Dear God: Called to Write?

Dear God,

I was surfing the net, looking for a course (locally) in professional/creative writing when I saw these words that caught my attention instantly – Philadelphia Christian Writers’s Conference. I never realised that I’ve started to develop an interest to bring my writing further in this area, having started this blog to post my comments and stories on my personal experience with God. I thought, hey, maybe being a writer (freelance perhaps) is not so bad after all. As I look back, I’ve aced my English paper with my creative writing skills, cooking up stories out of my imagination and putting them into words that I never knew would fascinate the examiners to give me an A for my paper. I’ve also won several poetry writing competitions in the past in my primary school days.

Lord, I am confused. Here I am trying to make ends meet with my current job. Though I never doubted that this job is indeed given by you Lord, and though I do have many encounters with problems at work, but at the end of the day, I am grateful that I still have a job to hold on to. In fact, it’s not too bad a job, since I got the chance to mingle with students and I enjoy talking to them. And  I enjoyed the companies of my colleagues whom I share common interests with (especially my boss and another colleague who are from the same background as mine – TESL). However God, there is something missing in my life … something I have not yet achieved and I don’t know what it is … like there’s a void that I needed to fill … could it be my personal agenda? Something that will not glorify and honour your name? If it is then Lord, please take that way from me.

If it is your calling Lord, I pray that you will make it clear to me. Should I start a freelance career in writing Christian manuscripts? And should I pursue training, perhaps another Master’s degree in Communication or writing? Dear Lord, if it is your will Lord, pave the way for me. I wish I could further my studies overseas, in a place where your name is glorified and where the pursuit of your faith is of no boundaries … Pray Oh Lord that you will open up doors for me, and even if you don’t … help me to understand that, there is something else better and that I needed to just trust you through and through ….Thank you God … In Jesus’s name I pray … Amen.

WritingForTheGloryOfGod

No Regrets: My life testimony of God

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

Jeremiah 29:11

It’s almost the end of 2012 and it has been quite some time since I’ve stopped penning down my thoughts here … many things have happened for sure, but what seems to be the most significant adventure of my life is that I’ve learned to let go – heartaches, anger, frustration, discontent … whatever … all these once had its bond on me, but now I am freed with the love of Christ in me. I have often wondered in the past – what have I done to deserve all the shit that happened in my life – betrayal, attacks from fits of jealousy, hatred (also from jealousy) and abandonment. I was asked to develop a testimony of my Christian walk with Christ that I could share with the people at the Phillipines in Nov this year during our mission trip. The first thought that came to my mind was .. what am I to share about? I have so many things I want to say … what are the most significant ones that would tough the lives of others … but I guess I would just stick to that of how God has been real to me and let God move the hearts of those who will be listening to my testimony, hence the title of my post today:

I was not born in a Christian family. My father looks at Christianity with immense disgust and he would blow up whenever someone speaks to him about Christ. To him, Christ is just like any ordinary human being in history who has no divine signficance to be called a God. He has his reasons for hating Christianity so much – owing it to the bishops/priests at his school who forced it down his throat to take up Religious Studies, instead of the subjects that he loves. Plus, he thinks that Christians are fakes who just want to convert non-Christians just so that they could expand their church memberships and the tithes collected from worshippers. On the other hand, he believes that every success that he has achieved in life, are a result of his painstaking efforts to achieve them, and from the blessings of his ancestors but not God. 

I don’t know whether to say that my life was a miserable one, or was it a life that is full of lessons that I would learn to be a better person some day. I grew up with a sister who was very jealous of me and hated my existence. As I was growing up also, my relatives have preferences towards my siblings over me. I have even overheard my mum’s friend telling my mum that she doesn’t like me at all. I’ve got to know about Christianity after we moved to the east coast of the peninsular when I was 8 years old through some of my father’s friends who are Christians. Through them, I was introduced to the Sunday School (which back then, it was known as the Friday School because in the east coast, the weekends fall on Fridays and Saturday and the first day of the work week is on Sundays). I remembered enjoying the classes at Friday School and the company of the Friday School teachers . I felt very much loved by them (for once). A week before every Christmas we would organize carolling activities strolling from houses to houses (which is just within the same residential vicinity) singing Christmas carols and receiving chocolate candies in return. Then on Christmas day itself, we would have concerts and performances at the club house just a kilometer away from our houses (right next to our school). The seed of God has been sown in my heart and it remained there for the rest of my life. However, when I was at secondary school, I backslided from God and went on living a life that I didn’t know, would cause me such great despair. I wanted to be popular, hence I started mixing with people whom I would regard as popular and by associating with them, would make me popular. I guess my lack of attention from my family has made me yearned for this popularity at school. But little do I know, I was actually very much unwanted by the group – just like how the ugly duckling got sidelined by the swans.

