“Halfway 2017”

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.

James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 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.

Lord,

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.

Lord,

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

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

 

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“My Grace is Sufficient”

 

“only when I’m weak, I can experience the fullness of Your power in me” ❤️

Many moments I don’t feel like being a “good enough” mom and/or wife. At many times I’m struggling to give when I don’t feel to give, or feel like I’m too tired and don’t have enough strength to keep on giving.

Then the same God’s words which came in my ealier years following Him and which has been sustaining me all through the years after, also arise for me this morning. 

Nat, this is the chance to experience My grace and power even deeper in your life“, He says. 

There is no other way. I wouldn’t be able to experience His power when I feel “I am strong enough, I can do this”. But when I cry out to Him, “Lord, I’m struggling, I cannot go on without Your help” – there God’s hands always readily available, reaching me like Jesus reached Peter when he’s about to get drawn… 

Thank You Lord, Your words give me joy and power to move forward! Help me to give from the overflowing love You’ve given to me first. 
Good morning and thank You once again for Your immense grace. 

Happy New Year 2015!

Well, I’m late by one day in wishing you all a happy new year, although not really ‘hot from the oven’ I hope the spirit of welcoming new things is still there (it’s still warm! :P).

I actually have written my reflection for year 2014 and wishes and desires for this new year in my own private diary, I almost forgot to write some here! To be honest, as years gone by (and I’m getting older lol), the spirit to making some new year resolutions have dissipated. I still treasure being given that point in life as a benchmark in “starting what I haven’t and improving what I should’ve been”, but I’ve become more aware and realize that I don’t have to wait for a new year to commit to make changes that I want to happen in my inner being and life, and also the change itself is more of a process rather than “a decision made in beginning of January and is forgotten by February”… So, maybe, because of those reasons this time I didn’t treat the day of 1st January as that ‘super special’ anymore… Yes, it is a new year, new beginning, and this point should have been used to renew commitment etc, but other than that nothing’s really changed much for me personally 🙂

Besides, I’ve just gone back 3 days ago from my “25 days unexpected holiday” in Jakarta so I was still busy cleaning up things and sorting my life back to normal that’s another reason I forgot to write yesterday. I had to go back to Jakarta all of sudden in early December because my grandfather passed away… Today is actually a month after he’s gone… Other family members and relatives might have their chance to be with him when he was hospitalized and during his critical condition, but for me who lives overseas my last memory with him was during last year’s Chinese New Year (31 January 2014). I was very grateful I still had the chance to meet him back then when he was still healthy, I’ll never forget the picture I had together with him when he still smiled and able to speak normally (several months later he fell from his bed and since then had to use wheelchair. Days before he passed away he vomited blood, liver failure soon followed and his heart rate weakening)… I’m sad I couldn’t see him for the last time other than on that day, but I’m also thankful at least the last moment we were together he was still smiling happily and that smile is what I keep in my memory instead of pictures of him that my dad sent me when he was in unconscious, emergency state…

I miss him.  We lived together in one house since when I was a baby for 8-9 years before my parents bought their own house and we moved. Maybe because I moved when I was still that young, I didn’t remember much my memory with him in particular other than from my childhood photos that I still kept to date. Then when I studied in Melbourne I only met him once a year until I was back and lived in Jakarta for two years in which I thought I’d stay there for long time. Nonetheless, two years ago I decided to move back to Melbourne with my husband and daughter, and I still remember his face, his gestures and words when he met me and asked whether I had been sure with my decision and he just smiled and nodded as sign giving me the permission. I met him twice since then (once a year in two years after I’ve moved to Melbourne, the last time was in January 2014).

Strangely, through all the years I actually wasn’t that very close to my grandpa, but losing him this time really hit me quite hard. That ‘life routine’ that I thought I’d always have; visiting my grandpa whenever I had holiday in Jakarta, buying his favorite Cherry Ripes bars beforehand as a ‘routine gift’, I’ve lost those “routines” now. I felt weird when last time I went to Coles to buy some gifts for my family after just a short notice that I must be back to Jakarta for his funeral, yet not buying any Cherry Ripes.

