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” – Philippians 2:3-4

I’m so glad that God let me know what I’ve done wrong and provided ways to change. Many times it’s hard to deny my own self but when I look back and see God’s works in my heart and life I am always grateful that God made me to walk on hard path because in the end He always brings His good plan in my life. Knowing what I’ve done wrong doesn’t condemn me, it’s making me be more thankful of how much He loves me unconditionally and His grace never end.

grace

See you in my another “revelation post” 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returning to Our First Love with Jesus – How?

first love never dies

Since first of July I’m doing a guided bible study especially for women using Judy Rossi‘s book “Enhancing Your Marriage“. This November I and my husband will celebrate our third wedding anniversary (yeyy) and although ‘three’ may sound not many yet, but during the years I’ve learnt a lot to laying down a strong foundation for our future marriage ahead (if it doesn’t start from now I’m afraid it’d be too late by then!). I’ve learnt a lot from my parents’ wrongs in their marriage and promising myself not to repeat the same, but you know what, promising ourselves not to repeat the mistake without the help and conviction and heart change from the Holy Spirit IS difficult! How many of you have actually promised the same and only to find out that you actually have done exactly the same mistake later on? Scary isn’t it… Indonesian calls it as ‘licking our own saliva’ 😛

God’s been teaching me to be proactive in handling issues and challenges in marriage and not to just leave problems unresolved (although I did have some issues lingered on for a while until I embarked on this bible study journey and have my mind changed by God!). In fact, being tired having to argue over and over about same issue was what motivated me to commit my time to this bible study. I ordered the book out of ‘desperation’ haha.. then soon forgot that I ordered it (especially when it arrived for too long, usually would only take a week for delivery time, yet this had taken like almost more than a month!). You know what’s wrong? I put wrong delivery address! Oh well technically it was the correct address but I entered ‘Indonesia’ as the country instead of ‘Australia’ lol.. yeah, the cost of ordering a book out of desperation lol..

Butttt.. one day during my 40-days fasting and praying that I started in mid of June the book suddenly arrived!! Exactly on the first of July! haha,, Now that I’ve been blessed a lot by the study I know a lot that it must be God sending the book just at the right time (if I received it earlier when my heart was still prideful and my goal was to ‘win’ over my husband I guess I wouldn’t give my wholehearted heart studying the subjects as my heart wasn’t in receptive state).

Oh friends, I have desires to share these many stories and testimonies I benefit from the study, let’s start from this week’s subject “Returning to First Love” (although it almost reaches to the end of the study). I very much realize one underlying truth about this study, it shows me that my relationship with God affects my relationship with my husband. The way I treat God will be the same as I treat my husband, knowing God better will bring me to know my husband better too. There’s so much to learn about my marriage relationship with my husband that will reveal me even more the deep connection of my relationship with God!

My anniversary date with Jesus is 30 April, marked by my water baptism done on the same date in 2005, so next year it’ll be our 9th anniversary (yeyyy!). I didn’t know Him in personal back then so I guess it’s fair for me to celebrate our anniversary ‘formally’ from year 2005 😛 Nine may still sound not many yet (not like others who have walked with God for more than decades!) yet I know I have a great God who will continue to reveal more of Him and awe me with all the ‘newness’ about Him along my future ways 🙂

I have to admit along the years as “busyness” came (turning point was when I had a boyfriend who now is my husband, then marriage, then motherhood) my focus on Him often got distracted and I started to treat our relationship ‘more casual’. Knowing better of the scriptures over the years made me became less interested in studying the word of God in Bible everyday. Treating prayer as ‘the air that I breathe’ had actually resulted in ‘casual prayers’ in which I prayed wherever and whenever I wanted, without commitment to set aside intimate quite time to engage myself in deeper conversation with God. Moreover, I also experienced lost of purpose in ministering God in church particularly with the given hectic schedule (while I was in Indonesia). I didn’t think of other reason to sing or lead the worship other than fulfilling the schedule.

It may be the same with marriage relationship. It doesn’t mean that the husband/wife have abandoned their spouse, they may still fulfill each responsibilities toward one another yet they have lost something very important in their relationship: their first love! Just how much dangerous this kind of relationship?

Revelations 2:2-3 (to the Ephesians church)  *don’t skip reading these verses even though you’ve read them before*

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate the wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary”

Sounds they had done things right?

