The Cloud Chaser

Like a child, I like chasing clouds of the skies. (No, not fancy tricks with smoke.)

Secret Garden Spring

August 2019 // Worcester, South Africa

The grass crunched as I paced back-and-forth the field barefoot. My feet felt the very field that had become my secret place with Daddy God. I had spent the past hour crying out to Him about the things that were beyond my control, yet had some measure of responsibility over. I’ve been known to carry the weight of the world in the past, and I found myself to have matured immensely over the past season that brought me to my knees many a time. I finally understood surrender, the kind that doesn’t negate my own will, but also the kind that trusts Daddy enough to see things work out for good. And it was in that state of understanding surrender that He caught me.

“Wei-Jan, I’ve heard your cries about all these things that you care about. But there’s one thing that you care about that you have yet to bring up to Me.”

“Oh…?”

“It’s your heart; specifically the part that longs for lifelong companionship.”

I got quiet. Not just in speech, but in my heart. It’s a sore spot for sure, after all the suffering I’d gone through over the years. I remember how I found it easier to ask Him for everything else but that part. And He cared enough to bring it up again.

“Okay, Daddy. What do You have in store for me in the next season?”

A garden.
Blooming in spring.
I saw my feet on the path.
And I wasn’t alone.


September 2019 // Worcester, South Africa

“I’ve started to notice that things between us have been a little…different lately.”

His greenish-blue eyes gazed deeply into mine. I would usually shy away from such a gaze from anyone, but this time around, I surprised myself by being okay with it. He wasn’t a stranger to me; he was someone I’d considered to be a best friend. Those eyes had grown on me over the almost two years that I’d known him. I could tell that he was nervous, yet he was confident enough to maintain his attention on the person he was risking everything on, by bringing up such a topic. And it was that confidence in such a nerve-wrecking situation that made me treasure him even more.

He, had no idea that God had spoken to me a few days before, on a Tuesday, that he was the gold I’d be missing out on if I remained distracted.
I, had no idea that God had spoken to him a few days before, on that same Tuesday, that things were changing in our friendship.
We, had no idea that God had been arranging many more pieces in the shadows, hidden from our sight, until He saw it fit for it to be revealed that Tuesday.

We realised then, that God had started opening our eyes to the spring season He had prepared for us to experience together. The spring season that’s known to be a season full of weirdness and surprises.

Us, is nothing short of a weird and wonderful surprise.

(Even when everyone else seems to have predicted this long ago.)


It’s only been a couple of weeks since God spoke. It’s been over a week since we committed to journeying together in this odd spring season. But it feels like it’s been ages since we began. We don’t know what the future holds for us, but we know that we’re not figuring it out on our own. God led us to this garden, and we’ll enjoy its surprises together.

So here I am, writing about the beginning of a new chapter of this crazy story. I don’t know its next parts and when it’ll come. And I guess I’ll continue loving God and him, regardless of what I know and don’t.

I’ll just let spring blossom things naturally, in this garden.

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Of Ambiguity, Spring, and Cakes

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“How do you handle ambiguity?”

The question Mindy asked in response left me speechless. We had been on the plane for a while then, still ways away from our destination – Nepal. She had been listening to my story – one with many twists and turns this year – and I had arrived at the present part that was filled with “I don’t know why”-s and “I don’t get it”-s. The Irrational Season I so named.

I looked away, in an attempt to piece together a good answer. The little media screen on the back of the plane seat in front stared back at me. I didn’t have a good answer. But I answered anyway.

“I don’t think I do well with ambiguity.”

If revelation was like a flood, then I must’ve been engulfed by the waves of a tsunami – something that I found to be a common occurrence on plane rides.

It’s true. I don’t do well with ambiguity.

“Wei-Jan, ambiguity is okay.”

Can it be, though?


A garden.
Trees and flowers grew wild and free.
Birds chirped.
Messy, but beautiful.
 
I followed the person ahead of me as I tried to make sense of everything that I was surrounded by.
 
“Wait, God, why are you showing me this when it doesn’t answer my question?”
 
He stopped to pick the flowers. He collected it in His hand, one by one.
 
“But, really, God, are you going to answer me??”
 
He stood up, and handed the bouquet of flowers to me.
 
“Child, it’s spring time. The sun is breaking through the clouds. The crocuses are pushing out of the snow. New life is blooming. Beauty is coming out of hiding. Yet you will still experience snow, hail, and maybe dust storms too. It’s a season that doesn’t make sense, but one filled with beauty.”
 
