And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am
Life no matter how you try to shield it has some surreal ways of dragging you into the pit of darkness. Clouding your logic with make-believe and leading you to the worst version of yourself.
It was horrifying.
I was shattered into pieces most recently. So broken that I thought of not seeing the sunshine the following morning. It was a perfect escape. The end to it all. So I thought. Only to figure that even the very act of suspending life coexist with disparaging eyes that I would never be able to satisfy.
It was exhausting.
When I was at my weakest and most helpless, God’s love was at its strongest. He entered with no judgments but with an overflowing and purest intention to understand, listen, and simply be near me.
It was comforting.
Backstory: My first born was named after this song. Iris by Goo Goo Dolls
“Most of the time, for me, writing involves procrastination, fear, doubt, criticism… Most songs I write I have to torture myself; be a prima donna for about an hour. But Iris came so easy. I’d broken two strings on my guitar, so I’d started winding all the strings up and down in these weird configurations, and that song just came out. It was like a gift – like: ‘Oh, thank God! – J. Rzeznik
As I tread into this valley of confusion, I lost touch with what is significant. I gave in to the desire of a beautiful danger. Never for a second, I thought I would be capable of being trapped in this state, but only to find out later I was becoming the lead.
The dawning came when the throbbing of diversified unfiltered passion was deafening enough to not entertain. I ran to the corner of right and wrong, but it was an exercise of futility.
Will I ever escape from this self-inflicted cell?
Backstory: An invite to co-write for a huge project landed my email past midnight. The theme was Confronting Pain. This was an attempt to test whether I can do it. Apparently, I do not have the drive. A decision I have to make before Monday.
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” – Deuteronomy 15:11
When God open doors of opportunity for you to serve and care for others, jump for joy! With a steadfast spirit believe that He will equip you through it. This was evident in our recent mission trip to Tak Province during the Songkran break. Armed with the burning desire to reach out, share God’s love, and serve, we journeyed twelve hours to reach our mission site.
Sunshine Orchard Learning Center is located on the border of Thailand and Myanmar and is dedicated to ministering to the needs of the Karen children and youth through education. American missionaries, Paul and Lena Adams and their children, have committed their lives to serving the abandoned, neglected, orphaned, and underprivileged through a collection of Bible studies, education, medical relief, and rural village outreach projects, notwithstanding the imminent danger of war and risk of malaria. The Karen Outreach Ministry supported by the Jesus for Asia program services migrants, stateless people, internally displaced, refugees, children at risk, and basically anyone in need.
We were in great awe at how faith has carried through this ministry while Mr. Paul was sharing the humble beginning and challenges of Sunshine Orchard during a moonlit night worship. How God has transformed pain into joy, and stateless individuals into a community of Seventh-day Adventist believers. We were deeply inspired by the courage and faith of these students – especially when we discovered that some even desire to be future missionaries and ministers.
We cemented pathways; painted classrooms, benches, and tables; and dug a pit for their toilet over the six days that we were there, but none of these came close to their desire to serve their fellow refugees, and most importantly God.
At the crack of dawn, the students hiked up to the chapel overlooking the picturesque Dawna Range to open their day with praise and worship and return at dusk to close in the same manner. They found Jesus at Sunshine Orchard through the generosity and compassion of those who devoted their lives to establishing and sustaining it.
“We literally picked babies on the mountain. Newly-born babies suffering from various infections. We rushed them to the hospital for medical care, shared our homes, meals, and even our names so they can escape from this dark part of their lives. Through all these challenges, God has been there – always been there,” shared Mr. Paul Adams. “Faith has been our strength. God has done amazing things to us, and He continues to do so even up to today,” a soft-spoken Mr. Paul stopping midsentence to collect his thoughts and almost dropping tears stated further.
The missionaries at Sunshine Orchard mirror what Jesus has done. They walked, dined, ministered, healed, taught, and yes, crossed borders too, to help those in need. Sunshine Orchard needs your prayers and financial support to sustain what sheer faith has built to give these children a name, dignity, and family. To see how you can be of help, visit their website at http://www.karenoutreach.org.
Try changing someone else’s life through service and yours will be changed too. They need you.
Backstory: I was supposed to be in an exchange learning at TPSY in Hongkong but when God directs our path, who are we to go against.
Today the world honors the self-giving love and sacrifices that only a mother could give. I am honored and happy to share a dear friend’s “break-up” letter in full obedience to her mom.