My Grandpa (Kong) had lived for 90 years, he had lived a long life indeed. During his funeral many testified about their admiration of his hard work, diligence, faithfulness and commitment to my grandma (who passed away 12 years ago before him), and generosity. I was one of them who went to the front and gave my testimony before I sang “Kasih Dari Surga” to comfort the mourners. For me, Kong is a sacrificial and faithful person. He migrated from China when he was 12 years old to Ternate (Maluku) before then to Jakarta, having none, yet with hard work and perseverance successfully establish a business empire and legacy to his next generations. He never forget where he came from, he still regularly donated and built many schools, hospitals, and orphanages in mainland China and also in many other places. He definitely wasn’t a type of person who kept it all for himself.

During giving my testimony, God reminded me a verse from Proverbs 22:1

“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold”

so I shared the above verse, and I can truly see that God’s word is true. The best legacy of all Kong has given to his family is his good name and living example.

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Kong, I will always remember you, and I thank God I was still able to come to Jakarta. I arrived just a day before his funeral, and I still got the chance to see his peaceful face before they closed the casket. Teach me Lord to use my days wisely while I still live on this earth.

My thoughts and prayers also go to the families of the victims of Air Asia flight QZ8501, I can’t understand the depth of the loss and how they have to welcome this new year with such great loss and sadness… Let God’s love and divine comfort fill their hearts, for only He understand and have the reasons for all things that happened (Romans 8:28).

Have a miraculous 2015 everyone!

“Why Am I Following Jesus?”

Sometimes students in the midst of giving their fullest focus and energy to fulfill their abundant homework and tests might ask themselves, why am I studying this hard? What am I aiming? What do I really want as I grow up?

I think nowadays I may have asked similar questions to myself in the midst of many challenges in following Jesus faithfully. What is the real reason I’m following Him? What am I aiming?

I used to pray often for me to be able to see like what Paul sees, but now I’m not really sure if I’m willing to pay the cost. Oh yes, about the cost, I’ve just naively realized it recently. There must be a price to pay. Commitment, sacrifice, denying self. I’m just not sure whether I want to, although I know I need it.

I come to realize that I rely on God so much more for my (comfortable) life on earth, rather than relying on Him for my salvation and secured place in heaven with Him.

Yes, I am grateful for my salvation, granted by grace through faith in Jesus. But because my mind still perceive it as an intangible thing, I am more grateful if God could make my life easier on this earth by tangible things I can see or touch.

I don’t know how to escape from these thoughts and ever discover my true faith in God. I don’t know if you get what I mean…

I’m just gonna keep this post short, then, and keep the rest of the words inside my head while praying I’d know the answer soon.

all can be blessings

“Poorer but Wiser”

I’m experiencing a major struggle at the moment… I don’t know what I should do, or what things have gone wrong… and even feeling like God doesn’t give a response, a clear instruction of what I should do… I’ve never experienced this kind of struggle before… I keep asking God, what is Your plan, what is Your will, what should I do now? This earthly issue I’m facing have a due date… and I don’t understand why despite of my prayer at the beginning asking God’s help for us to settle the matter before the due date, it still gets pass! …

Then I come across this article… even though it describes another different circumstance, I mostly can truly relate to what the couple argued and shared about their thoughts and feelings during overcoming the struggle…

I still don’t understand what God’s plan even after reading this article yet it gives me just another hope to go through another day…

“Bankrupt!”

Melinda and Tim Inman had known this day would be difficult, but they hadn’t expected such a large crowd in the courtroom. More than 50 other people were waiting for the judge to call their names.

There was no exchange of polite conversation. Just being in bankruptcy court belied a secret so personal that few seemed comfortable with small talk. When the Inmans’ turn came, Tim walked to the front, then turned and faced the onlookers. He answered the judge’s questions: Are you Timothy Inman? Is this your correct address? Are these the debts in question?

Then the judge addressed the crowd: Are there creditors present who wish to present a claim against these debts? No one answered. When the judge was satisfied, Tim stepped down. He and Melinda hurried from the room, glad to escape the awkward scrutiny of strangers. It was now official: They had filed for bankruptcy.

How Could This Happen?