I was belittled by them, and they used me to make themselves feel great about themselves. I was harassed, bullied and embarassed by all the disgusting jokes they made about me. It was so bad to the point that I could not bring myself to come out of the classroom to the canteen during recess periods for fear of bumping into them at all corners of the school. The bullying was so intense that I told my mum about it. But I was disappointed by the response that I got from her. Instead of comforting me or standing up for me, she said that all these happened because I just don’t know how to treat people right. I was thrown into the pits of despair. There I was bullied and there I did not have any forms of support from the people that I trust most – my family. I resorted to killing myself to end all these misery. Sounds dramatic? It was one of the drama episodes of my life .. believe it or not. And little do I know also that God was intervening in my life .. as I was about to slit my wrist, I remembered something I learned from Friday School – that God loves each and everyone of us and one of the ten commandments – “Thou shall not murder”. This also means that suicide is also a form of murder and all murderers will go to hell and that stopped me from proceeding with my suicide attempt instantly.

I changed my perspectives of life.. and the group of people that I mingle with. I started making friends outside my school – through penpal connections. I switched to another stream and made new friends who were more genuine in doing so. I disregarded my old life and led a new one with the new friends I’ve made. I got involved in many extra-curricular activities and strive to excel in my studies. At the end of my secondary school, I was selected as the Most Active (Female category) student in my school and I’ve achieved the best result for English – beating all those who thought they were better than me (including the popular group). And guess what – they tried to sabotage my achievements by complaining to the teachers that I did not deserve those awards. But again, God was on my side. I couldn’t believe my achievements, but one thing I remembered very clearly was that in all the struggles I had been through, I had been praying to God the Christian way and which had brought me much relief and peace in my mind  throughout. However, the sad memories of my secondary school life lingered on.

Then I went on to pursue my degree in college where I made new bunch of friends and had great fun. And at college was where I began another chapter of my life episodes of miseries. My cousin joined me in the same programme and I roped her into my circle of friends so that she might not feel so lonely on her first day at college. However, my friendship and my relationship with my cousin came to an end when I transferred to another campus out of town. She forged a really good relationship with my friends and disregarded me at all their meetings and outings. My own friends also ditched me to be with her instead. She became their friends and I was ousted. I felt so betrayed. I could never bring myself to forgive her for what she did (or so I thought).

Despite the disappointment, I moved on with my life at the new campus. There, I made new friends as well .. some of whom I still kept in touch till today (though we are not as close as before). It was another chapter for me. When I was at the new campus, I stayed in a dormitory and I got close to a few people who also stayed in the same block. I dated someone for the first time in my life as well. However, things turned ugly due to a misunderstanding over the seating arrangement of the prom night at the hotel. I was the one who was misunderstood and I never got the chance to explain things to them because they have closed all doors for my explanation. I was so disappointed and sad that I could not focus on my studies because of this. Although I have let God out of my sight, but He never let me out of His sight. He opened up a new door for me to befriend my classmates and I eventually got very close to them and these are the friends whom I still kept in touch till today. They helped me through my studies and I finally graduated with a 2nd class upper honours degree … thanks to God and thanks to my classmates.

However, the funny thing was (now that I’ve come to realize it) I have been meeting people (strangers) who went all out to share the gospel with me. And come to think of it, God was trying to lead me back to His side through these people. But sadly, I shoved them all away. And you know the sad part was that, when I backslided from Christ, I even made fun of the gospel just so much so that I could be with the people who despised Christianity. It was the most disgusting thing I could ever have done come to think of it. But deep down in my heart, I felt the urge to go back to Him regardless. I felt the need to be with God at church on Sundays and not just attend church on Christmas Day with friends just to be in the Christmas-ey atmosphere. I’ve been at many jobs and met many people (even my husband) at those jobs. I swayed from one direction to another, walking aimlessly, not knowing what to do with the rest of my life. The turning point came when I joined a University. I’ve met many nice people, Christians, at all corners… one of them being my ex-manager. The urge to look for a church to go to and settle down was growing more intense. I met a colleague who became my very close sister in Christ till today. She offered to take me to her church of which I got baptised in and became their member. I’ve met another sister in Christ at this church itself and together, our sisterhood remain so strong that no man can ever break it apart. I am very grateful for God for this sisterhood/friendship.

