Imitating Christ’s Humility in my Marriage

Philippians 2: 1-11

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky  as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Luck does not determine the way a marriage turn out. It takes work to build a good marriage, after all, you get out of something what you put into it. 5 ways to start working on my marriage:

  1. Be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
    This means filling each other’s gap, talking through directions and God’s calling together, not betraying one another.
  2. Humility
    It’s one of the hardest but the greatest things in the world. It builds a bridge and deepens a relationship faster than anything we can ever think of. Be the first to say sorry, be willing to learn, be willing to change first.
  3. Not looking to your own interests, but to the interests of the others.
    Train myself to value Jeremy above myself, like how Christ was obedient to death, and died for our sins even though He was without sin. Value Jeremy’s interests, work, and family. Choose to be Jesus in our quarrels, in our disagreements, in our weaknesses.
  4. Do not blame. Focus on how I can change myself.
    Continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. Focus on how I can change to be more christ-like than blaming my husband for things that go wrong in the relationship. Change is a process. It is not perfection. But with the willingness to change, God can work in me and he will grow me and change our marriage through me. God lives in me and he hears me when I call unto His name. Focus on my salvation and God will do the rest. If I focus on the blame game and harp on what my husband has to do, I may neglect my own growth.
  5. Do everything without grumbling or arguing.
    God honours gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is refreshing. Be thankful for everything in my relationship, and be careful of the times when I talk ‘bad’ about my husband. In this relationship, I need to honour him and complaining about him to others does not honour him. Rather than focusing on his weaknesses, focus on the change I need to make on myself.

I am convinced that there is a God. That no matter what happens to me, there is a purpose for it and behind that purpose stands a loving, caring God.

– Dave Dravecky

Build My Life

This COVID-19 isn’t so bad after all. Because of the Circuit Breaker in Singapore, it gave me a little more time to rekindle with my old love – music and video editing. And, with the help and support of my lovely friends, we put together something this Easter. Hope you enjoy it!

Happy Easter (:

COVID-19

Not sure if I should be proud to say that I’ve taken part in 3 school closures that happened during the school term – the 1997 haze and 2003 SARS as a student and the 2019 COVID-19 as the teacher.

The one that I remember most vividly is the 2003 SARS which happened over the April Fool’s period (Well, can’t blame me for not remembering the haze closure. I mean… I was young and my memory… gray and hazy). I remembered pulling an April Fool’s joke on my new school friends, convincing them that school was opened on 2 April when it wasn’t till somewhat later (the April 9 – 16 week) when the school closure was lifted.

Experiencing those two health threats as a (gullible) child meant that I probably thought them more flippantly than I should have. But this COVID-19 case is going to be different. I’m now an adult and the consequences hit close to home. There’s just so much more to lose. My parents are older (and more at risk), there’s a job that I need to have and there are bills and loans that come knocking in my mail every month. Sometimes, I wish I was a kid again, when the only worry comes from not doing well in school and the shoulder is never aching from heavy burdens.

Yet, there’s some good in going through this season of life as a grown person. Being naive and sweeping things under the carpet does not mean that the problem does not exist. And COVID-19 once again reveals that, yes, there is a big problem with us all.

Over the years, humans have accelerated pace and a faster pace means a proliferating demand for convenience and instant gratification. And I too, have been guilty of being part of that hamster race. Consuming fast food. Focusing on the quantity of meetups rather than the quality of them. Rushing from one meeting to another. Acquiring more plastic than I should in the name of convenience, forgetfulness and pure laziness. Picking up way more jobs that fill up all my free time and family time just so I have extra cash for Grab or meals at ‘high-end’ restaurants (Starbucks) or new clothes or accessories or a bigger house are just examples of that. Saturating spare time with heavily edited images on social media. Stereotyping jobs based on their social hierarchy. These form only the tip of the iceberg.

The problem runs deeper. Impatience, pride, greed, strained relationships, and many other by-products of the millennial’s lifestyle lay lurking in the deep seas.

Today, everyone is forced to slow down – to reorganise priorities, rebuild relationships, and rethink about life. What exactly is the point of living? What is necessary and what is luxury? What is permanent and what is but a fading flower?

COVID-19 is devastating. It took away lives, wrecked the society, downed the economy. But despite the gloom, I am thankful for the life lessons that was necessary for us (me) to grow.

I am one of the stereotypical Singaporeans who studied overseas and fell in love with the greener grass on the other side. There are many flaws with Singapore. It certainly can do more in terms of work-life balance and freedom of rights and speech. If only it has much more land mass and more nature conservation areas. However, nothing is perfect. There are always flaws for us to pick at. Look on the other side of the coin, and you will find a beautiful city with a protective government, an effective healthcare system, clean water, housing and other basic needs. These are things that should not be taken for granted, and for them I am thankful.