A season that doesn’t make sense, but one filled with beauty….?


Recently, a friend spoke to me about the process of baking – the baker gathering multiple ingredients that are required, and how they all need to work together to make that tasty treat. On their own though, they taste disgusting (hint: baking soda). But the baker uses all of them, together.

I gave it some thought, and how that correlated to my past few years with God.

The events of the past few years of my life do not make much sense to me.

The plans that failed.
The many questions to God about what would be next.
The excruciating waiting periods.
The unexpected deaths.
The people who walked in and out of my life.
The choices made and its consequences.
The heartbreaks and heartaches.
The riddles in which God spoke.

I like knowing. I like things making sense to me. I like feeling in control with foreknowledge.

And obviously I get crushed when I don’t have that luxury. Uncertainty has crippled me one too many times.

I’ve probably interrogated God about His intentions behind the various events that took place. Okay, not “probably.” I definitely have. I’ve wondered if I was set up for disappointment. I’ve questioned how it was meant to be for my good. I’ve made it clear that I didn’t wish for things to turn out the way it did.

I guess if I were to look at those events individually, none of it would make sense. There is no resolution for it. And it bugs me not to have resolution. It’s like having a song stuck in your head for an entire day, and it never comes to the ending chord.

Yet, He’s God and I’m not. I can’t see what He sees. I can’t decide what’s truly the best for me, because let’s be real – I’ve made enough mistakes on my own accord, and so have others. It was Him who picked up those pieces to make it work out in ways I wouldn’t have expected. He was that good, to ever do such a thing for me.

Maybe He’s been baking a cake and I’ve been fixated on only a handful of the ingredients. There’s a process of putting all those pieces together. There’s a story He’s written for me, and I’m only living out its early chapters.

Fullness is promised, but in His own time.


I don’t remember how, but my conversation with Mindy came to an end. Maybe it was when food was served, or maybe we just knew that’s where it had to end.

I leaned back on my seat and stared at my reflection on the screen in front of me. I sensed an invitation being presented to me. It wasn’t an invitation to the answer to my multiple why-s that irrational season. It wasn’t an invitation to an outcome I desired.

It was an invitation to the next adventure. An adventure of coming alive in a garden in spring. Except, I didn’t know what that really meant.

And it was up to me to decide. All I had to do was say, “I surrender this to You, whether or not I gain understanding. You know better.” 

So I closed my eyes and whispered those words.

I didn’t think that soon after, I’d arrive in Nepal only to receive news of an undesired outcome. I didn’t think that I wouldn’t fall apart despite not understanding why. I didn’t think that instead, I’d be whisked into one of the sweetest times of my life. I didn’t think that God would give me excitement about the future He has for me.

It was as if spring had come, along with its complexities and randomness, and I couldn’t help but notice its beauty.

I guess that’s what adventures are made of. A pinch of longing, a spoonful of challenges, a dash of heartbreak, a few drops of sweat and tears, and a whole lot of butter…of trust in His goodness, to bring it all together.

For now, I’ll lay off the nasty baking soda, and just let the Baker do His job.

(P/S: Thank you Mindy, Liv, and Sandi)

Protected: Open Your Heart & Watch Your Pain Become Beauty

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Starting The New Year with Forgiveness

(The original post titled “What I Didn’t Know About Forgiveness” back in Aug 2017 experienced the unfortunate “shredder” that is the WordPress app glitch. It was frustrating, but a brilliant idea came…..)


31st December 2017 – 1st January 2018 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

New year’s eve.
I was not out at some party somewhere. Instead, I was home, hoping to stay away from the crowds….and of all things to happen – a major bug on the WordPress app permanently deleted a post from August. It was the one titled “What I Didn’t Know About Forgiveness.” I spent the last half hour of 2017 and another hour of 2018 doing everything I could to retrieve it, to no avail.

I thought about the loss, the disheartenment to start over, the impossiblity to recreate it word-for-word. I did, after all, write that post in the heat of the moment when things were intense emotionally.

“There’s no way I can get back into that very same headspace,” I thought to myself.

Midnight came, and 2018 was ushered in. I was not celebrating, I was mourning about the incident….well, sorta. I hit the sack thinking about all the prophecies about what would 2018 look like for me and how the 2018 really began on my end, with this issue. It felt like a smack to the face but God in all His humour, gave me something to chew on.

“Let’s look back at what else I had done concerning forgiveness this year,” said the still small voice.


