Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Adventure not to be Missed!

Another person whom I would take my hats of for the year would be my dear friend Liz Mah. Liz was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer back in June and not long after that, she started a blog called “Liz’s Adventure”!

If it were up to me, I would call mine “My Suffering Journal” or “My Last Words!” But, to call it an adventure!? Who in their right mind would classify cancer as an adventure! However, Liz knew exactly what she was on to. This was God’s adventure for her and she took it up with great faith! Now, nearly 6 months on, the tumours in the rest of her body such as the skull and liver, had miraculously disappeared. The main tumour in her lungs has also reduced in size significantly.

Throughout this period, she has been an inspiration and encouragement to many. Her perception of God had prompted me to ask God for the impossible, like healing my sinus!

Indeed, He is our Creator and our Healer. Whether we perceive it or not, He has our best interests in mind. To be totally drenched in His love and words during such challenging times have made Liz to be a stronger person. I felt so privileged to be able to witness her journey with God.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2)

The Prodigal Husband

As the year is coming to a close, I can’t help but think about the people who had made a significant impact on me during the year.

A few months ago, I attended a talk organized by the ladies of Canning Garden Methodist church in Kampar. Pastor Lee Choo shared about this sister in her previous church who had a wayward husband. Her husband started cheating on her not long after they were married. In fact, when she had a miscarriage, her husband was with someone, somewhere else. The infidelity lasted for more than 18 years! Over the course of time, pastors and friends had advised her to leave him, seeing no signs of improvement in their marriage. This lady however reminded her confidents that what God had joined in marriage, let no man (including herself) separate!

I felt heartbroken for this godly lady, and at the same time gasped at such faith and perseverance. If I were her, I would have thrown in the towels, years ago. Afterall, God cannot change an unrepentant heart, no? After many years when their children have grown up and left home, the prodigal husband returned! He had finally come to his senses and sought his wife’s forgiveness, who in return, willingly accepted him again!

This is incredible! What a miracle! But God, why did you only answer her prayers after so many years? The poor wife has wasted so much time and shed so much tears on him! But wait a minute, it was not only the wife who was waiting, God was waiting too. His heart was broken to see someone whom He dearly loved, strayed away. God was weeping alongside with this lady. I felt inspired by His love and at the same time, ashamed by my judgmental views. I may not be an adulterer like this man but surely, I led a fallen life before coming to Jesus too. The turn of events would only occur when we allow Him to work in our lives.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (1 Corinthians 4)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lion's Tail

One of the amazing lessons that I have learnt from Clarissa is: “If something is aggravating you, keep away from it!” Not long after Lion was diagnosed with “eating its tail” syndrome, Tiger began to show similar sign as its beautiful tail was spotted with a small hole. Immediately, Clarissa separated the two fish and banned them from fighting.

As a cynic, I said “You know, you have to accept at some point that Lion may have a permanent half eaten tail and is unlikely to stop chewing its tail. Maybe, I have to buy a new fish for Joseph soon and forget about this one.” “What is going to happen to Lion?” she asked curiously. “Maybe I will just throw him into a drain…” I said, tailing off, not knowing whether immediate or slow death of a one inch fish should be explained to a 7-year old.

However, Lion’s tail began to grow. After 2 weeks, its tail is only one-quarter incomplete (as opposed to half eaten). Clarissa had been faithfully and dutifully changing the water in the tanks and feeding them every day. Lion now has a small tummy while Tiger’s tail is fully healed. I was amazed that under a child’s care, the fish were doing much better than before.

This same lesson is applicable to my life. If I had allowed anger to build up, not only does it affect me, it also affects people around me adversely. On the other hand, if I had made the choice to distant myself from anger and embrace reconciliation, healing will take place, both externally and internally. Ultimately, healing requires supernatural intervention, specifically, God’s intervention. Only God can take away our hurt and angry hearts and replace them with love and trust, so that we are whole and complete again.

I appreciate the simple lesson behind these 2 fighting fish. If they could recover under a child’s loving care, how much more for us, when God our creator, began His surgical work in our hearts?!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fighting Fish

Clarissa had been pestering me about getting a fish for keeps but my answer had always been negative until recently. “Mum, you need to get a fish for us, for performing in the VBS concert…please?” she asked with an angelic smile.

From memory, I recalled that there is a newly opened pet shop near my office. When we reached the shop, our eyes were glued to the multi-coloured, graceful fighting fish. Colours that I would have difficulty in blending for my boomerang project weeks ago, could be seen on an-inch long fish, looking splendid and natural. Their dull, lethargic bodies would be transformed into rainbow coloured with numerous tones, while their heads doubling in size when the barrier between the fish tanks is lifted. Within minutes, Joseph had selected an off white body matched with red fins, named Lion; Clarissa settled for a dark red fish with a tint of purple and blue, named Tiger!

As soon as we got home, Lion and Tiger were placed next to each other to display their hidden glory. After 2 days, Clarissa came to inform me that Lion was sick. His tail was showing signs of being damaged! Despite the torrential rain outside, I drove to the pet shop seeking for advice. “Your fish is eating his own tail” came the prompt reply. “What? Why? What do I do?” I asked in surprise. “Your fish is overly aggressive and angry. As a result, he ends up eating his own tail!” He said. “In fact, you could throw him away and get a new one! Its unfortunate that your fish turned out this way, but I assure you, not all fish behave the same way.”

I was amazed that for a small creature like Lion, his anger could be uncontained and may consume him! When I went home, I told Joseph that Lion must rest and should not be aggravated by being next to Tiger. Although we are much more complicated compared to fighting fish, we are no different when it comes to anger. If our anger goes unchecked, we could also do some serious damage to ourselves and others. Unresolved issues may slowly eat into our soul, edging bits by bits away, just like Lion is slowing losing its tail.

"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4)

We need to rid ourselves of anger, including issues leading us to that. Else, Satan would end up having a foot hold in our lives. God is able to turn our anger into something positive, let us turn to Him. I would like to echo what my nephew, Isaac, shared today, after his recent church camp: “God took away my baggage of anger! I felt liberated!”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where is God?

“Mummy, I can’t see God, how can I believe in Him?” exclaimed my 4 year old in his usually loud voice. “But you see, God lives in our heart. He answers our prayers, makes us better when we are sick, helps us to feel better when we are sad” I replied, using as many simple words as possible. “Where? Where? Tell me where is God?” came the insistent questions.

“Ok, from now onwards, I will pray that God will reveal Himself to you!” I told him, hoping that he will change his conversational topic. My brain was cracking hard to think of some relevant analogies, suitable for a 4 year old but it was completely blank! Clarissa had never asked me that question before although I have no doubt that she had the same question in her heart. However, after years of attending Sunday School, daily prayer and miraculous healing (Big Miracle for a Little Girl), she KNOWS that God exists.