“You feel ashamed,” Melinda says, recalling the scene in the courtroom three years ago. “It’s a blow to your ego,” says Tim. “Bankruptcy implies irresponsibility, that you couldn’t take care of your family. You don’t want to be known as a failure.”

But the Inmans weren’t failures. Tim had started a new job as postmaster in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Before their recent move there, the Inmans had lived for 17 years in Manhattan, Kansas, where Tim worked as a postal supervisor. Melinda homeschooled their five children and managed the household. In 1989 Tim completed his college degree while working full-time.

Although he had a good job and they budgeted carefully, the cost of raising a large family put a growing strain on the Inmans’ finances. Mortgage payments, groceries, upkeep on their van, the perpetual needs of the children, college loans: It all added up to less and less money at the end of each month. They debated whether Melinda should get a job, but daycare costs were prohibitive; and both Tim and Melinda were reluctant to give up homeschooling.

While seeking advice, the Inmans discovered a series of videotapes made by Christian financial counselors. These videos promised something they had never heard before: that Christians, by tithing and practicing certain other principles, could be assured of freedom from financial difficulty. The Inmans had always given money to their church, but they hadn’t made a point of giving a certain percentage of their income. They began to wonder if their failure to tithe was the cause of their financial difficulties. Perhaps God was waiting for them to show their trust in his ability to provide for their family’s needs. Desiring to obey God, they began tithing.

Tim took on a second job, working on commission for a financial planning service. He and Melinda were optimistic. They had taken a step of faith, and they waited for the financial security that was promised. But almost immediately they were hit by a wave of medical expenses. Over a period of months, accidents, injuries and other unexpected circumstances forced more than half the family members to seek medical care. The aftermath was a long list of medical bills—ambulance fees, hospital stays, bills from surgeons, anesthesiologists, physical therapists and more. Some expenses were covered by insurance; others weren’t. And even the medical care that was covered required a hefty co-payment. “At one point, we were sending money to more than ten doctors and specialists,” Melinda says.

At the same time, heavy rains were causing widespread flooding in their town. Water seeped up through the basement floor of their home, weakening the basement walls—which eventually buckled inward.

The Inmans were shocked and confused. After being encouraged to expect financial help from God, they had been swept into a devastating flurry of financial difficulties. The income from Tim’s second job went to pay medical bills. When that wasn’t enough, they started using their credit card to cover medical expenses.

Then they investigated the cost of repairing their basement. Because the house wasn’t located on a flood plain, they hadn’t been eligible for flood insurance. Low-interest loans were available to repair flood-damaged homes, but as work was about to begin on the Inmans’ basement, new information came out concerning building code restrictions. To bring their home up to current standards, the cost of the repairs would jump from around $10,000 to nearly $40,000. What had been a difficult, but manageable, situation suddenly became a crisis. “Even with a second mortgage, our home was not worth that much,” says Tim. “We couldn’t qualify for a loan, and we couldn’t fix the damage on our own.”

Nowhere to Turn

Not knowing what else to do, Tim went to see an attorney. “He told me to declare bankruptcy,” says Tim, “but I didn’t want to do that.” Another option would be to talk with the banker who had made their home loan. Perhaps the bank would forgive the debt and take the house back.

“I swallowed my pride and went to see him,” Tim says. The banker was sympathetic, but he wouldn’t take a house so seriously devalued by flood damage. If the Inmans turned over the house, the bank would sue them for what they still owed on their mortgage. Ten years of hard work investing in their home had vanished.

Badly shaken, they turned to Christian friends for support. Their church had offered much practical help during their medical and financial ordeals, bringing in meals and even giving them money. But Melinda and Tim sensed people withdrawing from them as they began to talk about the possibility of bankruptcy.

“It scared people,” says Melinda. “We didn’t fit the paradigm. We were following all the rules, and tithing, and still bad things kept happening to us.”

Sometimes well-meaning advice only deepened their feelings of doubt. “Once someone reminded us how another person in our church prayed to sell his house by a certain day, and the house sold on that very day,” Tim recalls.

“But we were praying, too,” says Melinda. “We started to wonder what was wrong with us—didn’t we have as much faith as other people?”