July 2017 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I plonked on the bed after returning from what seemed like an excruciating hour of being questioned by some authority figures, mostly about the tragic premature exit from Greece a few months before. There were things I wanted to say, but held back because it would’ve been considered “too much information,” as the situation was complicated to begin with.

I was exhausted just by not being able to talk about the truth during the meeting.
But the tears that came weren’t because of that only.

I was feeling the weight of carrying that part of my story, whether shared with others or not. And what made the story difficult to carry was my struggle to forgive myself and the people involved.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to forgive, it was because pain has a way of making one unable, or find difficult, to forget.


August 2017 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I went to church this particular Saturday evening, even though I had to leave before the sermon to attend my high school class’ 10-year reunion. I was not really excited about the class reunion for a variety of reasons, but it wasn’t the main thing weighing on my heart.

It was that I thought I knew enough about forgiveness, but I didn’t.

And I was about to meet a bunch of people who would remind me of many things, especially the not-so-great ones.

The communion emblems were passed and I held them tightly in my hands. So tight that I almost smashed the wafer and spilled the grape juice. “Would You show me what forgiveness looks like?” was the whisper of my lips but the loud cry of my heart. And I swallowed the wafer and chugged the juice.

(I was so lost in the moment that I had consumed the communion emblems before the cue. Oh well.)

I walked out of the church not too long later. I just didn’t think that I was going to walk into a series of events that would answer that prayer.

“Wei-Jan, you don’t have to have it all figured out now, but what you can do is choose to forgive today. You may have to start from scratch each new day, but you have the choice to make that day count.” – Mike Oman, September 2013.

One weekend.
One high school reunion.
One reunion of sorts with my former colleagues.

I looked at their faces, and the filmreel of memories began rolling.

I saw the times I had been treated unkindly, unfairly, and unlovingly.
But I also saw laughter, joy, and love.

I had a choice to make. And a choice I did make.

I made a choice to release the prisoners I had made of them and spoke life.
I made a choice to stand up and pour out love onto those people, knowing that I can choose to forgive despite not being able to forget the bad memories.
I made a choice to let Him take over, even if it means 7×70 times in a day. Life and beauty were prophesied and the prison walls came down.

The lessons didn’t end when the weekend was over. The very next day I would be challenged to walk out the truth of those lessons with a person I’d find most difficult to forgive. I made a choice, again.

(That choice made a friend go, “OH SNAAAP BRING ON THE CONVICTION!”)

I didn’t think that all these choices would set me up for what was coming up ahead.


October 2017 // Kampar, Perak, Malaysia

“Father, they’re swimming in their brokenness and with the amount of conflicts happening, I’m at my wits’ end,” I said to God as I prepared to go to bed. I was exhausted and mentally drained from all that was happening with the group I was leading.

“And what choice would you make this time?” He asked in return.

“I choose to forgive them. I release them to You.”

The next few days made history. The breakthrough came. The darkness left and light invaded. I thought that was the end. But the gentle voice spoke.

“No, you’re not stopping here, because I’m not. Go and embrace her.”
“But…I mean, things look good now. Do I really have to do that?”
“Yes.”
“Can I do it later?”
“Nope. Now.”

With the quote, “Delayed obedience is disobedience” playing in my head, I looked up at the person that I had been speaking to God about. She had just been freed of a lot of pain and darkness the evening before, and she was relishing in this newfound freedom. It’s easy to think that my work was done then, but I went with that voice and approached her.

I opened my arms to hug her.
I hugged her.
I was still hugging her. Or more like she was still hugging me.
I wondered if it was time to let go, but this hug didn’t look like it was going to cease soon.

Then her tears started flowing as she repeated, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry…”

“I forgive you. You’re all good.”

Something in the atmosphere broke and she came undone. God had something bigger for her, as I was realising then. The rest surrounded us and our tears flowed. Tears of utter joy.

And the beautiful singing of these words marked that moment in history.

“Oleh darah Yesus, ku bebas dan hidupku menang,
By the blood of Jesus, we are free, we live victorious.”


1st January 2018 // Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Looking back, I actually did learn more about forgiveness after I had that post published back in August. The loss became an opportunity to revisit this. God is certainly not done teaching.

So, this thing you’re reading now – it doesn’t really end here either. 😉

 

Seen

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The year God proved that He sees.