On one particular day in December 21st 2007 (4 days before Christmas), I walked into my ex-manager’s office and told him that I want to accept Christ in my life. He was shocked and amazed at this revelation. It was around 6pm++. He began praying with me the sinner’s prayer. I repeated every single word that was prayed and after that prayer, I felt a huge sigh of relief and peace in me. My ex-manager told me that the angels in heaven were rejoicing.  When I broke the news to my sisters, they were overjoyed. My heart skipped a beat – never before had I had anyone rejoicing for me (looking back at all that I’ve been through). I am finally “home” with the Lord Jesus once again. This sheep has wandered off too far in the wilderness – being attacked by wolves and left wounded with nowhere to go. The Shepherd has led me home. At last, I feel accepted and belonged.

 But my Christian life took on more new chapters of my life stories, but this time, it is no longer a misery – it is a bliss, though what I am about to share may not sound like a bliss to most people. I believe you would have already read some of it in my earlier posts. All these happened so that I can lead a renewed life in Christ, trusting Him in all that I do.The first step to a renewed life and a test of faith was the abandoning of my desire to have a church wedding just so that I could trust that the Lord knows what He was doing. My husband is not born a Christian too. In fact, he was a strong Buddhist who despised Christianity whom he thinks are hypocrites. But because I accepted Christ after going steady with him for a year, I have decided that he would the one I want to marry – but in a church! The whole commotion started when I was not allowed to have a church wedding with a non-Christian. I was pissed at this church rule. It was absurd! How can they come up with such a rule. It is stated in the bible that when a Christian marries a no-Christian, the non-Christian will be sanctified by God in this marriage as well. Yes, I do understand that they were concerned with my Christian faith when I marry a non-Christian. But I know what I was doing! I would never abandon the Lord again after what I’ve been through. Then I was shown another verse in the bible by a pastor stating that “I should not yolk with a non-believer” which totally threw me off guard. I was angry and disappointed and I started doubting God. I had series of bad arguments with my husband-to-be (at that time) about him converting to a Christian so that I could just walk down the aisle and say “I do”. We almost broke up because of this. But despite all the disappointment and anger, I went on to marry him .. but without a church wedding. However, God was good. My husband did not object to attending the marriage counselling with me at church and neither did he object to having a pastor praying for us at our wedding dinner. And I managed to get a mock church wedding at the reception itself – with my father walking me down the aisle to the stage where my hb waited for me – just like a church wedding.

The 2nd step to testing my faith was during the attempt to complete my dissertation for my Master’s degree. I was studying part-time and working full-time at a University for my Master’s degree. I was thankful that I had access to a wealth of resources – books, journals and periodicals I can use refer to to write my dissertation while working at a University. However, my journey to completing and graduating with a Master’s degree was a rough one.  My supervisor decided to head back to her home country, leaving me in the lurch with no supervisors. I was at the 4th year of study and I have reached the maximum period for the part time mode of study and I did not want to waste all that I have done thus far. I was so worried that I couldn’t sleep for nights. I prayed profusely to God to send me a supervisor soon so that I could graduate on time. My prayers were answered. I was given a supervisor who was much better than the one that I had earlier and the rest was history – I graduated with a Masters in English Language Teaching with a high merit and I was more than elated – I was utterly thankful to God!

The 3rd episode of the process to a renewed life was the betrayal by a dear friend and sister in Christ (not the ones that I mentioned earlier). The betrayal was more hurtful and impactful to my being because despite all that I have done to help her climb up from the rumbles of her personal issues, she had chosen to abandon me in this sisterhood – looking down upon me like I am not worthy of her friendship/sisterhood. I could not sum up the entire ordeal that went through with her, but to cut it short – it was very painful- to the point where I could never find it in myself to forgive her at all! I was also very bitter about the whole ordeal to the point where I blamed God, I  blamed myself and I hurt myself in the midst. But in the midst of all the bitterness and suffering, I was amazed that I could still find it in my heart to pray for God to help me forgive her.  I was thrown into the sea of deception tossing from one decision to another where on one hand, I wanted to forgive my friend and move on with my life. But on the other, my sinful nature told me that it would not do me justice to just forgive her and let her go. I prayed and prayed and prayed .. time after time, I wept and prayed for God to end my misery. It was too suffocating…I was depressed. Then one day at church, a pastor was preaching on the suffering that Christ went through – being betrayed, scoffed at, spit at, tortured, whipped and finally hung on the cross by the people he loves. Jesus himself was not spared from all these. How would it make me any different? But the final outcome of all these suffering was victory – Christ has conquered all … and when that message came on me, I prayed and meditated upon it, and I could feel the burden of hatred, unforgiveness and vengeance was released from my soul. That was the first step to forgiveness. But tossing and turning did not end until I went through the 4th episode of my life.

