28/8/06… 12/5/07

2 01 2008

August 28, 2006 – First Day of Meetings
The whole day has been work-related. I am so exhausted I feel like I’ve just invented the word.

First, the General Staff Meeting. Then, desk work followed by a buffet dinner to celebrate a student’s success in the public examinations (out of 10 subjects: read TEN, she scored A in every. Single. One of them. Nuts!) and tomorrow I’ll try to post pictures of my ‘new’ desk. It’s kind of empty at the moment, but it’s amazing how God has impressed on my heart just how similar my life is: He created me clean and blank, free for any form of artwork and communication with Him. Then, as life sets in, things get messy, and I lose track of him. Periodically, I cry out for help, and He cleans me up again, dumping stuff that’s not necessary, and tidying up the stuff He requires of me… then I’m pure, clean and free for Him again. Crazy how He uses the smallest things, eh.

This year, I want to be powerfully used by God. I want to witness to my students, and show them God’s love for them, in amongst the darkness, the pressure, and the stress. I want to be an instrument for God this year in ways I’ve never been able to be before and as I seek to trust more in Him, I pray that I will let my light shine, so that others may see the example, and glorify God.

August 29, 2006 – PROPS
God is amazing, people – MASSIVE props to Him for all He’s doing in the lives of friends, siblings and me!!! People around me are learning more about Him, His will for their lives, His master plan for this life… it’s incredible.

Today, in my little world, He taught me about pride and humility.

I know that He has gifted me in leadership and speaking words of encouragement to people, but I’ve really struggled about the pride and happiness I feel when someone else acknowledges that gift in me… I felt that it was wrong to feel joyful after teaching His message to a small/big group or whatever, and that that’s not from God, because it takes my focus away from the bigger picture, and my purpose for that particular message. Kinda like, I know I’m a good speaker, and I know that God used that message I just taught to encourage such and such a person… today, through a good friend who led me to Christ (*hugs*), God taught me that it’s not about that at all – it’s about letting His glory show through the gifts that He has loaned me. The gifts that we have, whatever they are, are from God. And when we use them to glorify Him, and bring glory to Him, boy, does He get pleasure, joy and honour from that or what. It was crazy massive how the verse that I used in my post yesterday popped right back into my head, at roughly the same instant as it did in my friend’s head. Seriously – let your light shine, so that others may see your example, and glorify God. That was the first verse I ever memorised, and Jesus hadn’t touched my life yet! Props, man. Seriously.

Another friend told me about his work situation, and I have been really blessed by his friendship in recent months through what God has been doing in his life and on his heart. It’s awesome how much God can and will use a life that is fully surrendered to Him. The book ‘Winning, God’s Way’ by Loren Cunningham has been challenging so far, and I’m only on page 30. Highly recommended.

Boy, I sound like a full-on reviewer. I want to sound full-on for God. Yeah.

What I can’t get over is how when we open open our eyes, and really try, we get a glimpse of what God intends for His beloved. And it’s just mind-blowing, how He would condescend to let us in on His master plan. There aren’t any adjectives that can adequately describe this Father.

August 30, 2006 – True Freedom, Anyone?
I went swimming with Christian today, and it was good. Floating in water that contrasts so sharply with the temperature outside, it’s easy to forget about life, about stress, about work. A relaxing day helps to put things in perspective, but at the same time, I have found that my relaxing, strangely, means that God takes a back seat. This morning, I woke up and read Exodus 22-24. It’s a relatively boring chunk of instructions, what the Lord says to Moses to be passed on to the people, newly brought out of Egypt. But it’s love, man. You can almost taste the love and the patience that God has for His beloved. Why else would He go through all those rules and instructions like that? Why else would Moses be given such a role of responsibility? Leading thousands and thousands of irate slaves, impatient men and women, tired and fussing children… why bother? Because God is love. Where did that patience and tolerance and love come from? God, man. The instructions in this chunk of Exodus seem commonplace to us now, like, well, duh… but only because modern law has been heavily based and founded upon wisdom from the Word of God. Only in following God’s rules and obeying His boundaries can we find true freedom. Paradoxical, eh.

I was up until nearly 4 this morning reading ‘Winning, God’s Way’. It’s really been quite a journey – I love when God uses a writer to impact your life and shake up decay, tear down wrong beliefs and sort out misunderstandings. How much are you willing to surrender to God in order to be fully available and devoted to Him? The Lord says that if we do not hate our brothers and sisters and father and mother, we cannot follow Him. What? Are you kidding me, Lord? The word ‘hate’ here doesn’t actually mean what we normally take the word to mean. It means when we love God so much that everything else seems like hate in comparison. Do we love Him, and only Him? Are our eyes set on His goal to the extent that personal suffering is nothing in comparison to His glory, that we are “content in all circumstances”?

