counting blessings

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

It has been a long while since my last blog. Many things have happened and changes taken place since then. As I look back to where I was, how far I have come and what lies ahead, I feel a surge of emotions. Yet in this ball of tangled emotions, one thought rises up and surpasses the rest; it is a feeling of gratefulness and thankfulness. So after an absence of 7 months and for my first blog of the year, I am going to count my blessings!

On work and life in general
I count my blessings that I had the opportunity to move to a new city for a new job two years ago and started a mini adventure. I reconnected with some old friends, made many new ones, visited some new places, enjoyed the lifestyle that the big new city had to offer and also learned to live simply and creatively a life without a stove.

Last year I managed to complete the last subject of a course I was taking 2 years before that and one I had to forego due to an oversea work trip for my previous job. I flew back home for the classes over three consecutive weekends last March and got to understand the word “commitment” in a whole new level!

ccm cert

truly a blessing to see my hard work paid off and to have gained invaluable knowledge

Towards the end of my two years away, I missed home terribly and decided I was still a Sabahan girl at heart, and it was time to come home. I tendered my resignation without a job lined up but I was certain that our faithful God would provide after I had a short break. So a break I had but I just did not expect it to be so short. After only two weeks, I started my new job! I count my blessings for a good friend who pushed me to apply for a job in a hotel that I was never interested in initially but have since come to love.

sunrise 1

glad to be back to the familiarity — delightful morning view from my bedroom window

Not long after I started my new job in February, it came the height of the Covid-19 outbreak in China. The tourism industry took a bad hit in our country with the cancelled flights and the eventual border-closing in our state. At the time with the slow business at the hotel, it was an opportunity for a thorough “spring cleaning” and to shake the place up. And now, with the enforcement of a month-long Movement Control Order by the Malaysian government since 18 March and our hotel closed for business, I count my blessings that I still have a job, a roof over my head and enough food in my fridge.

I am grateful that although we are home-bound and practicing social distancing, I have the time to catch up with the much-needed rest and to declutter my long-neglected home. Despite of lacking in physical contact, thankfully we are connected digitally with our family and friends, workplace and even church.

We can only be hopeful that the pandemic will blow over and the whole world will recover in due time. We will all emerge stronger and with changed perspectives on how we took things and life for granted and how we will live our lives from thereon.

On spiritual life
I examined the path I walked on in the last two years and realised it was more of a spiritual moulding than a career advancement. I count my blessings for two memorable years although it was a very bumpy ride. Work was challenging almost from the day I reported for duty with an uncooperative team to start with and later with the company going into liquidation before the first year was out. After we put things back on the right track in the second year, the pressure from work brought forth my first anxiety attack followed by a string of physical spiritual attacks that drained me mentally. It was a season of faith-deepening by learning to trust God completely, listening to His voice for comfort and feeling His presence for peace.

This week as I spent days tidying and decluttering my study to make it a nice place as it once was, I came across something that almost made me lost for words. It was a wooden cut-out in the form of an olive with words I wrote in 2015.

answered prayers

It was what I wanted at the time — a season when I would have the discipline to read the Word of God, a time of undisrupted devotion, quiet solitude and solid prayer life. I wanted God to take away the meaningless distractions and noises that would cause me to lose focus on what really mattered.

I looked at my own scribbles and thought back at the last two years, that was when my prayers came to pass! I read the Bible in one year, had my personal devotion, built my prayer life in solitude without the noises. I learned to surrender and trust God more than ever before not just in my waking moments with all the work challenges but especially during the night when the spiritual warfare was going on.

I count my blessings because with the spiritual moulding in one season of hard pruning comes another level of spiritual growth. When my two-year journey ended as God said it would, I continued to see His goodness and faithfulness when He brought me back home to where I belong and I got a job nearly without trying. I now sleep soundly every night and do not wake up in the middle of the night feeling fearful. All is well.

Before I end my one season of faith reflection and blessing-counting, I would like to share one of my favourite psalms, Psalm 91 on God’s protection. It helped me tremendously during my troubled times and it is in fact, very appropriate during this time with the ravages of the corona virus across the globe. I hope you find comfort and assurance while reading it. God bless!

Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honour him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

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