Relentlessly, the emotional stressors multiplied. Tim’s father died, which caused him to become increasingly depressed. “I forgot people’s names, phone numbers, why I went to the grocery store,” he says. “I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I’d walk in the back of the post office and have to throw up before I could start working.”

Then they learned they were expecting their sixth child. Melinda knew how hard Tim was struggling, and she feels God gave her the strength to remain hopeful when everything seemed to be crumbling around them.

“Tim needed me to be optimistic, and it seemed like I was given the ability to see the good in things,” she says. Melinda would point out the blessings in their lives—a son who made a deeper commitment to God; a new child on the way; the successful recovery from the many medical problems family members had faced. The Inmans also began meeting several times during the week for coffee or lunch. “We were too embarrassed to talk to anyone else,” Tim says, “so we talked to each other.”

“We talked about everything that might happen,” Melinda says, “all the scenarios, over and over.”

“Sometimes we even laughed about it,” Tim says. “We’d wish that whatever God was doing, he would hurry and get it over with so we could look back on it and see how much we had grown!”

But the answers weren’t forthcoming. Tim felt more and more that bankruptcy might be inevitable. Melinda clung to her belief that God wouldn’t allow that to happen.

When a large sales commission that Tim was counting on fell through, he and Melinda decided they had to make a change. He was selected for a postmaster’s position in Nebraska, and the family moved after the birth of their baby daughter.

After the move, the Inmans received an offer on their house back in Kansas. “We fasted and prayed that the house would sell,” says Tim.

“I begged God,” Melinda says. “I don’t think I’ve prayed for anything that hard in my life.”

But the contract fell through. And the following month the Inmans filed for bankruptcy.

Poorer but Wiser

During their move to Nebraska, Tim spent some time alone—to heal, to recover from his depression and to search the Bible for help. He was looking for answers to his questions about their decision to tithe and their subsequent bankruptcy. He became convinced that the advice he and Melinda had received was a one-sided portrayal of the rewards of obeying God. In fact, after he stood up in court and declared that he and Melinda were unable to pay their debts, he felt a little more at peace.

But Melinda continued to struggle with doubts. “I thought we had failed as Christians; either God had let us down, or we had let him down,” she says. Just as Tim had drawn on Melinda’s optimism back in Kansas, now Melinda needed Tim’s quiet assurance that God had not rejected them.

“I was lying in bed one night, and I realized I had quit talking to God,” she says. “I didn’t trust him anymore because I had begged him to sell our house and it didn’t sell.

She confided her feelings to Tim, who continued to reassure her. She also told a friend, who encouraged her not to turn her back on God but to turn toward him and then wait. “Tell God you don’t trust him anymore,” the friend said. “And believe what you know about him from Scripture, even if you can’t feel it right now.”

Melinda joined a group that was studying the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. She found comfort in the prophet’s dialogue with God, and she began to gain insight into her own struggles.

“It was hard for me to see how it could be God’s will to let all those things happen—his way of refining my character and making Tim and me closer,” she says. “But why should I think God can’t allow bad things to happen in my life, when he allowed bad things to happen to so many people in the Old Testament? When I finally understood that, it was like a weight rolled off me.”

Slowly, Melinda’s optimistic faith returned. Looking back, she and Tim realize they should have researched the initial teaching they received about tithing. “We accepted a legalistic perspective—that if Christians tithed and did certain things, bad things wouldn’t happen to them,” says Melinda. “But we know now that we can’t put God in a box. We don’t make God behave in a certain way.”

Having learned that giving ten percent won’t buy financial security, the Inmans sometimes feel angry about advice that glibly guarantees a prescribed response from God in exchange for obedience or trust. But they concentrate on the bigger issues, such as the overall purpose of obedience in a Christian’s life. Melinda found answers in the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, whose choice to obey God placed their lives in jeopardy. “They trusted God, no matter how he responded,” she says. “Their attitude was, ‘If we die, we die.’ They were determined to obey God.”

Melinda and Tim now enjoy a freedom that permeates every area of their faith. Their giving is a matter between them and God, and they no longer give based on some prescription for getting something back.