Are we willing? Are we available? Are we open to be used? As we understand that everything we have is actually the Lord’s, we’ll be set free. Yeah, Lord.

September 1, 2006.
Today was the first day back after summer for real, with student contact and basically everything except for actual lessons. Stress upon stress, man. When I left work at 6.30pm, I pulled up at a red light behind this lorry. My foot was on the brake but suddenly, I plunged into his trunk with a stomach-turning “crunch”. The guy sped off when the lights changed to green, and I was left with a hood that was raised by about 10cm, and hands that were shaking uncontrollably. I don’t know why he drove off, but because he did, I won’t be held liable for his damages.

I’ve got to say, I’m still shocked at how the whole thing could have happened. My foot was on the brake – I know that for a fact! Unbelievable.

When my phone wouldn’t work and I couldn’t call home, I started to panic and burst into tears – if you want a good laugh, picture me sitting behind the steering wheel with tears drenching my shirt, ‘cos I know that later on, when my heart has calmed down, I’m going to see the funny side of this too – and eventually it worked so I called home. After my Mum got the story out of me, I sat and waited while my Dad and brother came to fetch me. I just shook, I was so scared. I couldn’t think of anything except for how much the insurance would cost and just as I was about to start bawling again, I was reminded of the lyrics of the song which is used as my ringtone, ‘Praise You In This Storm’ by Casting Crowns off Lifesong:
“I’ll praise You in this storm,
and I will lift my hands,
for You are who You are,
no matter where I am.
Every tear I’ve cried,
You hold in Your hand,
You never left my side,
and though my heart is torn,
I will praise You in this storm” 
-Mark Hill

The chorus is about us making a choice to worship the Lord even in times of trouble, when we experience those inevitable storms in life – a wrong decision that leads to disaster, a death, bad news…

And so it dimly occurred to me that maybe my attention should be focused on God in the midst of this fear, but then I thought… nothing. My mind was a blank after that. I got out of the car, and as I was waiting, biting my nails and crying by the side of the road, one of my colleagues came along in her car. She reversed towards me, and stopped behind me. She gave me a hug and spoke to me, getting me to talk to her about everything, how the accident happened, how she had once had her door knocked off by a passing bus… my heart broke. This was someone who I had been bad-mouthing because she had been pushing her duties off onto me and another colleague. Between the time she got out of her car and my Dad came, she kept talking to me, just showing me love, man. How could I have forgot what God’s Word says about loving our enemies? And she definitely wasn’t being venomous when she stood by the side of that dusty, busy road with her arm around me.

God really humbled me with this incident. I learned today that yeah, just calling myself a Christian, writing God-inspired stuff, serving, going to church, helping out at youth group, teaching, trying to read His Word every day and praying is not enough to earn God’s love. He has given it freely, and the biggest thing is that we can think of ourselves as being ‘quite’ godly or ‘loving’ or whatever; the truth is that we can still be vulnerable to attacks of the enemy and the sudden rearing of our sinfulness, but God’s love is still there. It still touches us. It still has the ability to cleanse us.

This morning, I was touched by the song ‘For Who You Are’ by Hillsong, off Mighty To Save:
“Standing here in Your presence,
thinking of the good things You have done.
Waiting here, patiently,
just to hear Your still small voice again.

Holy, righteous, faithful to the end,
saviour, healer, redeemer, and friend.
I will worship You for who You are,
I will worship You for who You are,
I will worship You for who You are – Jesus.

My soul secure, Your promise sure, Your love endures always” 
-Marty Sampson

Yeah… He’s given us the freedom to choose, and I choose to worship You, Lord.

September 3, 2006 – Gutted, man
Working on the Sabbath, dude. Not cool. What is cool though is how God gives us more than what we need, so that we ‘abound in every good thing’. We went to church this morning, and I was pretty knackered, I have to admit. It was awesome though, seeing everybody again. Now, the crash I was in was actually quite minor in comparison to say, having an elephant sit on your bonnet, but seriously? I could have died. I saw everything in a new light today, just when I really needed to see them that way. You amaze me, Lord. Refreshing comes when we rely on Him for strength.

Awesome.