I am also grateful to have a job. Work has always been a huge part of my life, especially after graduation. It allows me to put bread on the table. But, it has also become an excuse to get away from many things. Take care of grandma? Sorry, I’m at work… Meet a friend on the weekend? Sorry, I’m at work. Time to sleep? Sorry, I need to rush this at work… A pastor once told me. Instead of saying “I have no time”, say “you are not my priority”. Every time I say “I am not free because I have to work”, I am effectively prioritising work over other things – time with family and friends, time to serve other people, time to take a break.

Work is important, yes. The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. However, is it healthy to work at the expense of rest, relationships, re-learning and charity? Should we still continue at work knowing that we are neglecting the people and things that really matter? This is food for thought. And this period of time, I am thankful for a slower pace at work, and the opportunity to spend more time reading and the chance to make pure and meaningful connections.

And one of these meaningful connections would be to see people for who they are and how they are contributing to the society. We should never judge people for what their jobs are or what their pay is. My parents or relatives used to say… “Do you want to be a cleaner? If not, study hard!” Fast forward to today, the cleaners, the nurses, the shipyard workers, the doctors, the security guards… they are the people keeping our society alive in this trying period. We owe them. This made me reflect on the purpose behind the work I chose. If I am honest with myself, am I choosing my job because of the pay, the glamour, the fame, or because it is my calling / passion? The worth of a person should never be determined by their jobs or their pay, but by their hearts.

Speaking of hearts and worth, with the new work from home order, the pile of clothes in the closet are deemed worthless, so are the number of shoes, the accessories, the many different tupperware containers and other nitty witty knick-knacks. It seems like my heart wasn’t thinking right (it never does) by hoarding or overbuying or these non-essentials. This is the time to do a Marie Kondo declutter, not on all the things that do not spark joy, but of all the things that are just hoarding the spaces for what truly matters.

What else truly matters? A simple home-cooked meal instead of dine-ins at high-end restaurants, a roof over my head (and it does not have to be a mansion), air to breathe and health to live. This COVID-19 has really humbled me and taught me to not take simple things like playing volleyball, breathing, eating out and running around everywhere, for granted. It also taught me that it is necessary to save for rainy days, and it is even more paramount that we share and love and be kind to others because what world is this if humans are not for each other, then who would?

Most importantly, this COVID-19 has shown that I am extremely limited. All humans are. No one knows what will happen tomorrow, and we are all taking a step at a time. But despite the gloomy uncertainty is a comforting silver lining. Indeed, there are many things we cannot control, many things we don’t understand, but God knows, God controls and He holds our hands and carries us through, always and forever.

Where you are

What’s the sky without stars, what’s a story without heart?
What am I if I’m not standing where you are?

What’s goodbye without a kiss, what’s a penny without a wish?
What’s tonight if you’re not here to spend it with?

What’s a bird without a song, what’s the day without the dawn?
What’s a road if you’re not there to walk along?

What’s the warmth without the cold, what’s a tale that’s never told?
What is love if it’s not us growing old?

Where’s the light if there’s no dark?
Where’s the flame if there’s no spark?
What am I if I’m not standing where you are?

Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments. (Deut. 7:9)

In a world of broken promises and fallen people, God is faithful. Not because I am deserving, but because He, in nature, is faithful and good. 3 ways that God has been good and faithful to me:

  1. I was once given a deal breaker – it’s either follow God and break up with the guy I once love or save my relationship and break up with God. I chose the latter. I remembered telling God at the bridge outside of Flinders Station, “God, I would rather choose the guy and die than you.” How silly I was, choosing the imperfect over the perfect. Yet, despite my rejection and my disobedience, God did not forsake me. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. Fast forward 9 years, the relationship had ended, on a rather bad note, but I was comforted to know that God forgives, and he loves and He still sees me as his child. And, he also gave me the cutest cat I could ever ask for to partner and support me for the rest of my life.
  2. Since secondary school days, I never really had a clear idea of what my future would be like. But, God has a plan, and He knew, and still knows, what the future holds. God was there the entire time, be it when I was the clueless secondary school child searching for the perfect tertiary institute or the unemployed university graduate searching for the right job. From CJC to Anderson JC to Ngee Ann Polytechnic to Wuhan University followed by Zhejiang University and finally to University of Melbourne, God was working and guiding me. Every path was to prepare me for who I am today, and who I would be in the future. None of the u-turns made were for evil and in vain. They made me who I am today. Indeed, as Jeremiah 29:11 puts it, “For I know of 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.”
  3. The future was bleak at a certain point in time when depression hit, once again. I did not know what to do with my job. I wrestled with impossible situations and people. Was teaching really the profession that God has called me into? I f he did, why were the struggles unbearable? If I quit, how would I finance the loans I have? But, if I stayed on, would I jeopardise my mental health? There was a point when I thought that God was not listening, but He does, and He answers prayers. I left my first job a few years back, and He graciously granted me another job so that I would not financially burden my family.

