Celebrating loss.

First post on March project on birthdays.

The title sounds antithetical, doesn’t it?

On birthdays, people celebrate the adding of numbers of their age. Like this month, in a few days, I’ll be celebrating mine, God willing. What do people usually do on their birthdays? People like to celebrate birthdays as they want to be thankful that God’s been with them along the way to that very day. The day of remembrance of their coming to this world for the very first time. People like to be with their loved ones on their birthday. I mean, who doesn’t? We always love to share the goodness of days with the ones we love the most, don’t we? We want to be surrounded by our familiar people, our family and friends. We want them to be part of it, too, as well as they want us to be part of theirs. People like to ponder and reflect on their birthdays, especially those who are in older and higher stage of life. They like to think of what they have done the past year and they like to think of what they want to do in the next.

People do things on their birthdays.

But, how many of us realize that on birthday, we actually are celebrating loss. The loss of another year of life. As a believer, I believe that God has ordained it all. A lifespan for each person. Nobody knows where it ends, nobody knows how long it will last. But from a certain lifespan we are given, on birthday, we are actually losing another year. From the only lifespan we’re given, the question is, have we done our best? Have we put our maximum efforts on living out the best of what we’ve got?

God doesn’t gift the birds in the air this capacity to think about it. They were out of their eggs yesterday and they don’t care about doing something on the given lifespan they’ve got. God also doesn’t gift the flowers in the field this capacity to celebrate the day of their bloom. They are here today and gone tomorrow. They don’t care about maximizing the lifespan they’ve got. They just don’t care if they’re blooming beautiful enough to bless the people who see them. They don’t. They don’t.

But we are more than the birds in the air and the flowers in the field. Not only God cares for us more than all other creations, God gives us the ability beyond all those other creations.

While celebrating the losing of another year, I am thinking to myself: have I done my best effort to maximize what I’ve got? One thing I want to keep in mind, I don’t know where it ends, I don’t know how long it will last, I’ve got to seize the day as long as I am alive.

Have a great day, everyone!

Love, Riska.

The beginning of the third year.

Third year. Third grade. It’s me and my 37 kids. *cheers!*

KELAS3It’s gonna be a whole new experience.

There are gonna be lots of fun and challenges as well.

One thing for sure, we’re gonna learn together this year…

and God’s gonna be with us along the way.

So, bring it on!

We’re ready for the adventure! 🙂

Lots of love from us!

*Ibu Riska and 3rd graders Sekolah Lentera Harapan Palopo*

The long forgotten envelope.

You’re actually looking for a needle in one of your drawers at home. The drawer is a bit messy that you need to take almost everything out to find the needle you’re looking for. As you’re taking things out, you find that old forgotten purple envelope. You stare at that envelope for a moment and the memory brings you back to one moment of your life in the past. You open the envelope and you find a simple letter written by someone you used to know.

It was a letter you wrote yourself. It contains all the dreams and the things you wanted to pursue. Many years went by and many things happened that you forgot you have once written all those things you’re reading right now.
You suddenly remember all the fire that once burned you. But the busyness of this life has brought you forgetting its spark, leaving it kept for so long in the dark. The spark from who you were in the past. The spark of the spirit you’ve got within you.
The grooves of life have worn you out that you forget all the dreams of your own. The draining routines have consumed all your energy.

You freeze at where you sit.
Now you can see the silver needle you’re initially and intentionally looking for. You never plan on finding that long forgotten envelope in that drawer. It was not something you’re looking for. But now you have found both.

Many times in life, we’ve got our own plan on finding something. We started the quest. We drive off the car and go down the long road. We’ve got the destination pictured right in our head. But along the way we encounter many other things that we never actually plan to find.
You don’t forget the reason you came to the drawer, it was to find the needle. But the fact that you find that long forgotten envelope brings you something else that you can learn.
God can use many things to make us learn. And one of the many things may be found along the long road. You plan to find one thing but God can bring you to find other things you don’t.
In all processes of life you go through, God’s got something along the way. You can actually find that “something” only if you’re willing to take time to pay attention.

