Hi ME, it’s me.

Sometime ago, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook with the question;

“Would you like you, if you meet you?”

That question strikes a deep chord in me. And I saw that at a down moment in my life. A time that I doubted my own goodness. I have been blessed with strength in character and a series of capabilities that make up the Irene that you know. It took me a long while to acknowledge and embrace the person I am. Through a constant journey of healing and transformation, I started to appreciate all that is given me and all that I am about to discover as well.

My strengths, however, are perfect tools to survive in the world. But I believe I am made to LIVE (John 10: 10) not merely surviving. Hence, there were always this tension in within me when I was working in the corporate world. The tension between living a life of integrity and conforming to the industry norms which are on contrary to my principles. But the money was really good. Hence, letting go of my lucrative former job for a life dedicated to God’s mission was not entirely easy for me. Afterall, my best talent is making money. At the same time I was also very good in spending it away.

As I left that behind, part of me was ashamed of my past. Without realising it, I was also ashamed of my natural strength. I felt that it was a hindrance to be a missionary. I recognised that I am of an unusual mould for mission. I do not seems to have the qualities of the first disciples. Scriptures spoke a lot of weakness in the eyes of the world. And me being unaware of the greatness of my God; interpreted it in a way that said – I would not be chosen because of my natural strength.

Spending time wrestling with God and thanks to my stubbornness that would not settle for less, I am blessed beyond words. Deep in me I knew that still small voice who called me by name. But I could not deny my discomfort living in an environment that does not seems to appreciate my strength. Through these struggles I came to recognise my poverty. Strange enough it is a poverty in strength.

I felt so helpless feeling so weak because of my strengths. But that was where God met me. In my poverty, He showed me my beauty. He affirmed me once again that my strengths are His gift for me. It does not belong to me as I do not merit it but He has chosen me to carry these gifts of strength to bless His kingdom. No matter how I think of myself, I am loved beyond measure. His love is the constant in my life.

So, when I met me, I have the grace to like me. I started with an affirmation of my journey. Thanking myself for being courageous to step into uncharted grounds. I appreciate my desire to go deeper with Christ and I am seeing the beautiful fruits as a direct result of that. I like how I am willing to allow God to bring to death my natural strengths and waited on Him to resurrect it into His redeemed strength. There were lots more that I like about me and meeting me has lifted my spirit. Not only was I lifted, I was also strengthen to continue on my journey. I desire to know me more and to know God more. I desire to allow God to redeem the unredeemed areas of my life. And I am excited for more of Christ in my life.

Dear friends, we all need sustanence in our journey. As much as the journey is beautiful, we still get hungry, thirsty and tired as we move. Hence, it is important to get the right nourishment and rest. Wherever you are in your journey, know that it is always beautiful to look up and I pray that you will nourish yourself well with the Word of God, the sacraments and your rest in God. I pray that you will like you when you meet you.

May you be blessed!

With lots of love,
Irene

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The Man After God’s Own Heart

A little more than a month ago I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to start a new journey. A journey with a special person; who was highly esteemed – THE man after God’s own heart. Most of us would have associated that title to King David as the bible has shown us the evidence of this (Acts 13: 22). I do believe that this inspirational man has inspired countless men to be like him; a man after God’s own heart. And I believe one of them was his very own descendent; Joseph, the foster Father of Jesus.

God has indeed been very kind to me by inviting me to a 30 Days novena journey with St. Joseph; starting on his feast day, 19 March (one of the 2 days that the Church will break her silence during Lent and sing the Gloria) all through to completion on 16 April. It has been nothing short of an adventure learning from this great man of God; whom I now fondly call as my good father. In the beginning of the journey, what stood out for me were 2 words; OBEDIENCE and HUMILITY.

He was that wise man in tune with God that he could hear God’s command clearly. He was not just a hearer of the Word but a doer as well. Evidenced in his prompt action to take Mary as his wife, quickly move both the Child and Mother to safety in Egypt and brought them back to Israel at the appointed time. As I journey along, I pondered upon the ability of St. Joseph to be a doer of the Word. How did he hear so clearly? Where did he get all those courage to respond? I came to realise the answer lies in his relationship with God. His prayer life must have built that intimate relationship with God that eventually made him a man after God’s own heart. The way he pursued God’s will is really something I want to emulate.

Reflecting upon my own life from the point of view of St. Joseph’s sanctity, I see the beauty of my imperfections. We do not have much biblical source about his life but somehow I am pretty sure he was as human as you and I are. I am pretty sure he has some plans and hopes for the future, he has his struggles and joy; he has his temperance and reservations, strengths and weaknesses. After all, he was a through and through ordinary human being called to carry an extraordinary mission – being the protector and provider for the Son of God and His mother. God, the Father must have trusted this man tremendously. Looking at the mission He has placed in my life, I realised that God trusted me tremendously as well. It is I who could not trust myself as much as God trust me. It is I who sees me as small and insignificant but God sees me differently. More often than not, it is pretty hard for me to accept these facts. How could the God of the Universe love me this much? What does He really see in me? I may not be able to find the answer to my questions because the mysterious element in our relationship with God is what made the journey of life really exciting. In this excitement, I believe that God is always more, there is always more to His mercy and His love. I also believe that God desires to see me grow; therefore there is always more to what He can offer. With that sentiment, I came to accept that the best way to move in His word and Spirit as St. Joseph did is to rest in His love.