Oh yeah. And Daegal said, “Ness, I told you James was a better driver than you.” That comment is where the topic of this post comes from. Aiya. At least it won’t cost me an arm or a leg. I’ve been paid for last month – YEAH!!!

Well, I’ll be a better driver now from experience, I’m sure 😉

September 4, 2006 – No discouragement, no, no.
Myself and another leader at Solid Rock were led last night to lead a prayer and fasting thing for the youth group. We believe that God wants to use it as His, and to impact every youth with His Holy Spirit. We invited the other leaders, through email, to make a commitment to pray and fast with us, to invite the Lord into this youth group all over again, and to reply to all with their decision. So far, no response. It was weird – tonight, after work, I went sport climbing (which was COOL, by the way) and I am so, so tired after a crazy day at work then intense sport, but I still wanted to come online to check my email. I was so sure that if I saw nothing, I’d be so disappointed, but no… I’m feeling quite chipper about the lack of response at the moment. Isn’t it incredible that the Lord can, and does, uplift our hearts when it’s for His purpose that we’re expectant in the first place? He is awesome!!! I’m dead chuffed that He would pick me to be His. And He’s picked you too, if you open your heart to Him. Man, He’s going to use me and everyone I know in such massive powerful ways… “Lord, I’m amazed by You… how You love me… how wide… how deep… how great is Your love for me”
-Desperation Band

Okay, I’m thinking it’s time for bed now. I’m gone gone.

September 8, 2006 – Faithfulness, faithfulness
This morning, I was getting ready for work when I realised that it had been a few days since I had written anything on here. I’ve just been swamped with work, commuting and sport-climbing and I’m loving it again.

Last week, at Oasis, we watched Rick Warren’s sermon at this past summer’s Hillsong Conference, where he talked about leading a purpose-driven life (man, I do not dig plugs like that, honestly) but there was one thing he said, about how when we feel stressed or worried, it’s because we’re trying to be God. On the one hand, it really spoke to me – last year, I had been feeling stressed from everything, and the more stressed I felt, the more I worried about not being in the place God wanted me to be, the more worried I got, the more stressed I felt. And so on. It was getting pretty unhealthy, I tell ya. Anyway, Rick Warren was saying that we’ve got to let God be God, and realise why we’ve been put on this earth. I got that point, totally.

We’ve been put on this earth because God has a very real plan for our lives. The way you or I fit into the great scheme of things is totally different from the way somebody else’s lives fits in. And that’s incredible. The trick is not to get side-tracked by the crap that is everywhere. In the car on my way to work this morning, I listened to Casting Crown’s ‘Voice of Truth’ and just the way it’s all put together, as I was saying to Misha last night, is so powerful that the Holy Spirit just comes down on me whenever I listen to it. It’s a choice: listen to the temptations of the world, or listen to what the Voice of Truth is saying. The Voice of Truth that is Jesus, who has won, and will win, victory over the world.
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again, “Boy, you’ll never win,
You’ll never win.”

Chorus:
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid.”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory.”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy you’ll never win
You’ll never win.”

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them lookin’ down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth
-Mark Hall

Make the decision today to listen, really listen, to the Voice of Truth. Even if the sounds and noise around you is deafening, God’s still small voice is there. Take a deep breath, and listen.

March 4, 2007 – To bless and not curse
Can you hear that? That is the sound of my heart, breaking into a thousand little pieces, because I am… I feel… devastated… but most of all it is because of that little boy, caught up in the middle of this politic. This fight that started with I don’t know what anymore, because it has been so long… tonight, the look he gave me killed me a little, and I withered. I have been trying to pray for her, to be to her precisely what she has not been being, and it has been difficult, but not impossible. What does it mean, he needs to learn what his home is? He lives here, and this is his home. Is it truly so difficult to see? My heart hurts, and his eyes were very large tonight when she said no. How can someone stand to be so cold to such a child? How does she justify this to herself? I cannot help but cry again when I think about how his face lit up this afternoon when he saw me but it is hurting too much to think about it all right now. Tonight, whilst we were watching that Christian movie (the irony of it) he kept nudging me and whispering to me to “beg” her to let him come home with me, and I kept telling him to wait… and then finally, of course, she said no. And his heart broke, but his eyes were dead. Filling with tears and hurt, he swept past me, and when he said goodbye and goodnight to me, I could not help but hold back the tears. I want to curse, but cannot, and know that this is not helpful. How can I help in this situation? I am told to “bless and not curse,” but it is a struggle right now.

