God Saw That It Was GOOD

God Saw That It Was Good

When He created the world,
God saw that it was good.

He created human being,
In His image and likeness He created them,
God saw that it was good.

When man sinned against Him,
Though it hurt Him so,
In His love He planned to save them,
God saw that it was good.

Man turned his back on his Creator
He tirelessly draws us back
Prophets He raised in His Theo-drama,
God saw that it was good

The time was right for His promise to be fulfilled,
His only begotten Son was born of a virgin,
With His foster father to raise Him,
God saw that it was good.

Jesus did His Father’s will,
Good news He preached,
The sick He healed,
God saw that it was good.

The time was right for redemption of mankind,
Christ suffered His passion,
On the Holy Cross He died,
God saw that it was good.

The veil was torn,
Silence was deafening,
Death was thought to have the final say,
God saw that it was good.

On the third day silence He broke,
In joyful triumph Christ He raised,
Death is beaten with victory resounding,
God saw that it was good

The Lord is risen indeed,
Easter joy and hope is ours to live
Alleluia is our triumphant song
God saw that it was good

How does the Story of my life sounds like through the eyes of God’s goodness?

When He created me,
God saw that it was good.

He saw me grew,
In love and wounds,
God saw that it was good.

I choose my life to live,
And I did not know Him,
In His mercy He planned my salvation,
God saw that it was good

When the time was right,
He put good people in my path,
Who led me to Christ,
God saw that it was good

I once was blind,
But now I see,
I want my life to turn Christ-ward,
God saw that it was good.

A year of RCIA,
Both exciting and challenging,
Prepared my heart to new life,
God saw that it was good

Initiated into the faith,
In fullness of God rejoicing,
He called me Beloved Daughter,
God saw that it was good.

I journey on,
Sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter,
All the while praising Him,
God saw that it was good.

The time was ripe for me to grow deeper,
My Cross was heavy
And I was wearied,
God saw that it was good

In His love and mercy
He raised me from my pit
Alleluia is again my song,
God saw that it was good

My Mother – My Hero

It has been three years since dad left us. Three years ago today, our lives were forever changed. As I remember this important event in my life, my heart swell with gratitude for my mother who has been heroic at that time. The memory of that day and the days preceding my father’s death is still fresh in my mind. I remember the fateful Sunday, 23 Feb 2014 when dad had a hypertensive bleed in his brain that caused his death, mom was pretty calm when she told us that things were not looking very good.

The bleed has been deep seated and the medical team was not too keen to try as the chances of survival was really slim. But we, the children could not let go and mom was the hero at that time. She was in her role as our mother at that precise moment when it would be so easy for her to be weak. After all, she was losing her husband, she has all the right to be weak and needy. After spending some time in prayer, we decided to give dad a chance by releasing the blood in his brain through surgery. I knew mom was not very keen as she knew what chance my dad stand through her experience working as a nurse. She was however respectful of our decision when she told us; “if all of you want to give dad a chance, I will sign the consent for surgery”.

Through the longest 72 hours of our lives – from the drama of the hypertensive bleed in the brain to the surgery to the 50 minutes of reviving my dad due to a cardiac arrest to the moment we let go of him; mom has been MOTHER. She was the one who provided us with comfort and consolation. I was the one who could not let go and she was there to listen to me. Never once had I experience an inversion of role through the death of my father. Having had some knowledge of inner healing principle, I know how damaging parental inversion could be and it is really likely to happen in times like this. Although as an adult, I would probably be less affected should it happen. Looking back, it was kind of funny that we were trying to be strong for our mother but it turned out the strong one was her. Strength found in her vulnerability.

At the time of mourning, she learnt to pray the rosary for the first time and she is open to share with us how much she misses dad. Mom have to relearn and readjust to life without her life partner. I can imagine how hard it was! She has been dependent on dad especially in terms of transport and after 30 years of not driving a car, my mother started driving again. How amazing is that! She went on to grow in her faith and she was baptized into the Catholic Church on Easter of 2015.

I have the privilege to witness her growth in her faith thanks to technology. I would love to be with her physically but I would never trade it for anything. God knows me enough to know that if I were there with mom physically through these 3 years, she may not have the opportunity to experience what she had experienced. I would be way too happy to be her driver and my physical presence may have prevented her from driving again. She gets to make new friends in the circle of faith and if I were around, that may be a different outcome.

