Posted on

Tea time talk: What is love to you?

 

IMG_0844

Valentine is around the corner, and I encourage singletons and couplets alike to chat up, come clean, and be honest with yourselves with this question:


 What is love
to you?


My not-so-short answer: As a believer, I think the scripture’s famous verse about love is the very definition of it, and way more. The more part is the rest of the Bible, and the personal part is in my marriage.

Starting from the day we stood at the altar, we promised each other to put our relationship only second after our personal relationship with God, and that means the first above every other human relationships we have – including your own tumultuous relationship with yourself. Here’s what is and what isn’t to me: Loving your spouse is not a fleeting feeling but a moment-to-moment commitment, not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less, not focusing on a set of conditions but on making agreements, and not to be reduced to a definition but so much more to do with action. When he first laid eyes on me, something moved in his heart. But he didn’t depend on the vibes to last the marriage – he dedicates care and attention whenever he’s with me, even though he’s not a uni-tasker by nature (my love language is quality time). As for me, he wasn’t always the godly and upright man I’ve always seen in him, but I prepare food on the table and do the minimal house chores by the time he comes home from work, even though I’m a major mess (his love language is acts of service). Sometimes you’re frustrated with his shortcomings, sometimes you’re doubtful of his affection, and other times you’re afraid that someday, he’s going to stop appreciating you. But have you taken a good look at yourself lately? (So guilty). You see, the stuff in your head messes with you more than the actual marriage – if you would just trust his word on the altar without further question, as you do with God’s Word, you would serve him regardless of your own mental and emotional states, as you would unhesitantly obey the Lord. When you look back at the cross and at your husband and then back to the woman on the mirror (in that order), you can’t help but not not love him any less.

So yeap, love certainly isn’t all sunshine and lollipops and flying little piglets, but it’s worth all the time and energy and effort you put in, because you know what? In the end, it will all look beautiful and wonderful and pleasing in His eyes.

Now I want to hear from you: How do you define love?

Share your thoughts on the comments section below, and if you’ve already got plans (hubs and I haven’t), how are you going to spend Valentine’s Day this year? We welcome suggestions :DDD

 
 
 


Stace

Follow

 
 

Photography by Daddy Tjeuw

 

Posted on

Tea time talk: Do the people you spend most of your time with make you feel better about yourself, or worse?

 

betterorworse

Frankly, I’m surprised that most of us, especially us who’ve adopted the individualistic psyche of the West, never really considered relationships as an affective factor in steering the direction of our lives. We like to think that we’re in full control of our lives when, in fact, there are more things beyond our control than the things we do. You have your own goals and dreams to achieve, but you definitely need people who will be there for you when you finally achieve them all. Very likely, they’re the people surround yourself with most of the time, and therefore … most of your life. So here’s my question today:


Do the people you spend
most of your time with
make you feel better
about yourself, or worse?


My short answer: Better about myself. This has only been intentional for the past few years. I wasn’t always this nit-picky when it comes to choosing confidants. But it’s gotten increasingly stricter ever since I got married. No doubt, there are those bunch you simply cannot avoid in your life who seems to own a degree in constantly pulling you down, making fun of you, are never pleased with you, have never shown the slightest respect for your dignity, and/or simply never believe in you … these people may even be your own blood relatives. But one of the most life-changing advice I’ve ever received was this: You have the power to choose the people you want to surround yourself with. Yes, the power’s within your control. It’s true what they say, that at the end of the day, you become a sum of the 5 people you spend most of your time with … so choose wisely. Some acquaintances may only intend to stick around until they get what they need or what they want to know from you. But make sure you appreciate the genuine souls in your life who will be there for you in good times, in bad times, and even in meh times. I spent 80% of my young adulthood not knowing that I have this huge power of choice. So realize that you’ve got the gift of free will to choose who you want to be around, along with what you want to become, and most importantly, that you deserve just as much acknowledgement as a human being as the person who belittles you.

Think about it: Have you decided who are the people you want – and don’t want – to share most of your life with?

 
 
 


Stace

Follow

 
 

via Stacey Johnson on Pinterest

 

Posted on

Nota Bene

 

e791ffbc997dd90161d6b17a08ef8c8a

 

You’ve got to put on
your shield of faith, and
doubt your doubts and
believe your beliefs.

(Rick Warren)

 

 
 
 


Stace

Follow on Bloglovin

or find me on
10354177_756781854364128_3972993246285331992_n

 
 

via Lauren Conrad

 

Posted on

The goal of marriage

 

output_zymum1
‘Better Together’ was my engagement gift for hubby.