What would Jesus do?

I remember reading this story somewhere and this story leads up to this writing right now (forgive me of my broken memory, I am just trying to write what I remember).

One day, on a family night devotion, a mom shared about “What would Jesus do?”. At the end of her sharing she told her son to think of what Jesus would do before making any decision. The following morning, as usual, before they left for school and work, they prayed together. It was the son’s turn to lead in the prayer. To his parents’ surprise, this eleven-year-old boy ended his prayer with this: “Lord, in whatever we do today, whatever decision we are to make today, help us think of what you would do. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

When the mom came home, she found that her son was not in a good mood. He looked unhappy. As a mother she knew something had happened to her son. So she came to him and asked what troubled him. The son stared at the floor that finally he was crying.

Mom: It’s okay son, tell mommy what happened.

Son: Mom, I remember what you shared last night, and I also remember my prayer this morning. That in whatever I do today, I would think of what Jesus would do. We had a math test today and my classmate, Nick, didn’t study for the test. He asked me for the answer. I didn’t want to give him my answer at first, but he kept begging and begging. He also told me that his mom would be very angry if he failed the math test today. I didn’t want to give him my answer but at the same time I didn’t want Nick’s mom got angry. So, I gave him my answer. It wasn’t right… I know…

Mom: Then, what happened?

Son: At the end of the test Ms. Rogers asked us to submit our test sheet. After that she asked us if there was anyone being dishonest during the test. I was scared. I knew I did something bad. I didn’t want to raise my hand. But deep in my heart I knew I had to tell her that I had been dishonest during the test. She asked one more time. I looked at Nick and he gave the signal to stay quiet. I was scared. Ms. Rogers then asked for the third time and I couldn’t hold it anymore. I raised my hand and everybody was surprised. We got called to the principal’s office afterwards. Ms. Rogers gave us zero for the test. I knew Nick was unhappy with that. I think that Nick would hate me. I knew, if Jesus were me, he would not give Nick the answer in the first place. But as I was given the second chance to be honest, I knew I had to take it.

I suddenly remember this story out of nowhere this afternoon and there is actually a huge urge within me to write about this.

Now, let’s question ourselves:

In many situations, have we been asking the same question before we make any decisions? Know what, I think that what the son did is a daring action. He dared himself praying like that and that prayer guards his heart and guides his heart to do the right thing. In my case, no, I have not. Too many times I lean only on my own understanding and you bet I ended up regretting my decisions. But, as I realized that Jesus has been so merciful to me that he gave me more than just second chance. He gave me new hopes and chances every brand new day. As I learned about this, I know, I have to take it.

what_would_jesus_do

An ending is actually a new beginning.

I used to ask myself why people call it commencement when it’s actually a graduation ceremony. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word commencement is defined as the time when something begins. However, the word commencement is also used to refer to a ceremony during which degrees or diplomas are given to students who have graduated from a school or college (source).

Well, according to its position in the timeline, graduation is actually at the end of your study. It’s the point where you have finished the process of study and you graduate. You’re done with the set of learning goals of that level of education. I am not saying that you’re done with the learning, because learning is a lifelong process. You’re still learning even though you’re not at school anymore. So, it’s kinda funny to realize that graduation is both an ending and a new beginning.

end

Yes, graduation is an ending to your study but at the same time it’s actually e new beginning of a new stage of life. You’re gonna go out there and ready to apply what you’ve got along the process of education. Even though, I must say, all the theory you’ve gotten ARE NOT ALL APPLICABLE. You may have built your own idealism, that you think things should be like this or like that. Trust me, you’re gonna need to tear down everything because you’ll find that everything doesn’t seem to be exactly the same as it is portrayed in the textbooks. I’m not here to scare you, this is just a reminder for you so you won’t get too surprised.