12th March 2017 // Thessaloniki, Greece

The stranger showed up at a church and quietly made her way to an empty seat. She sat down and looked around. It was her first time at this place. She didn’t know anyone there. In fact, she was also new to the country, the culture, the language. She was a stranger in (almost) every sense of the word. The new kid in town. The new kid in town who had no clue that everything was going to change that day.

“If you feel small, invisible, overlooked….I want you to know that God sees you. He sees you where you are. And He wants you to know that you’re seen by Him.”

She looked at the preacher as he delivered the message from the pulpit. She wondered if it’s the message for her. (She’d find out the answer later on.)

Hours after the end of the church service, she was seen in another part of the city, weeping as she hurried back to her (temporary) residence. Something had gone horribly wrong, and she couldn’t do anything to change it.

The stranger felt that her world was caving in.
The stranger felt that she was not worthy of being loved.
The stranger felt like a tiny speck in an ocean; tiny, overlooked, and probably unneeded.
The stranger wondered if God passed her by.

Even the streets that received the broken pieces of her heart and drops of tears had little to say in return.

Three weeks later, she was at the airport about to get on a flight home (that wasn’t part of her plan), still feeling like an utter stranger…when a Greek family asked her where she came from, snapping her out of her thoughts.

Bewildered, she looked at their faces that were eager to receive her answer.

“They want to know more about me, a stranger?” she thought to herself.

The irony of the situation got her pondering upon the words of that preacher from three weeks before,
“God sees you,”
and of her friend from a week before,
“I, your brother and friend, see you.”

This stranger is…seen?


We have longings to be seen and loved, for it’s strange to love someone we don’t take notice of. I didn’t think that my longings to be seen – in spite of the many things I already have – would put me on the receiving end of devastation. Devastation, that would eventually lead to the restoration of my very being.


6th April 2017 // Penang, Malaysia

The stranger showed up at a church and quietly made her way to an empty seat. She sat down and looked around. It was her first time at this place. She didn’t know anyone there. In fact, she was also new to the coun–…state, the culture (she didn’t understand the way the locals drove), the language (local dialect: Hokkien). She was a stranger in (almost) every sense of the word. The new kid in town. The new kid in town who had no clue that everything was going to change that day.

“You, the one in the grey top. I have a word from God for you.”

The stranger, who happened to be wearing a grey hoodie, looked behind to see if the person on stage was calling out to someone behind her. “There’s no way a stranger like me is getting called out in a crowd of more than a hundred,” she thought.

“Yes, you, the one who just looked around. There’s no one else dressed like you here.”

Bewildered, the stranger awkwardly stood up. This makes no sense. I’m just a stranger.

“God is saying that He didn’t pass you by.”

The next few minutes became a defining moment in her life. The confusion, uncertainty and questions that she carried with her met with laughter and peace, lots of it. The people on stage were speaking about what was on the Father’s heart. The crowd cheered in agreement.

This stranger was seen.

Not only was she seen, her destiny and calling were revealed to her in the presence of many witnesses. They didn’t know who she was, but soon enough they’d remember her as the one with a unique future coming up ahead.

They never once mentioned that she was a stranger.


There are many things in life that we don’t understand, nor will we ever understand. We’d feel like we’re on our own, trying to make sense of things.

But God sees.

When I questioned why I even chose to pursue something (that would lead to devastation) in the first place, God saw me in my regret and disappointment.

When I questioned why what once made sense didn’t any more, God saw me in my confusion.

When I felt that He had passed me by, God went above and beyond to show me that it was so not true.

He saw me, and He called me, proving that He can make even a grey hoodie stand out in a crowd.

I began the year as a stranger.
I am ending the year as the one who is seen.

And God can do the same for you.

What I didn’t know about forgiveness

(This post got deleted because of a WordPress app glitch. So this has been rewritten, with a twist. Read here: https://thecloudchaser.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/starting-the-new-year-with-forgiveness/ )

Grief, in Jars

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To us, who are no strangers to loss.


Spring 2015 // Herrnhut, Germany

It was quiet and sombre. In this hall, three people stood in front of everyone – two of whom parents of a friend loved dearly, and the other a translator. All eyes were on them as the community braced themselves for news that wouldn’t come easy to the ears, but with hope that it would bring some closure.

I sat there then, remembering what it was like sitting in that same hall a few months before when winter was closing in. Everyone was called into an emergency meeting on a Sunday (which hardly happens). We showed up just as the sun had gone down, for news no one would’ve expected. Our composure crumbled as the news that a dear friend had passed on sank in.

