Who am I? *not 24601

*UPDATE: Good Morning Girls just posted the most fitting image for this on Facebook*


What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I pray (as much) as I should?

There was a time when I used to talk to God about everything; sometimes when I’m walking, even aloud (yes, in public). There was a time when I didn’t tire of asking for the same thing over and over again (and that wasn’t even for myself). What happened? When did I become the person who believed that something wasn’t true unless I verbalised (i.e.,prayed about) it? When did I take it upon myself that God didn’t need to hear about my mundane, didn’t want to hear when I wasn’t right with Him, was just as fatigued as I was about my repetitiveness?

In ‘Becoming a Woman With a Hot Prayer Life‘ on Good Morning Girls (GMG), Courtney Joseph writes: “We mustn’t be cold or even lukewarm in our prayer lives. God calls us to be women who pray.”

She quotes E.M.Bounds:

“Praying is a spiritual work; and human nature does not like taxing, spiritual work. Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a favoring breeze.

Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signs our spiritual bankruptcy, and all these are hard for flesh and blood to bear.

It is easier not to pray than to bear them. So we come to one of the crying evils of these times, maybe of all times –little or no praying…

The little estimate we put on prayer is evident from the little time we give to it.”

And Charles Spurgeon:

“You do not need to have scholarship, training, talent, or wit for prayer. Ask, seek, knock –that is all…Will you believe the promise? It is Christ who gives it. No lie ever fell from His lips. Oh, do not doubt Him. Pray on if you have prayed, and if you have never prayed before, may God help you to begin today!”

It took me a week to process, helped along by the Hymns series from She Reads Truth that I’m following during GMG’s break. These were the hymns, and my takeaways:

Come, Ye Sinners: Waiting till I’m a better person before I feel worthy of approaching God? “If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.”

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing: “Tune my heart” to always remember, to always sing, because I have a love that will never leave me!

It Is Well With My Soul: “Whatever my lot…” Is solitude my lot, Lord?

How Firm a Foundation: Yes, people may make me crumble, but I can trust the Lord completely… and yet, what am I afraid of?

I Need Thee Every Hour: Give it all to Jesus… (of course I had to hunt down that song from my childhood, something my parents played in the car’s cassette player – woo, ’80s here we come – and although I hadn’t heard it in, maybe, 30 years I knew there was a line: “Give them all to Jesus: shattered dreams, wounded hearts…”

When I finished Hymns, I went back to Becoming a Woman With a Hot Prayer Life, and it all just. Oh. My. Jaw drop.  It all, wondrously (oh how God works in mysterious ways!), wove together to literally bring me to my knees. To make me see James 5:13-19 as, not a call, but a comfort: In trouble? Pray. Happy? Sing your praise. Sick? Ask for prayer. Sinner? Pray. Pray for each other. Pray for the impossible. Pray for the ordinary.

And so. To celebrate this moment of enlightenment, here’s a throwback to a time when things were rainbows and butterflies:

And here are the lyrics of Give Them All to Jesus by Bob Sr Benson, Phillip Johnson:

Are you tried of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life
and at the feet of Jesus lay them down.
Give them all, Give them all,
give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys
give them all, give them all,
give them all to Jesus
and he will turn your sorrow into joy
He never said you would only see sunshine
he never said there would be no rain
he only promised us a heart full of singing
at’s the very thing that once brought pain.
Give them all, Give them all,
give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys
give them all, give them all,
give them all to Jesus
and he will turn your sorrow into joy
Give Them all to Jesus
At the feet of Jesus lay them down

Faith of our mothers

How valid is the decision you make when you’re six years old?

That’s how old I was when my mother told me that I would burn, apart from the family I held dear, in hell if I did not ask Jesus Christ into my heart to be my Lord and Savior. When you’re that young, your world is your immediate family, and the thought of life (or the afterlife, in this case) without them is hell enough – add to that the image of never-ending burning in fire and brimstone, and, well, that’ll turn a child to Jesus.

I remember that moment. I remember a little wordless book with colored pages – green, black, red, white and gold – and getting down on my knees to sing a song called Into My Heart. And I remember telling the same evangelistic spiel to Rochelle and Margot, who were a few months younger than me, and bossing them into kneeling to pray Jesus into their own hearts. I was a bossy child.

In youth group I met now-lifelong-friends who shared stories of a moment in their lives when they found themselves desperately on their knees, asking Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of their hearts. They had dramatic, life-shaking stories, and they were high on their lately-found faith. I envied them that, and got rightly scolded for not appreciating what I had: the faith of my mother, and her mother before her.

There was a time when I always thought I would become a mother, and although I wouldn’t scare my child into becoming a Christian, I knew that I would be sharing my faith with her, too.

I was sitting in a cafe, enjoying my haloumi stack brunch all by myself, journalling a brain dump and justifying why, after three months of having moved to Sydney I still hadn’t found a church to commit to, when this question popped out: How valid is the decision you make when you’re six years old?

Huh. Was my first reaction to that question. And then just as quickly, the answer: When everything else I’ve chosen since then is because of that six-year-old’s choice, that’s definitely a valid decision (but don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint!). And that’s been possible only because the One I chose hems me in behind and before, and has His hand on me (Psalm 139:5)… and also, because of the faith of my mother, and her mother before her. And so here we are, my mother with my brother on her lap, and my hand in my grandmother’s. And because I made that decision when I was six, someday my hand will be in my grandmother’s again.