St. Joseph has the privilege of beholding the face of God when he accepted his mission on earth to be the earthly father figure of Jesus. I would imagine the smile on his face when Jesus first started to respond to His surroundings. Joseph must have been overwhelmed with joy at the first word Jesus uttered as a baby. What excitement must it been for him to see Jesus taking His very first step! The joy of parenthood was given him by the gift of Jesus. I wondered how did he disciplined Jesus, how did he pass on the tradition of faith to Jesus and how did he teach Him the trade of carpentry. Was he upset when Jesus was lost for 3 days in the temple? Was he distressed when the angel asked him to bring His family to Egypt? Was he worried when he was required to bring his heavily pregnant wife on the journey to Bethlehem? Was he panicked when there was no place to the Child to be born? Was he concerned about providence for his journey and livelihood of his family?

The privilege he enjoyed comes with the beauty of ordinary lives – the package of joys and struggles. I personally grumble a lot when I struggle. I wanted things my way – the easy way; which is more often than not, opposed to the way of God. God has wanted me to walk through the narrow path of purification just so I can behold His face. The process has always been unpleasant but the destination is always beautiful. All through the struggles that I have been through, I learnt to sail through my storms of life with gratitude. I admit that it is not always easy to be grateful especially when God seems to permit my least favourite struggles. These are the times I can depend on His grace. Through my journey with St. Joseph, I can also see that his was a life depended on grace. His obedience to the Word of God made him a humble man. It is the same for me as well, when God disciplined me; I find myself struggling to obey Him but once I did, I see the fruit of humility in my life. God is changing me and increasing in me His virtue, slowly but surely. Looking at the hindsight, I can be grateful for everything that the Lord has allowed to happen because He has purposed everything for my growth – to be imperfectly beautiful and perfectly loved.

Dear friends, I pray that you are encouraged to embrace your beauty through your imperfections. St. Joseph being a great saint has also lived an ordinary life-like each of us. He has left us with a legacy that we can exemplify. I am grateful for this silent but profoundly influential man. God in His genius plan for family has provided for His Son a place of nurture with the basic of a male and a female figure. Seeing the drama of St. Joseph’s life, I cannot help but praise the Director of this drama, God the Father. The plot was amazing; the suspense was great with the adventures (I am imagining some background music here 😉 ) and the message – Redemptive. May you be encouraged by this great man after God’s own heart to build a deeper relationship with God.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

With lots of love,

Irene

 

You Are Worth It All

Holy Week 2016 was such a great blessing for me. I was privileged to serve at the altar of the Lord for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Altar serving was not an entirely familiar part of my life as a missionary but I was very excited to be learning new things.

The feeling of privilege reached its height when the Blessed Sacrament was processed out to the Chapel of Repose. I was right in front of Jesus. At that moment I was touched by grace and it continued through the time of keeping watch at the “Garden of Gethsemane”. I realised it was Jesus’ darkest hour on earth and I asked Him; why Lord? You are the God of the universe and yet You are willing to endure that darkness. Why? And at that moment, I could almost hear an audible voice answered me; “Because you are worth it all, my dear”.

I was so touched by those words of love that I could not help but cry. His love is not something I can understand, I was meant to accept it and allow Him to love me. Being human as I am fully equipped with my pride and independence; it was never easy to allow God to love me. My brokenness has rendered me “unloveable” by the world’s standard but there He was at the Garden of Gethsemane pouring out those words of love on me. It has taken God a lot of patience to bring me to this stage of accepting His love.

In my acceptance of this awesome love that fateful evening, I once again surrendered my life to Jesus. In all humility I asked Him to bring with Him all my desires (especially the good ones); to Calvary. Let it all die with Christ that I may look forward to a victorious resurrection.

It’s funny how God confirmed my prayer when He allowed something amazing to happen on Good Friday which is too awesome that would probably take another post to fully savour the beauty of the Healer God. It was an experience of healing and restoration.

Coming back to the answer I heard from Jesus; “Because you are worth it all, my dear”, it was kind of apt that my life theme for this year is “I am worth it because Jesus is worth it all”. Jesus chose to affirm me again in the holiest week of the liturgical year. It is the proof of His love that I do not merit and yet in His mercy, He desires that I receive His love.

As I slowly allow God to love me, I start to see grace at work in my life. I become more cooperative with God’s grace and that has been a great blessing. My view shifted God-ward and I grew more sincere in my prayer life. I am more honest with God and more trusting as well.

Dear friends, if today you are finding it hard to receive love; fret not because LOVE is on His way to help you. It is precisely in our brokenness that we find God and He allowed it for His glory. If you are like me who felt “unloveable”, praise God because MERCY is waiting for you. If you just want it, the floodgate of love is going to be opened to you.

You may wonder, what was the shape of glory for my Easter. Well, it has been blessing upon blessing for me. I see God’s beautiful will unfolding before me. It is truly a victorious time and it is all because my Saviour believed that I am worth it. And that I believe is precisely how He thinks of you. May this Easter season be a time of experiencing God’s love in a whole new level. May you open your heart to Him, allow Him to love you and rest in His love.

May you be blessed!!!

With lots of love,
Irene