Siblings
Re-enactment of our childhood photo

Today my relationship with my mother has grown so much closer; partially thanks to technology but most importantly thanks to the grace God has showered on us. I am grateful for my siblings who are taking care of my mother. Without you; Simon, Olivia, Martha and Bartholomew; who would I be? Thank you for your relentless care towards mom. Mommy, thank you for being our MOTHER!

With lots of love,

Irene

Spontaneous Humour

I was fully concentrating at mass when the gospel from Mark 2: 13 – 17 (the call of Levi) was proclaimed and what caught me was the question posted by the scribes and Pharisees;

“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Precisely at that moment, the answer I got was;

“Because their food are tastier”

I was immediately entertained by this spontaneous humour which I believed was a gift from God to lift me up and break me away from mundane seriousness. When I ran a survey by asking people around me this question; 90% of them gave me a serious answer and the one who knew what was in my head was prepared for a laugh. I was touched by the gesture of having a serious answer that Jesus came to save sinners and by the those who were also up for some jokes. I see how people are touched by Jesus’ purpose of coming this earth (Luke 19:10) and how some of them would also be interested by another perspective.

Through that survey, I get to know people better and I also get to bless them with a little laughter. It is always true that good food do attract people, hence good cooks has lots of friends. And that for me is an opportunity to love people through food. Food for some reason has the power to build friendship and bring people together. This is so true for my root culture – the Malaysian Hospitality that always involve food.

We need food to sustain us and help us grow. Tasty food would definitely make eating a much happier experience. However, the taste of the food is not the purpose of the food. Food is meant to sustain us and praise God if we get to eat tasty food. Having been blessed by Fr. Rob Galea recently, I found a connection between worship and food. When he posed the question, what do you think are in heaven? My immediate answer was; “Good food”. Jokes aside, I came to embrace even more that the purpose of worship is for our holiness and the feel good factor is a good byproduct that we may not get all the time. Is not that the same with food?

In case of Jesus, the tasty food, I would imagine was fueled by His company. Tax collectors and sinners would probably be one of the most real people. People who are well aware of their brokenness and recognized that they are in need of a savior. Sincere people who live ordinary lives and being unaware of their worth would probably break His heart. I would imagine Jesus being really moved by that and that would have propelled Him to spend time with this group of sinners. That is good news! The good news of knowing that my Savior wanted to spend time with me just because I am Irene – Irene in my goodness and my flaws, in my awareness of His presence and in my ignorance of His goodness, in my desire to be holy and in my inability to do what is right.

I am just so grateful that God sees the heart and all that is needed of me is my pursuit of holiness in my life. And I pray that my pursuit of holiness will serve as “tasty food” for the people that God place over my path. But I am aware how human I am and I would not be “tasty food” all the time and for those time, it is my prayer that I am graced with the humility to own my shortcomings and allow Christ to redeem them. I pray that you will also be encouraged to pursue holiness in your humanness.

 

With lots of love,

Irene

Following the Star

The Feast of Epiphany celebrated today is the great feast of revelation of the Word became flesh. It is apt to note that the wise men followed the star to reach to where Jesus was. The star caught my attention today as I ponder upon this great feast. The revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ was guided by a star. That brought me back to precious memory some time ago when a trusted friend and brother honoured me. What he mentioned stayed with me and that made me question am I really living that out?

“You are a STAR and you are meant to shine” was the line that stayed with me. If I am star and shining, is my light leading people to Christ? Just as the Star of Bethlehem did to the wise men? The other question that I frequently ask myself is; am I even shining? Sometimes it is hard to see the value of my being through my tainted lens. I wonder if I am living fully as God intended me to be. Being in touch with my humanity – my strength and weakness, my beauty and my not too beautiful side, my joys and my sorrows, my talents and my areas of lack; brought me to a place of humility. This is where I can praise God for making me Irene – the one that does not have it all, the one that is in constant need of her saviour, the one that desires to glorify God through her being. What can I say but thank you.

My recent months journey has taught me a great lesson of total dependance on God. Being a generally hopeful and positive person, it was never exactly easy for me to understand tragedy or failure. I have been quite blessed to not have major failures in my life and I like to see those as opportunity to rise higher instead of looking at it as failure. And through my journey of ups and downs – with downs that made me felt helpless and hopeless; I finally get it. I get how it felt like when there seems to be no hope. I get it now why it was tough for people to get out of the pit once they fall into it. God was training me to be all for all – strong for the strong, weak for the weak, compassion for the grieving and celebrations for the joyful. With my somewhat glorious past, it was never that easy to connect to people who struggle with failures and hopelessness. I am grateful that God has found me worthy of this journey.