I used to be a frequent writer of hand-written letters, but have lost that art since graduating high school and starting my pre-medicine studies. Thank you for taking the time to revive that passion. I do appreciate all the extra thought and care you have for me, but the biggest challenge I face through it all is to be an obedient daughter.
Which leads me to write you this letter.
I wish to consider myself a prayer warrior, and each request I lift up in prayer is important. However; as I have told you several times already, I have not been praying about this often. As I try to find an explanation, perhaps it is a reflection of how important my mother is to me. Knowing her opinion and seeing that I am the cause of her upset is not the best feeling in the world. I have done things wrong once already, and I do not wish to do that again.
During last week’s Sabbath School lesson discussion a question was posed: “When was the first time you experienced the love of God?”
I kept this answer to myself, but I am compelled to share it with you.
The first time I experienced the love of God and began to understand the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of God’s love was when my mother endlessly forgave me of each wrongdoing I committed against her. She demonstrated an overflowing, sacrificial, and self-giving love through unceasingly offering me forgiveness. God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies were personally made manifest to me through the mother I trampled upon.
I admire how you put God first – most especially as you seek to pursue your life partner. I want to believe that I am in that place spiritually and mentally also, but I am not, and I have accepted that.
Right now, I will step aside to let God continue working on me. I praise God for using you to nudge me and inspire in me the desire to follow God’s will for my entire life – that must be accomplished first. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
I recognize that I am in a vulnerable place currently – being 13 500 kilometres away from home for almost 2 years, with an 11-hour time difference, and a poor Wi-Fi connection. These factors, and more, contribute to my being vulnerable.
More so than the family separation I experience is the greater separation from our Father; yet He sent His only begotten Son to bridge the gap, and also His Holy Spirit to abide in the very core of our being – our heart.
The safest step we can take is follow the Word, thus the safest thing for me to do is follow His commandments – namely the fifth.
Let this be our desire:
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:17-21)
An Obedient Daughter
Backstory: This is as authentic as it can be but I have to hide the giver and recipient to protect them from this highly judgmental universe.
My friend D and I decided that our 2018 will start and end with 3Ds. This is not something that we will resolve to do but a theme that will fuel us all through the year. The first D involves a lot of kneeling, communicating, and calling anywhere, anytime. Dasal is a Tagalog word for prayer. The next D focuses on our physical upkeep and ensuring that mindful eating, and exercise is achieved. Finally, the last D centers on giving time, resources, talent, and anything else we can give for others.
During day 1 of 2017, D and some other friends started this themed-naming year that served as our lighthouse for the entire year. I paled in comparison to what I wanted to achieve but at least I had something to guide me while navigating life each day.
May your 2018 be filled with bliss and blessings from above. Happy New Year!
Backstory: While waiting for the new year fireworks atop our building, I noticed the moon was at its brightest and fullest. I learned that the first day of 2018, the supermoon appeared 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than when the full moon is at its farthest point from Earth. (source/space.com)
By: Amara Sims
I had embraced my true identity as a Millennial – having an unhealthy addiction to the entertainment industry. I would constantly absorb worldly messages by listening to the popular secular music of the day, by watching the popular Hollywood films of the day, and by reading the popular dystopian novels of the day. I was most definitely not interested in guarding the avenues of the soul. One book series, in particular, got me in severe trouble. Choosing to neglect to help my mother with the many duties and chores about the house, I would read behind my bedroom door; so should my mother venture upstairs I would slam the door shut, leaning all my weight against it to prevent her from entering. I knew full well of her great displeasure with my obsession, and it made me feel guilty.
Though my relationship with my mother was empty on my part, she continued to uplift the Lord’s standard in our home. The battle against the entrance of Satan through the media was revealed to me, and in its place, I reflected on the beauty of holiness and desired to have the purity of Jesus. In this tender moment, the Lord worked through my humble mother in teaching me how to guard the avenues of my soul, lest Satan should gain victory over them. Jesus has won the victory for me every day since. Many youths today also struggle to free themselves from Satan’s snares, but the victory I gain over his temptations daily by faith in Jesus is the self-same victory anyone can claim through Jesus.
No more will I identify myself as a ‘Millennial’ by the world’s definition, but for the hope of living and reigning with Jesus for a millennium in heaven, and forevermore on the earth made new.
Backstory: Amara came to Thailand as an Adventist Volunteer Services (AVS) missionary immediately after her pre-med graduation in Canada. This is her paper for Contextualized Witnessing, part of the Southeast Asia Union Mission teaching certification course that we attended recently.