It was through the 4th episode of my Christian life that I rise victorious just like how Jesus has risen to conquer sin and death. After 3 years + with the university, I landed myself a job in the corporate sector with a multi-national company. I thought I had it all – good job with good pay, until I became the target of another jealousy plot to remove me from the job. I had an ex colleague, a Christian, who wanted my job even before I joined the company. At the beginning she seemed rather friendly, guiding me through all the work processes and even regarded me as her close friend whom she confided all her problems with. I thought I could trust her until one day, she decided to show her true colours. She started accusing me about not being faithful to her, sending false allegations about me trying to bribe my way up to the managerial positions. She was practically harassing me for the next one week that I was so afraid to even go to work to face her. I cried and cried a lot that week and could not fathom what the hell happened! I started recollecting what have I said to her to cause such commotion. In the end, I realize, it wasn’t me. It was her! She wanted me out of her way! I was standing in her way! The harassment did not stop but I decided to put an end to it. I stood up and retaliated. I could not bear with all those harassment anymore. It felt good. I wasn’t so fearful of her anymore. I didn’t care if she wanted me as a friend anymore! It felt good. After all that, I started avoiding and ignoring her. I did not have the guts to report this to my team leader until she asked if anything has ever happened betw me and this b*tch. It was then I could not hold back any longer. I had wanted to give this b*tch a second chance to explain things, but like before, I wasn’t given the opportunity to explain anything. Like before, I was unjustly sentenced to death without any trial. It was then the team leader told me of her history and I felt so much better after that. But I still feel the aftershock of the harassment. I’ve decided to end it all by resigning from this company (without a job). Coming to the decision of resignation was also a test for me. I have been working for so long with steady income and to suddenly lead a life without income spells disaster for me. But God was real to me at this point telling me that things will be ok – and it was also at this point that I learned (in a hard way) to trust Him.

The break did me good … I did a lot of thinking and praying and reading God’s word, which has led me closer to Him day by day. I was still depressed at what had happened to me – first with the betrayal by my sister in Christ .. then the rough moments with the b*tch at work. I asked God, WHY God, WHY ME?? Why do I have people abandoning me in my life?? It was just so unfair!! My lamentations went on and on and on until I became so depressed with my life. I wanted to take my own life again … just like how I almost did when I was in school. God heard me … I knew he did because he sent a sister to me who channeled me to a Christian counselor. Without thinking further, I agreed to seek counseling for my problems. The counseling was an eye-opener for me. I never knew that I had “baggaged” all the discontent, unforgiveness towards the people in my past, the unfair and unjust treatment I received from my friends at school, etc. It was time for me to release this baggage to move on. God wanted me to know this because He cannot make me a better person if I continue to hold on to the past miseries. As I related my problems to the counselor, I just wept and cried and the counselor prayed with me at every session for the last 6 sessions. It was during the last session that I could feel the revelations did me good .. thanks to God.

After just 2 months of break and counseling,I wanted to go out again to work partly because my finances were running dry. I was thrown into perspective again – when I said I wanted to trust God, am I living out what I’ve said? Obviously not. Again God was good … he opened up another door for me and this time I landed myself a job as a lecturer at a local university – something that I’ve wanted to do after obtaining my Masters degree. But lecturing stint did not last long. I was very stressed out with work and with the management at the university. I was loaded with heavy teaching hours plus consultation duties with the students. I couldn’t breathe and sleep every night due to the stress. My body was aching from all the moving and walking around the classroom to make sure that every student gets my attention. And the worst thing that could ever happened to me in my teaching career was that I was unethically forced to change the grades of students just so that the management can meet their KPIs. Furthermore, I felt cheated into this job when I was forced to teach a subject that I could not handle nor understand. Quality in education was out of sight and I couldn’t take it anymore! Instead of going along with their plans, I had decided to call it quits. This time, my faith in the Lord was stronger than before. I knew He would take care of me and he did.