Through the rough patch, I also learnt what it meant to give a sacrifice of praise and I know how valuable are those praises and worship. Choosing to smile and to give my best even at times that I do not feel like doing so. I get it now how much Christ love me and how He supply sufficient grace to sustain me. Coming back to my question; am I a shining star? Well, once a wise man told me – when things seems bleak, check the fruit of your being and he quoted Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa been through a period of darkness in her soul but she remained faithful and her ministry flourished. That is the fruit!

It gives me much encouragement that although sometimes I do not feel like I am shining but a star will always remain a star – it shines. And I believe that each one of us is a unique star. We are meant to shine and our ray is the leading light that brings people to Christ. Quoting Mother Teresa again when she was asked if Jesus was like her and her answer was; “No, in fact I want to be like Jesus”. It was her witness that drew people to ask if Jesus was anything like her and the reality was that she aspired to be like Jesus. Who would not be drawn to Jesus by such great witness?

Mother Teresa was simply living out her being as the beloved of Christ and if we allow ourselves to be loved into our being by Christ, we would also be simply living out our intended being. May we all find the courage to allow God to love us more and more and may we allow His love to break our being into His light. And as His light, may our being draw more people to believe in the One who first loved us.

May you have a shining 2017!

With lots of love,

Irene

 

 

Your Holiness

Poetry? Nah, I thought that was not my cup of tea as I drink coffee. However, tasting some good tea expanded my taste bud a little bit. So it was with poetry. Sometime ago I was privilege to go on a 30 Days journey with an amazing woman of God who shared her passion for poetry and had it reignited through that journey. Today I am blessed to witness her passion for poetry blessing people around her and she even encouraged me to write my own. So, here it goes, my first poem.

Your Holiness exposes my sinfulness

Your Holiness showcase my hope

Your Holiness so unreachable yet so near

Your Holiness so divine yet so personal

Your Mercy exposes my human-ness

Your Mercy showcase my hope

Your Mercy so deep yet so touchable

Your Mercy so endless yet so personal

Your Splendour exposes my small-ness

Your Splendour showcase my hope

Your Splendour so majestic yet so humble

Your Splendour so beautiful yet so personal

Father, Your Holiness calls me to Yourself

Your Mercy leads me back to You

Your Splendour fills me with hope of glory

Father, it is You that I desire

 

Hope that you are blessed and wishing you a great adventure ahead.

With lots of love,

Irene

The Colours of God’s Dream

“What is your passion?”

That is my favourite question to ask people I meet. More often than not it stirred something deep in the person. And the stirring manifest differently in different people. I am taking great risks when I put that forth and through some pleasant and some unpleasant responses, I learnt to be more discerning when I ask questions.

Our passion is deeply connected to our dreams and desires. I had numerous encounter with good meaning Christian who told me that I should throw away all my desires, dreams and plan. Personally for me, I tend to disagree with this approach. I believe our desires and dreams are God given. However, due to our sinfulness and our wounds in the past, our desires and dreams became tainted. The saving work of Christ has enabled me to acknowledge the tainting of my desires and dreams. And as a response to His mercy, I believe it is only fair that I go on a quest of allowing Christ to purify those desires and dreams.

I have been privileged to be reminded of a buried dream as a result of my fears and insecurities. That God given dream was buried because I allowed the other voice to overwhelm that still small encouraging voice. As I look at the Cross, I realised that I feared the pain of the process towards achieving that dream. The process towards the achievement of the dream is the purification process. More often than not, purification is a painful process.

God’s dream of salvation for mankind is of no difference. That process towards the attainment of mankind’s salvation involved great pain. And it is called the PASSION of Christ. The pain I am fearing is nothing in comparison to Christ’s. In fact, his PASSION has made it possible for me to dream His dreams.

The field of His dreams for me is the Holy Ground He has invited me to step into. Realising it as a Holy Ground, I fell to my knees feeling so unworthy to step into it. I was not even able to take off my sandals to step on His Holy Ground.

That was the moment of grace that Jesus came in His gentleman manner; inviting me to take a sit, asked me for my permission to allow Him to take off my sandals for me so that He can wash my feet. With my feet washed, He asked me to step in. How would you not be touched by that?

I was totally blown away by His mercy! How is it possible that God Himself would give me an invitation as such? What merit have I to be bestowed such an honour?