God is who He is. And, He is faithful. The future may seem bleak at the moment, and the now may be more turbulent than anyone would hope for (especially in the CoVid-19 situation now). But hold on. Wait. God’s promises would come in the best time – His time. And what we are going through now will train us. Be hopeful. His promises will be fulfilled and they will satisfy us. Have faith, through it all.

 

The wind blew. A trolley of dirty plates landed onto the ground (with an attention-grabbing, ear-piercing crashing sound). Virus or not, dirty or clean, a bunch of students swarmed over (in an instant) and got their hands dirty, helping the cleaning lady pick the plates and clear the food waste on the floor. My heart melted.

The younger generations are of many merits. We’ve just got to pay attention to them.

 

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The ray in Spain shines brightly when in play.
(Sentence adapted from one of my favourite classic musical – My Fair Lady)

Fulfilled my dream to visit Spain with a little push from my newly minted Mr Higgins. I’m glad we did not let the fear of being pickpocketed deter us from exploring this amazingly cultured land. And this tick off my bucket list is worthy of the revival of my dormant blog!

It’s been 0.5 years since the last post. Many things have changed – I’ve got a husband, a new job, forgot what it is like to blog, and got many more wrinkles on my face. But life is still good. I hope you are too (:

 

01 June 2019

WhatsApp Image 2019-06-01 at 04.52.16

Now that the major wedding preparations are settled, and it’s finally time for some beauty sleep before walking down the aisle, the wedding countdown insomnia starts kicking in. I can’t sleep, and I am not sure if it’s my brother’s thunderous snoring, the sound of cars whizzing on the highway, or the wedding nerves that’s keeping me awake. And since I can’t sleep, why not try writing to calm myself down?

I’m getting married, in exactly 12 hours’ time.

Wedding day, a day of changes. This is the day I gain another father and mother, the day I change my marital status on all application forms, the day I take on a new last name, the day I start growing up and building a new family with Jeremy.

alicia-jeremy-melbourne-208

Get married, have a new family, and live happily ever after. Fairytales and all the other romance movies make it seem so simple to do so. But, we all know what we learn from storybooks and movies are fictional – not applicable in real life.

Being married is not just about how grand or beautiful the wedding ceremony is. It is about leaving my comfort zone, leaving the safe arms of my papa and mama, two people who have spent their whole lives protecting me, and thrusting myself into the arms of Jeremy – a person whom I’ve only met for four years. It is a whole life spent discovering and accepting each other. It is a lifetime of loving him unconditionally.

Love unconditionally. This means to be patient as Jeremy learns more about me, as he is when I am learning more about him. It is about seeing him as the apple of my eye, even when he gets old, smelly, wrinkly and maybe have a tummy. It is about saying kind words and exercising patience on days instead of having cold wars when our opinions disagree. It is about loving his family as mine, as he learns to love my family as his. It is about wanting the best for him and acting it out – helping him with housework as he strives at work, supporting him in his career, allowing him his time to relax, having savoury dishes for lunch / dinner even though I prefer my sweets, allowing him to rear fishes as it keeps him calm even if I dislike it, and always taking the initiative to keep him joyful (through dates or puns) till we are 80 and beyond.

This hard work sounds impossible, and seemingly  daunting. In fact, it got me nervous. But, I am not alone. In fact, you’re feeling it too, Jeremy, aren’t you?

Yet, you focused not on the problems, but on what we could become. You took the leap of faith and committed to take care of me when you proposed at Love Valley in Turkey, and you have never failed to keep your part of the commitment.

You cover me with your jacket when I am cold, prepare freshly squeezed orange juice when I am unwell, offer me a hug and a shoulder to cry on when I feel insecure, join me in volleyball games because it is my favourite form of exercise, bring me to nature places to rejuvenate my spirits, and pray with me when life is at its harshest.

I’m scared, and you’re scared too. But you always choose to persevere in loving me. You held me hand and fearlessly led me through, defending me from all the obstacles that we may face in our relationships. Perhaps this is what “falling in love” means. That no relationship is perfect, but it gets sweeter and better as we continue committing to love even when we fall.

Thank you for choosing to love me. This love you have for me can only be possible with God and it has inspired me to take a bold step into our new adventure ahead. And, I pray that as we say “I do” later, we would remember this precious love that God has given us and that with Him, His strength, grace and mercy, and the blessings of our family and friends, we would be able to love unconditionally and age gracefully together, till death do us part.

Happy fourth anniversary, my dear. I love you fourever.

Teaching Life Reflection

Was talking to a few colleagues about “fun” post exam activities. Soccer, volleyball, movie screening, games, and anything and everything that allows the students to move around or interact or go outside the four walls of the classroom. The more we discussed about these, the more our spirits were lifted. We concluded that fun activities drive students to learn, joyously, and motivate the teacher to teach. Classes should be fun. Learning should be fun. Teaching should be fun. Sadly, my laziness and fear of the extra planning makes me guilty of taking away the fun. Today’s chat reminded me that… simple things can be fun too. And, strive for delayed gratification instead of instant gratification.

It’s never too late to start having fun!