Thanks to Tim’s good job and the help of willing bankers, the Inmans once again own a home. And when tough times come along, their history provides a good reminder of God’s nearness and support. They are convinced that financial failures don’t mean God doesn’t love you. “In fact,” says Melinda, “this may be God’s way of showing that he does love you—by bringing about the things that will conform you to the image of Christ.”

Renae Bottom is a freelance journalist. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two children.
Copyright © by Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine.

* some highlights are added as for my own personal note

I still have faith that God knows what He’s doing and it does not to harm me and my family. I pray in time I will know what I should do and what actually God wants me to learn through all of this…

 

“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 🙂

 

“Finding a House is as Much Difficult as Finding a Soul Mate

“Finding a house is as much difficult as finding a soul mate” – Natalia Wijaya

Which one is The One?
Which one is The One?

Yes, it is my personal comment based on my experiences lately, feel like been riding an up-and-down emotional rollercoaster. For a little bit of background, you may want to read my earlier post in November 2012 “Wedding Anniversary Gift from the Lord” about my testimony of how I can end up being here in Melbourne 🙂

In Jakarta both of us had to work and might be difficult for us to have much saving yet at least we have had our own apartment. Here, I can enjoy the privilege of taking care of Aimee by myself and we personally feel we can enjoy much better value-for-money entertainment and living standard in Melbourne but we don’t own a house. We have known it’d be a huge challenge for us once we moved here. Yet as we walked along through God’s opened doors, I’d always proclaim my faith “if God brings us here, He will not work half way. He will provide for us everything including a house of our own“, and how much I want to trust Him in a difficult situation like now.

We have just had an experience close to agreeing to buy a house & land package from one developer (we have put a deposit to show our interest in securing the land and have met their finance staff to discuss our loan options-for us that is very close in tying our knot to either the right or wrong path) – before then we decided not to proceed, just tonight.

Before then, I have to ‘suffer’ from the dilemmas and “what if” questions, enough to making me not be able to sleep well. The process made me emotionally tired, as I was really confused waiting for God’s answer whether that house was ‘the one’ or not, it was a thin line between we moved by our own wills or God’s wills.

So, my statement above (making the process in finding a house to be very much similar with the process I had to go through before I decided to be with my now husband), is based on the following circumstances 😛

1. You can’t always tell whether ‘it’ (as in ‘the house’) or ‘your spouse’ (he/she) is the one from the first encounter 

Some people were lucky if they could, and I used to hope I could have that “instinct” or probing from Holy Spirit too when I first met my husband, but “sadly” it wasn’t that easy for me. However, as my journey in finding a house still continues, I hope I can!! (I dunno, maybe within the first minutes we talk to the agent, or within first seconds entering the house (if it’s a second). By the way, you are welcomed to visit my other blog to read the story of how I met my husband 😛 *blush*

2. Better to suffer heartbreaking moments before you move into a more serious relationship (as for the house, before you sign any contract. As in term of relationship, personally for me before you even agree to be his/her girlfriend/boyfriend. But of course what is more vital is, before you say that “I DO” 🙂 )

It is disappointing indeed for me when we finally decided not to proceed with the house as we had given our time and effort (plus that emotional burden by having that sort of dilemma), as much disappointing and hurtful as to be in a close relationship with someone but then turns out things don’t work out between you two, but hey, it is truly better to withdraw now than later when it’s too late!

3. May have to undergo a “wide array of selection” before you eventually meet the right one

These paragraphs I quote from my other blog about how I met my husband desribe it best haha…

“October 5th 2008 – That day he finally told me he wanted to be closer to me more than just a friend. I couldn’t remember whether I was happy or surprised, back then I didn’t know what to expect. That wasn’t the first time a man told me his feeling and asked me to be his girlfriend, it has happened many times before. For some I agreed to give a think and pray for a decision within a certain period (always ended up for ‘No’), while for the rest I just straightforwardly knew the answer would also be ‘No’.

For this one?

I didn’t know what I should answer and do. A part inside my heart said, “Ah, not again, the ‘cycle’ is happening again! Maybe it’d be just like the others, for not more than a month later the answer eventually would be a ‘No’.