It was not until I heard a teaching on Isaiah 61 did I understand the logic behind Jesus’ invitation (see ICCRS 2013 Prophecies). My pair of sandals represents my pride and my fears; hence it made all sense that I was unable to take them off myself. Only Jesus can save me from my sin. Without Him, I simply cannot get rid of my pride and fears.

In His mercy, God has invited me to this journey of intimacy that has given me the grace to accept His love. I used to be that confident girl who thought that she was able to conquer the world. And mind me, my confidence is amazing gift. However, God desires more for me. He wants me to be fully dependent and to recognise who He is in His dreams for me. He wants me to possess His confidence.

If you have in any way felt unworthy to step into His Holy Ground, praise God! Recognising my poverty before God has been really painful and at the same time very freeing. Embracing the fact that I do have a need and my Saviour is ever ready to fulfil that need – is simply liberating. It fills me with hope of glory, that I do not have to have it all to move to higher ground.

Dear friends, let us approach the throne of grace with confidence and reignite our God’s dreams once again. If you are ever tempted to bury those dreams, just remember that Jesus is just a call away. As the image above shown, we are indeed the pencils (with different colours) in God’s hand. As Mother Teresa encouraged us; let us allow God to hold this pencil and draw His beautiful picture – His dreams for our lives.

May you be blessed!!!

With lots of love,
Irene

Note: Photo Credit – Stefan Hensel (Title: The Colour Spectrum)

The Road Less Traveled

Traveling is one of the things that I like a lot. When I was in the corporate setting, I made sure that I make time for holiday every year. One of the most profound journey I made was a six weeks journey to Europe with the main purpose of attending World Youth Day in Madrid, 2011. In preparation to our journey, we spent time researching about the places we wanted to visit. My travel buddies fared so much better when it comes to researching and planning the trip. Somehow, God has given me a lesser portion when it comes to detail orientated stuffs.

Hence, I must say I am truly blessed to be surrounded by people who has eyes for details and that include my travel buddies. Thanks to their meticulous planning, we get to enjoy our trip and build our friendship. Our journey to Europe has widen my perspective about the world significantly and not forgetting the greatest fruit out of that journey was receiving an invitation from God to full time lay mission work. As we traveled, we learnt the reality of being a pilgrim in a foreign place. Pilgrimage is a recurring theme in Christianity and I am slowly learning what it really meant to be on a journey as a pilgrim on earth.

My natural self dislike to linger on things. As much as I love people, I am also a goal driven person. In my natural mode of work, I like to solve things and move on but Jesus has invited me to a road less traveled. A road that requires me to come out of myself; to be more of Christ and less of me. The process has not been really comfortable. In choosing Christ, I  am choosing holiness on a daily basis. Allowing Christ to increase involves forgiving people that I felt does not deserve any forgiveness. The question of forgiveness is something that I believe challenges us as Christian to live a life of witness. That has been the case for me and through my journey in this beautiful yet very rough road, I come to realize my need for God. And the saying; “To err is human and to forgive is divine” rang so true for me.

I simply cannot forgive! Not with my own strength. And in this area I am glad that I can run to the One who is able to enable me. Here I would like share a snippet of the taste of forgiveness. I have experienced the direct effect of communication breakdown that causes me to be very upset with the person involved. I was so upset that I did not know how to handle it. The question of why was the other person so unwilling to just communicate rang out so loudly in my mind. I wonder if it is too much to ask for people to communicate for the sake of the relationship. In my human weakness, I was really helpless. I refused to be the first to reconcile after all, it was the other person who took our relationship for granted by refusing to communicate. But all these thoughts were bringing me nowhere. I was left desolated.

In moment like that I thank God for my Savior, Jesus. Yes, all my arguments were valid to a certain degree and I acknowledged that. However, Jesus asked;

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye but do not notice the log in your own eye? – Matthew 7: 3

This question from Jesus challenged me to examine my own fault in the issue. I was being really prideful in believing that I have no wrong in it. The other person may have their burdens that have prevented them to communicate with me. Or I may have been too scary to be approached. The scriptures humbled me to acknowledge that I had been hard on the person as well; greeting everyone else with a great smile but not so with the person. I was acting out of my wound and that wound can only be healed by Christ. Thanks be to God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation where I can confess my poverty and to receive the graces I need to be reconciled to God first and then to my neighbour.