After praying for a week, Joseph and Clarissa attended the VBS at First Baptist Church. As Joseph was only 4, he went to the nursery class. Amazingly, he did his dances at the concert without rehearsal on stage. The best part was, after the event, we went out for ice-cream one day and while parking my car, he said “Praise the Lord! We found parking!” At first, I didn’t realize what he was saying until he exclaimed louder “Praise the Lord! Mummy, why are you not praising the Lord?” What a transformation! Somehow, during VBS’s week, he has met up with God and he knows what praising means! He knows that God exist!

Thank you Lord for revealing yourself to Joseph.

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.'"(Acts 17)

Judas Iscariot

I have always had difficulty in understanding why Jesus had recruited Judas Iscariot to be one of His disciples, especially when He had FULL knowledge that Judas would betray Him. I truly wonder how it was like to live with someone whom you knew would betray you.

Sometime ago, I had the privilege to catch a glimpse of such emotions of betrayal when someone I trusted did something that was detrimental to the company.

When I found out, I was amazed at the string of emotions that flew through. My heart which was once filled with respect for this person was then replaced with disappointment, resentment and to a certain extent, hatred. I couldn’t understand myself in this respect as afterall, he was just a colleague.

At that point in time, I was gently reminded by the Holy Spirit of what Jesus had been through. He was with Judas 24/7 and yet he had chosen to show love to him, hoping that he would choose the right path in the end. Showing love under such circumstances involved taking risks. I wondered what Jesus would have done if He were here now.

I need to abandon my ideal that people around me would behave as I had expected them to. In fact, I have to constantly remind myself not to impose my own ideals on them but to allow God to work in them. There is no guarantee that this “Judas” would turn over a new leaf, but I know that God is in full control of his life and there is nothing “Judas” could do that is “out of God’s radar”. I take comfort in this thought immensely as I know that Jesus understands exactly how I feel.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blessing in Disguise

As VBS drew nearer, I noticed that the committee members, teachers and helpers were falling sick, one after another. On the other hand, I have managed to escape from the devil’s radar thus far, which was worth rejoicing for.

On the Saturday before VBS, I had a tummy upset, followed by diarrhea the next morning. In fact, I felt both weak and feverish. “So much for my presumption!” I said to myself. After calling Ray to pray for me, I rang Wee Lee, the leader of our VBS class. To my dismay, Wee Lee shared that she too had been unwell: she had heart palpitations the night before and had to go to the hospital to stabilize her heart beat. Then I realized that we were indeed engaged in a spiritual battle, one that is very real and powerful.

Sunday night, one day before VBS was due to commence, we went to a “back-lane” restaurant off Jalan Raja Laut. Apparently, this place was famed for its steamed fish head and oysters omelette. As I was still recovering from my tummy bug, I refrained from taking the oysters; if not, I would have treated myself to two big bites!

Come Monday, I had fully recovered and was glad to learn that Wee Lee was well too. God is good, healing us just in time for the big week. However, I was informed that my brother-in-law had severe food poisoning resulting from the oysters the night before. In fact, he was kept up throughout the night with vomiting that was stopped only after a visit to the hospital. Then I realized how God had used the “minor tummy bug” as a blessing for me. If it were not for the mild diarrhea, I would be lying on my back on Monday.

How am I to see that my present illness is meant to protect me from a more severe one? Only God is able to see that. Thank you God for protecting me, showing me that Your are more powerful than any of the devil’s schemes and most of all, turning a supposedly “bug” into a blessing!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

VBS - Sneak Preview

I know that some of you may think that I have been slacked in blogging! Well, I have been preoccupied. When one is pre-occupied, there is no inspiration to write!

Therefore, I have decided to share with you some pictures I have taken in the course of preparing for VBS! If you have not registered your children for VBS this year, don't worry, there is another next year! If your niece/nephew/child has been registered and you are wondering if you should come for the concert day, then you must! Its an event not to be missed! :)



Hundreds of boomerangs made up the country of Australia! and this is only a part of the decor! Here are some decors for the classes, to inspire the kids! Welcome to Australian sea creatures!





For more info, check out http://www.fbcvbs09.blogspot.com/

Transformers – Special Agents (SA)

“Transformers, more than meet the eyes; Transformers, SA in disguise!”

As Lisa ushered me into the secret mission room, she whispered into my ear “this is TOP TOP secret, not to be mentioned to any soul! Not even one word!” Excitement built up as the door opened. I was greeted by a team of Special Agents! Some of them were kneeling on the floor, some were standing and the rest were sitting. All were busy with one mission – preparing for VBS decoration for the big day – Concert Day.

As I looked around, I knew some of them. One of them is working as a lawyer; another, a business consultant, and the one at the far end, I was told is in IT line. Day time, they are professionals in their respective field of work; come night time, they are transformed into special agents in the creative field! They have been slogging every night till late, preparing props, backdrops and many decorative items unknown to me. As I sat down, Sandra gave me an important advice “Through our many days of experience, we realize that to do the aboriginal art effectively, you have to use the round tip of a chopstick!” She was busy “stamping” a sun and its rays on a boomerang! My eyes couldn’t keep away from all the beautiful décor placed all around the room. What creativity! Simply ingenious!

I could still recall that for the past few years, the VBS decoration at the main sanctuary has been majestic and beautiful beyond description! Some years back, I had the privilege to stand at the peak of a mountain, taking in all its breathtaking view. At that point in time, I was speechless and completely taken away by God’s creation just as I am now.

For sometime, I had struggled with the authenticity of the scriptures. How can God speak through the bible that was supposedly written by man?

“All Scripture is God-breathed (or God inspired) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” 2 Tim 3:16

The scriptures are inspired by God but penned down by man. Now I have understood better as I marvelled at the beauty of the VBS special mission room. Just as God has inspired his SA to prepare the décor item tiredlessly, He has also inspired His chosen prophets/apostles to pen down His words as instructions for us to live out our lives for His glory.

I can’t divulge how the stage would be like on VBS concert day, but I know it will be breathtaking!

Joseph's Little Secret

Recently, we went on a star cruise holiday with my family while Ray stayed behind to look after his “business”. This is the first time that I am on holiday alone with Clarissa and Joseph. As part of their preparation for the holiday (and for my own sanity), I laid down some ground rules such as:-
1. there must be no fighting;

2. no throwing of tantrums; and

3. everyday, they have to spend half an hour doing homework (I know, I am such a kill joy).

“Else, you risk being thrown overboard to be fed to the sharks” I told them (ha ha ha, like I would do that).

Being stuck together for 24 hours a day would inevitably result in some conflicts. This is accentuated when there is no place to hide or get some time-out. On the last night of our cruise, I found Joseph standing in a corner, fidgeting with Clarissa’s new toy: a plastic camera with pre-taken pictures of sea creatures! A novelty that I had granted after our visit to Sentosa Island’s underwater world.