But on that night somehow I just found that God was my hiding place. I didn’t know what I should pray or ask to God related with this issue. I just knew He would be the place where I could find the answer and He would guide me in making the decision”.

Reminder for myself: do not give up in finding my future ‘anointed house’!!!

Same principle applies in finding the dream house :P
Same principle applies in finding the dream house 😛

4. Both requires HUGE leap of faith

Sure you may have liked what you see (“the offer, deal, house type” vs. “the person’s character, background”) but you are not  able to find out “the real it/him/her” unless you make that first step, a huge step of faith that is. Would there be something wrong in the house which might be only found out after we move into it? Would I be able to accept his/her weaknesses which may arise later when we are into a more serious relationship? Would he/she change after we get married? etc etc

5. It is very rare to get 10 out of 10 from your “perfect house/spouse list” all’s checked, necessary adjustment has to be made as long as it does not overrule your most important value or principle

I used to write a list for my ‘future dream husband’ (knowing what your criteria is helping you a lot in deciding one from the “wide array of selection” I’m talking about at above. I forgot the complete list already and only remember the ‘important parts’, it was written in one of my diaries stored in my parents’ house in Jakarta) and my husband scored 7 out of 10 hahaha… Now when he annoys me, I tend to focus more on those 3 that he’s lack of and forgetting the other 7!! *ups* 😛 But on our ‘high’, I know I am with him for right reasons and he scored all the ‘3 very principle things that my future husband should have’ lol :-*

6. Don’t go for it at the first hand if you have known the house/he/she is “just not for you

We have set a certain budget and we won’t make ourselves a fool by approaching a house that is way exceeding the budget range, we won’t even ask for more information from the agent, why would we waste our time and energy finding for more information for something that we cannot afford even though how beautiful the house may seem? For me before I was with my husband, this verse is my ‘limit’: “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) and I used to bear in my mind, “not all Christians are Christ-followers” 🙂

Well… maybe I can add some other points for the comparison, but I gotta go to sleep 🙂 After making that decision of letting it go, we both are more relieved now…. God may have saved us from a huge mistake… I know, because now I can sleep well again and I can feel that peace in my heart, at least I can save that dilemma for another time (still hoping we will get that hunch when we meet our future house!!) and back to the basic: “if God brings us here, He will not work half way. He will provide for us everything including a house of our own” I proclaim that God won’t fail us!

Have any encouraging stories or comments related with my story? 🙂

faith

“I Want to be A Coffee Bean”

June is going to end soon, so is the “Second Semester” of 2012- what does our ‘report card’ show? Do we still have that ‘burning spirit’ when we first enter the New Year?

A devotion I read this morning remind me of something. Here’s what I’m gonna share with you, an illustration about “a carrot, an egg, and a coffee bean” (no, it’s not a blog entry about cooking recipe :P)

“If carrots, eggs, and coffee beans are boiled, the effect on each item will be different. The carrots will soften, the eggs will harden, and the coffee beans will change the color of the water and spread a delicious aroma (I miss Melbourne’s coffee by the way :P).

The boiling water symbolizes problems or pressures in our life. The carrots, eggs, and coffee beans symbolize different human reactions to problems or pressures. The soft carrots represent people who grumble, complain, and pity themselves when faced with problems. The hardened eggs represent those who become stubborn, rebellious, and angry at God during tribulations. But the coffee beans represent people who obey and trust God, changing the atmosphere around them while spreading the fragrance of Christ.

God offers to each of us faith greater than any problem we face. The magnitude of the problem is not as important as our reaction to the problem. Our faith determines how we will respond as we meet the challenges of daily life – as a carrot, a hard-boiled egg, or a coffee bean -The Upper Room, Thursday 21 June 2012

Reflecting on this illustration, I realize God allows me to experience problem and life difficulties to challenge me to still praising Him in spite of many strives I’m facing. May and June have been tough and difficult months for me honestly… 

It’s easy to praise God when we feel blessed or in good condition -the unbelievers can even do it- However, can we still praise Him in hard times? Can we keep our faith if we do not sense God’s help? I feel it’s very, very difficult.

