All the World's a Classroom

Lady Vera

This Is My Story, part 2

The first great gift God gave to me came in the form of my parents. Today is my mother’s 55th birthday and this post is dedicated to her.

Born in Bali, my mother is the validation of my weak and thin claim that I have roots in a most exotic and fascinating place. She’s the second of four children. She was essentially my math teacher all throughout elementary school, and the early foundation of the engineer in me is credited to her.

She was the one who quizzed me before every exam until 6th grade, and she was also the one who punished me when I underperformed. She accompanied me to dance lessons, English lessons, piano lessons… and for the last one, also sat nearby to pinch me when I pressed the wrong notes, which happened all the time. She bore with me through my ugly teenage years, and now, waiting to see what will become of my life.

My mother’s life is a continuing, open lesson book for me, especially as a woman in the brink of adulthood. Or maybe I’m in it already. I don’t know. It’s debatable.

To the youth, phases of life seem to line up in a predictable way. We start as students. Then comes early working life. Singlehood is the given status around this time, and then comes marriage, kids, middle age, empty nests, and retirement. It seems sometimes that these are the way life should be.

My mother’s life, however, has given me a slightly varied perspective. She lived with her family until she was about 26, moved in with my father when they got married, had kids, lived comfortably, saw her kids went to college overseas, and perhaps experienced early phases of retirement. But when she was 51, everything changed.

She became a widow then, and instead of cruising along in comfort and safety, she began a new phase that she never experienced before, living alone. Her kids are living half the world away, and no one is settled yet. And not only that, she now has to be a full time working woman, inheriting the family business that my father had built almost all of his life. The pressure is high and the burden is heavy, and she bears it day by day, with a degree of uncertainty on what will become of her family.

If there’s anything I learn from her, is that none of us is entitled to live an easy, comfortable, or predictable life. But one thing is sure: God is enough in all seasons of life, and He will sustain through it all, somehow.

Happy birthday to my dearest mother. I love you tons!

The Richest Girl In The World

This Is My Story, part I.

In a few weeks, I’ll be turning into an age that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. And as it usually goes around this time, I automatically go into reflection mode.

This year’s reflection mode, however, is in extra high gear since I’m in a major transition phase ministry-wise, academic-wise, and life-wise. The confluence of these things have in fact put me somewhat in constant reflection since… Oh I dunno … summertime? It’ll probably last until next year.

I understand that transitions and life uncertainties can be stressful, but at this juncture, stress is the polar opposite of my experience. The words I’d describe this phase are excitement, possibilities, and believe it or not, fun. I’m exhausted, but I’m having fun. And I’m grateful. So grateful that I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, except luck is a misnomer, since all good things in my life are given to me by Him “whom my soul loves.”

It’s not to my credit that these things are so. I have a God, and He has been kind to me. My path has not been trouble-free, but I am clay in the potter’s hand, a vessel in the making, silver being refined, and that makes all the difference. I think God is bringing me toward something, a distinct purpose, of which I don’t know yet but I’m getting closer to it.

I’ve been counting my blessings and concluded that I am tremendously and immensely blessed. So with this post, I’ll begin a series of testimonies of how my life has changed. These are not particular incidents, but the overarching narratives of years of transformation.

Oftentimes this generic phrase is used in personal, faith-related testimonies, “God came into my life, and He turned my life around.” What I want to do is spell out just how exactly God has turned mine around.

For me, this reconstruction is deeper than behavioral; it’s in the level of personality, worldview, life philosophy, and the lens through which I perceive people. I’ll pay tribute to the friends I’ve gained, those whom I probably would never come to know if not for my conversion. And of course, I’ll pay tribute to my family and my late father, whose character traits I’ve discovered to be present in me more and more as I grow up. Though my time with him is cut short, I’m so thankful to have been trained, brought up, and loved by him.

In a book by one of my favorite authors, he says, “there are no proofs for the existence of the God of Abraham. There are only witnesses.” (Heschel, The Prophets, p. 27) Well, I am a witness, and I’m unashamed to declare it.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’d say wealth is in the contented heart. The currency of my life consists of friendships, service, learning, wonder, and moments of reflection. Of these I have many. God has made me rich.

The Reader’s Resolution

Hi, my name is Josephine, and I’m an obsessive bookworm.

About 11 months ago, I wrote about my ridiculous (or maybe not so ridiculous) excursion to Barnes & Nobles in The Reader’s Dilemma, and the ever-so-crucial life decision of choosing between two different reading media. Print or e-book, THAT is the question.

Well, breaking news: I have a resolution. Yes, I’ve picked my winner and loser. Actually, it’s hardly news anymore since I’ve made up my mind toward the beginning of the year, but it makes for a nice blog topic.

Which one’s the winner? Suspenseful pause. PRINT. There is no doubt about it.

Earlier in the year, I read maybe about 3 or 4 books on the Kindle, and since then I haven’t used it much. (And no, I didn’t buy the Kindle version of the Bonhoeffer book). Why is that? Here’s a bit of self-analysis.

To me, reading a book is an experience. It’s like a journey I take with the author or whoever is written in the book, and each book shapes and colors a different journey than the other. I like the fact that each book smells and feels differently in my hands, and that I could finish a journey, put it away, and move on to a new one.

With the Kindle, I get bored quite easily. I would start a new book, but the object I’m handling is identical. The way I’d flip pages is the same, the way the text looks is the same, and its weight in my bag is the same. These different books feel the same, and somehow that’s a turn-off. In fact, those books I read on the Kindle left less impression on me than the print ones, even though they were good. They were less memorable, because the experience was uniform. I even get tired of how the Kindle smells.

And those percentages at the bottom drive me crazy.

I only use the Kindle to read books that I don’t really want to own (via the lending systems through public libraries), or books that I just want to read quickly and that I don’t deem as very important. Most likely, I wouldn’t go back to these books for ideas or quotes, since the highlighting feature is a pain.

But those ones that contain treasures of ideas, I just have to own the print versions. I can get to important sections quickly because I remember where quotes are by the way the book feels (is that weird?). I can flip through pages and remember the thoughts I had when I was reading certain highlighted sections. And once I become attached to a book, I can’t return it… It’s just not possible.

I love books. I can’t help it.


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