Wednesday, September 27, 2017

life in september


A change in time where mornings grow colder, and rain drops start to fall. People grow busier as their hearts start to yearn for a getaway. A different atmosphere fills the air, and it smells like freshly sown hope. The "newborn babies" time of year. The peak of wedding season. The month of September nearing to its end.

music
In the past few weeks, I feel my music taste slowly shifting into a new direction. My recent favourites include this song by Daniel Caesar, these two songs by Teddy Adhitya, and this one by Lauv. I've also been loving a lot of this guy's music, despite them sounding immensely lovesick for someone who isn't necessarily falling in/out of love at the moment. Needless to say, I've been getting lost in YouTube playlists and mixes daily.

Other than that, the ukulele has been keeping me company. This involves playing short covers of La Vie En Rose in my bedroom, and when I get tired of that, it's Dream a Little Dream of Me until my fingers hurt and voice runs dry. The sound adds colour to my mood.

the diary of anne frank
Because I've been telling myself to speed up on my reading, I'm now close to finishing Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. It's a well known story, and I'm finding it rather fascinating. Not only does the book offer you a glimpse into the life of a Jewish family in hiding during WWII, but it also analyses the situation through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl, casting the story with her hope, innocence, and curiosity about the world. It brushes up on heavy matter like war history and politics, but also features the many aspects of Anne's heart, like her falling in love. In many ways light and entertaining, but in others valuably insightful.

memories of youth camp
When I came home from camp last week, I made a small writing piece here saying how it felt. Overall, it was a very positive, memorable experience, as I spent great time with my close friends, while also meeting new ones in the process. I loved every hour of worship, laughter, taking photos, listening to the Word, and walking that long, uphill climb to our bedrooms. For my last ever camp experience before flying quite far away, it definitely left a mark.

& a wedding
Aside from those, September has been an eventful month in itself. On the 15th, I got to play a piece on the piano in my teacher's wedding, accompanied by a male vocalist and a whole orchestra. Nerves aside, having it be the song for their wedding dance moment was such an honour. Taking part in someone's "happiest day of their lives", makes you pretty happy as well.

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At this point, it's been four months past my high school graduation, and it's four months away from holding a one-way ticket in my hands, starting my life away from home. Even as days start to look the same as I wait for my departure, I find joy in how every month always turns out so differently, as I encounter new moments and new people frequently along the way. 
Increasingly, it gives me something to miss.

How have you been? Do leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you. 

Hope you all had a lovely September.

See you around?





Sunday, September 24, 2017

a love that breaks my fall

Source: pexels.com
"Too much to make sense of it all,
I know that Your love breaks my fall.
The scandal of grace, You died in my place
so my soul will live."

As much as I love writing, people might be surprised to know that my faith is one of the most challenging things to write about. 

How do you put into words the feeling of being loved by a King, who owns the stars, but wants your heart? How do you put into words the abundance of blessings and mercy He places upon your life, even when you're not looking? How do you put into words receiving a Fatherly love so magnificent, that you don't even deserve it?

After coming home from a three-day retreat, my body tired but my heart full, I've now learned to accept that love differently. 

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When you're young, it's easy to think you have your whole life figured out. To play the world like a game of chess; know where you stand, make the right move, and you'll eventually get to where you want to go. But the thing about chess is, you always play it alone.

I used to think that it's about being good enough; smart enough, strong, or capable enough. I used to think that I need to just play my best game, and God will watch me from the sidelines and tell me if I'm wrong. I could read all about the great God I serve, yet still rely on my own abilities to decide "where to go from here". I kept turning to pursue a purpose I've crafted for myself, on my own. 

By observation and experience, however, I've found that life is rather fluid. You might think you have a tight grip around it, but as you press your hands, something is always bound to slip through your fingers. I can try everything and push forward, thinking that I need only to rely on myself, but I'd repeatedly lose my way. 

See, you can be the greatest person alive. Have everything you've ever wanted, thousands of people at your feet, and all the knowledge you can gain. But when the world hits you at "checkmate" and brings you down to your knees, there's only going to be One voice calling you home. 

By grace, where we come to the end of ourselves, where our "strength" is no longer strong, and in the midst of all our flaws, His love and goodness prevail.

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It took me about three days of many moments of worship, meeting new people, and several different sermons, to hear how He's been calling my name. A camp I was actually even doubtful of joining, turned out to be an experience that transformed and renewed me from the inside out. 

I was exposed to the invitation to receive a love that I never had to work for. The invitation to pursue a life of a godly purpose. The invitation to finally let Him step through the gates of my heart that I've kept locked for far too long, and make it His. All this broke me free from the weight of my past, my fears, and my sin. Now my heart wakes up with a newfound peace, knowing each day that my life is not my own, but Christ's, and that He's in control.

A great God we serve, indeed, but we mustn't forget that He's a good God as well. 

If I live my life for Him, it wouldn't be because I was trying to repay anything. (What form of payment can us humans possibly come up with to "repay" a love that strong? A love that came down and became flesh, proved it through sacrifice and then conquered death itself?) Rather, it is so that my life becomes a living proof of that love. 