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” – Revelations 2:4-5

I also have read these verses many times before and I know that I shouldn’t neglect my first love for God, but how about if I have? What should I do?

The verses give us three things we have to do: 1. “Consider how far you have fallen”

“Consider” meaning kindly remember how far you have abandoned your first love toward God. I did this in the earlier paragraphs. Things that at that time I still thought was ‘okay’ (at least I still read, pray and serve God), yet where was actually the true essence in doing all of those things? Here I want to share my conviction, how I personally feel that merely reading God’s words (from broadcast devotional message in smartphone, ‘Facebook devotional’, your friends’ godly messages in Twitter etc) compared with really studying them brings very much difference to myself in terms of the depth of my understanding of God’s heart and receiving heart changing revelations. Not until I do this marriage bible study that my eyes be opened that truly God rewards me so much more compared with when I merely read someone’s devotional or randomly read bible verses (they do have blessed me in some ways, but later I figure out they are still lack of the ‘depth’ my spiritual heart really needs). I’m not speaking in terms of physical reward, but I get to know more about God by studying thoroughly and understanding correctly the context of the spoken God’s words in Bible and to apply them correctly in my life rather than judging too soon merely by reading two verses broadcasted from your friend (for example).

I was ashamed to confess that there was time when as a Christian I did not read and study the Bible everyday. Instead of treating Bible as my ‘must read’ book, I substituted it with other Christian books.

John 1:1 and 4-5 say,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”

Neglecting to read God’s words in Bible is rejecting God Himself!

So, first part, do your ‘confession’ before God and to people you are accountable for, of how far you have fallen. Than moving on to step 2. Repent

Ask God’s forgiveness and commit to turn your way from the wrongs. The sooner we confess and repent, the sooner God will restore our first-love zeal for Him before mediocrity and boredom rule your heart instead and by then the relationship has turned ‘sour’ and ‘very casual’ and it’d be more difficult to recover the love (although not impossible).

3. Do the things you did at first

Don’t stop at asking God’s forgiveness, commit to bring in the change, choose to change. I used to play worship songs at my own room and worshipping God and dancing to God shamelessly, now I bring it back again after it was missing for quite some time. It’s also good for Aimee to see her mom dancing joyfully for God not only in church but also in private time. I write my diary diligently again as I have an unique way of sharing deep conversation with God (https://crunchynat.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/six-months-after/), what things that you enjoyed when you first fell in love with Jesus but now have been forsaken due to circumstances and other things? Do that again 🙂

Well, I almost reach to the end of this sharing. This writing is far way from ‘a religious piece’, it is simply my sharing from my experience. It’s not easy to return to our first love with God especially after we think we have fallen too deep into our ‘wordly routine’. Laziness, boredom, busyness may overweight our will to return. At least that’s what I experienced. Yet it’s never too late with God, He has the power to transform your heart and re-ignite the love as long as you commit to make the first move.

One thing before I reallyyyy end this sharing haha.. don’t get mistaken the ‘first love’ with ‘feelings’. Crying in tears of admiration in the presence of God feels awesome, but that is not the primary goal of returning to first love with God. Similarly with marriage, as years go by the affection between the spouses rely much more on the deeper heart emotional connection rather than the ‘butterflies in stomach’ feelings. Simply enjoy the intimate time in the presence of God and have fun returning to your first love with God 😉

fail

Six Months After….

Yeah, where have I been?? :P
Yeah, where have I been?? 😛

It’s been almost six months I ‘purposely’ did not update this blog – why? what happened?

First of all, in March I was sick for more than a week and it felt awwfulll… with unwell body, fever, and 7 (yes, seven!) BIG ULCERS in my mouth, feeling like I had no mood at all in doing anything other than lying on my bed, even with those many ulcers drinking water feeling like swallowing needles 😦

However, remember always God’s promise in Romans 8:28, that God always works all things for the good of those who love Him, He used that experience to draw me closer to Him, to have a quite retreat into His presence. He reminded me that in order to focusing writing this blog as much as I could, I had neglected my quite time with Him.

I have an ‘unique’ prayer relationship with the Lord. As mentioned in my blog profile, it’s been my habit writing diaries since I was in elementary, and after I was born again in Christ I keep doing so and I’ve experienced uncountable times how God’s been talking and giving many life-changing revelations during my quiet time writing in my diary. On every front page of my diary, I always write that all my writings inside are like conversations between me, my Diary, and God.