Joseph was trying to pull out the plastic coated film frantically. Then I realized what had happened: While Clarissa was in the bathroom, Joseph had taken the camera, without his che che’s permission and my knowledge, to play with it. Unfortunately, he had inserted the film the wrong way, and it was stuck. I went over and asked him innocently “What are you doing?” “I am trying to pull out the film!” his usual loud voice was replaced with an amazingly soft reply, almost inaudible. “You didn’t ask for permission to play with it right?” I probed further. “No, I didn’t” he replied, with an angelic smile that could make any mothers melt!

Forgetting the point of this lesson, I took the camera from him and tried to pull it out as hard as I could. As I heard Clarissa turned the door knob, I pulled even harder, whispering a prayer and giving an unconscious shout! Just as she stepped out from the bathroom, I succeeded! Under my breath, I told Joseph not to touch it again, without Clarissa’s approval.

On retrospect, I realize that as grown-ups, we are very much similar to kids. When we sin, we try to cover up by doing good works, donating to worthy courses, making sacrifices to our God(s), praying more etc. The heart of the matter is: when we commit a sin, we need forgiveness. It didn’t matter what we do, our sin still stay. Just as Joseph had tried very hard, he couldn’t solve his problem that resulted from his sin (of not obeying his sister). He needed someone else to stand in for him.

Only Jesus has the power and authority to forgive our sins. As the scripture tells us that Jesus bore our sins on the cross so that we could be whole again. Jesus came so that we could have life, addressing the heart of the issue. Joseph needed Clarissa’s and God’s forgiveness. All of us need God’s forgiveness and before He could forgive, we need to confess to Him - only then we could be set free and be complete again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Temptation

I have a soft spot for handbags, and in particular, Coach handbags. I love the feel of its leather and the smell emitted is not overly pungent, just perfect for my liking. Coach’s design is subtle, soft and practical.

Whenever I walk pass a Coach shop, my legs would turn jelly when I see their newest collection. If there is any billboard that would make me turn my head twice, it would have to be Coach. My admiration for Coach bags started back in my university years. Once, I stepped into Selfridges of London and fell in love with these bags instantly:- The themed display, subtle designs, high quality leather, coupled with the image projected (successful yet down to earth) had won me over, permanently.

I am not trying to advertise for Coach as I believe that each of us has our own idols. Ray goes goo gaa over cars, especially luxurious sports car. With such love in our lives, it is difficult to keep our focus in God, sometimes.

“I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.

Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”1 Corinthians 10

When God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, it was nothing short of miracles after miracles. Food was provided, literally from the sky, as the people had to keep moving in order to reach their Promised Land; Water was supplied as and when required; Pillar of cloud appeared during the day to guide their ways so that they will not be lost; Pillar of fire appeared at night for their protection; Parted the Red Sea when the people reached the edge of the water, pursued by the Egyptians. Yet, the people were not satisfied with God! They were swayed by other loves in their lives, which on my hindsight is insignificant compared to God himself!

Despite my love for material stuff, I must be careful not to lose sight of God, His commandments and promises. Its one thing to enjoy His creation and providence; but quite another to make an idol out of them! Indeed, may I be constantly reminded by Israelties, so that I will not fall like they did.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Purpose of A Plastic Jellyfish

As it turned out, just 3 days before Joe was due to perform in his school’s concert, he was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease! I was indifferent as to whether he performed but I was glad to know that he had managed to recite his speech without any hiccups. I guessed it was God’s will that he missed the concert and for me to be engaged in something else…

During the period that Joseph was sick, he couldn’t eat, drink nor talk! I took half day leave for that week so as to ensure he was drinking enough at home. A mother’s stern voice is more effective than a maid’s continuous nagging. At the same time, I found my hands engaged in making crafts for the up and coming vacation bible school at our church. First, I was exploring the different ways that jellyfish could be made and much to my dismay, there are so many if not too many options available in the internet. In the end, I opted for a fusion method and it turned out to be a disaster as Ray aptly put “What is that? It looks horrible!” Lesson learnt: Never asks a man for an opinion on an “art object”, unless you are prepared for the worst!

After re-doing the jellyfish and gaining marginal acceptance from my partner, I proceeded to prepare 16 pieces of the jellyfish. Nearing the end, I started to ask myself “What is the point of making these jellyfish when they will be discarded after VBS? I should really spend more time preparing for the lessons” (as I had volunteered myself to be an assistant teacher for the kindy class)

God knew that I would doubt myself and my craft; in the day preceding, I was blessed with the following verses from the bible:

“For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body. If the foot says, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” It does not lose its membership in the body because of that. And if the ear says “Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that…But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided” 

Although I may not see it, I am created for a purpose; just as the jellyfish is created to be displayed for only 5 days! As long as we shine for God, the duration of our lifespan didn’t matter, its the intensity that counts. Being a part of the VBS team, I may have some nominal jellyfish but when these are combined with the fish, boomerangs and other crafts, we will have an Australian-themed room for the children! God is present in the room, ministering to the children and the teachers. May this VBS brings forth shower of blessings to all who attend!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Very Fine Line

My recent visit to Joseph’s school administrative office was out of desperation. “Ms Teoh, I am at wit’s ends! I don’t think I could do it!” I exclaimed. As usual, the calm and reassuring Ms Teoh would tell me that there is still one more week to go and, by then, Joseph would be fully ready for the concert and his speech would be fine. “Exactly, one week is inadequate!” I whispered to myself. “Can’t you take him out for the speech or give him something simple with just a couple of words?” I asked earnestly. “No, when a child volunteered for giving a speech, we will not turn him down and the speech given to Joseph was one of the simplest!” she replied with a smile.

I stood there with my full 4 years of Joseph’s CVs to convince Ms Teoh but somehow, I know that I would get no where. There is a fine line between reality and miracle. Being a parent, I believe that being realistic is good for both the parent and the child. This way, I don’t have to stress myself out in getting Joseph to do something that cannot be achieved, realistically. Here is Joseph’s speech for my challenge:-

“Good evening dear parents and friends. My name is Joseph Wong and I am from 4 year’s old class. Today, my character building is Sincerity:-
  1. I will be all that I can be;
  2. I will respect other’s opinions;
  3. I will not take advantage of others;
  4. I will always mean what I say;
  5. I will take responsibility for my own actions.
Thank you”

My legs turn into jelly when I first saw the speech! However, since there is no way I could convince him to back out (as he seems very determined), I have decided to have faith and pray for a miracle, specifically, I am now trusting God to work in Joseph. Afterall, God is supposed to be a better parent than me.

