bible reading

Two preachings. Same message. One Sunday. Today.

One by Lynette, Pastor Kevin’s wife. The other by Pastor Mick in B’s church in Cortland through an audio file.

Yesterday was a day of confronting one’s imperfections, damage, ravaged heart and mind. There are things that one strives to change but cannot. Therefore the shame.

Today, Lynette talked about five women in the bible: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary.

These women were imperfect. Some of them outcasts, damaged, living colorful lives that weren’t acceptable to their religious communities. Tamar deceived and had sex with her father-in-law to survive. Rahab was a prostitute who lied to save Jewish spies. Ruth was a Moabite, a non-Jew, reviled by sticklers for the law. Bathsheba committed adultery and had a child with her lover, David. Mary? Who in this day and age would believe that a virgin could be pregnant with God’s son?

Yet these women were handpicked by God, chosen and celebrated in Jesus’ genealogy. God didn’t care about their social status. He didn’t care about their colorful pasts. Mercy triumphs over judgment, Lynette said over and over again.

God was merciful towards their sin and damage. He gave them a blank slate and used their lives to impact others’. Ours. Mine. Mercy triumphs over judgment, words that are being written in my heart.

When I got home, I listened to a preaching in B’s church–Would you just let God adore you?

Towards the end of his message, Pastor Micks talks about a film he saw called Happythankyoumoreplease. There’s a woman character who is in search for the perfect man. She meets this man in her fifth floor office and they’re on their second date. The man is homely and bald. She is attractive. He asks her if she wants white or red wine and she says, Chuck, we need to talk.

He responds–

I know what’s coming. This is the conversation where you say it’s not me. It’s you. You tell me that I’m too good for you. You tell me that I’m just too wonderful. And I’m not any good and I can’t be in this relationship with you. Now would you like red or white?

Chuck, we need to talk, she continues.

No really let me tell you. What if I know better than you what you need? I want you to close your eyes. You know why I come to the fifth floor? Coz the first time I looked at you I said, ‘Wow!’ That woman. I come down just to be in your airspace. I come down just to be near you. Will you let me adore you? I am totally up for loving you, adoring you and being totally everything to you. I know your problem. You don’t think you’re good enough to be loved by me. You don’t think you’re lovable enough and you keep looking in places so you can make yourself feel lovable coz you think if you’re standing by this person that’s why you’re lovable. But I love you for who you are. Please. Let me adore you.

Pastor Mick closes, Won’t you please, just for a moment, let God adore you?

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Prayer and fasting ended a couple of days ago. An “aha!” moment was during Sunday service when Pastor Kevin talked about planting a seed, which bears fruit, and in turn, produces more seed. It was a very encouraging message because I know that just as long as I plant seeds that are led by the Holy Spirit, they will grow, flourish and multiply. This also helps me focus and say “no” to doing things that aren’t aligned to planting seeds.

Here are five seeds I’d like to plant, and five hopes I’d like to reap:

Seed 1: Praying to God and meditating on bible verses.
What I hope to reap: A deeper relationship with God.

Seed 2: Spending quality time with B.
What I hope to reap: A deeper and more joyful relationship with honey 🙂

Seed 3: Writing, taking photographs, blogging, giving constructive feedback on blogs and learning HTML.
What I hope to reap: Inspiring, uplifting others and improving my craft.

Seed 4: Eating healthy and exercising.
What I hope to reap: Good health!

Seed 5: Tithing, saving and exploring investing.
What I hope to reap: Financial abundance.

How about you? What seeds would you like to plant this year? What do you hope to reap? Would love to hear from you!

A year and a half ago, I scribbled this tweet–

I had only worked for five months in my current school that September, and my goals as a curriculum coordinator were very clear: to invest in the professional development of teachers and to obtain international school accreditation.

We got our accreditation (PYP authorization) last December! And I promise to tell that story in another entry.

So going back to that late September in 2010, right before our pre-consultation visit from the IBO, I remember thinking that I can’t rush this process. Together, as a school team, we needed to break the soil and build a good foundation. By that I mean we needed to be clear on our educational philosophy and what practices we would use to live out that philosophy. So much of our hard work for the past years have been to unpack key words from the International Baccalaureate mission statement, the guiding principle of our school. Here are two paragraphs from that statement–

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

As a leader, I always believed that the best way to teach is to model. I’m hoping that those are the seeds I’ve planted with the people I work with. I strongly believe in the IBO mission statement, and I hope I have modeled being an inquirer, knowledgeable and caring. I hope that I’ve respected the culture of the people I work with as well as shared a little bit of my own. I hope that it is apparent that I don’t know everything and I am still learning along with everyone else. I also hope that I have at the very least, listened to various perspectives, and shown that I’ve valued them.

These are the seeds I hope I have planted, my investment, not through my words, but through my actions.

My latest line which I know makes me sound like a broken record when I speak to the teachers I work with is–That’s why my investment is in you!

Many of them already live out the IB philosophy and I’m hoping that they continue to collaborate and be inquirers, knowledgeable, caring, open-minded and authentic, not just to the students but to each other. That’s how I’ll know that I’ve been successful as a leader.

So, it’s my last six months in Mumbai, and writing is definitely helping me transition to the next chapter in my life. It is also the end of a season, and I remember Pastor Joey saying–Never fight the seasons. Embrace them.

Here’s a poem from Ecclesiastes 3 that helps me embrace whatever season I go through–

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

That September in 2010, that was the time to plant.

Now I feel the swirling in my tummy, the faint aches of hunger. But I am leaning on God, relying on His Spirit and allowing Him to soothe my pangs.

Today started well enough, slow-paced, restful, the way I like it these days. Woke up at 2 pm from a deep slumber (yes, I’m pulling the jet-lag card out again! :-)) and perhaps my body clock is currently following European time. I had some strawberry shake for breakfast and took a walk with K to the Oberoi Mall. The weather here in Mumbai is simply amazing. Cool air, a fresh breeze flapping through our window.

But more importantly, some words from my bible reading jumped out at me this time. And I had a revelation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!

I’ve come across this verse many times in the past few years, and I am always grateful for God’s reminder to me when I read it. My old life, the one filled with manipulation, fear, anxiety, darkness, yes, every day I felt like I was living in a black hole. That old life is gone. When I put my faith in Jesus Christ, even though it didn’t make sense to me, and sometimes the mystery still baffles me, but when I put my faith in Him, and focused on Him instead of myself, everything changed.

I do have a new life that isn’t dependent on circumstance or people or whatever else this life has to offer. I’m allowing myself to be happy, to take risks, to live out my dreams and adventures every day. I am so grateful and I can’t ask for anything more. Thank you, Lord! I love you.

So happy that it's strawberry season in Mumbai!

My 2 pm breakfast

Found this stall at the food court in Oberoi Mall! The soup is so-so.

Spinach soup for dinner