To conclude, the best part after going through all these was I’ve risen victoriously in Christ. I no longer harbour any bad feelings/thoughts towards those who had wronged me in the past. When I took the step to let God lead my life, He has changed my perspectives completely. I understood what it means to have a Christian husband then to have a church wedding. I believe that God has changed my hb’s perspective towards Christ after seeing the transformation taken place in my life that he has also decided to take the step of faith to accept Christ in his life over Christmas 2 years ago. Also, I’ve forgiven the sister who had betrayed me. Though I can never forget what she has done, but I have chosen to forget the anger and hatred I used to harbour deeply towards her. I no longer harboured any hatred towards my cousin (though I do not wish to be associated closely with her). I’ve let go of the b*tch who had wanted me out of her way. In fact, I got to know that she is currently having a rough time with the job that she has taken over from me. I can’t deny I feel good about it, but on the other hand, I know that God is just – He’s not punishing her, but teaching her to become a better person which I hope she will be some day. I chose not to remember what happened to me at the University I was attached to as a lecturer, but chose to remember the people who were kind to me back there. Like I’ve said earlier, all these happened for a reason and the reason is good. I have no regrets about it. I’ve moved on with life and God has graciously opened up a new door of opportunity for me to lead a renewed life. Though the disciplining process has not stopped, and as fearful as I may be, I know in all circumstances, I need to be still and know that He is God!

When you read my testimony, read it while you listen to this beautiful song – “River in you” and “Refiner’s Fire”. These songs have a calming effect which depicts the calming effect of Jesus’s existence in my life. The word “river” to me depicts life and that I have a life in Jesus where He would refine me till the day I lead a renewed and holy life.

River in Your Life -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-4wUfZD6oc

Refiner’s Fire -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBRUiL7Ff60

Thank you everyone for reading my testimony. I hope it will touch your hearts to reach out to those who wants to hear about the gospel. For those who have not received Christ in your life, I hope that someday you will know that God is everything – He is the God who can move mountains and tame the storms. You are safely loved and protected in his loving arms. Thank you and God bless.

Going up higher?

When God tells you that He is bringing us to the next level of our faith, will it sound scary to you? You are about to face something that is intangible or unforeseeable. This is the true test of faith that most Christians will face at some point of time in their spiritual journey with God. This is the exact scenario I am facing now. I could tell that God is pushing me up to the next level of faith as it is written in the messaged I received in today’s quiet time – “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this” (Revelation 4:1).

On one hand, I have a positive view towards this message, but on the other, I am fearful at the same time. What is about to happen to me? Where is God taking me? I really don’t know. All I can do right now, is to just trust in Him for He is my fortress, refuge and might rock. All I can do, is constantly pray and remain in His light. It sounds easy, but I could also tell that it is going to be a challenge. In my personal opinion, this message is somewhat related to the potential problems that I am about to face at my job, where I am currently put in a managerial role of the organization chart. I hated it to be honest. I never liked managerial roles for (1) I hate babysitting people and (2) I prefer to work alone. On the contrary, I feel that I deserved this role after accumulating many years of work experience and I think, God is telling me that it is time for me to move up the ladder, and He certainly has the confidence that I can do it. Problem is, I don’t! I am afraid of backstabbing colleagues or what my boss would call “little Napoleons” who are eyeing on the job that I have. How would I survive all these? I don’t know either. Whether or not I can do this job depends on how much I trust God to move and lead me in my daily life at work.  I am writing this to request for prayers from among you who is reading this posting to pray that I will continue to walk in God’s light, to trust that He will make my paths straight and that I shall not lean on my own understanding to carry me through my job. Pray also that God will remove all fears from me and to strive towards understanding God’s truth and to embrace His love and grace for me through and through.

Thanks guys and God bless.

A teacher’s dilemma …

Being an educator means shorter working hours and easier or lesser workload to many, but hey, have you ever tried being an educator before? I used to have these thoughts … until I become one myself. I did not choose the path of education for these two common reasons but rather, God has led me to believe that education is the one thing that I am passionate about. I’ve begun to realize that I love teaching and imparting whatever knowledge I can muster or gather to the people who need them. I’ve actually anticipated the stress and burden that comes with it as well, i.e. being responsible and accountable for someone’s future. Apart from that, the learning’s institution reputation as a world class institution or some shabby looking institution set up for means of raking in profits … very much depends on how the teachers carry them. And oh … by the way, in case most of you don’t know … the working hours have increased drastically for teachers … although they get to go home early, but that does not mean work stops there! Having anticipated this, I still got myself into education and this finally answered my long awaited question of “what is actually my passion?” Being passionate about something means you will do whatever it takes to make things happen regardless of the obstacles that WILL hinder you from moving forward.