Many times I’ve been acting like the carrot instead (I was like the egg in my early years following Jesus). Yet it’s very rare I can act like the coffee bean! Overwhelmed by troubles, I don’t even remember or care to ‘spread the fragrance of Christ’ to others because my focus has been too absorbed in the problem itself!

I think this blog has been very often listing my wish/prayer to be ‘more grateful, more patient, more like Christ’, because yes, it depicts how I’m really struggling to be one! I pray these prayers aren’t just empty words, as God’s grace continually sustaining me everyday… Only God can truly judge and know what’s inside my heart. Only Him can truly help me in His divine ways, to turn my ‘identity in my report card’ from a carrot to be a coffee bean instead…

This verse I read yesterday has really strengthened me. I’ve read it many times before but somehow God has opened my mind to a different facet of the verse yesterday.

“Whatever things are true, whatever things have honor, whatever things are upright, whatever things are holy, whatever things are beautiful, whatever things are of value, if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, give thought to these things” – Philippians 4:8 (Bible in Basic English)

Holy Spirit has simplified this verse to me: Think only things that will bring praise to God!

The verse says “.. if there is any praise..”, surely we have at least one everyday, right!? Even though we are in trouble moments, there MUST BE something that we can think of which we can give praise and thanks to God.

Lord, I give thanks to You, God of comfort, God of Shalom! You have reminded me ‘peace’ in Christian life doesn’t mean an absence of problems, but an assurance that You are always with me, never leave nor forsake me, NEVER.

“Learning from HERMES”

A smack on my face! These days those ‘smack’ (in other word, “God’s dicipline”) come repeatedly unto me. I feel guilty and resent of myself, yet I know that is not the purpose of God disciplining me.

There was an incident happened lately that made me realize how I need to behave more gently and humble toward other people. This incident has made me feeling ashamed, I am a ‘child of God’ but behaving rude and impolite to the people close to me…?

Then when I share with one person close to me about this incident and how I wish I could be more patient and gentle, she answered “you’ll surely can be more patient and gentle than I am because you have more experience with the Lord than I do, and you have the help you need” I was stunned. I believe this person’s answer must be frank, and she expected ‘more’ from me ‘just because’ ‘I have more experience with the Lord’. How can I be salt and light to other people if I couldn’t control myself to be patient and gentle…? Another shame.

Condemnation hit me, I have to attack it with God’s words in 1 John 1:19

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (New Living Transation)

In this kind of situation, it’s very easy for my human mind to get distracted and believe the devil’s lies. The fact according to God’s words shows that He is faithful and just. Once I confess my sins, He not only forgives, but cleanses us!

A bottle of ink drop on this? OH NO!

Imagine being given a very classy, pricey, beautiful handbag (HERMES anyone?) from our loved one then we spill a bottle of ink on it by accident (or any other stain that won’t be able to be removed by our self effort). We’d feel so sorry for the damaged handbag and feel scared perhaps to inform the giver. Maybe we’d just hide it under the bed and promise ourself to never use it again (plus hoping not to meet the giver just in case he/she might ask how we love the handbag yet never been seen anymore carrying it around -people with HERMES will surely carry it around ‘all the time’ right :P).

But then considering our good relationship with him/her, we finally decide to make the confession. It’s almost impossible to hide the HERMES’ incident because our heart also feel uncomfortable whenever we see him/her. Eventually when we make the confession, turn out he/she says it doesn’t matter at all and even offering a magic chemical ingredient that be able to 100% remove the stain! We can proudly carrying the HERMES bag ‘all the time’ again!

That is what Jesus also does whenever we confess our sins according to 1 John 1:19! What an amazing grace!

Plus this morning when I share with my friend how I was feeling hopeless and faithless these days, her answer: “There is always a way. Worry only kills faith. Regardless of what you’ve experienced, until now you and your family are still fine. If everything doable and easy it does not require faith. There’s always hope in Christ”

Wow! What a statement of faith! God doesn’t allow me to hear ‘an easy answer’. It was more like a command, not a comfort that I thought I needed. Why? Why can I be just ‘spoiled’ by God? In His eyes, my faith is more important than my comfort, that is what the Holy Spirit tells me just now…

I cannot complain, that is what my loving God wants me to have and experience… Your grace will sustain me, Lord, as always.