I have to admit that ever since I got married and particularly after Aimee was born, I have little time writing in my diary, meaning my intimate talking (through writing) with God also got cut down. I wrote every now and then for ‘major events’ yet rarely just sit and write and tell God every trivial things in my life (although He surely has known every single things in my mind and heart) and hear what He would want to tell me and receive His rhema through His Words in Bible.

And as a mother, technically I only have one to two hours ‘me time’ everyday, which is when Aimee’s taking her nap! (like now haha..)

Can I just have my ‘me time’ in the evening or at night when my husband’s home from work? NOPE. Even when Daddy’s around Aimee still wants me to be there although we may not be engaging actively but she just likes my presence a lot I guess haha… So it’s pretty hard for me to sneak into room and write without hearing her calling Mommy 🙂

With only 1-2 hours ‘me time’, I have to use it very wisely. Will I use it for purely pleasure (browsing through my iPad, doing crafts, reading books) or seeking God (meaning here doing my Bible Study whilst writing ‘the conversation’ in my personal diary) or sowing seeds through this blog (or else)?

When I was sick back in March, it was like I felt God said to me, “Have a retreat with Me, Nat. You’ve been concentrating a lot writing the blog and although you have a valid motive behind it, My time with you is more valuable than any others. You have neglected your quite time with Me writing in your personal diary, where actually it is the source of your strength before you write in anywhere else. Choose Me before your writing ministry

Well, God did not exactly say it literally, but that was what I strongly got convicted in my heart. I must get back to my habit writing the diary because those moments are as equivalent as  my quite time with God.

During my sick moment I realized how crooked and prideful I am, I need to get my relationship with God top priority and to get it right first. So I decided to use the “me time” to “me and God’s time”. I “ran away” from this blog, not knowing when I shall be “allowed” to update it again.

Since then the journey begins. The awesome journey with the Lord, I must say!

I’m inspired again by His words, I’m encapsulated again by intimate moments sharing with God what I feel deep inside my heart, and be reminded by how much I used to spend a lot of time just sitting on His feet waiting Him to say something (first years when I was born again in Christ), He took me back to my first love.

To cut it short, two weeks ago somehow in church I feel the ‘urge’ to write in this blog again (when main message of “One More Person for Jesus” was given). I didn’t know whether I got it right, but for the last two weeks I got reminded again and again to write again in this blog, now without sacrificing the “me and God’s time”. So…. here I am again! hahaha….

Well, I’ve also just done 40-days fasting and actually can’t wait to share more in this blog, but I think the time’s up for now as I won’t use the entire Aimee’s nap time for updating the blog hehe…

So, now I can say those seven ulcers indeed had taught me something! haha… miserable, yes. Yet they have brought me back to the ‘basic’ and be drawn to God’s loving presence.

Til then…. God bless and have a nice week! 🙂

AMEN!
AMEN!

“Grace vs Shame: Healthy and Unhealthy Guilt” (Part 1)

After yet again sleeping on a tear-stained pillow last night feeling overwhelmed and discouraged being an ‘imperfect (bad) wife and mother’, this morning I encounter a revelation. How God’s working in revealing what’s really inside my heart awes me.

My ‘faithful readers’ (cheers ^^) must have known how I really love and been blessed by motherhood books authored by Jill Savage, and currently I’m reading her book of “Professionalizing Motherhood” after finishing the “Real Moms, Real Jesus”. Latest chapter of the book that I read was chapter 6 discussing about the importance of networking with other mothers, and I marked it by slipping my highlighter in it. This morning somehow I decided to bring the book with me downstairs for me to read during my breakfast time with Aimee in front of TV watching ABC4Kids (I usually also watch the programmes together with Aimee, I like cartoons so I don’t have difficulties to sit calm -calmer than Aimee- while watching cartoon lol). Anyway along the way I dropped my highlighter and casually slipped it back inside the book.

I was surprised when I re-opened the book and found the highlighter was slipped in a chapter far way ahead of the latest chapter I read, and the sub-title written “Healthy Guilt and Unhealthy Guilt“. Somehow ‘the highlighter’ (obviously it was God Himself!) has led me into chapter 10 “Grace: It has a Place in Your Home“. I thought for few seconds whether I should continue to read the latest chapter I was at, but the subtitle in front of me was so in tune with what I felt inside my heart at the moment, finally I decided to start reading it and thinking I could always go back to earlier chapters later.