I truly believe the saying that goes, it’s better to stay single for the rest of your life than to get into a bad marriage. Compatibility alone doesn’t secure you lifelong marital bliss – in truth, every one of us is so different that we’re not naturally compatible with each other unless we’re willing to make the effort to get to know each other, find common grounds, form relationships, enter fellowship, and make an alliance. You are always going to have disagreements with people because of your differences, but if you commit to stick together through the test of time, both of you win.

There was a life-turning challenge that I took on recently, now that we’re a month into our marriage. During the first few weeks, we both responded to the incessant question “How’s married life?” with nothing but a candid “No difference than when we’re still dating.” It’s true. Even now, I can honestly say there isn’t much that’s changed if we’re strictly referring to our day-to-day lives. But if you rewind to a couple of weeks ago, something did took a huge turn. At least, for me.

Hubby and I went into a huge argument1 during the last days before we move in to our new home. I’m not here to speak details, but I was largely to blame. He showed anger, hurt, disappointment, fear, and sadness all at once. As he went on communicating his unmet needs and resulting feelings more, I began to understand the point … his point, the point of marriage, the point of us, him and me, together. Out of all the emotions he felt, I was quickest to respond to his sadness. If it wasn’t for this argument, I wouldn’t know I would get this sad if I see him sad. It was also this argument that finally changed how I see him. Since the day we stood at the altar, his feelings are no longer his own, just as my feelings are no longer just mine. Before walking down the aisle, I could hurt myself all I want and cry till dawn, and it’s still nobody else’s business. I certainly didn’t have to think much about anyone else’s pain, nor do I have to hold it together for anyone else, because it’s all about managing your own life and your emotions. But now, I realized that this kind of mentality is the very foundation that develops into a bad marriage2.

 

But while I was busy protecting my feelings and preventing myself from getting hurt, I couldn’t see the truth of the matter, that both of us are happier when we’re together than when we’re alone.

 

When I consciously chose to be single, I’ve set in stone to face the rest of my life with a one-person psychological thinking. I left no room for reliance and vulnerability. It took time from making this conviction to finally “opening up” to hubby, my then boyfriend, during our first years together, to trust him, communicate my needs, and to just stop being so difficult and egotistical. In the 4.5 years of our relationship before marriage, he’s constantly attacked by the guards I’ve held up so high around myself. Even though I was technically “with him”, I wasn’t at heart. The one thing I’ve never dared to hope for was believing in a safe and secure confidant, the kind of relationship I’ve always wanted to be in, but had decided then that it only existed in my dreams. Thing is I was okay alone, and that he was fairly happy by himself and his video games. But while I was busy protecting my feelings and preventing myself from getting hurt, I couldn’t see the truth of the matter, that both of us are happier when we’re together than when we’re alone.


Why marry? I asked. What’s the point? What’s the purpose of coupling at all? “So that we can build a harmonious family,” he assured me. What is harmony in the first place, you say? Harmony = Happy together, my husband reassured me. He then placed his hands on my shoulders and looked at me in the eye. “We are together now, no longer two, but one,” he went on. “So no one, not even you or me, can separate us.”

Funny how it’s only dawning on me now that I’m married – like, married married. And truth is, the sanctity of this union is at an all-time low in our culture today, so much so that you see more people making fun of the dreariness and displeasures of marital life (and consequently the glamorization of the cool, casual, and freewheeling single life) than they do emphasizing the true happiness as a result of the constitution. But know this: The key word of our motto isn’t the ‘happy’ – it’s our ‘together’-ness.

Just as you strive for win-win deals with others in your business, marriage takes teamwork. The challenge, living in the kind of society we’re in today, is to not let others woo you into thinking you and your spouse are so different that you cannot be on the same team. This also happens when you focus too much on the ‘happy’-ness than the ‘together’-ness, because what’s happening is that you’re letting your pride take the lead. This ego-based psychological system has broken hearts, ruined relationships, and caused unnecessary divorces. Because when one of you “loses”, it’s just personal pride that wins the moment, but you as one and as a whole lose more in the long run.

Thanks to our permanent union, we become better humans as a couple just as well as we are as individuals, because when I see him grin his widest grin, the whole world is alright.

 

12182538_10105663716329008_3932854228909597771_o
Drop me a message to order your copy of ‘Better Together’ :)

 
 
 


Stace

Follow

or find me on
10354177_756781854364128_3972993246285331992_n

 Footnote(s):

  1. and all married couples know … these arguments are joy opportunities in disguise []
  2. See: Psychologist Stan Tatkin Explains How to Pick the Right Mate [The Cheat Sheet] []
Posted on

Tea time talk: If you have a friend who treats you the way you treat yourself, how long do you want to keep them as your friend?