I was enabled by Christ to first forgive with my heart the person who trespass against me (that includes forgiving myself for my wrongdoing) and I pray for the grace to be reconciled in my strained relationship. As I look into the journey of forgiveness, it is indeed a narrow path (Matthew 7: 13 -14). I believe it rang true for most of us. Forgiving the other is not something we can naturally do; it takes supernatural strength to be able to do so. To finally come to a place of rest in God that I can cooperate with grace brought me so much of freedom.

What I shared was just a tiny event of forgiveness but some of us were face with devastating events where we are called to forgive the trespasser(s). If God is inviting you to forgive, know that I am praying for you and please take this journey of forgiveness in love. Know that you are infinitely lovable, precious, honoured and called to live a life to the fullest.

May you be blessed!

With lots of love,

Irene

 

 

Paid in Full

I love shopping and I love to joke whenever we gather in a small group by introducing myself in this manner; “Hi, my name is Irene and I am a shopaholic.” People used to crack up with that but for me that has been a redeemed part of my life. When I was earning a lucrative income, shopping was my regular hobby and a lot of us (myself included) call that retail therapy.

There seems to be a sense of satisfaction when the things we desired becomes official ours once we paid it in full. I used to crave for that feeling and that was the reason I had a house full load of stuffs to give away when I decided to leave my comfort to be where I am now. During the initial part of my missionary journey, giving up impulsive shopping was one of the hardest thing. Thanks to my conscience that kept reminding me that I am now fully dependent on divine providence, hence it is only right to be responsible with the money that I have.

The journey of being fully aware that all I am and have is a direct result of divine providence has been one that I would term as organic growth. It was not the easiest thing considering the high I always felt when I own something I paid in full. Looking back at my journey of financial accountability, I am really grateful at how far I have come. I know very well that I am far from being meticulously careful with the money entrusted to me but I am happy to say that I have grown to be very free with money.

If you seen me with my cardboard testimony, you would have seen my dark history being; “MONEY: MY SECURITY” and my conversion side being “GOD: MY PROVIDER”. That pretty much sums up the highlight of my School of Mission. I have been through real breaking of pride and roller coaster of doubts that finally brought me to an experience of tangible providence from God. Through this journey of building my trust (which is happening at an organic growth rate – if you are or ever been in sales, you will get what I mean), I learnt what it really meant when God said He paid for my life in full.

image

I am purchased with a price and paid in full, that price cost my Saviour His life. As I slowly surrender my life to His Lordship and allow Him access to my soul, I start to comprehend the amazing gift of salvation that I have received. Jesus owns me when He paid for me in full amount. I can imagine His excitement when the transaction happened – the very moment I call Him my Lord and my God. He must be so excited to show me His plan for my life as I would be so excited to wear a new dress I bought. I want people to see me in my new dress and celebrate with me. I would imagine Jesus also wanted the whole world to know that I am paid in full, I belong to Him and that He just wanted the world world to celebrate with Him.

Looking on the hindsight, I recognised my brokenness in my pursuit of the feeling of owning. There were tonnes of insecurity in that attitude of mine. The constant need to possess indicated my possessiveness and my control-freak-ness. I am really grateful for the circumstances where God broke me down just to build me up again. In my season of breaking, it was really uncomfortable. I came face to face with my poverty. The situation where I have absolutely nothing and no one to hold on to but God alone. The journey from slavery to being in control of my life to freedom in trusting the plan of God has been one exciting journey.

In this particular area that I have allowed Jesus to be Lord, I experienced the liberation that I would not want to trade for anything else. It is so beautiful to realize that this is possible simple because God first choose as me He said in the scripture;

“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” – John 15: 16

It is so assuring to know that God is the Initiator. In everything, we can be sure to give Him all the credit and glory. But we can only glorify Him when we respond to Him. He invites and initiates; after which is our turn to respond.

What would I choose in times of God’s invitation? Am I generous in my response?

Oftentimes for me, I found myself struggling to respond generously as the element of fear is always present. Through those times of responding to God, I learnt that courage is not the absent of fear. Fear can either be a catalyst or a crippler. Only the perfect love of Christ can cast out fear (1 John 4: 18). That can only be attained by grace and that grace has enabled me to respond positively to Jesus; which eventually opened His floodgate of blessings in my life. In other word, my choice to respond to His invitation to follow Him has helped me to lived out my life that has been paid in full by Jesus.

Dear friends, whatever you are going through now calls for a response from you. God has chosen you in a special way and His continous invitation is His initiative to keep saving you. He loves you infinitely and desires nothing short of the best for you. I pray that you are blessed with grace to respond to Him generously.

May you be blessed!!

With lots of love,
Irene