How I’ve been blessed by that choice!

The next few hours I was bewildered, taken aback, and convicted by what I read!

It’s as if God was really there besides me, speaking to me word by word, explaining and letting me know what my ‘root problem’ is, revealing deepest feelings that I myself didn’t realize they were there in my heart! I was so convicted I cried while further reading the chapter when we went back upstairs to our room (Aimee still did not understand why there were tears in Mommy’s cheeks, she only pinpointed the teardrops while she held her juice bottle…)

I am so crooked, so broken, and feeling in despair, I cried and asked for help from God, I cannot do it by my own even after I’ve known “the new facts”. Here I’m gonna try to share my feelings, as best as I could, in words.

God's love

Jill explained in “Healthy Guilt and Unhealthy Guilt”, the difference between conviction and condemnation. Conviction is a very healthy and normal emotion, signaling that we have done wrong, and it produces in us a desire to change. Unfortunately, we can become so full of guilt and shame that we forget the unconditional love that God has for us, and it can lead us feeling condemned. Conviction, or “good guilt”, is from the Holy Spirit, that says “That was a bad choice, I don’t want to do that again”. Condemnation, instead, is “bad guilt” and comes from the devil.

God’s truth is the only weapon that can be used in battling against condemnation.

Romans 8:1 – “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”

I am not worthless simply because I have made a bad decision. God’s love defines my worth and is not based on my actions.

I could relate very well to a testimony of a mother that Jill included in her book, about how during her life as a mother for the last 13 years, she have been many times feeling disappointed with herself. “I haven’t always been loving, forgiving, caring, or selfless. Sadly, many times I have been just the opposites

But the good news is, she continued, “God believes in you and He believes in me! And He can certainly empower us to make good choices. And all the while, He stands right by us

That’s what I also feel right now although fractions of discouragement and brokenness still there in my heart at the moment, that along the process of standing upright, He stands just next beside me!

I don’t know how deep I actually have been drowning in lies and faulty values and beliefs I inherited from my family background, and how heavy the excess baggages I carry into my marriage from my past.

I actually feel headache and heartache at the same time as I’m writing this. Something in my heart wants to explode, something that God perhaps wants me to ‘get it right’ starting by acknowledging what’s really inside my heart, the poisonous of wrong perspectives and standards…

I better post this one first and make this “journey” as series due to the length and the profoundness of personal stories I’d like to share, pray that you will be blessed by this sharing journey and thanks for embarking on the boat together with me 🙂

 

“Why Bother Writing A Blog?”

As much as I love reading, I also love writing, either in piece of short stories (I did many of these especially in my junior high),  short articles or testimonies at church bulletins (I’m wondering why now they don’t distribute any bulletins anymore?), web articles and blog (when I worked as a copywriter in game industry), newsletter and formal letters (in my latest job in retail industry before I moved to Melbourne. This wasn’t in my early job desc when I first joined the company, but God is so good, no matter where I am, seem like there’s always an opportunity for me to channel my passion in writing ), and the most enjoyable is indeed writing this blog as well as my own journal in the secret of my drawer.

Why bother writing this blog when not many people reading it?

I won’t lie, I’m very happy if someone drops a comment or see a particular post hit high views, and I wish the readers would be adding substantially now that I have been writing more often. My greatest pleasure is if people or friends I know letting me know that they enjoy reading my blog and are blessed or simply think “I’m not alone” when they can relate with a particular post I write.

On the other hand, I sometimes feel discouraged if I feel like “I’m writing this blog all alone” (no comments for a while or very low views). However, after thinking logically, this blog is intended for a tool to bless others globally, plus first and the foremost reason I write is because it is my passion! So, whenever I feel discouraged or feel like “is there anybody who actually read this blog? (‘read’ as in not just ‘passing through’)”, I come back and remember this reason again. The result? I don’t even bother again. My purpose writing this blog is not to become popular in eyes of men but because of this, I wasn’t convicted to be famous.

I love writing this blog because I have passion for writing (with limited ability writing in non-primary language) and especially in my full time motherhood life now where I get the chance to write more often, I feel “closer” to this blog just like being closer and more connected to a person.

