I can hardly believe the year is coming to an end. Really, where has the time gone? The memory of celebrating the last Christmas seems to be still fresh and lingering, yet we are preparing to welcome my favourite time of the year again in just a couple of weeks’ time. Truly, how time flies!
This year has been an interesting year for me to say the least. Just like any other years in the past, the ups and downs were inevitable and simply part of life but it was the life-changing events that have made this year seem more dramatic and noteworthy. As I look back at how things unfolded over the months, I am thankful at how God has sustained me and directed my steps, and I marvel at His awesomeness and goodness. I have been reminded that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
There is a time to embrace, and a time to let go
At the beginning of the year, I decided to leave the cell group I had been a part of for the past 13 years to take up a new challenge. I assumed a new role and became the leader of my own now-renamed connect group. Over the course of this one year, our group grew from the initial 7 members to now 12. These individuals from different background and at various stages of their spiritual life grew and learned together, and bonded. We were also privileged to have witnessed the baptism of 5 of our members this year.
This year also saw me turning a new and thrilling chapter of my life when I turned 50 in August! Yes, big 5-0! Though the actual day of my birthday itself was rather plain and uneventful as I was on my last month-long work assignment in London much to my regret, it certainly did not equate to me missing out celebrating this new milestone altogether. In fact, I started the celebration as early as April when 2 of my close friends made a holiday trip with me to Shandong, China. And while I was in London in July/August, I managed to carve out time to spend the weekend before my birthday with another good friend of mine in England.
Not being able to spend time and make memories on my 50th birthday with my family and close friends back in Malaysia was undoubtedly disappointing but the excitement and my anticipation for greater things ahead was not quashed by my then unwished-for situation.
Hitting 50 might sound daunting or present as a bewilderment to some but I see it as the beginning of another exciting part of my life journey, and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead in my year of Jubilee as I journey on. I embrace being 50, and more importantly, I embrace being single at 50! I feel absolutely fabulous!
Another life-changing event took place just after I reached the big milestone. With only a couple of days left before my work assignment in London was due to conclude, things took an unexpected turn at my job front. Over a short exchange with my employer, I realised we were having irreconcilable conflicts on our management approaches and professional ethics. Subsequently, I did the one thing that was right and I tendered my resignation.
My decision to call it quit might have seemed sudden to many but when I came back to Malaysia to serve my notice and the dust had settled, it was clear to see that my season with the job had come to an end. After 6 years of sweat and blood poured in to open the hotel in Malaysia and bring it to where it is today, and with me dropping everything at last minute to go to London to help take over a hotel, I am truly grateful for my personal accomplishments. Through almost endless stresses and challenges, I learned and grew to be a better manager and leader. My career path as a hotel general manager has also been refined. I left the job on my own terms and at a time that was right for me. When one season of life ends, one simply moves on with courage and great anticipation for another new one ahead.
There is a time to toil, and a time to rest
Throughout my professional life I worked really hard and now for the first time, I have entered a season of rest. I am enjoying the much-needed break during this last quarter of the year and spending time doing the things that I never had the luxury to indulge in before. While in transition, I re-evaluate and plan where I will be heading in the new year and to ensure I will have a great start for the new chapter of my life.
There is a time to teach, and a time to learn
I had the pleasure to conduct 2 workshops on upcycling for the girls brigade of our church upon the invitation of the captain who happens to be a friend of mine. It was fun teaching them the art of upcycling salvaged junks and to create awareness among the youngsters for a greener planet. It was also a joy to see the girls exploring their creativity in turning toilet paper rolls and card off-cuts into something beautiful.
My learning curve has been steep since last year when I decided to continue my study and equip myself by taking up a specially designed 2-year part-time and intensive training course, Certificate in Church Ministry by our church together with Sabah Theological Seminary. It was not without struggles initially as it had been a long time since I was at collage and we had to spare time and stretch our brain cells to study hard for the assessments and to complete our assignments. However, as the course progressed, I found myself enjoying the learning as well as the unlearning (unlearn in order to learn with fresh and correct perspectives) tremendously. Though I did not get to graduate this year with my classmates as I had to forgo my last subject due to my then work assignment to London, I look forward to taking it up and getting the certificate in due course.
I had a practical training when I agreed to help out in the 3-day church children’s camp with 240 kids at the end of November, much to my friends’ surprise. I still chuckle when I recall their jaw-dropping reaction when first told of my decision to serve. I guess they all found it rather hard to envision me as the “drill sergeant” for the 6-12 year-olds for 3 days.
During the camp, I learned from our key group leader on how to control and teach the 30 kids in our group, exposed to the organisation and coordination for a children’s camp of such scale, sat on the floor and learned together with the kids during the teaching sessions and was humbled to witness the children’s pure hearts and simple faith when they raised their hands and were more than willing to ask Jesus to come into their hearts.
As I reflect on my spiritual journey this year, I realise I am still in the season of being pruned, and pruned hard. I continue learning to lean and trust upon the Lord, and tune my heart to His. I am looking forward to the day when my healthy branches are bearing beautiful blooms and fruit!
Seasons come and seasons go, and God makes all things beautiful in His time. We grow and change through the seasons but our God is unchanging in a changing world! To Him be the glory.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.