Home. They say home is where the heart is, and he lines up every day after school to use the school’s phone because she does not allow him to call us any more. I took pictures of him, of us, tonight, and when he laughed, it was as though the part of him that made the laughter was rusty and he was only putting the ability to practice after a long time of disuse. Oh, that I could bring him here and protect him from her… selfishness? Why else would she be doing this? Why can’t she see what she is doing is hurting him? She said that it is “tough love,” but I cannot see love in her actions. That friend of hers who shares her name suggested that she take him to a doctor as he is too violent, and I think that the problem does not lie there.

But enough of this, because he should be sleeping now, and in that too-cold room where he sleeps on his own (this child, who could not go upstairs without hearing us call his name, who switched off all the lights and stayed in the corner of his room when he was left behind by their maid that time, has his own room, in a house he does not call home), he should be dreaming about robots, and motorcycles, and guns, cowboys and Indians, with that notice on his door that says “DO NOT COME IN” and then in Chinese, “STAY OUT – DO NOT COME IN WITHOUT MY PERMISSION” and is signed, simply, ‘Christian.’

Why am I still crying, then?

March 5, 2007 – I’m still laughing
I heard at work today about something that someone is trying to do behind my back, and I realised, with a bit of a thrill, that I don’t care. I’m at a place where whatever happens, happens.Sometimes, God allows things to happen that maybe you think shouldn’t happen (and it would suck big to leave my Form 4s behind, what with their exams coming next year… and Vicky said, when we were discussing the Pat Sin Leng fire a few years ago that killed a couple of teachers when they tried to rescue their students, that he would jump in and rescue me, even if he died. I just about cried, and the tears started. Luckily, before they started for real, Edward goes, “I’d push you in.” and I had to laugh. Man, I love these guys so much), and there is a very specific reason behind it, much like cheese was made so you could dip it in honey. Or like how socks were made so your feet wouldn’t get sticky after a whole day’s worth of wearing them. Or like how books are made of paper and not clay or metal so you can carry them around places.I think I should lie down before I, or someone else for that matter, gets hurt.Yes, it’s worrying.Also, it major irritation that my laptop functions got twiddled this afternoon; I can’t get online! Tomorrow at work, someone’s gonna get chewed out…

And Darryl’s being annoying again. Ahh, life. What a headache it is sometimes.

But man, I love Jesus. In the car on the way home, it was chucking it down. I had ‘Beyond Measure’ by Jeremy Camp, and I just felt so blessed. It’s nutty that yeah we don’t know what God has given us, but we totally come alive when we see beyond our insecurities, our problems and just… ourselves.

March 9, 2007 – It’s a woman, not a man!
It’s lunch right now, and I just heard that from a colleague. He raised his voice, and just about shouted it. Come on, you have to laugh. Or you’d cry. Aiya.

This morning, I saw the mother of one of my students, the boy who I’m rumoured to be somehow romantically involved with? Anyway, that was quite an ordeal for her… she was so emotionally strung out that he’d received such a harsh punishment that I honestly felt a bit weepy just watching her. She was adamant that his chances for the future would now be damaged, and no school would want him. As I walked her to the gates of the school, she just kept touching my arm and saying, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” and I just kept replying, “You’re welcome, we’ll do what we can, try to rest this weekend, there are no guarantees, don’t worry, you’re welcome, don’t worry, don’t worry…”

It’s precious, beautiful, the love that parents often extend to their children. In 2006, when the first of two girls was withdrawn from school, her father had given up on her, and that was awful. Really horrible and heartbreaking to see. He had tried and tried and tried to reach her, to get to her, but nothing happened, and he was so tired that he was threatening to chop her. And this was in front of five teachers, the Principal (who might as well not have been there anyway), the social worker AND the school psychologist.

Then there were the parents who we sat with in the room in the back of the staffroom, the mother who defended and defended and defended their daughter, and the father who scolded and scolded and scolded until the girl started cursing and threw her wallet onto the desk and made everyone jump.

Snapshots of parental love… and at the end of all this there is the constant love of the Father, who just… loves. I’m amazed, and in awe.