Anyway, science has also proof that writing journal has many health benefits as following:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings.

Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.

  • Know yourself better.

By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.

  • Reduce stress.

Writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.

  • Solve problems more effectively.

Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.

  • Resolve disagreements with others.

Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.

I can really assure you that I have gained all of those benefits from writing my journal since I was in elementary school 😉

For those of you who may think similarly (am I wasting time writing for nothing), the answer is “no“.  Remember your very first reason when setting up your own blog (most often that is an honest, accountable reason which serves as your “mission statement”). Plus, at least you may have gained the above benefits for your own goodness sake.

Just enjoy it ;)
Just enjoy it 😉

“He, Who Was Naked”

Deep thinking's here...
Deep thinking’s here…

Now, how can you love someone selflessly? I talked about my desire in my previous post to love my husband with “agape love” and wishing to say goodbye to the ‘nagging girlfriend’ gradually (not gonna be an instant, but I hope by end of this year there will be a major improvement in my mind and life).

How can I be a ‘good person’ if Paul in the Bible wrote “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18)?

First thing has to start from humility, by accepting the condition that I myself am not perfect, yet God loves me so much.

He loves me by giving me gift of life, everything I need and people He knows will shape me to be more like Him (whether those people are ‘good’ or ‘unfair’ towards me). Everyday I have the confidence to talk to the almighty God and am justified to have a personal relationship with Him, not because I am a righteous, but because Jesus has lend His righteousness clothes for me to wear.

I was taken aback when yesterday my pastor at his sermon said that despite of those pictures of Jesus hung on the cross with a piece of cloth around His waist, He was actually naked! My heart was so crushed knowing this ‘new’ history fact, even as I am writing this at the moment as the google result of this topic out of my curiosity showing/acknowledging similar actuality. The humiliation of nakedness was part of the punishment conducted by the Romans for criminals and as a way to put fear in the rest of the public.

John 19:23-24 (The Message) say:

“When they crucified him, the Roman soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, so they said to each other, “Let’s not tear it up. Let’s throw dice to see who gets it.” This confirmed the Scripture that said, “They divided up my clothes among them and threw dice for my coat.” (The soldiers validated the Scriptures!)

Although I could also find many debates about whether Jesus was really naked or not, my heart, mind, and this entry are all devoted for the immense shame He had to endure, and what is the sacrifice for? For me, and for each of every men God creates!

God knows if we, sinful by nature, try to love others by our human effort consistently, we will be either tired or biting our tongue (meaning we do it forcefully not joyfully) eventually. Even for a person who is such a kind and lovely, he/she must have selfish thoughts or ambitions deep in his/her mind during or not when he/she is performing their good deeds. Our human love is vain, and is often affected by emotions and circumstances around us. None of us can love others, even our dearest soul mate, naturally. That is because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), “doing/being a 100% good person all the time in our entire life” is just impossible, if we struggle by our own.

But this post is also not about ‘being a perfect person’. My goal is not to be perfect per se, but to draw my strength to love my husband, child, and others by the example that Jesus has performed. Love that is so great, selfless and life-changing, nobody will be the same after they are touched personally by this kind of love.

If Jesus has loved and accepted me the way I am, why can I extend the same love and grace that I have received freely to others who “fall short” in my own view?

how deep is Jesus loveThe key is to embrace Jesus’ human life and His crucifixion into my daily life for me to ‘have the same mindset as Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5). I have to admit even as a mature Christian, sometimes I have difficulty to ‘make’ Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross real in my life, daily. Often it has become simply ‘a well-known story’ and I hardly can “conceive” it “emotionally”. Knowing the historical fact I’ve just explained at above can be a “remedy” for me in ‘comprehending’ the great shame He had to endure, making me more thankful for what He has done, helps and motivates me to be more loving toward others.

But then again, as I’m writing this I know what I also need to change, I cannot depend on my emotion to be like Christ and have the same mindset like Him. Maybe from time to time, movies, pictures, or any ‘new facts’/things can be helping tools for me to embrace and understand more of how deep His love for me is, but fundamentally, loving others the same way like Jesus loves me is a choice, my own choice.

It will be my lifetime journey, but I don’t want to waste the time either if I have been given the opportunity to make real change from now on. I’ll get down to write “how to put this into practice” later, but for now, I am so thankful that Jesus had died for me at the cross, it is the source of beginning of every good change in my life.