However, for a little while, well, for today, enjoy the end of your study. Enjoy the celebration that you’ve come this far. Be grateful that God’s been with you along the way and just ENJOY THE DAY. Because the moments on the mountaintop will be your strength for the moments in the deepest valley.

Congratulations to you all, cohort 2011! 🙂

God bless.

A love letter for Junior.

JUNToday we wrote a letter for our dear friend Junior. He is not going to be here next academic year, he is moving to Kalimantan.

Ah. Junior has been a great friend for us and we’re so glad to have him with us in grade four this year. Now that he is moving, we are actually sad but, that’s life. People come, people go.

Jun (our nickname for him), came to our class in October last year. He was a new student. He was chubby and everybody loved to pinch his cheeks! But, Jun was not as nice as he is today. He was so selfish, was easily-angered and he loved to talk in the wrong time (like asking questions before being given opportunity to, asking questions about things just being explained like in two seconds before!)

Time went on, we made friends, we played together and learned together. Jun is now a different friend! He is now no longer selfish, he is now trying to understand that he is not living this world alone. He is not as easily-angered as he was back then. He has learned that there are times he needs to control his emotions. But, he still asks those questions. Yeah, the questions he actually doesn’t need to ask.

We all learned. Jun learned not to be selfish, we learned that we are actually growing together in the family. Jun might not be a perfect friend. But who is a perfect friend, anyways? Nobody is perfect, only Jesus is.

As we were writing our love letter for Jun today, we learn that in a family, we love. We love and we show that.

Jun has been our dearest friend and he will forever be.

It’s okay to say goodbye because goodbye is a short version of “God be with ye!” and we are praying that God is always with Jun.

grade 4Love always,

Grade 4 Sekolah Lentera Harapan Palopo. 🙂

The reason.

The word “why” may be my favorite word. This is because I actually believe that there are reasons behind all things. And asking why could help me satisfy my curiosity. There are quite some things better left unsaid, people say. I believe in that, too. We need to be able to tell when to find out and when to keep silent. And surely it takes wisdom, for sure.

I got asked this question some days ago,

Why do you think God placed you where you are right now? Have you got the answer?

The question made me think. And I actually came up with an answer. I said yes, I think I have found the answer to that question. Yes, I have found the reasons and God’s actually revealing more and more to me.

God’s actually been changing me into a different person I knew I was. I am fully aware that I am a totally different person by now. I was actually that high mountain who always looked down to others, I was actually that cocky lady who always thought that I was better than others. I only made friends with the ones I thought were good enough. Such a shame on me. I realized by now that I am nothing but a flower, here today and gone tomorrow. I thought I was good enough. I thought my achievements were definition of who I was. I thought I was superior and others were inferior.

Damn! I deserved nothing but to be condemned.

God’s been revealing this bleakest part of me and I believe that he is still at work. I couldn’t believe that I was such a person!!

Well, I actually could have ended up somewhere else instead of here. Somewhere better, somewhere more comfortable, and somewhere with easier challenges. But God has something better in store. According to his mercy, he has brought me here. He has been peeling layer by layer all my bad and change it with the new one.

I’ve got to admit that there was that denial deep in my heart. I actually pretended to be happy having to go here back then. I was so good at pretending. I was real good at wearing masks. But God has unmasked me and nothing is hidden before him. I am naked and there is nothing that he doesn’t know about me.

Today, almost two years passed. I have found the reasons why God brought me this far. And I believe that there’s more. God’s got something more in his head.

So, wherever you are, whatever situation you are in right now, God’s got a plan for you. Too many times God speaks to us but we hear nothing, because we’re too busy and in fact, we’re living in a noisy world. Pause for a little while, take a look around you, and listen. God’s got something for you to learn. God’s actually working in you now, you’ve got to take some time to realize.

take time

*photo was photographed and edited by superriska*

A Lesson from a kernel of wheat – A message for the new teachers

May 27, 2015. This might be a historical day for some of you who are reading this blog post right now. Yup, because you are actually going to open your placement envelope this very morning.