March 15, 2007 – Slowing down
Everything sucks when you’re sick. My left nostril is having a field day with all the running it’s doing, and it’s getting me way down. I know that sickness is our bodies’ way of telling us to slow down, but I DON’T HAVE TIME TO SLOW DOWN! I need to be with my students because the exams are coming soon, and I really want them to know that there is someone who’s totally for them, and willing to do anything to help them. Right now it’s hard though because I feel really run down and tired, but there’s going to be a revision session this evening as well. Last night’s session finished at 7.15pm, but it was awesome-worth-it to see the boys all helping each other out. This made me cry this morning:

Do you know? You are different from the other teachers. You are very hard working and willing to get close to the students. You always show your consideration on them. And every year I have revision sessions for the students. You are the one and only one teacher who stays with me. Although you are not teaching them, you have shown your support on the students and me. And also, do you know? Every year I organize camp or other activities for the students. But most likely, the other class teacher is not willing to go. Although you are a native speaker in English, the students still approach you. You are friendly and funny, and sometimes naughty ^^. And it is easy for you to make others happy. I know you try to be perfect in every dimension. But it is not possible. I think it is excellent if you can do well in some areas. For example, joking is one of your strength. Comparing with you, I seldom make them laugh. So don’t be unhappy. You need not to be perfect in every area. Just keeping on what you are doing, you will be a good teacher. Cheep up!

Right now, I’m loving my job. I love the amount I pour into my students, and even though I might never get appreciation from it all, I don’t care, because their eyes, lit up, make it all worth it.And being sick from working my backside off? I am very frustrated about it. Class this morning was fun though – I was like, “If I hear any Cantonese from anyone, I’m going to take them by the shoulders and cough in their face to give them my cold. Sharing is caring, and I care about your level of English.” The form 1 littlies cracked up. They’re great.On the other hand, we’re supposed to be going out tonight. BIG sighs right now. But he’s being very annoying, and his jealousies and little huge unfounded paranoias are depressing me. What can I do to make him go away? It’s all very complicated and overwhelming right now. I’d love to get away from this all, just for a short while. I really would, as well.

March 18, 2007 – Insight from the crazy minibus
My life needs to answer the questions of WHY, not the HOW ones. When we’re living our day-to-day lives, we should be able to, somehow, reflect the purpose for which we’ve been made. HOW we’re living comes into it, but that’s not the important thing, and when we realise this, we’re liberated so, so much. Rob Bell’s ‘Velvet Elvis’ has this amazing thing – “Your job is the relentless pursuit of who God has made you to be. And anything else you do is sin and you need to repent of it” – and it just blew my mind because it’s so… simple, really.

I started reading a book called ‘Through Painted Deserts’ by Donald Miller, the same guy who wrote ‘Blue Like Jazz’ (which, incidentally, is awesome. If you haven’t read it yet, you MUST. I gave my copy away, but you can buy one for like $100) while I was on the bus coming home. So I’ve come off the break-from-Christian-books I’ve been on for a month or so, but it’s been a good one so far, and I will probably go on one again when I become bitter and disillusioned about the messages that I’m getting through the books.This morning, I was reading Mark 14. Man, that guy called Jesus is something else eh. I picked up this book called ‘The Jesus of Suburbia: have we tamed the Son of God to fit our lifestyle?’ and it scared the living crap out of me. Is it possible that we’ve watered Jesus down so that he fits into this world of ours? He’s revolutionary, mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, and I remembered that this afternoon.

March 21, 2007 – Everything is beautiful
I love this:Starfield – Everything Is Beautiful
From the album Beauty In The BrokenWorn out wasted
Like a bird with broken wings
Sometimes, grace reminds me
I don’t get to be the kingBut love it washes over
Love it pulls me closer
Love it changes everything

Chorus:
So everything is beautiful
Even when the tears are falling
I don’t need a miracle to believe
Even in the crashing down
I can hear redemption calling
And everything is beautiful to me

Sweetly, You release me
From the weight of what I’ve done
The trigger trips the hammer
But the bullets never come

But love it washes over
Love it pulls me closer
Love it changes everything

Chorus:

And love like a landslide
Like the wind
Spins around me pulls me in
As it’s unveiling, I begin

March 26 , 2007 – Decisions
As I was trying to sleep last night, I lay awake for a lifetime, because too many thoughts were crowding on one another, each jostling for my attention so that nothing could be focused on. There’s just too much going on right now, what with Jenny and her badmouthing everyone I love, the children, work, politics, politics, politics, and the pain of it all. I lay in my bed, on the expensive space-age-material mattress I bought myself when I first started teaching, and just thought and thought and thought, and I prayed.I have made a decision, and it’s big enough to need putting into words: I give it up. This is not mine, and this life is full of things that happen that are out of my control, decisions that need to be made by what I think is my intelligence and experience, and circumstances that reach beyond my meagre capabilities. So I give it all up. I know that there is a place where you can get to, and this place is one where the decisions that are finally made are ones that have truly been carefully thought-out, where the choices have been weighed up against one another, and where someone will truly have my best interests at heart. It hurts that there is so much going on, and at work, there is more still. A moment of immaturity has affected too many people, and have too much of a consequence. And, and it is all too much at the moment.

