Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Faith was Provoked

Life is never stagnant no matter what we think of it.  Even when we think nothing is happening life is moving.  It travels through a loop that is segmented into different seasons. Although these seasons are seemingly predictable in their nature, the intensity of the elements are unpredictable and so is our response to them.

Three days ago, our family was put in a very and scary situation.  We were on our way to visit my in-laws for an early Christmas get-together.  When we started our 6-hour drive, Tim was feeling an upset stomach.  He thought it was symptoms of stomach flu but he did not have the other flu symptoms.  We made it to the hotel but that night he could not sleep - he took some tums and other over-the counter stomach remedies but no significant effect was observed.  The following day we headed to my in-laws house for breakfast but Tim was increasingly uncomfortable - now in agony .  My mother in-law suggested that he goes to the ER which is five minutes walk from their house- really near!  He refused at first but then he thought he really needed to go see a doctor.  So we brought him there.  There was not waiting time he was immediately seen.  Brahms offered to go and sit with him.   After numerous texts from Brahms updating us on all the tests they were doing - they found something unusual.  His pancreas was inflamed.  That is very scary!  After five hours in the ER, and after experts did their share of interpreting the blood tests and images of his internal anatomy, they decided that they don't have a way of knowing what was causing the inflammation and recommended that he sees his doctor with all the reports they made.  They gave him pain medication to help him in the mean time.

That night as my drugged (hydrocodone) husband sleeps, I remained awake.  Induced by the unknown, thoughts, ran through my mind one after the other.  Like a storm bashing everything on its way into destruction, my imagination went too far.  And as a result I couldn't calm myself to sleep anymore.  I was too busy wondering how life would be without my husband.  My faith was provoked. So I prayed and prayed and prayed that night.

The following day, Tim was feeling much better,  He didn't need the heavy-duty pain med anymore.  He was fine with Aleeve,  He even drove half of the way home!  I praised my God!!!
Today, the symptoms are gone and he went to see his doctor as directed.  The doctor reviewed all reports from the ER saw nothing worth noting.  He wants to do another CAT scan after two weeks to see what he could see then.  So far, I have nothing to be scared about.  God is good.

The unknown is often frightening.  However, the knowledge that God, who knows all things, is on my side is comforting.  He does not shield me from experiencing the unknown because he uses it to shake me - to awaken and revive my docile faith into full energy again.  And yet, he is always there watching and making sure I am fine.  On the other hand, the blissful spring and summer of life, if I'm not careful, desensitizes me of God's presence in my life. When autumn and winter threatens to pluck away what I subconsciously replaced God with from time to time, my senses come to full alertness to the truth that God is the center of my life and everything I have is in his hands.

Let my faith grow stronger with every passing season 
- whether enjoyed or endured.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Change of Church Community: It is Like Moving To A New Neighborhood

Leaving one community to another.
I always thought that transferring church membership is like moving to a new neighborhood.  Leave your old residence and carry all that is important and start life in the new house and make it a home. Our old neighbors remain in the neighborhood until they decide to move somewhere else for one reason or another.

But why then do we feel betrayed when someone leaves the community to join another one?  Our beliefs and allegiance remain with us.  While we make tight friendships in church we take for granted that our faith remains not with the people but to God alone.  God is not monopolized by one community.  So if we feel betrayed when they leave is it because we believe that we have been the reason they were there to begin with?  The truth is, the community (or congregation) is chosen because it was a good fit at the time the family moved.  Unfortunately, the parameters for a good fit change.

Strangers in a New Place.
After 16 years, we left our old church community in search of a better place for us to grow as a couple and family. When we began going to the new place, everything was new.  Like going on vacation, the place does not feel or taste like home but we like it.  We were like tourists.  Everything looked interesting - the culture is different and fascinating.  We observed with caution and yet we wanted to try as much as we can in a given time without looking awkward - although we probably looked awkward anyway.😉

When people talked about how long they have attended this church that is when we felt like we are no longer at home.  Somewhere we once were the long-timers, but in this place we are the newbies. We got to learn everything, we got to meet the people, we got to be known by them - or else we would remain strangers.

Tourists No more.
One can only remain a tourist for so long.  There come a time when we cease to be content in watching and being in the fringes of the community.  There come a time when we want to do what the locals do for a deeper sense of experience and belonging.

Our family travels quite a bit.  And in our attempt to break away from the touristy experience, one of things we like to do when we're in a different country is to rent a house or an apartment that is situated where the locals live.   We get to shop at the local grocery store instead of the gift shops, eat at restaurants that cater to the residents instead of tourists, use the public transportation instead of shuttle buses that go from hotels to tourist places, and most importantly, we get to see how the inside of a home furnished by one of the local folks instead of a generic hotel arrangement.  Doing what the locals do make us feel like we belong.

Well, we have been slowly making our way into our new home church.  Attending the smaller gatherings and activities between Sundays; doing small things like bringing donuts to share; and participating in however small way we can in our capacity as newbies  - all helped in makings us part of the community.

New Culture
When we moved to El Dorado Hills, we didn't know everything about the place other than it was close to Intel where Tim would be working (15 minute commute!) and the our house because it had built-in Ethernet cables (this was important before WiFi was a thing).  But it turned out that there were more things than that.

We decided on Oak Hills for a very simple but uncommon reason - we agree with what the church is doing. So far, we are enjoying getting to know more and more of our "neighbors".  As we get ourselves immersed into this new place, a new culture is slowly pushing out the old out of our system and we like it that way.  We are open for change and improvement on the things that matter.   We are confident that He will always help us - so that we can be fully blessed as much as to fully bless others in our new neighborhood.