 

 

“Nagging Girlfriend” vs “Loving Wife”

Today we attend a wedding thanksgiving ceremony of our church friends and I wanna share with you the message of “LOVE” that our pastor advised the couple yet also serves as a reminder particularly to myself.

Every word in the Bible was written with a purpose so it doesn’t need to instruct the believers to do things we have done naturally or with obvious reason (can you find “thou shall not forget to eat” or “thou shall not forget to breathe” :P). So, when Ephesians 5:28 says “Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies“, it must have been unnatural thing for a husband to love their wife (and so does when the Ephesians 5:22 says “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord“, it is not a natural thing for a wife to obey and respect their husband). God knows the best of the why’s.

Nonetheless, our pastor tossed an interesting question to the groom, “Who asked you to love your wife at the very first time?

Now stop for a while and if you are married (and ‘keep calm and stay smiling’ :P), ask that same question to yourself (for men) and for women: “Who asked you to submit, obey, and respect your husband at the very first time?”

Having those verses from the Ephesians by default in our mind at the very first we love our spouse is clearly not the answer because even unbelievers can truly love their wife/husband since at the beginning. Yet, why that “love” has to experience the “ups-and-downs”? Why that “love” can disappear after some time? Why our “love” in many occurrences has turned into something like a ‘reaction’, determined by how good or bad the other person act?

The answer is, because that kind of love we think we have is called “eros love“. I googled it to have more exact definition, and the Wiki refers it to “intimate love” or “romantic love”. It is one of the four loves which terms were used in the ancient Greek (the other three are ‘storge: family love’, ‘philia: friendship love’, and ‘agape: selfless love’). The Bible potrays this eros love in the Old Testament book, The Song of Solomon. A man-woman romantic relationship is always started out from this love, eros love.

Apparently, the ‘love’ word used in the Ephesians (as well as in 1 Corinthians 13’s definition of love) has a very much deeper meaning than that, they refer to the ‘agape love’, the selfless love, the love that God has shown us through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ, and how He has selflessly sacrificed Himself at the cross to redeem our sins, that is to make our position as a righteous instead of sinner in front of God; no matter what mistakes we have done, do, or will do!

It is very unnatural for us to love others with this agape love, almost as ‘impossible’. Yet God never ask us to do impossible things without He giving us the sufficient grace. I so much want to believe this, that it is possible to love my husband with this agape love, the sacrificial kind of love.

All of sudden I realize how I have loved my husband selfishly throughout all this time!

Yes I do love him very much otherwise I wouldn’t marry him, but the reason that ‘love’ is often get distracted by ‘annoying things he do’ is because I haven’t loved him with the agape love, that is clearly a kind of love that is still very much affected by emotion!

I realize how I am still very childish in loving my husband, it looks like I’ve been acting like a “nagging girlfriend” rather than being “a loving wife” I should be. A girlfriend can demand things and actions from their boyfriend either as ‘proof of love’ or simply to satisfy the girl’s self esteem (it’s great if you don’t). However, a wife has entered a covenant with God that she and her husband are now “ONE” (“This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” – Matthew 19:5). One is simply ‘whole’ and ‘undivided’, I think these verses describe the best in practically what kind of ‘teamwork‘ husband and wife should have:

“…agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” – Philippians 2:2-4

We are now entering the second year of our marriage (2 years 3 months, to be precise), and it is still at the very young unripe age. I thank God so much to rebuke me now so I still have time to do big mind-and-life-changing improvement of how I should love my husband (as the leading verse I receive for this year of 2013, Romans 12:2, you might wanna take a peek at my “2013 project”). Surely God is wanting to undergo a major construction in my mind!

Beware... Be Ready!!
Beware… Be Ready!!

Now I’m looking for ways to implement this in practical, so kindly give me some other time to reflect by my own before I post ‘the result’ in another entry, but for now one short sentence to summarize my resolution regarding this is:

#1 “Stop being a nagging girlfriend, start becoming a loving wife like Christ wants me to be”

I’ve always said that ‘marriage needs work’, instead of directing it one way only toward my husband sometimes through some unrealistic and unnecessary expectations, I now have to take a big gulp of humility by practicing it starting from myself…

A pic taken this morning at the wedding reception to end my ‘hard reflection on myself’ tonight… (Bunny Aimee looked so serious here :P)