 

rosegarden-01

Since we’re on friendship (and relationships in general) recently, I’ve been haunted by this question a lot for the past couple of weeks:


If you have a friend
who treats you the way
you treat yourself, 
how long do you want to
keep them as your friend?


My not-so-short answer: Probably not longer than a year. I have a running habit of hurting myself as a coping and/or defense mechanism, and if there’s nothing external that’s hurting me, it’s as if I’m actively and constantly seeking ways to hurt myself and consequently, hurt others. So, anyone who comes close to me will most likely get hurt, discouraged, and disappointed along the way. So I always back out of a potential friendship to prevent her from getting hurt. Despite it all, there are people I will never understand who actually want to go through all the pain …

Before I got to know Jesus Christ, I’ve always thought friendships just happen. If you hit it off during the first conversations then you’re good, but if not, you’re probably just not meant to be. The closest friends I have today are friendships that develop almost immediately after we met, including my own husband. Now, I realized that all relationships take active nurturing. With some you can click instantly, with others, it’s like growing a garden. And so I’ve grown to replace my constant hurting to constant tending of my thorns, mainly for these people who have decided to persist in my life.

I know this is a tough question … but give it time to seep in your mind: How are you going to change the way you talk to yourself today?

Of course, after my answer to this question, I don’t expect you to enlist me as your BFF :s But I do want to hear your thoughts.

 
 
 


Stace

Follow

or find me on
10354177_756781854364128_3972993246285331992_n

 
 

via Wulan on Pinterest


 
 

Posted on

Who to expect on your wedding

 

tumblr_nz6qe2OFRK1roy6qmo1_1280

If you haven’t already know, 10 and I had 2 wedding receptions to celebrate our marriage. The one we wanted was a smaller and much more intimate setting in Bali, whereas the other one was what our parents originally envisioned their children’s wedding day to be. Having gone through the once-in-a-lifetime experience twice made me learn a couple of things, especially about being thankful for the people who show up to give your marriage support. Whether you have 200 or 1200 people on your guest list, you can expect these people to be present on your celebration:

Expect loyalty. These people are the ones who you haven’t gotten in touch in a while, perhaps years or even decades, but show up nonetheless, wherever your destination wedding is held in the world, to just to congratulate you and your new spouse. These are definitely people you should keep for life – savor the friendship and your enduring history with them.

Expect to be overwhelmed with appreciation. Before you got married, weddings were just another have-to’s you have to cross off your list every weekend. On your own wedding day, you will be eternally grateful of the many, many people who actually want to be there. It’s clear when you’re standing on stage who are the people who actually make time and effort to be there for you – not for the free food, not for the Instagram-worthy photo props, not for the scenic destination of the wedding, but for the celebration of two souls becoming one.

Expect hoarders. In the same vein, you can spot these people almost immediately out of the room. They’ve been prowling around the perimeter near the premium food stalls for at least an hour before you see them getting in line toward the stage to give you, your spouse, and your parents a flimsy handshake – and it’s almost always with neither a word nor eye contact.

Expect indifference. They behave much like the hoarders when they’re in line to shake your hands, but at least these people know the whole purpose of the event (congratulating the married couple!) before they help themselves with the goodies.

Expect gossip. People are always going to talk, even when you give them something good to talk about. Unlike the hoarders and the indifferent people, gossipers look at you in the eye longer than you are normally comfortable with. Whether they’re eating their food or giving you a handshake, they’re usually standing close with one or two of their gossip buddies. You can always find them within 100-meter’s radius from the stage, the VIP area, the plasma TV, the screen, and your canvas images, whispering something toxic into each other’s ears.

Expect camwhoring. Lots of camwhoring. Right after the quick smiles and brief handshakes, they’ll get into their poses and start commanding your photographers to take multiple shots of them on stage with you. So brace yourself, because you and your spouse are their most visually-appealing props of the day.

Expect the uninvited. If you’re having a banquet (i.e. expecting more than 500 people), keep on the lookout for at least one stranger. Get your wedding organizer to help you guard every corner so you can catch the culprit before they walk out with the freebies.

Expect pleasant surprises. Much like the loyal people, pleasant surprises are those who remember the tiniest good things you did for them – so little you don’t even remember. You may regard them as an acquaintance, but they regard you as a buddy, and that’s more than enough reason to keep them for life. The most surprising factor of their presence was the total amount of gift in the red envelope: It’s infinitely more than the nothingness you did for them a billion years ago.