There is too much beauty in this world to be so stressed out about these little things. This is not it.

April 16, 2007 – Show me Your glory
On Saturday, I had my interview for the MA in Christian Studies (it went well – they seemed to like me, and I made them laugh. I’ll know the results in May sometime) and that night, as I brushed my teeth, I felt that I should put in all my money in the offering the next morning. I freaked out a little, all like, “No way… I’ll only have the 70-ish bucks left in my bank account! For the rest of the month!”

On Sunday, I did it. I put everything into the offering bag and just trusted that God would provide. In the late afternoon, my mum gave me the 60 bucks change from an errand I ran for her. She never does that!!! God provided! And then, when I checked my bank account in the evening while I was doing something online for my dad, I had $118.48! Crazy. God is super funny.

I love those little bouncy rubber balls. I LOVE them. It’s worrying.

April 22, 2007 – But I don’t even like barbecues!
It’s been a long weekend, but not in a bad way (surprisingly so, I thought – there’s been a lot I’ve been thinking about, and this has been one of those things). We chatted for a long time last night, and I just felt this huge… relief. As he said, it’s not the same when you try to tell someone the things that you’re going through when that other person hasn’t felt the same thing, or isn’t going through the same thing. I typed ‘sane thing’ just and made myself laugh. I’m funny.

I’m good at this talking thing, and can sometimes make people laugh, but I can’t Talk. There are times when I’m on the phone with someone, and they’re just going verbal diarrhoea on me, and I desperately want to encourage them, but I just can’t. But Paul’s talks made me think. Things just became sort of new to me. Like after the first talk he gave, about breaking out of the glass box we’re in that’s keeping us away from really hearing from God, something happened.

I’ve been thinking very hard and feeling very guilty about the way I’ve been feeling about someone at Oasis, and last night, during the barbecue, I finally sucked it up and spoke to her. We talked for a really long time, and about a lot of things… it was discomfitting, but again, nice. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t thinking, “Dude, you’re so full of it.” And it’s funny because I don’t even like barbecues.

I suspected I knew where it came from too. The thing I’ve been reading by Shane Claiborne (which, by the way, is excellent) has this one thing that’s moved me, and I’m not one who’s moved often by short little phrases (although I do have an absurd tendency to ‘collect’ short little phrases – not entirely hamster-like, either – that, in my imagination, could one day become a tattoo that will completely and magically change the way I treat life yet simultaneously be a declaration of Who I believe in and follow. I have a small library full of these little phrases in my head, and one of these days, one of them will make a big difference. Or a cool tattoo heh). The phrase is: Love God. Love people. Follow Jesus.
LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE, AND FOLLOW JESUS
I really felt that what I’d been feeling toward this person had been holding me back from getting closer to God and from doing the things He’s wanted me to do for a while. When I read that sentence in the book, it was as though I’d just got flicked in the ear: it didn’t hurt, but it did wake me right up (much like the cabbage did last night. Except it did kind of hurt a little when my piercing got ripped – thanks Joe heh). If we claim to be Christians, and act like just about everybody else around the world, what good are we to the cause of Christ? If we say we’re believers in a better thing, then what do we contribute to the world if we’re just doing. The. Same. As. Everyone. Else?

Brennan Manning wrote that “the greatest cause of atheism is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny him with their lifestyle.” And I really understand that and I’m broken by it. There are so many things in my life, the way I do things, how I say some things, the things I write, that can turn someone away, but I’m just so, so relieved that Jesus is so much bigger and better than me, so much more gracious and grace-full than me. I thank God that I’m not loved because I’m perfect. Because I am so far from perfection that it would take many millenia to run to it. And this love that I have received, this grace that I’m being shown every day, is just stunning. I’m speechless.

This morning, Paul said that God loves us with all of our imperfections, and He asks us to bring them all to Him. I’d heard it all before, but today, something was different. He also said, it’s not enough to tell someone you love them, because you can do it in a thousand different ways and it still wouldn’t be enough. Love starts in here, in your head, then moves down to here, to your heart, and finally must be here, extended in actions. It’s impossible to hold the love you’ve been given and hoard it, selfishly, waiting for an occasion to release it. Your actions…

Crickey.