There were days that Joseph would come back from school and tell me that his friends laughed at him. “Well, Joe, you have to pray and ask God to give you courage and strength. When friends laugh at you, you will not be upset or be afraid.” On other times, he confessed that he still could not remember his speech. “Joe, from tonight onwards, we will both pray to Jesus and ask Him to help you to remember, ok?”

Two days ago, Joseph finally did it! He managed to rehearse his speech without any hiccup! Through this, God taught me a valuable lesson: Miracle is God at work. There is no co-incidents, no ad hoc event or “it just happened!”.  The fine line between reality and miracle is where our eyes are laid: either on our circumstances or on His ability.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Refuge

This is for Angeling, my friend who is facing some major decisions in life…

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge, his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge, then no harm will befall you, no disaster will com near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

(Extracted from Psalm 91)

Ready for an adventure?

Recently, I attended a sports carnival organized by the local council in Kampar. The emcee of the event went up to one of the participants and asked if he believed in miracles. He answered a firm “no”. I was taken aback by both the answer and the person answering it. He was only a student and yet his view in life is cynical.

If I was given the question, I would have said yes straight away. The events that took place in my life for the past 6 months had been nothing short of miracles. I summarized them here again:-

  1. Clarissa recovered from H1N1 within 1 day;
  2. I didn’t contract the virus despite the fact that I was with her 24/7;
  3. I was healed of sinus myself! I have not been taking any medication since end of July;
  4. My dear friend Liz was healed of her stage 4 lung cancer (see Liz's Adventure);
  5. Joseph has been undergoing tremendous changes in his character.
God is at work in our lives; in fact, the scriptures say that not only is He watching over those who know Him, He also watches over those who do not know Him.

A few years ago, when I was still working in the field of Corporate Finance, my colleague MC confided in me that she could not conceive. She had consulted 2 different specialists and was offered 2 options: She could either give up having children or spend a fortune on trials but there was no guarantee. At that point in time, I was conceived with Clarissa and could truly empathize with her. “I will pray for you” I told her as those were the only words I could say. 6 months later, she got pregnant! “How did you manage to get pregnant?” I couldn’t hide my surprise. “I am also not sure” she said with a broad smile. And the miracle didn’t stop there. Now 7 years on, she is a proud mother of 2!

I met up with her during this period and told her that it must be God who is working in her life. Although she couldn’t deny this fact, especially when the specialists had not offered any hope, she couldn’t bring herself to God totally too! The fact is God works miracles in our lives. May it be addictions, infertility, sickness, bitterness, relationship problems, when we bring them to God, He will do something about them for sure, because He loves us. We may be powerless to change our circumstances or the people around us, we can definitely turn to God just as we are.

If you have a need, irregardless of whether you accept Jesus as your saviour, try this prayer:-

Dear God, I don’t know what to do but I have been pushed to my limits. I have problems that I can’t solve (say them out one by one). I am tired of trying and I would like to come to you to give you my load. Help me, give me strength, give me wisdom, give me healing. Show me that You are for Real. Amen.”

Then, buckle up and be prepared for a great adventure coming up in your life! 

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Need a New Pair of Eyes

When Joseph’s teacher, Ms Teoh, informed me that he has volunteered to give a speech on his kindy’s concert day, I was more than eager to offer reasons why he couldn’t make it:-
  1. in the last 2 concerts, he was either crying or distracted on stage. Therefore, it would be unlikely that after 1 year, he could “transform” into a mature being;
  2. he had a poor memory, as with all men (sorry guys) and would take more than 2 weeks to memorize 5 long statements;
  3. he has poor pronunciations skills. Words like “responsibility” and “opinion” are just too difficult for a 4 year old;
  4. he may appear mature in school but in “reality” at home and especially in front of his mummy, he is immature and loves to stomp his feet and cry endlessly when upset;
  5. I don’t think I could practise with him as so far, after 2 minutes of practice, he would end up stomping his feet;
  6. I really don’t think I can “make” him behave on that day and spill the 5 long statements without making mistake.
Guess what Ms Teoh had to do after I had spilled the beans? She called Joseph’s class teacher and together, both of them had to assure me that Joseph could do what he had set out to do! “As his teachers, we have observed that Joseph had a major breakthrough in the past year. Despite how he had behaved in school previously, he is now a big brother in his class, taking care of others and doing his work independently. So, don’t worry Mrs Wong, we believe that your son could do it!” Ms Teoh said confidently.

Such assurances from the teachers took place not just once but twice in the past week! The final straw came when I had to attend my 2nd VBS training last weekend. This time, I met not one but two of Joseph’s Sunday school teachers. Having seen and experienced how Joseph had behaved in their class, both of them nodded confidently that he would do well in his concert.

I felt ashamed of my lack of confidence in my own son. I might have 4 years of mis-behaviour to back up my theory but unfortunately, this has prevented me from seeing the real characters in Joseph that have developed gradually over time. In this instance, my own eyes have deceived me!

This reminds me of how I was before I became a Christian. I had my own ideals, my own interpretation of God based on what people said and what I read. However, little did I know that what I had believed in could be wrong, until I set out to seek out the truth! In this part of my journey, God chose to use Joseph to show me that my eyes could betray me! Rather, I must see Joseph from God’s perspective and not my own.

That’s why we live by believing and not by seeing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lesson from the Carpark

After being caught in a torrential rain 2 days ago, I am now down with a bad cold and a headache which is slowing turning into a migraine. Today is one of those days that I could neither pray nor read the bible. I felt a constant army of discharge coming on from my nose as soon as I am upright and if I were to move one inch, I could feel my head pounding. In fact, I was downcast and irritated. The only thing that I felt like doing was sleeping; and if either Clarissa or Joseph were to make a demand from me, they know that my answer would not be favorable.

Of course I believe in healing but somehow, today, God didn’t intend for me to be healed instantly like He did for Clarissa. As I was lamenting how miserable I felt throughout the day, it was already dinner time! I felt distant from God as I had blew my top off a couple times in front of my children and Ray; Therefore,  I was even beginning to accept that as my punishment, my sinus is returning. Somehow, my headache has affected my “antenna”.

Over dinner, my spirit was dampened with guilt and was hoping that this day would end soon. As we got into the lift to get to the carpark, Ray had forgotten which floor the car was parked. While we were moving from one floor to the next in search of our car, Ray had walked well ahead of me; Joseph and Clarissa were following closely behind. I was dragging myself slowly with no sense of directions or whereabouts.

Suddenly, my eyes were opened. I saw Joseph and Clarissa dashing across the parking lanes while Ray was too far ahead to hold their hands; and I was too far behind to catch up. As I called out to Ray that the kids were running in the car park with no adult supervision, he realized the danger of moving cars and took their hands. Before I could sigh with relief, Ray found our car and opened the car door just barely 1 cm away from hitting Joseph’s head!