You know what, I have been in your shoes. I have been there two years ago. And here is a simple message I’m gonna share to you in this unforgettable day. You’re gonna get that envelope and you’re gonna find out of where you are going to be placed for the next three or five years. You’re nervous, you’re curious, you’re questioning, but don’t forget to breathe.

Okay, let me start with my message. I’m actually writing this not because of I’m good, or whatever, I’m writing this because I simply have been there and I have gone through the journey for almost two years and I want to share to you what I learned along the way.

Kevin Kruse once said,

“Life isn’t about getting and having, it’s about giving and being”

Isn’t the saying so profound? Indeed it is. But it is always easier said than done, you know. The truth is, even in our ministry, we often think of “what good can I get?” “what benefit can I gain?”. We tend to put our good to be the focal point, as if we are the center of everything.

In John 12:24-25 Jesus said,

I tell  you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels -a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.

Our flesh desires only our own pleasure and comfort. We seek out only what pleases us, what makes us comfortable and what is beneficial for us. We tend to focus on the good for ourselves. Just be honest, these things ever crossed your mind! Well, they actually have crossed my mind. But you know what, that’s humane. We all struggle with the exact same thing and for too many times we lost the fight.

Well, soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them (2 Timothy 2:4). The aim of the soldier is NOT to please himself. The aim of the soldier is to please the one who enlisted him. If you still think that the world revolves around you, then you should switch that thought off of your brain. You are NOT the center of everything, God is. Unless you are willing to die to your own self, you can never live for him. Unless a kernel of wheat dies, it remains alone.

This placement and whatever events in your life are NOT about you. It’s about him. Let him use you as he pleases. Let him bring you as he likes. God will blow your mind. God will bring you to see things differently, God will bring you to places you never imagine, but surely God will be with you along the way.

Well, hope you guys have a great day! And one more thing, don’t forget to breathe 😉

The Sojourner.

This is a poem I wrote in a faraway land, miles away from my homeland.

Especially for the one sojourner I know, the one who is loving her new land. This new land has become part of her heart, part of her soul.

superriskaa

There’s a price to pay.

Will you (still) go?

This may stretch you to your farthest limit.

Will you (still) go?

This may be inconvenient for you.

Will you (still) go?

This may take you out of your comfort zone.

Will you (still) go?

The world may offer you something brighter than this.

Will you (still) go?

The people you’re gonna meet, some will hate you, some will break you down.

Will you (still) go?

But,

You’ll find it worth it.

You’ll learn something new.

You’ll realize that following Him is not about convenience but obedience.

You’ll get to places you’d never thought you’d ever go.

You’re not to live only for yourself.

You’ll meet people who will love you, embrace you, as they count you as their own family.

Life is like two sides of coin.

Like the black and white of piano keys.

Surely there are sorrows,

But the joy from above is given to you every time you need it.

I am a sojourner.

In a faraway land.

I meet many challenges.

But here I declare, I am more than just lucky.

I am blessed.

Palopo, December 5, 2014.

superriska.

Dear young lady

This is a poem I wrote for myself, as I am thinking of the why of everything I am doing and going to be doing.

For a young lady I hardly know, for the one I know of longing for flying her wings so high.

riska

Dear young lady,

So young, so proud

So vocal, so loud

Like a little kid, walking on a cloud

Dear young lady,

Daydreaming, oh so ambitious

Fast-walking, oh so adventurous

Like a little kid, oh so curious

Dear young lady,

Waking up, oh so early

Working out, oh so lively

In hopes that things would turn out to end happily

Dear young lady,

You may think of going to NYC for study

Or meeting a godly man to marry

Or maybe having a baby

Oh young lady…

Go ask yourself and think more deeply

Life is more than just walking in the grocery,

Taking things into the trolley

There’s so much more than just having the titles so many

There’s so much more than just having so much money

Oh honey…

What about the why?

Why you do what you do?

And why you want to be what you want to be?

It’s a more important task.

A more important question to ask.