Expect sincerity. It’s rare to find sincere people within a lifetime, much less on a single night. So when you found one, you should keep them. These people are the ones who look you in the eye as long as the gossipers do, but immediately hugs you tightly and, instead of whispering among one another, they whisper personal wishes and prayers into your ears, probably tearing up while doing so, and also probably the one taking the most pictures throughout the event so you don’t have to wait for the photographer’s pictures to update your Instagram. Please note that these people aren’t always necessarily present physically at the wedding: They may come in personalized messages in wedding cards, in surprise customized wedding gifts, somewhere during the hours you spent on long-distance phone calls, at the end of an afternoon tea you had together weeks in advance, plus many more other forms of a genuine heart. In these cases, they’re the first to congratulate you again digitally after you’re officiated … all the more reason you should keep in touch with them for life.

Expect excuses. On the opposite end, there will be people who DON’T have children to take care of, a limb broken, or a family member dying who RSVP’d way in advance, but are a no-show on the day itself. Examples of lame excuses they’ll give you: “There’s no one else I know there!”, “My dog ate your wedding invitation!” or, my personal favorite: Just a message … not before the wedding, not during the wedding, but days after the wedding … with no reason but a “Sorry couldn’t be there” and expect the relationship is still the same as ever. There may be 1001 reasons to not be there, but there are none to not tell you personally that they would not make it there before it’s too late.

Expect major disappointments. It doesn’t hurt as much if the people with the most excuse weren’t the people who you identify as your friend. But the biggest letdowns are the first people you’ve always had in mind to be there, but didn’t. It hurts even more when you received no news, no response, none whatsoever.

Expect utmost gratitude. Despite the letdowns, you will be so glad that you’re one of the most blessed souls in the world who has the kind of love like no other. Not everyone is blessed with a life partner with whom they can make a great team, much less one who loves and accepts you for all that you are. Like the brightest star in the night sky, your day will be filled with people who’d suffer hours of traffic and heavy downpour, just to witness the rare occasion, and there’s no way to thank their presence other than by giving them back as a married couple for the rest of your life.

Expect the best from God … when you surrender to His will. And not just on your wedding day, but every day for the rest of your life. Here’s our testimony …

Me and my husband only had 2 weeks left to decide whether we wanted to hire a rain protection vendor as our backup plan. The Bali wedding was an outdoor venue, so we’d essentially be blowing up everything (literally everything) if it rains. The vendor gave us until it’s down to a week left before the big day to make our decision. They’ve even reduced their price for us. After giving it some thought, I told my then husband-to-be that I did not want a canopy, even though or super duper attentive wedding organizer highly suggested we should get one. I wanted us to put our trust in God instead of our own smarts. Ever since we got together, I’ve gotten through so many doubts about His will for us that by then, I had no more doubts He was the one behind our union. Rain or shine, I believe He would allow the best weather possible for our special day.

My husband agreed. And so, no backup plan whatsoever … even though counting down the 2 weeks was discouraging. The 15-day forecasts kept showing anywhere between 60%-80% chances of drizzles and thunderstorms on the exact hours we’ll be holding our holy matrimony and the reception, as if all the weather apps and forecasting websites were purposely trolling on us. They all (yes, all) showed the same cloudy forecast leading up to the big day … and yet, we worried less and less. As the days went by, our faith has only gotten stronger, with prayers of hope for the future and of thanksgivings in advance.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 finally arrived. I woke up without the slightest thought about the weather and only focused on the man I’m going to love for the rest of my life. It was a sunny afternoon filled with fun photoshoots and a happy tea ceremony, followed by a heartfelt evening of us exchanging our vows. We became one … under the backdrop of a beautiful violet sunset and a golden outlook of our future.

Then, the testing of faith begins. The hair and makeup crew were changing me into the nighttime look for the reception, and my new husband was staring at the stormy sky with a paler complexion than Edward Cullen. Nothing liquid has fallen to the grounds yet, just sounds and flashes of thunder from above. When it’s time for us to line up to be the last introduced by the emcee (after our parents and siblings), it was practically drizzling. The whole crew was running everywhere to provide umbrellas for everyone – adrenaline’s rushing, our hearts beating faster.