My headache was still there but it was no longer significant; I realized that at that very moment, none of us could have prevented any accident from taking place; only God can. God is in full control of our lives even when we think otherwise. Today, I am very grateful that He protected my children from unforeseeable harm. To describe this aptly, I am quoting my friend, Mr Liew’s email:-

“The agape love of God says, “ I don’t care what you do. I don’t care who you are. I will love you. I will seek the best for you. I will seek the good things for you. I will seek to do the good things for your life. I will lift you up and will bless your life. I will make you a better person than you are. I want to make you better than you are.” That is the agape love of God. It is eternal, it never changes”

No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nothing present, nor things to come, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love (agape) of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Different Perspective

It has been sometime that I had wanted to serve in Vacation Bible School (“VBS”) but dealing with children has never been my strength. Therefore, I have let the opportunity slipped on numerous occasions until now. During VBS’s promotion to recruit helpers this year, not only did my children spend a long time in front of the booth, they also gobbled up countless number of sausages served. In between her bites, Clarissa asked if I was going to help out. I could feel my cheeks turning red when I saw how much she has eaten but the crunch came when a thought surfaced “Surely if I could deal with Joseph, I could deal with any child?” That was when Sue passed me a form, and without another thought, I signed my name. Almost immediately, I felt a butterfly fluttering within. Finally, I am taking the plunge, out of my comfort zone.

When the first VBS training session took place, I was both relieved and happy to learn that I have been assigned to assist Wee Lee, someone whom I knew for more than 10 years but never quite had the chance to catch up until now. While we were making small chats about our children, Wee Lee asked if Joseph was in the nursery class for Sunday School. “Oh, Joseph Wong is an independent child. He would sit down and do his work quietly until he finished; while his peers would be distracted or playing with one another.” Co-incidentally, Wee Lee is also Joseph’s Sunday School teacher! My heart was filled with awe for God when I heard this. First, I was truly amazed that God has brought me to VBS so that I could catch-up with an old friend. Second, God was speaking through Wee Lee, telling me that “Hey, I am not done with Joseph. I am still at work in his life. Can’t you see it? Well, you should by now, as even his teacher could see it! I have heard your prayers for Joseph and I am doing something about it.”

I was fighting back my tears when I heard that my Joe is very well-behaved in Sunday School. And to show me a different perspective, God nudged me to sign up for VBS via Clarissa and placed me with Wee Lee. I would say that this is definitely a divine appointment, won’t you?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Give Me 40 days! By Freeda Bowers – A book review

This is one of the best devotion books I have read, although technically, we are supposed to give God all of our days, I am glad that Freeda encouraged her readers to dedicate 40 days to God, to especially seek Him for certain issues in our life.

What drew me to this book was not the magic “40” but rather, a few months ago, Liz in her blog also mentioned about this book. At that point in time, Liz was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and Clarissa was quarantined for H1N1. Since I was also quarantined with her, I had time to kill, so picking up a book and dedicating 40 minutes a day for 40 days at that point seemed achievable.

Now that my 40 days are over, I could say that it is one of the best moments of my life in terms of quality time with God.  This has nothing to do with my spiritual state (as it was dry and stale) but everything to do with His grace and love. I thank God for helping me to experience His healing and providence over this period:-
  1. Clarissa was healed of H1N1, within 1 day literally;
  2. I didn’t contract the virus although I was with her 24/7;
  3. I found new strength to pray more fervently for my love ones;
  4. Clarissa started to grow spiritually, and even witness to her cousins from China;
  5. I developed a more discipline time to spend with God in reading His words and praying;
  6. Although there were times I felt discouraged, I could experience renewed joy and strength every time;
  7. I started to spend some time each night to have daily devotions with Clarissa and Joseph;
  8. I find myself to be more joyful and positive.
God reminded me that He is our healer, our provider and our strength. Please don’t get me wrong, that giving God 40 days is a short cut for spiritual growth; Rather, it is a beginning for finding yourself in God again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

History, to Read or Not to Read?

If there were one subject that didn’t add any meaning to my student life, it would have to be history. Studying history has to be one of the most mundane brainwork that I have ever encountered: Memorizing dates, events, places etc. The worst part was, my teacher didn’t tell me why it was important to learn about History; and in Singapore where I did my O-Levels, there wasn’t much depth introduced apart from WW1, WW2 and how Raffles City came about.

Recently, I discovered someone in the bible who shared my sentiment. His name is King Belshazzar (or King Bel for short). His grandfather King Nebuchanzzer had established Babylon to be the strongest nation of his time and during King Ned’s reign, God had spoken and revealed Himself to the royal family, to the extent that King Ned proclaimed Him to his entire kingdom (in my blog What Is It Gonna Take?)

Now, meet King Bel who was throwing a royal banquet for his dignitaries, wives and concubines. His intention for this party was to scorn his enemies and despise God! Outside the city wall, the enemies’ troops were gathering for the imminent attack on the seemingly impenetrable city. High on spirit, King Bel ordered for sacred gold and silver cups, which were used by the Israelites in the temple for offerings, to be filled with wine and served to his guests. While they were happily praising the gods of gold and silver, a dismembered hand started to scribble on a wall. King Bel was initially too drunk to stand; now, he was probably too frightened to be able to stand. God’s judgment on King Bel had come and without giving him seven years to repent like King Ned, King Bel’s kingdom fell on the very night.

When I read about King Bel, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t take time to learn from his grandfather. After all, there must be people, books or even letters written to tell King Bel of God’s sovereignty, which should not be tampered with. Whatever the reason might be, he chose to reject God despite all that He had done. Babylon was a fortified city with high walls all around, very much like the Great Wall of China, only higher and wider! Yet at that very night, the city fell.

History was meant to forewarn and teach us so that we will not make the same mistake as our forefathers did.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guaranteed Guilt Free

For a long time, I couldn’t understand why Jesus had to die for our sins, and to add on to this, we have to believe in Him in order to experience salvation and eternal life. I was brought up believing that if we do good deeds, we stand a chance to go to heaven, else the next stage of my life could either be hell or becoming a humble animal, like mouse.

Both are theories that I found quite hard to fathom. To begin with, I didn’t ask to be born so that I could make such decisions. I was confused with issues like if I believe in reincarnation, then should I question who I were first to get to who I am now? Or, who decides which theory is right anyway? My late uncle, who was an atheist, liked to engage in the discussion of the “technical aspects” of all religions. In fact, I considered him to be one of the most well read people I knew; and his conclusion was “the purpose of any religions is to teach us to engage in good deeds and maintain high moral standards”.  However, on his death bed, his wish was that his grandchildren be brought up as Christians.