April 25, 2007 – Dream a little dream of abject weirdness
Last night, I dreamt that we were in a tutorial school for various courses, but it really just felt like we were there because we had nothing better to do. Anyway, two of us signed on for the dietician’s programme, and they were fed green mousse jellies in little plastic cups, although it was at times hard to distinguish between plastic and mousse (they tasted remarkably similar, was the comment he made). I was in another room altogether, and I felt… better… than the other students in the room, because I had had experience in this course. I can’t even remember what I was trying to learn in there, but chances are, it wasn’t enlightening. I kept thinking to myself that I should be in the English grammar classes, so I’d be able to learn something to teach back to my kids, and maybe improve my grammar teaching strategy. In the washroom, I kept looking at myself in the mirror, and I can only remember seeing my eyes, and they looked sad.Anyway, the dietician’s class ended, and we all met back together, but everyone looked… strange, somehow. I kept thinking, “This isn’t what God wants.”And then I woke up. I am at a loss. The edge of my brain is saying that this dream was trying to tell me something, but I don’t know what it is. Or maybe I do know, but don’t want to acknowledge it. Would it truly be so bad to leave? I’m very stressed out right now, but I suspect it’s my own fault. Yesterday and the day before, I searched one-year volunteer programmes in Hong Kong, and watched the eleventh episode of the third season of Grey’s Anatomy (this series… aiya. What a time-wasting thing) respectively. But the volunteering thing is something I’m feeling quite positive about. There are two options: I could serve at Mother’s Choice (too many babies – I’d be constantly terrified of dropping one) or Home of Loving Faithfulness, which I’m suppressing the excitement quite a bit for.

I think I spend too much time on Facebook. Crap.

April 28, 2007 – Just have to get this off my chest
There’s an older teacher here who’s nearing retirement, and at times I think he’s one of the small handful of reasons why I’m still here. He’s awesome. Of course, he’s missing half of his teeth, but he’s the only one who actually cares about the ‘little things’ that everyone else is too busy to care about. He tries to teach his students about the world outside, and the kind of environment they’re going to be going into soon – he only teaches the sixth form – and always gets in trouble for it. He and her majesty (our clever little nickname for the Boss) always argue and it’s hilarious.I’ve become one of those people who talk about work all the time. Oh great.Actually it’s only because I had a most disturbing dream last night. Although on hindsight it wasn’t so much the dream as it was the way i felt when I woke up from it. I dreamt that I was pregnant, and when I woke up, I actually felt nauseous and had to gag. It was weird-as.

April 29, 2007 – XTC on Christ tonight
There were heaps of people. God was moving the place, and He totally protected the stomachs of everybody who was there. Too much ice cream + cake + apple slices + bouncing off the walls + McDonald’s afterwards = potential to be very, very ill.

In the ministry (prayer) time after worship, one of the youth came up to me to ask for prayer for her school. Some things are happening there that are upsetting, and she was desperate for the school to see God move powerfully. She and some of her friends will be fasting and praying every Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunchtime to seek God’s will for the school, and I want to challenge you all to pray too. Not just for this school in particular, but for the school you’re in.It may sound like a cliché, but you’re in the school you’re in for a very special reason. You’ve been put there to challenge complacency, to stir the too-still waters, to make a difference in the climate of the school. We can’t sit and wait for the Kingdom to come when we’ve died – Christ didn’t come so that we could just sit around on our backsides waiting for death, with the excuse that “that’s when all the good stuff happens” ringing in our ears, which are numb with a thousand stale clichés of religiosity. He came so that the Kingdom could come – now. As believers, we need to choose to live out the Kingdom life while we’re here, right now. There needs to be faith, hope, love and joy, and I believe that if we all band together, even if it is for just an hour or so every other day of the school week, God’s going to move powerfully and change the climate and the atmosphere of our school. I believe that our own attitudes will change in ways that were unforeseeable, and we’ll become those lights that a lost and hurting generation will not be able to help drawing near to, because what we have in us will be the Love and Fire of God. I believe that all of this is going to happen, because God is that great.

So pencil in the lunch hours of Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to fast and pray for God to come to our schools in power. Let’s get ready to see God move in our schools in His super-big ways again.