Being an English and Communications lecturer means the world to me for I am passionate about these two subjects. Everyday I wake up thinking “what should I teach my students today”? Working on weekends become a hobby for me … for some they might think I am crazy! But hey, this is what having passion is all about. However, being passionate about something also means you will get equally disappointed about something as well. It has daunt on me that being a lecturer isn’t just being a lecturer only (at least in the institution where I am currently teaching). It also means being an adviser, a counselor and a coach which adds to the already burdensome workload I have at hand. No doubt these sounds very demotivating, but what makes it more demotivating was, I have recently been asked to do something unethical which has hurt my principle as a passionate educator. I had been asked to take up another subject which is of no interest to me and worse of all, I am no expert in that subject (although I graduated from this field). This actually translates to giving BAD education to students or rather CHEATING them off the school fees they have paid for. I could not believe my ears when I heard that news came to me and I would never bend my principles for the sake of bowing to the authorities to keep my job which I love. Why is this happening in this country? Already our national education system isn’t helping them at all, and here we are, screwing their lives and future MORE than they have already been screwed for.

Standing up to my beliefs and principles will get me into trouble with the authorities … yes, I felt guilty … and fear what may happen to me … but thinking back, I do not think that this is something that most educators would have done … On one hand, I felt proud for standing up for myself, and on the other, I felt guilty .. maybe towards God. I just wonder if this is God’s plan for me … to own up to my responsibility and to take charge with the leadership qualities that He has blessed me with in which, I failed to acknowledge. I don’t know … I am confused and I am all the more, disappointed! I may lose the job that I love … and this juncture I just want to believe that if this door is closed, God will open another one for me. I don’t wish to leave, I just hope the authorities will change their ways of running an education institution and their ways of ensuring that the students get the best out of us. I admit that I am not a perfect educator … but I believe that passion and interest will keep one going regardless of the obstacles they have to face. Please pray for me and my students that I will deliver my best to them and that I can keep my job teaching those two subjects that I love … please pray also for the authorities that God will grant them wisdom to handle their responsibility as an education provider to the needy. Thank you and God bless ….

A Teacher’s Value

Got this forwarded email from someone and what crossed my mind when I read it was a question – “Is God answering my query?” I’ve been offered a job to teach at a university, but the thought of furthering my studies part time and teaching full time can be really scary … recalling the times where I struggled to obtain my Master’s degree. But I have been hoping and praying for so long for a teaching job and when God finally answered my prayers, I doubted the offer. Firstly, university lecturers in Malaysia aren’t paid that well, and the amount of paperwork is plenty. I was elated at first at the sight of the offer, but after much contemplation and comparisons, I had doubts that I would be happy with the job! I think I am one complicated soul! When I don’t want something, it gets to me, when I wanted something really badly, it stayed away from me. Is this how life should be? But anyway, I prayed again, this time asking God if this is really the job for me? And I guess this email somehow clarified my doubts:

TEACHERS IN OUR LIVES

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”

To stress his point he said to another guest “You’re a teacher Bonnie, be honest, what do you make?”

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied “You want to know what I make?” (she paused for a second, then began…)

“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 minutes without an iPod, Game Cube or movie rental. You want to know what I make? (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)

I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write … Key boarding isn’t everything. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math. They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator. I make all my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life. (Bonnie paused one last time and then continued). Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make Mr CEO?

His jaw dropped. He went silent.

And to sum up whatever that is written above – “TEACHING IS …. THE PROFESSION THAT MAKES ALL OTHER PROFESSIONS

I guess what God wanted to tell me, has been written in this forwarded email, that though money is necessary but it isn’t everything when the outcome of your noble work and sacrifices in sowing the seeds of knowledge and love in every individual you teach or coach bear fruit. This is the sort of passion that teachers should inculcate and not look at the teaching profession as means of getting a job that provides flexibility in working hours (so, the feedback I received from many female friends and ex-colleagues). I think this is what I need to remind myself over and over, when I take up the job that teaching is the profession that makes all other profession. I need to remind myself of my objective in applying for this job, the times when I prayed so fervently for this opportunity and how God has blessed me with this opportunity. Every job comes with its challenges and hardships, but so long as we uphold the passion and faith in God to carry us through, He will make our paths straight. Our ways are never His ways and neither our thoughts are His thoughts (Isaiah 55). Pray for me my fellow readers that I will find joy in this job and  whatever sacrifices I need to make and challenges I face at work, I will trust that the Lord will make my path straight. Thank you … and God bless you all 🙂