One thing I did now for sure was I had a burden, making up of a cocktail of sins, guilt, hurt and rebellion against my loved ones. In my heart and mind, I really wanted to be a righteous person but somehow, my actions betrayed me. And the guilt thereon kept on accumulating and I could feel the load. I could not help myself to be a better person and neither could I get rid of my load. Then I found the answer in the bible:

“As far as the east is from the west, so He removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us”

It was as though God cared that I was carrying a guilt load and He knew that this has to be removed, before I could start my life anew again. The removal of guilt could only be done supernaturally by God, not via human means. We could choose to ignore it and distract ourselves by other issues in our lives but we are powerless to remove guilt.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took away both our guilt and sins, so that we could start life anew again. God initiated our salvation and accomplished it. Now, He gave us a choice to decide, whether to accept or reject the gift of salvation. My heart had come home; my burden lifted.

“Now to one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but to obligation. But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited righteousness.”

When we choose to believe in Him, that Jesus came to save us, so that we would not perish but have eternal life, God proclaim us to be righteous.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Beware of our words

Recently, I have been busy dealing with bad publicity in relation to one of our subsidiary companies. I decided to do a google on the company, and guess what? The search that came up 1st was a blogger who complained about our management service! As I took time to go down the list (that lasted nearly 2 days), I realized that there were numerous positive remarks made by others but the one that drew the most attention, was the blogger who complained!

A friend commented to me “Bad news spread like wildfire” How sad but true! Centuries ago, King Solomon wisely wrote:
 “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose”.
We may not be aware of this, but what we speak can kill or give life. And in this secular world where people are willing to pay for getting the latest gossips, bad news seem to “sell” better than good news! This is in direct contradiction to what the bible teaches, as we are called to speak life and positive words.

For some time, I find it hard to believe that positive words could have such power until I tested them on my son, Joseph. Instead of my normal replies “I am not happy with you kicking Clarissa today”; I have decided to embrace some positive words “I am very happy that you have kept your toys” and “I am very happy that you have not stayed angry for a long time”.

Gradually, I notice that Joseph became more receptive towards what I had to say. The best part of it is, he starts to speak positive words too! Whenever we traveled by car, Joseph has a tendency to bring his toys, more than his hands could carry with him. The worst part would be when the car is moving, Joseph would drop one of his many cars. Normally, I would need to twist and turn, get myself into all kinds of awkward positions in order to retrieve the toys for him. However, this came to a point when I was getting car sick and I had to tell him firmly that he will not be getting his fallen toy until the car had stopped. For a few months, he would be crying and screamming his head off. Finally, in our last trip, the same thing happened again. Before I could tell him the “bad news”, he said “Daddy, when you stopped the car, could you pick up my toy?” 

Speaking positive will bring about positive changes to both the person who said it and the one spoken to. And to stay positive (as this may not come naturally), is to read His words and dwell in His promises as by so doing, we could find strength, both mentally and physically.

“No human being could subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. From the same tongue came blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters”

Monday, September 28, 2009

Up Close and Personal

Many years ago, I was told by my brother, who was then pursuing a degree in Engineering, that there is a perfect distance between the Moon and the Earth. In fact, if the Moon were to be any nearer, the Earth could be subjected to monumental disasters such as flood that could wipe up the entire mankind. The same theory applies to the Sun. The perfect distance between the Sun and the Earth meant that earthlings can live and grow vegetation for consumption. Somehow, the gravitational forces among the planets are in perfect harmony. Not an inch more or less. Such intricate accuracy is necessary to ensure the survival of mankind.

Recently, I watched the movie “Knowing” starring Nicolas Cage. I realized that scientists themselves marveled at the fact that every planet is in perfect distance from the Sun. There is an unseen force governing the rotational of each planet and the distance among them. In the movie, the Sun “overheats” thereby destroying the earth. Even the temperature in the Sun is in perfect balance.

Numerous program in the History Channel are dedicated to the study of natural forces and draw the same conclusion that Someone Greater Than Us are at work. In fact, there was one particular program that maps comparison between the prophecies in the Bible and the disasters that are happening around us. I am not sure if the producer were a Christian but the conclusion that spins off from the program was: “So far the Bible had proven itself to be true, in forth telling future events but at the very end, Christians believe the end days will come, that they would have to stand before God, for judgment.”

As surely as the sun rise from the east and set in the west, God exists, irregardless of what we think. For me, since He exists and He said He exists, I might as well believe in Him! Recently, a friend shared with me her problems and I said I would pray for her. She replied politely “Oh, but that’s personal, I wouldn’t want my personal problems to get in your way!” But this is it! The God of Universe actually wants to get involved with our lives and our problems. In fact, He has demonstrated that He wanted to get “His hands dirty” by sending Jesus to us, to go through what we go through, so that He could minister to us!

Would any sound parent say to his new-born baby “Ok, so you did a poop! But you know what? You should get it cleaned yourself as I really don’t want to get my hands dirty” Of course not! When our accident prone toddler was beginning to walk, would we turn to the child and say “Now it’s the time for you to learn to walk; I will be standing by the side and you just go on ahead?” Not a chance! We would probably hold their hands, and walk countless times (even beyond exhaustions!). This is the way our Heavenly Father parent us. He holds our hands when we are going to fall; carries us when we are too tired to continue. Parenting originates from Him!

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful; he is patient and demonstrates great loyal love”

Therefore, let us not hesitate in bringing our problems to Him, however great or small.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

No Shortcut Please!

The past 2 months have been a wonderful time for Clarissa. First, she contracted H1N1 and experienced God’s healing within 24 hours, literally; then, she witnessed God’s protection over the entire family including mummy, the one who was most likely to be sick since they were quarantined together for 24/7.

Her faith started to grow and little by little, she was applying the power of prayer over her school life. Ms Ng, her form teacher, is unusually strict and stern. She has a tendency to apply capital punishment on the entire class even though there were only a handful of culprits responsible. On numerous occasions, Clarissa managed to escape scorch free, miraculously through prayer.

Then, without my knowledge, Clarissa was bold enough to apply the power of prayer in her spelling! In her school, it is normal to get 20 new Chinese characters for each spelling session and on average, each character has more than 8 strokes! I for one would have difficulty in reproducing these words without practice but my dear daughter thought that with prayer, there was no need to revise and the words could just come to her, naturally.

When I reviewed her spelling book, I was shocked to learn that she scored a mere 20%! This was the first time she had fared so badly. Upon interrogation, she confessed that she had only “prayed” about it! I was tempted to laugh about her silliness but almost immediately, I was reminded that I too failed in my own ways.

Having become a Christian, I took God’s grace for granted. On countless occasions, I had traded newspapers for the Bible, exchanged entertainment times for quiet times, and to top it all, I thought it was alright to occasionally sin, since I am already saved!