There and then, we closed our eyes, hands held tight, and spoke out our faith in a joint prayer. Right after we said our ‘Amen’ together, we opened our eyes to find the drizzling stopped. And just like that … the hot and humid air transformed into a fresh, dewy ambience that lasted through the night. It was a miracle.

tumblr_nz6qlnyyyD1roy6qmo1_1280

tumblr_nz6qhcVLmS1roy6qmo1_1280

tumblr_nz6qtbgHJS1roy6qmo1_1280

 
 
 


Stace

Follow

or find me on
10354177_756781854364128_3972993246285331992_n

 

Posted on

Enchanted: Destination engagement photography by Daddy Tjeuw

 

Today, I’d like to showcase one of the many vendors I’m eternally grateful for for our beautiful celebration. The name’s Daddy Tjeuw, a Jakarta-based wedding and pre-wedding photographer who’s excellent at doing what he does. It’s rare to find local photographers who master the art of using natural light to their full advantage, so we were blessed the day we discovered Daddy during our search for the perfect pre-wedding photoshoot. Without further ado, here’s one of the many series hubs and I totally loved:

DAY 1 stanley stacia-26

Continue reading Enchanted: Destination engagement photography by Daddy Tjeuw

Posted on

Tea time talk: Have you experienced love at first sight?

 

loveatfirstsight-01

How are you guys?!! It’s been a while now since the wedding and everything. I’ll share more about the details little by little, but since we’re on the topic of love … I’d like to hear more from you:


Have you
experienced
love at first sight?


My short answer: Yes, even though my definition of love today is completely different from my experience back then. It was more like an obsession, and it lasted for years. I’ve heard that it’s actually easier for guys to fall at first sight for gals than it is the other way around, but when the latter happens, and it’s the kind that’s unrequited, I can tell you that it’ll take something much, much bigger than yourself to open your eyes and make you realize you deserve better than you think. Whether it’s lots of time to heal or massive effort to move on, it ain’t true love if you’re blind to his flaws.

What about you? Have you fallen head over heels over a guy since the first day you saw him? How was it like for you?

Share your story. The lust, the letdowns, the Bill in your life. You know, we just might have crossed paths when it comes to matters of the heart.

 
 
 


Stace

Follow

or find me on
10354177_756781854364128_3972993246285331992_n

 
 

via Jen Huang Photography

 

Posted on

The perfect guy doesn’t exist.

 

The perfect guy doesn’t exist, so I stopped looking for him. I’m tired of guys who cheat, play, and lie, so I stopped hoping for a guy who would ‘get’ me.

But you see, the perfect guy DOES exist. More like a man than he is a guy, and he happens to be a god – the God. He’s been waiting on me since … well, let’s just say it’s been a long time coming.

This is the only man who’s ever walked on earth who is perfect – there won’t be another. He is the epitome of perfection, but he loved me, still does, and forever will do. He so does that he’s laid down his life for me so I’ll reunite with him after earth, and I have faith in him1. He’s the reason why I stopped looking for the perfect guy, but still have faith in love.

There will never be a guy on earth who’s worthy enough for me to give my complete love, care, and affection, because no one else is perfect other than the perfect man. As long as I’m just as imperfect, there will always be miscommunication, mistrust, and misunderstandings. I don’t know whether a guy’s going to leave me or forsake me, but he might2.

Even more so, there will never be a guy on earth who loves me so much that he’s willing to die for me like the perfect man – not ever. I don’t feel worthy enough to be loved that much, because I’m far, perhaps worlds away, from perfect. As long as I have imperfect thoughts, there will always be imperfect deeds, imperfect actions, imperfect behaviors. Guys would either get the truth or get the wrong implications. Even if there is a well-meaning guy who’s willing to die for my imperfections, his own imperfections would flaw his sacrifice, and that sacrifice would be next to nothing compared to that cross.

In the meantime3, in addition to sacrificing his life for me, the perfect man has also delivered me a man to unite with … a man with flaws and all, but is full of faith, hope, and love. This man will never ‘get’ me as completely as the man who died for me – not ever, but he’s willing to keep trying, just as much I’m longing to give my love, care, and affection for a man. He is worthy for me because I am worthy of the death of the perfect man, and I am worthy for him because he also believes and receives the love of the perfect man.

Yes, he is imperfect. But he was made perfect for me, and I for him, and from today onwards, till death do us part, we are going to let our love for the perfect man perfect us.

 

P.S. Every first-person pronoun (I, my, me) above are replaceable with second- (you) and third-person (he, she, it) pronouns.

 
 

Appreciate this post? Buy me tea~

 
 Footnote(s):

  1. Hebrews 11:1 []
  2. Deuteronomy 31:8 []
  3. 1 Corinthians 13:12 []