Calling it quits …

After enduring hardships, verbal abuses, political attacks and suffering at my job for the last couple of months, I finally called it quits. I had contemplated this decision long and hard for I truly appreciate my manager’s support to me all these while. Never before in my life have I praised my manager, but because of her support for me as my superior, defending me against nasty office politics and taking care of my responsibilities while I was away on a trip, I found it very difficult to leave the job. Secondly, the thoughts of financial sufficiency also came about. I have had many discussions, arguments with my husband, and although he does not cease to assure me that everything will me okay and that he will take care of  me, I still had doubts. I am not too happy making the decision to leave my job, and as much as I want to stay on, I had to leave for the sake of my emotional and physical health. But I can never deny that I have experienced God’s love and grace for me through my ordeal, and personally, I felt that this experience has developed me personally and spiritually. Though I dare not say that I am proud of my spiritual walk with the Lord for it is still a long journey for Him to transform me into likeness of His Son, but I am proud that I have the Lord with me through and through. The ordeal I went through with my present job has brought about many unhappy memories from the past that I had not let go, though I though I had. I have been burdened with painful memories and great big disappointment and hatred for myself . Nights, days I cried. And lately, I had nightmares of the devil staring straight into my eyes, with its scheming smile.  I’m tired … numbed .. It was really time I  needed to retreat into solitude and just be still and be in His presence to reflect on my walk with Him. My resignation can only bring me temporary happiness, but the question of “what’s next?” still lingers on. I am doubtful of my future and  time after time, I have suppressed the feelings of fear that is slowly creeping out into my heart. I do believe whatever I have been through, has its purpose and the purpose is for the glory of the Lord. I shall rejoice in His name for He has saved me.

Here is my prayer dear brothers and sisters >> Pray that I will not fall into the temptations of the evil ones to doubt God and that I will find peace in trusting completely in God’s plans for me. Pray that I will find rest in his loving arms. Pray that I will be mindful of my actions in planning my ways and always to remind myself to let God take the lead in all my plans instead. P

Thank you and have a blessed day.

Being an effective lecturer

What makes a good lecturer?

For the past few days I have been searching for soul-inspiring articles about teaching from educators across the globe, as to get me all geared up towards teaching.  I am so fickled that I tend to stumble at the sight of uneasiness and challenges most teachers face in dealing with their classes. This is especially true when you have some really nasty students who refuse to take your word for it and just enjoys torturing their teachers by humiliating them in front of the class. It is very embarrassing for teachers who could not control/manage such students and it will be even more embarrassing when students question your ability to teach in front of the entire class. So, am I geared up for these challenges? Can I handle such situation and students? I stumbled upon another article on passion for teaching (on top of the one that I posted earlier) by Nicholas Atkinson who gave pretty good insights on what makes a good lecturer. To him, there really is no secret formula. It is very subjective and the style of presentation in each lecture varies to suit the students’ learning needs and abilities. Secondly, when you stand infront of the crowd, you are subjective to judgment and your performance and effectiveness of your teaching is determined by your students’ evaluation remarks at the end of the semester. This is could render you jobless and your teaching reputation will be tarnished at the end of the day, if you are deemed to be an ineffective teacher. So, can I handle this? Am I all geared up as I though I am? According to Atkinson, he says that to be a good lecturer, one must:

  • have a generally consistent routine in terms of being punctual to classes, maintaining a certain amount of presentation slide coverage per lecture, consistency in material handout and so on.
  • be able to allocate time to a topic appropriately – in other words, exhibit excellent time management in class
  • be passionate about the subject he/she is teaching – this will exhilarate learning among students, thus, making them more in-tuned and focus on their learning.
  • maintain a certain amount of focus and enthusiasm in teaching the subject to be able to drive the subject taught to its learning objectives.
  • be comedic – humor is important to enlighten the class and it is helpful to draw students’ attention to the class. Don’t over-do it for students will eventually take you for granted and will not take your class seriously.
  • have good people (interpersonal) skills – being able to communicate ideas and facts effectively in class and to be able to associate with students on the same level to establish a good teacher-student relationship.