As Paul put it aptly: “So then my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, more so in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence”

In order to be aligned with God and His will, we have to continually obey Him, read His words and spend time praying in His Presence. If we fail in any of these, how could we live a righteous life effectively? Afterall, a snowball begins with a single snow flake. If we are not on guard on the little things in our life that are unpleasing to God, then in time to come, these could develop into a bigger sin.

I was especially saddened when my non-Christian friend Angeling confided in me that her husband might be having an affair with a married Christian woman! I was completely speechless.

“The Lord knows those who are His. Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness”

We could laugh about our children silliness; but our own sins or failing to lead righteous lives are definitely no laughing matter to God. I would truly appreciate your prayers for Angeling and the other Christian.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Welcome to Kampar!

I received an unexpected visit from Joseph kindy’s principal. While we were talking about the business and Malaysia's economy, I couldn’t help but to bring up the problems I face with Joseph. “Joseph? He is a very stable and independent boy. He likes to ask questions and chat with his teachers.” If I hadn’t known Christine for close to 3 years, I would have insisted that she has got the wrong boy. Before I could voice my surprise at his prefect-type behaviour in school, the bullets start to come!

“However, when Joseph first came to Fungates, he was, in my experience, the most difficult child to deal with!” She went on to elaborate how every day for 6 months, she had to hug Joseph, who was then 2, so that he will not hurt himself, roll on the floor or create a disruptive scene for others. Normally, based on her experience, a new student would only take 2 months to settle down. Christine, being a fervent Christian, would take time to pray over difficult students and when it comes to Joseph, she was at wits’ end! In fact, during that period, she had stopped wearing accessories as Joseph would end up tearing them apart! I could feel myself sinking into my seat, hoping that the chair could spread its wings to cover me!

When we first moved back to Kampar 3 years ago, we had difficulty in locating a good kindergarten. After much hunting, Ray decided that we should send our children to Fungates in Ipoh! Therefore, for one whole year, there would be a frantic parent driving 160km a day just to send their preschool children to Ipoh. It was regarded as madness by many but to us, we felt that we made the right decision as we had wanted Clarissa and Joseph to focus on character building that was only available under Fungates syallabus. However, the traveling started to take a toil on us and 1 month after we had started, I asked Christine if she might consider starting a branch in Kampar. She had received previous requests before but as she was expanding her kindy in Ipoh, she didn’t have time nor the resources to consider a branch that is 40km away.

After 6 months of clogging up road miles, I approached Christine again with the same request. To my surprise, this time, she said she would think about it! “And you know, at that point, Joseph was still crying. He was loud and disruptive. By the time he settled down, half the day had gone!” she said to me. “There was a parent from Kampar who sent her hyperactive child to us as no kindy in Kampar could take him. Under my care and praying hands, the boy settled down within 2 months but Joseph, he was quite a handful!” she continued. “I asked God if there were something wrong with my teaching methods, my prayers etc. Therefore when you asked me to come to Kampar, I told God that if He could made Joseph stop crying, I will definitely consider as I know that He is really speaking to me!” The next day, Christine was late to school but she asked her staff if Joseph were difficult and much to her surprise, Joseph “decided” to stop crying! In fact, from then on, Joseph had stopped crying endlessly but would merely whine.

I was really humbled when Christine related the incident to me as I had no idea what they had to put up with then, although I did suspect that Joseph was difficult. Now, 3 years on, Christine runs the biggest kindergarten in Kampar that is not only well received locally but attracts students from satellite towns and villages. Her testimony truly warms my heart as she concludes “Your son has brought me to Kampar!”. I couldn’t believe that God had used Joseph to speak to her but then again, nothing is impossible with God!

The Antenna is Working!

Yesterday, the day that I blogged about Joseph’s short circuit (labeled as Joseph’s Baggage), he asked me about watching TV again before his bedtime. As I was bracing myself at his “bring down the house” response, I told him “Yes, you may…” and before I could continue, he quickly chipped in with a broad smile “I know, I am supposed to watch for 10 minutes only, right?”

What? There was no stomping of feet? No unbearable cries that led my neighbours to believe that someone in my house had been torturing a child for the last "n" months!!! I could almost sing Handel Messiah chorus "Hallelujah!" Finally, Joseph's antenna is working properly! I can hardly believe it! It is too good to be true. To celebrate this special occasion, I did what an overjoyed mum would: to allow him 20 minutes of TV instead! God is slowing changing and transforming Joseph.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Joseph vs Curly

Lately, for some strange reasons, my mum has been making comparisons between my Joseph, age 4 and her Curly, a poodle, age 1.5. You could call it mothers’ kiasu syndrome but I actually find it quite entertaining! Yesterday, my mum went on again, saying that Curly has a clear sense of time; when its time to take her for a stroll, she would automatically wait by the door and get real bouncy when my mum starts to put on her shoes; Joseph, on the other hand, has been whining since morning about why his music class hasn’t started when his class is in the afternoon! The other hot topic is Curly’s good behaviour at home, never whining nor barking unnecessarily; Joseph, well, as expected, whines more than he speaks!

As his mother, I felt the need to defend Joseph! Afterall, he could write his alphabets and count up to 15. Surely these are stuff that Curly can’t do! More importantly, Joseph has been blessed to be given a free will to decide whether to obey his parents whereas Curly is just an animal with limited choices to make! I for one know that Joseph has been struggling to do the right thing. As with all children of God, we are all given a free will to choose.

Some of us choose to put our faith in Jesus; some choose otherwise. Some of us choose to obey our parents and adhere to the law; while others might not. In my opinion, the most sacred choice we could make is to choose our eternal home. As Max Lucado puts it aptly: “You can afford many wrong choices in life. You can choose the wrong career and survive, the wrong city and survive, the wrong house and survive. You can even choose the wrong mate and survive. But there is one choice that must be made correctly and that is your eternal destiny.” Such complicated choices are unavailable to our pet, Curly. But for Joseph, I pray that as he grows, he will make the right decision as to where he will spend his eternal life.

Joseph's Baggage

The only other person who could beat my pessimism in our family would probably be Joseph. Although he is only 4 years old, he has a truck load of child-like skeptism. A typical evening would be for him to whine about not being allowed to watch TV (despite having spent over one hour in front of Disney channel) before bedtime. Each time I would agree to allow him an extra 10 minutes of TV, but he would still think that I wouldn’t stick to my side of the agreement. Hence, he would upset himself (including those around him) by crying for half an hour about this myth that he has created! (which by the way, has already exceeded the extra 10 minutes that I gave him)

As much as I have tried to assure and even remind him that I have always stuck to my promise, Joseph insists on being upset. Somehow, in his brain, there is a short circuit which is beyond my reach and comprehension. His mindset is fixed in that whatever mummy said, the response is no although the answer is yes!