May 10, 2007 – Never cease
Well, I got my feedback from the observed lesson this morning (triple period, what luck) from my boss. She said I had packed too much into a triple period slot, and too many activities with insufficient scaffolding for the students, which meant that they a) didn’t really know what they were expected to do; and b) didn’t know how to do what they needed to do. My kids were so quiet this morning that I was actually a little taken aback. Of course, it was mostly because it was Dragon Lady in the classroom, but they so wanted me to be and do alright that they hardly dared to breathe. Aiya. I’m chewing on how to motivate my kids and keep them all challenged at the same time as being ‘there’ for them. She said to me, “You have to think about whether you’re strong enough for this. I know you care about their emotional and psychological welfare and all that, but we’re being paid to make sure they get the best grades possible.” Man, my jaw dropped a bit. Can it not be done, that our students perform better when we are supporting them? Maybe that is not what I’m doing, although that’s what I think I’m doing. When she said that bit about whether I was strong enough for it, I entertained a moment of hysterically jumping up onto her desk and screaming, “I QUIT!!” And there are times it just seems a bit of a waste of time. Maybe I would do better to invest my effort elsewhere. I don’t know. Again with the “I don’t know.” Maybe I’m just being too much of a friend to them, when what I really should be is a bitch with a whip.

No, that’s just the frustration talking.

Darryl thinks I should change jobs, and I have to say that right now, that’s not an altogether unattractive prospect.

Last night in the car, James and I were talking about how we worship, and a thought came to me. How can we pass off our songs and “I’m so holy”ness as genuine, heartfelt worship? How could we possibly meet with God when we’ve spent so much time and energy on boxing Him into our collective consciousness? I think worship isn’t about swaying/jumping/rocking etc to pop/[soft] rock/punk etc, lifting our left/right hand/hands/moving them about/putting them on our chest etc and wearing an expression on our faces that is discomfortingly reminiscent of constipation. I think worship, true worship that touches God and opens up something massive in your heart and in the spiritual realm is what happens when we sacrifice of our time, our words, our money, just to bring a smile to someone’s face. I think worship is what takes place when we suddenly let go of our own hang-ups, and just be. And I think worship is what happens when we do something with all of our effort, energy, strength and ability, not even knowing that we’re “letting our lights shine” (Matthew 5:16).

True worship is when we let go of who we are, and start becoming who we were created to be.

May 12, 2007 – My chains are gone!
A chance sighting last night brought back a flood of emotions: he had aged. We think of the people who share our pasts as being constant somehow, unchanging through the lens of our memory. We impatiently stood in line, thinking of new things to distract ourselves with, and as we finally walked in there was an air of anticipation. It was going to be Matt Redman, the worship leader who has written more well-known Christian songs than almost any other, and when it began, the pastor from the Vine had to kill a bit of time as the band were nowhere to be found. When they did appear, and the concert began, people lifted their hands, jumped around, and shouted a fair bit. And that’s when the thought popped into my head that I have been wrong: about worship and its importance and appearance, about relationships between people, about why I’m doing what I’m doing and whether I’m not worshipping the wrong thing(s)… the thought came that maybe I’m wrong about a lot of things. It was terrifying. Sometimes, I find myself thinking that maybe, just maybe, who I am is defined by what I am doing and what I did: the depression and suicidal thoughts and counselling and relationships and temper and then going to uni and being miserable and suicidal again and becoming a Christian and helping out at Solid Rock and going to grad school and meeting someone there and teaching people who are but a couple of years younger than me and questioning my job and and and.

Chris Tomlin wrote in his version of ‘Amazing Grace’, “My chains are gone | I’ve been set free | My God, my Saviour has ransomed me | And like a flood His mercy reigns | Unending love, Amazing grace”

I thought about it all while Louie Giglio was speaking about Hong Kong being a city of great worshippers, because we’re so good at worshipping anything, and I felt so guilty about my new phone, my swanky laptop, being so consumed with thoughts of my job, the two MA programmes I’ve been accepted to but still haven’t decided which to choose yet because I’m so indecisive. Tanya asked if I had decided whether to leave or not, and I couldn’t answer. It seems I say “I don’t know” too often these days. But I do know that I fall so, so short of the standards to which God calls us. We’re called to be an interceding generation, and we’re called to serve and love His people, and there is massive beauty in that.

I’m sitting at my desk at work, and I finished watching the YouTube video of Chris Tomlin performing ‘Amazing Grace’ and this, this is holy. We think it’s got to be so big, so neon lights and flashing signs, but it’s in the small things too, because He is.

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