There was not a dry eye that evening.

I made my way to the UK for my Christmas break a few days after that intense evening, packing unresolved grief with me. I spent a good amount of time reuniting with friends and family, yet I also spent a lot of time by myself trying to wrap my mind around the events of that December of 2014.

On one of those days alone, I walked into a cemetery behind a small 100-year-old church and decided to read the inscription on every tombstone there. I took into account the deceased’s dates of birth and even the dates of when they passed on.

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One tombstone for a young man intrigued me like none other. The year he died, he was the same age as my friend whose death had been announced right before my Christmas break. On his tombstone the inscription read, “the storm of life is past.”

I was snapped out of my thoughts when the gardener approached me that chilly afternoon and started telling me stories about the people behind the tombstones. And this particular tombstone was for a man who experienced multiple storms in his life and had chosen to end it. His mother would visit his grave every year and place fresh flowers. He was still loved despite the storms of his life and choices made.

I befriended that kind gardener and visited him at the cemetery whenever I could. God gave me multiple revelations about life and death that winter, and I didn’t doubt that God used that gardener with a past of his own to help me make sense of things. It was thanks to him that I had received some resolution for my grief surrounding the death of my friend.

And there I was again in the same hall in Herrnhut a few months later. Our dear friend’s parents shared the news we’d all been waiting for. We listened to the story, the results of the autopsy and the outcome of the investigation.

There was finally a conclusion to the story, but grief didn’t come to an end that day.

I spent that evening taking care of another grieving friend and going, “I’m here for you,” until she drifted into deep sleep.


Spring 2017 // Thessaloniki, Greece

I walked into the Archaelogical Museum of Thessaloniki treating it like another item on the schedule. A good schedule, no doubt, but it’s not like I would’ve had a choice not to go anyway, considering the complications of the situation I was stuck in then. 

I was amazed by the exhibits nevertheless, but one particular exhibit moved me deeply, more than any other that day. It was thanks to this particular museum guide who was more talkative than the others that I learned the truth of what I’d been staring at – jars to contain tears of ones in mourning.

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These jars recovered from ancient tombs were once held by people whose loved ones had passed on; their tears were collected in jars to accompany the deceased in the tombs as symbols of love and respect.

This knowledge rocked me, for I had shed hours – even days – of tears that spring. One lost love leading to the next. The amount of time spent on crying my eyes out could not resolve the grief I had then (even till today as I’m writing this).

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

(Psalm 56:7)

Yet these jars – removed from the ancient tombs they had once served – stared back at me, as if to say, “Every tear of yours has been accounted for.”


We have our lost loves. Love that was placed in the wrong hands. Love betrayed. Love towards someone gone too soon. Love for a vision that would not come to pass. Love that walked away. Love in the hard work that failed. Love that might never be returned the same way. Love regretted. Love that resulted in death of sorts.

And so we grieve and mourn those lost loves.

Grief tells us that normal might never be the same again.
Grief asks if and when we’ll be able to say we’re okay.
Grief is when a mere apology could comfort or unleash more tears.
Grief is a place where you hammer down the nails on the coffin containing what you had or wished to have – one sombre reminder of a nail at a time.
Grief looks like tears being collected in jars.

It is in the grieving and mourning that we’d find ourselves in the messiest of states – the uncontrollable tears, the body that places itself in a fetal position, the difficulty and sometimes inability to start our day(s), and/or the words not wished to be said.

But it is also in the grieving and mourning that people would come together like never before. The gardener, the guide at the museum, the people who reach out to us – let’s not forget them.

One’s body may seem to have lost control to pain and sorrow, but amidst our countless sorries and expressions of guilt for coming off like a mess, they’d say, “We’re here for you.” Even if it means exchanging stories of lost loves. Even if it means staying by our side till sleep takes over. Even if it means booking a flight to get to where we are to make life bearable. And even if it means sending that text or email that would give us a reason to hope for the future.

We’ll take the time to cry, laugh, maybe cry again and hopefully, laugh again at the memory of what was. 

We’d unlikely forget, but we’ll also choose to remember. We’d unlikely forget about the lost loves and deaths, but we’ll choose to remember its life. We’d unlikely forget what hindered love, but we’ll choose to remember that it becomes part of our story. 

A lost love might never return, but the story continues, even if it’s difficult to believe that it could.

So we raise our jars of tears. 

Not one drop forgotten by Him, and every drop necessary to write the next chapter.

Cheers.