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Turn it upside down…

somewhere-2.jpg

Because I’m truly (finally!) Down Under, I’m taking liberties with this popular expression and turning it on its head.

“It’s five o’clock somewhere” is an excuse to enjoy a tipple at a socially unacceptable hour – cocktails at noon? Well, I do actually live in a country where great wines and beers are made. But who said that that “five o’clock” had to be PM?

My mama used to wake up at five AM to do her quiet time. Then at six, she’d come to my room and wake me up with a reading of Our Daily Bread. When I first moved out on my own – to another country, no less – I found an online version of Our  Daily Bread that I could play after my alarm clock rang. It used to jar me awake to hear a man’s voice, not my mama’s, read the reflection and Scripture and then pray, but hey, I found it comforting to start my day that way.

I’m not a morning person the way my mama is. Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee, and even then, I start my first couple of hours really slowly (as in, I’m literally slow on the uptake!). I’ve learned, especially with Bible studies that involve writing down answers or reflections, that my lunch break (or just after, before my mind gets refocused on work), is the optimum time for me to absorb the Word. So it’s not five AM for me. But it’s five o’clock somewhere, which means I’m still kind of in time … and anyway, He is the Sovereign God who controls time, and “a thousand years in [His] sight are like a day that has just gone by.”

Only the One whose timing is perfect can do this…


“May the God who “became flesh and took up residence among us” shine His light on our faces (John 1:14). May we reflect His goodness and mercy. When people look at us, may they see the glow of God’s glory.”

The day that this reading (http://shereadstruth.com/2016/04/26/israel-departs-from-sinai/) came, the thing I had been waiting for these past few months happened. Talk about perfect timing. 

I still hear Fanny Ardant’s distinctive voice and accent from the 1995 remake of the movie Sabrina when I think of these words:

“Illusions are dangerous people. They have no flaws. I came here from Provence, alone and uneducated. For eight months — no, more than that: a year, I sat in a cafe, I drank my coffee and wrote nonsense in a journal. And then somehow it was not nonsense. I went for long walks and met myself in Paris.”

  
 
   
   

   
 
I was feeling whiny about long, solitary walks but when I was looking at the trails I’ve trod, I realised how much I have to be thankful for instead. And so I am grateful.

Arise, my soul, arise

I was going to write this post titled Lady in waiting, and I absolutely still feel that way, but this song we are rehearsing in choir for Easter Sunday is so beautifully uplifting that I forget my circumstances and psychological state when I sing or hear it. How apt (ironic?) that the song is sung by a girls choir, who are so young and full of excitement for what their bright futures hold.

In the spirit of Lent, and of waiting (although I am now waiting for a totally different thing altogether) I must confess that a few years ago I got tired of waiting. I jumped the gun, like Abraham and Sarah did when they decided that perhaps God’s promised heir could be born of Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden. And while my actions will not affect the future of nations and faiths, they did lead to heartbreak.

How does one stay hopeful when the waiting seems like it’s taking forever?

That short period of time between “It is finished” and the sunrise of the third day, when you know there is a promise and you hope for what is promised, but everything just screams that it’s not going to happen – “shake off your guilty fears”.

Oh, of course my personal drama is nothing as earth-shaking, but this song! What a lovely reminder.

Arise, my soul, arise,

Shake off thy guilty fears:

The bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears:

Before the Throne, my Surety stands.

My name is written on His hands.

Five bleeding wounds He bears,

Received on Calvary,

They pour effectual prayers, they strongly plead for me:

“Forgive him, O, forgive,” they cry.

“Nor let that ransomed sinner die.”

My God is reconciled,

His pard’ning voice I hear;

He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear;

With confidence I now draw nigh,

And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

Arise, my soul, arise!

(Arise, My Soul, Arise by Dan Forrest)

A girls’ girl

Before I became half of a couple, I disdained the pseudo-holiday that Valentine’s Day is. Then for a few dreamy years I was showered with flowers and mush… And then, this year, I wasn’t half of a couple anymore. Yet somehow I didn’t notice the build-up to this Valentine’s Day, and even much of the day itself, although I saw giddy girls carrying roses everywhere around town.

I made a new friend this morning; she was a friend’s friend looking for a church, so I invited her to try mine. And we had brunch, and talked as if we were old friends, after the morning service. Then I did a couple of errands before meeting a girl friend and her visiting mother to watch Brooklyn, the movie. And then I took my flat mate and her son to dinner. And my heart is grateful, and full.

Of course I wonder that I will be half of a couple again, that a man will hold my hand in his and make me believe that together we can conquer the world. But also, today, I knew that I can also conquer the world with my girl squad. Between Brooklyn and dinner, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that my girl friends are the best support group and surrogate family I didn’t even ask for. I was – and am – happy to be a girls’ girl.

“Of course Brooklyn is a date movie”, the friend I watched it with said, when she was trying yesterday to convince another girl friend to join us. What struck us, though, while we were watching, was the immigrant, fresh-off-the-boat theme. “How OFW!”, she commented. The scene where Saoirse Ronan loses it after reading her first letter from home – I lived that heartache every time mom called or messaged me my first month here. And the scene where she takes a new girl under her wing, because another girl had done the same for her, I learned that immigrant’s-pay-it-forward tradition, too. That’s how the bonds of my surrogate family -slash- girl squad were solidified.

Happy Valentine’s Day, girls! Here’s another poster of Brooklyn, just because it’s so pretty.

PS And I did receive a Valentine’s Day present (although I think it was meant for Christmas) – my sweet friend Pierra’s signed book landed in my hands today 🙂