I'm slowly letting go of that tight grip, and it takes me bits of time and practice. I know that someday, the world will attack the faith I proclaim. It will slip failure under my door, and it will question the cross I wear around my neck.

But as many, many chapters await in my journey, I now continue to learn to let go of my fear of tomorrows. Instead, I do my part, and hold onto the love that He's promised for me.

A love that gives you strength, 

and a love that makes you whole.

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I've been rambling a lot these days (which probably shows), so apologies in advance if this wasn't what you expected. I actually wrote this piece simply because of this overflow of emotions after coming back from camp yesterday. Also because I missed writing very much. Thank you for reading this far, and I hope this helps remind you of that love as well.

See you around.








Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Social Charity: How You Can Do More

As a society, I feel like we don't talk much about giving back or helping those in need. It's not a "sensitive" subject, it just tends to be overlooked. There seems to be a subconscious thought that in order to help people, it'd help if you were a mega-star philanthropist or if your life resembles that of Jane Goodall's or Mother Theresa's.

But we don't always have to go to the extremes to look for ways in helping others. When there's a hurricane and you look into the town, you'll see many people needing help. But actually, if you look around, or look in other parts of the world, there are always just as many people that need your help.

Causes range from disaster relief, wildlife conservation, helping third-world countries, cancer research, and many more. Below is a list of ways that you can start taking meaningful action, and doing more.

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1. Do more than just give.
Anyone can swipe a credit card or deliver a cash-filled envelope to a certain address and be done with it. You send off the money, pat yourself on the back for being such a generous modern-day philanthropist in the midst of your work, and get on with your life.

Giving is good. And people need to do more of it in order to establish a better world. I'm not going to start pointing fingers and accusing people of "not doing enough", but if your efforts of social charity only involve giving, maybe it wouldn't hurt to try doing more. Sure, a village could use those tokens from their anonymous sponsors, but sometimes, what NGOs and communities really need is a person that gives a helping hand. Your time and energy can be just as needed as your money and secondhand clothes.

YOU CAN START BY trying something easy, like passing out food, or giving them a smile. Beyond that, you can try engaging with them. Sit among them, start conversations, and get to know the people you're trying to help. These are the conversations that will most likely make a lasting effect on your experience. You can never truly know what someone needs until you sit down and talk with them.

Most of the time, the thing that these people need more than money or things, is change.

2. Care for your cause. 
People would already do a ton of research before donating a significant amount of money to a certain organization. But donations are not, expanding your knowledge on the cause will truly be helpful for your efforts.

Who do they partner with? How much have they accomplished and how much more are they doing now? What kind of impact has been made, and what kind of impact hasn't been?

Finding out everything you can will help you know more about the environment you're stepping into (if you're planning on going out onto the field), or it might just motivate you to let others know about what you're working towards, and invite them into action as well.

3. Get involved
After finding a cause that you're passionate for, don't be afraid to reach out to the groups working within it. Don't just wait to hear a pitch in a shopping mall; go out and look for it on your own! And when you join them, you have to be brave enough to connect to people. Part of being involved means putting yourself out there and doing as much as you can. Don't be afraid to ask them how you can lend a hand, because there's usually always going to be a need in something. 

4. Stay updated with the places you'd visited.
Anyone can make donations or send care packages, but the challenge is to really have a heart for the people in need. One of the ways is by keeping the contact details of the foundation, group, or location you'd visited, and taking note of them so you can stay updated on how they're doing, and whether or not you can offer any more help in the future. If you've been to several spots, make a list. You can directly contact them in your free time, or just keep tabs on their webpage if they have any. It reminds them (and yourself) of how devoted you are to the cause, and how you're keen on assisting them in nurturing their growth.

5. Join social charity events.
Most cities today would already have at least one charity foundation up and running, and there are probably already hundreds of organizations in your country alone. This calls for charity events! Some are pretty straight-forward (like donating blood, going on mission trips, visiting a children's hospital) but some others wrap it in a more entertaining event; like charity runs, fundraising fairs, etc. Keep your eyes open for any that might come near you and take part! You can be a volunteer, or just be there for the occasion to help raise the money. It's the simplest and most efficient way you can help.

(If you live in Surabaya like I do, I'd suggest referring to @exploresurabaya on Instagram, or this website for knowing about any upcoming events in our city!)

6. Plan your own!
If you happen to have your own organization/foundation you're trying to attract more attention to, or a cause where you can help raise awareness, plan your own event! Probably, you will need to already have/be involved in an organization with plenty of experience already, or have reliable partners for the cause/project.

Needless to say, the tools you use for planning said event will be equally as important. Planning an event is a lot of fun, but no easy feat. Eventbrite is a well-known event planning site, and their nonprofit fundraising tools are perfect to use for planning nonprofit events or fundraisers in any form! You can head over to their website where it's not only easy to navigate, but also very clear and informative.

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For personal purposes, I'd also written about one of my own experiences. I did three different small activities in three different places, all within the month of August 2017, but sharing about all three just didn't feel right. However, I wrote about one of those days in a separate page you can only access here. I didn't want to make a blog post and publish it felt a little too oversharing. Visit if you wish to read my short narrative on my experience, and see some photos. I might write about my other experiences someday, but for now, that'll have to do.

As always, I'll write again soon.