Besides all the traits listed above, Atkinson believes that the students play a major role in shaping the confidence and effectiveness of the lecturer. For one, students exhibit positive progress in their learning and results show that the lecturer is effective in imparting knowledge in class. Secondly, when students show interest in learning as means of conveying their appreciation towards their lecturer’s effort in helping them learn. “The effectiveness of student input, coupled with the lecturer’s desire for passing their knowledge onto the next batch of academics should make for a winning combination“, says Atkinson. Well, this is true if you have a pretty good batch of students to deal with.

 

Dealing with rebellious teenage students as a lecturer

To be a lecturer at colleges/universities, you can not escape the fact that you will be dealing with teenagers and they have a set of attitude that you need to align your thoughts and teaching styles to. I read from another article  (by Allan Quartly) about handling teenages (for parents which is also applicable to lecturers), and according to Quartly, teenagers are rebellious lot who are still exploring the edges finding their way around as they learn how to be an adult. Allan’s ways of handling teenagers are pretty conversational and not confrontational. Here are his advice (quoting from his posting on http://www.essortment.com/all/teenagerebell_rdgq.htm):

  • Confronting teenagers almost never works, it only gives them an opportunity to test their will and strength.
  • When discussing behaviour with a teenager, talk about behaviour in general, not their behaviour in particular – this way, they can be objective and not feel the need to protect their position (defensive).
  • When discussing issues with teenagers, be prepared for an argument, they will question every point you make.
  • Do not just impart wisdom, ask questions that lead them to wisdom (in other words make them think for themselves!)
  • Be patient, firm and fair with teenagers (patience? hmmm). The key is to treat them like adults. You need to explain your actions in response to their misbehaviour.
  • Yelling and pleading with them doesn’t help because it only teaches them how to yell at someone else – remember, they are in learning mode every single minute of the day.

 

Dealing with depressed teenage students as a lecturer

Then, there are always cases where teenagers feel depressed that can be driven by both personal and medical reasons. As mentioned earlier, teenagers are in the growing up stage, exploring all ages of their lives and not knowing if what they do is right or wrong. Teenagers often act on impulse and thus, they are inclined to teenage rage and disappointments in every part of their lives, often triggered by the community they live in or the people they befriended. They seek attention from everyone, trying to prove to everyone that they are someone (I totally undestand that feeling). But if they don’t get what they expect to get, they fall into deep depression that can be potentially, suicidal. According to another online article by Denise Raterta (ref: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Denise_Raterta )  recent studies show alarming statistics on teenage suicide as a result of depression. In the US, a recent study on high school students shows that teens (60%) often think of killing themselves and some (9%) say that they have attempted suicide at least once. I must admit that I actually tried to kill myself several times but often the attempts failed because of my fear for pain 😛 But the feeling of not wanting to live on was extremely strong because I felt so dejected and rejected by the group of friends that I know at school. I felt so little among them and was their main target for bullying activities. This sort of feeling persisted for a fairly long time and it affected my thoughts and all forms of rationality and functionality. Being a lecturer is not just passing down knowledge, but also to be a counsellor and a shoulder to cry on for teenagers who suffer acute problems with depression. Lecturers need to put on the compassion they have in them for their students, often wanting to know the problems that would affect their learning progress and performances. Denise suggested that the simplest and most effective way to release one from depression is to tell it to someone else about your feelings. One good way of doing this is to cry out to God for He listens and He cares. Denise also directed her readers to read verses Peter 5:7; Phil 4:6,7; Isaiah 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Hebrews 4:15,16 in the bible as a source of comfort and practical wisdom to the issue that causes depression. According to her as well, always try to help someone who is in depression to stay clear from idleness for an idle mind is fertile ground for depressing thoughts. Surround him/her with humour or positive things to say and help them lift their spirits again. If possible as Christians, we ought to pray for those who are in need. Even medical doctors tend to rely on God for His divine intervention.

 

Pray for me ….

Considering all these factors in play, the question of “will I make a good lecturer” still pops up in my head whenever I submit my application to a lecturer position opening in newspaper/ online job station adds.  Well I guess nobody’s born with the innate sense of right or wrong. I just need to learn how to be an effective lecturer through trial and error as I progress in my experience as a lecturer. Nevertheless, regardless of what the situation may seem to be, I just hope that I can count on God to walk me through and pray for my passion to be released from deep inside my heart to teach. Will you pray with me? Thank you very much for your prayers.