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No Ordinary Comfort

July seems to be a catching up month for us. My hubby and I have met and caught up with some beautiful (inside and out) people.  In most of these occasions, both of us were blessed to reconnect and share insightful experiences.

Last Friday just before flying back to Singapore our friends and co-workers in God’s Ministry, Rene and Flowela had a quick yet flavorful (both on food and conversation) lunch with my hubby and me.

We had fun reminiscing our times together in the choir.  We got misty eyed as we recalled the struggles that almost jeopardize our friendship.  Yet what awed and humbled us the most was Flowela’s revelation.

Most people (Filipinos particularly) venture to work abroad in the hope for a greener pasture, Rene and Flowela together with their two children left Philippines and tried building a new life in Singapore.

While we heard of so many success stories of people working aboard, their story was a revelation. A revelation of God’s faithfulness and the strong yet gentle arms of God that reassuringly cradle His children.

Flowela recalled being pulled out from their comfort zone when they got to Singapore. With no relatives nearby, they were basically alone and have to fend for themselves.  She said life wasn’t easy and they were constantly challenged.

However, their life had a turn around when they began seeking God first.  Flowela shared that although the change was not overnight, on hindsight they now appreciate the chastisement that goes with the change. They were purged and squeezed of everything. And when they were down with nothing, God started pouring out His blessings to them. They began to see the hands of God working in and on their lives mightily.

Even though Rene is the only one working and earns an average income they always have enough.  Flo recalled with a smile that they are constantly amaze when on some occasions they would have an unanticipated financial needs; they would pray for it and ask it in God’s name.  And strangely, in a day or two someone would just extend a help. Amazing!

Despite the challenges that come their way, by God’s exceeding grace they continue to soar above them and  constantly claim God’s assurance, ‘Yet there is one ray of hope: His compassion never ends. It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; His loving-kindness begins afresh each day.’ (Lamentations 3:21-23)

As we parted ways, I reflected on our conversation and some thoughts impressed on me. First, God truly works in mysterious ways.  He has His ways of meeting everyone’s need.  All we need to do is to earnestly pray, trust in Him and allow His mighty hand to work.  Second, as we seek Him and when we allow Him to take the wheel; He would purge and squeeze us until we’re down to nothing and then God would abound His blessings to us. And lastly, God takes us out from our comfort zone and takes us to a place of no ordinary comfort, an exceedingly peacefilled and joyfilled comfort.

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Don’t Walk

While watching “The Jane Austen Book Club”, one scene struck me the most. It was when Prudie (played by Emily Blunt) was about to cross the road and succumb to temptation.  With the traffic sign blinking ‘walk’ and with second thoughts playing on her mind Prudie was about to cross the road to meet up with a guy.  As she focused on the traffic sign, instead of seeing ‘walk’ she saw blinking in front of her were the words, ‘what would Jane Austen do’.  The scene ended with the traffic sign blinking, ‘Dont Walk.’

Now, Prudie was nothing but a prim and proper woman, who gives high regard on moral values.  So, what pushed her to almost do the unthinkable?  Frustrations.  She became frustrated with her relationship.  She was frustrated with her hubby who seem to have neglected the need to connect with her.

Yet, all’s well that ends well.  Prudie came to her senses.  She went back home to her hubby.  She pleaded him to read with her ‘Persuasions’.  In the course of reading her hubby understood and rectified their situation.  Thanks to Jane Austen.

If only things were not as complicated. If only Jane Austen has all the answers to our frustrations.  But then reality is, every now and then we get frustrated.  And Jane Austen and her novels are just but too good to be true.  (And yes, I still love to read novels.)

We get frustrated when things don’t turn out the way we wanted.  We get frustrated when we feel that the intensity of our emotion is not reciprocated by with our hubby.  We get frustrated when there’s so many things to do yet we seem to zone out.  We get frustrated  when we don’t get appreciated for making an effort to please a loved one.

We can be frustrated with so many things.  That is why, we should be cautious because, ‘frustrations are the enemy’s vehicle to temptation.’  Temptations are at strongest when we are frustrated because  we are vulnerable and tend to think irrationally.  Temptations are mostly subtle and deceptive.  The bottom line is, temptations give the enemy the upper hand to manipulate us to sin.

We can not avoid circumstances to turn against us. Neither can we avoid that at times we get frustrated.  Nor can we rely on any of Jane Austen’s novels to relieve us from our frustrations.  But we can rest in the assurance of what Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

And when temptation seems to be blinking boldly, don’t just wait for the, ‘Don’t Walk’ sign.  Rather constantly remember,

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‘the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13 TLB)

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Wet Paint. Do not Touch.

“Wet Paint. Do not touch.”  But you do it anyway.  “Caution. Hot Surface.  Do not Touch.”  Still, you touch it anyway.  “Closed. Please use other door.”  Just the same, you push and try if the door is open.

I’m pretty sure at one point most of us did one or three of those things I’ve mentioned.  And I’m most certain when we discovered that the warning signs are true, there could only be two thoughts in our mind.  It’s either, ‘waaah, what was I thinking?’  Or the classic, ‘I thought so too.’

They may all sound funny and we may simply say, ‘we did it out of curiosity.’   Yet on another note, as we tread through life we are often confronted with challenges.  Such challenges require us to make sound choices.  Or a situation may call for us to make a stand.  Whether to make a choice or make a stand, the bottom line is we need to have a good judgement.  We need a discernment that cannot simply be acquired  through academic learning.
When asked by God, King Solomon did not ask for more riches. He neither asked for more possessions. Nor did he ask for honor or glory. Instead in his prayer King Solomon said to God, “The loyal love You showed my father, David, was immeasurable, and You, O Eternal God, have fulfilled Your promise to my father and made me the king of innumerable people in his place. Now that I am their ruler, give me wisdom and knowledge to lead this great people. Without such wisdom, who can govern such a great people? (2 Chronicles 1:8-10)
And assuredly God replied to Solomon, “You did not ask for selfish personal gain: riches, wealth, honor, the deaths of your enemies, or a long life. Instead, you asked for godly wisdom and knowledge to rule My people, over whom I have made you king. Because you thought of the welfare of My people, I have granted you this exceptional wisdom and knowledge. In addition, I will give you riches and wealth and honor greater than any king ever has possessed or ever will possess. (2 Chronicles 1:11-12)
Our loving and gracious God, who is all-knowing, sees the intent of our heart.  And just like King Solomon, if our intention is good and gives glory to God;  He will provide us wisdom to guide us in making good choices and discernment to make a just stand.  And just like King Solomon, if we put others before us; our God who is all-powerful shall bless us according to His riches in heaven.
 IreneA
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Pain is Not in Vain

Getting a pedicure gives me something to qualm about. It gives me a sensation of a bit ticklish but more of the painful side.   I cringe and anticipate the pain as the  pedicurist pushes back the cuticle using a metal pusher.  The worst part is when a dead skin or a cuticle is stuck-up in the corner of a toenail and the only option is for the pedicurist to put a pressure as she tries to push out the dead skin or the cuticle.  However, what a relief it is when everything is over and done. Much more, it feels good (or even better) when a nail polish is applied.

Much like when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become new.  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When we acknowledge Jesus to take control and rule our life, we undergo chastisement. All of the wrongdoings need to be torn out from our system.  And more often than not, there are certain attitudes or vices that are quite hard to break.  However for as long as we desire to change and be renewed, by His grace Jesus can change and renew us.  Jesus can turn our mess into an inspiring message.  Jesus can convert our test into a moving testimony.  And with all the ugliness in us (inside and out), Jesus can transform us into an awesome beauty.
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