family


View from my apartment window.  Baku, Azerbaijan.

View from my apartment window. Baku, Azerbaijan.

I am soooo excited about 2013! I love New Years because it’s a time for clean slates. I feel like I’m being given a new chance, a blank chapter that awaits to be written.

Yesterday, during Sunday service, J preached about expecting the best from God and giving our best to God. He quoted one of my life verses: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

As I lift these prayers to Him for the coming year, I’d like to continue to declare that I only expect the best from God. I know that I am His daughter and He loves cherishes me. 2013, bring it on!

My prayers–

1. That I will continue to walk with Him each day. Relationship is not about ticking off my prayer time and bible study time with God. It’s not about going to Sunday service. It’s about DOING LIFE with Him, which means having him as part of EVERY area of my life.

2. To be part of a happy family. I wasn’t sure if I should write this or not because these days, admitting that you want to be married and have children is something people don’t want to hear. It’s embarrassing. It’s something frowned upon and scary. I feel judged for wanting something so natural. This is the culture we live in. It’s anti-family, anti-children, anti-responsibility. One more time I hear, Just be grateful for what you have, I am going to absolutely scream!

This is really the one thing that’s in my heart. I’m praying that God will give me the chance to be a good wife and mother to a man who loves Him and will cherish me. I’m praying for a man who has good intentions and wholeheartedly wants a family and children. I’m not expecting perfection but I pray that God will bless me with someone who can lead a family, love through words and actions and persevere even through the dark valleys which are inevitable.

This year will be the year of dating again and getting to know new people. I’m nervous because I’m an introvert but I’m also excited to see how God writes my story. 2013, bring it on!

3. To continue building meaningful relationships. I’m blessed with my parents and friendships. There have been trying times and I’ve learned that people fight. It’s inevitable. But cutting off relationships is not a solution. I’m reminded about how Jesus equated anger with murder and how he commands us to reach out and make peace with others before making an offering to God. I’ve taken this to heart. I’ve seen how true forgiveness, which means literally giving another a blank slate, can save relationships. And I’ve seen how anger and silence bludgeons them. I’m happy that some people who I didn’t expect to still be are around are by my side. That’s true friendship. I’d like to continue building these old friendships as well as cultivate new ones. I also want to have the strength to pray and love those who’ve cut me off from their life. That’s what Jesus did when I cut Him off from my life. I want to be like Him.

Phew. Two thouuusand thiiirteeeen, bring it on!

4. To continue being passionate about teaching my students. I’m so blessed with my twelve angels and it looks like I’m going to have one more. I just want to continue giving my best to them.

5. To eat healthier and continue taking long walks everyday. I’ve been eating rice for only once a month now and I’ve been walking 5 to 10 kilometers a day. Tomorrow, it will be time to limit sweets to once a week.

6. To learn Russian 10 hours a week.

7. To continue exploring Baku, take photos and blog. To continue reading and going to my book club.

Now reading "Snow" by Orhan Pamuk  So far, so good.

Now reading “Snow” by Orhan Pamuk So far, so good.

God, I can’t wait to see how you answer my prayers. 2013, bring it on!!

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Looking back, it’s very hard to believe that on two separate occasions, I didn’t speak to my Dad for one whole year. (That makes two whole years in total!) I was resentful. Bitter. I felt like he didn’t know me and didn’t care to take the time to build a relationship with me. My heart was hardened. I was in the right. He was in the wrong. I didn’t care if he said sorry. I had decided to build a wall to protect myself from pain.

I’m not sure how things started to turn around for me and my Dad. All I know is that I had finally turned to my Heavenly Father. It was clear that He wanted me to forgive, give my Dad a blank slate, and honor him no matter what. Even in his imperfections. I had to make a heart decision, not once or twice, but several times. And I can tell you that although it was difficult, it was well worth it because I’m now enjoying the rewards of having a loving relationship with my earthly Dad!

Today, as I had lunch with him in Cafe Ysabel, it was obvious that he wanted to spend time with me just talking and enjoying each others’ presence. After being away for a year and a half, there is nothing more I want in this world than to spend quality time with him. Life is short, fragile, full of unexpected turns. I’m choosing to spend that time with loved ones.

They say that actions speak louder than words. Here are some lifelong lessons I’ve learned by seeing my Dad in action.

1. Never give up on the people you love no matter what the circumstance is. My Dad has stood by my mom, sister, brother and me through our ups and downs. We have hurt him deeply on uncountable occasions. But he has never cut us off or left us. My Dad’s greatest joy is the simple pleasure of seeing us and being with us. In today’s world of disposable relationships, where people break ties because they are unhappy or not getting what they want from the other person, my Dad has gone against the norm. He stands by us. Supports us. He is there for all of us when we are sick. When we need help. When we are broke. When we are stomping our feet and throwing tantrums. When we walk through dark emotional valleys that seem to have no end. When we turn our backs on him and betray him. My Dad stands by us, fights for all of us and protects us. I see this choice my Dad makes over and over again and it has cut my heart. I am amazed at his strength. He is like a boxer who keeps on getting knocked out but keeps on standing up again as he slugs through the pain. I can only pray that God gives me half of his strength through the inevitable dark valleys in life.

2. Treat people equally no matter what their race or socio-economic status is. My Dad used to take me to Aurora market, a wet market near Cubao. Every week, a man with cerebral palsy would limp up to him and sell him sweepstakes tickets. And every week, my father would buy a ticket from him. My Dad always greets doormen, waiters, waitresses and other service people. He makes them feel valued by engaging them in small talk.

3. Value learning. You’ll never see my Dad without a newspaper or novel. He is always reading or watching CNN and talking to me about world politics. In other words, he’s a nerd! He is always encouraging me and my brother to explore further studies. He values that I’m an international school teacher so I can share this love of learning with others.

I have the best Dad in the world who has taught me lifelong lessons through his actions. I am so grateful and glad that today I am able to spend time with him and honor him. I love you, Dad!