Through his character, Joseph humbles me and helps me to learn about my relationship with God. I could see myself in his shoes, complaining about the situation around me; Compared to many, I have much to thank God for but I was blinded as I chose to focus on the not so perfect situation in my life. Once I was so determined to prove God wrong that I wrote down a list of unanswered prayer against those He had answered. To my greatest amazement, He had proved me wrong instead.

At a recent talk by Beth Moore, she shared that a lot of us have our mountains to face. Some of us have the faith to pray for the mountains to move aside and the mountains (or problems) did move!; for some, there is a need to climb the mountain; for others, God may cut a path through their mountains (ha, a shortcut to solving our problems) and finally, there were some pessimists, like Joseph and me, prefer to cling onto our mountains! Our focus should always be on Jesus, and not on our problems, our unanswered prayers or our emotions, else we may miss out on experiencing the joy that comes forth from answered prayer! Its time to stop clinging onto our mountains and start allowing God to work!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Generation Blessing

As I saw my dad waving to his friend in a distant, he turned to me and said “Both his father and grandfather had worked with me before, we need to show kindness to this family and their children’s families continuously wherever we can”. Being a tin miner, it was not unusual that the whole family clan was working under one roof. Normally, the grandfather would have influenced his children so that when they came of age, they too would be involved in the business. This was how tin mining became a family tradition.

Now that tin mining has ceased, my dad still keeps in touch with people whom he used to work with and value the kindness he experienced. Little by little, he too is passing the family tradition to me, reminding me that one day if he were gone, I need to show the same kindness to his friends’ families. In a fast moving society, where attaining goals after goals are our main objective, my dad’s reminder comes like morning dew, refreshing the soul.

More importantly, I am reminded that there is One whose mercy extends from generation to generation as stated in the scriptures:-

“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation”

I will do well to seek His favour for the sake of my children so that for generations to come, they too will experience His goodness. Now that I have “future” in mind, I would need to be more careful as to how I live my life.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Slouching Old Lady

Envision a slouching old lady examining her wrinkled hand in a corner, hoping that no one would notice her. That was how I felt when I attended the ladies fellowship last Saturday, except that I wasn’t looking at my hand; I was tending to my stuffy nose. As my mind was preoccupied with analyzing my cold (whether its an allergy or cold or sinus!), someone I knew walked past and asked “Having a cold?” “No, its sinus!” I regretted as soon as the word was mentioned. Almost wanting to whisper in Cantonese “choy ! choy!” to myself, I realized how silly I must have behaved before God.

Prior to my sinus being healed, I used to have a dilemma every time I suffer a stuffy nose ie. “Am I having a cold or a sinus?” as this would determine the type of medication I take. Quite often I would end up taking both types! Now that God has healed me from my sinus, I am left with only the cold option right?

When the video session by Beth Moore started, I was completely taken away by what God did for the people of Israelites in the book of Joshua. It was as though God had anticipated that His people would doubt Him and fear for their enemies (like they always would), and therefore, He kept reassuring them and promised to go before them, to deliver their enemies into their hands. He began by speaking to their leader, Joshua:

“No one will be able to resist you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not abandon you or leave you alone. Be strong and be brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I the Lord your God, am with you in all you do”

These are such wonderful promises indeed! It’s almost like God is telling me that it didn’t matter that I couldn’t figure out about my stuffy nose, He is with me. As the session proceeded, I found that His Words and Promises were bigger than my problem and it came to a point that I had forgotten about my stuffy nose and at the end of the session, my cold was gone! That day was an important lesson for me as prior to that day, I would stay at home to nurse my cold (which under normal circumstances, would develop into migraine that would take 2 days to go away); but if I were to choose to seek God despite my infirmities, He will bless me in return.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Can’t Stop Crying

Unlike Clarissa who is demure and obedient, Joseph is rough, stubborn and in short LOUD. If his toys were not arranged in the same way that he had left it before he went to school, he would scream; If his transformers were 1mm out of position, he would cry; If his pasar malam stickers were a little crinkled, he would whine. I am really struggling with his demand for perfection behaviour. Almost every night, we would pray, together with him, about his anger management.

This night is no exception. He woke up from his afternoon nap and was upset that I had been to the park with Clarissa without him. He demanded my attention by crying non-stop. Based on experience, I know he will take about 1 hour to calm down; But tonight, I am not willing to give in as its puasa month, the maid hasn’t had her dinner yet and Joseph wanted her to stay with him until he had finished his dinner. Therefore, despite knowing that I would fail, I tried to reason with him; unknowingly, my tone of voice grew louder while his cries magnified manifold! Finally, I gave up and told him that as soon as he had finished his dinner, he must let kakak leave the room so that she could break her fast. He responded by crying even louder and that was the time I made my exit.

Ray and I went out for a quick bite, as I was worried that Joseph would still be clinging onto kakak. By the time when we got back, I was pleasantly surprised to find that kakak was “freed”. I brought some cut-up mangoes to Joseph and he smiled. “Mummy, I wanted to stop crying just now…but I can’t!” I could feel my tears gathering in my eyes. Before I could respond, he repeated himself again “I can’t stop crying! I wanted to, but can’t” " I sure know how that feels but its ok. Next time, you ask Jesus to help you ok?" I managed to reply. I realized that despite what I had thought, Joseph is actually fighting within himself! He knows what is right and he is struggling to do it!

“ For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”

As much as Joseph is struggling, I am also struggling daily with the same, knowing what is right and not doing it. God has started work in Joseph, helping him to manage his anger and disappointment; what a sweet reminder that both of us are still being molded by God.

Friday, September 11, 2009

How is your view looking like?

Years ago, my brother commented to me that swimmers who could do 100 laps would pant after just 2 rounds of jogging; the same theory applies vice versa. Being a medical doctor, he explained that the muscles of a swimmer is built differently from that of a runner. I love the water and have been swimming since young. However, now that we are in Kampar, the great outdoor offers much more than just doing lengths in a swimming pool: the scenic hills, the beautiful flowers, and most importantly, Clarissa enjoys cycling and going on rolling blades!

When I first started jogging, I was breathless after just finishing the first round. Well, my eyes were busy looking out for uneven ground and basically focusing on the pavers, ensuring that I wouldn’t trip and make a fool of myself. After 2 rounds in the park, my lungs would be heavy, dying for oxygen and my legs would feel like lead; while there are others who would speed past me and continue on with their nth rounds.

Once, both Clarissa and Joseph were jogging with me. They were running like wild leopards in all directions and me, the mummy, was chasing from behind, struggling to catch up. After 2 rounds, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t as breathless as before. The next day, I decided to try something different, instead of focusing on the ground and my next step, I focus on the hill in front of me. Suddenly, I realized that the park looked really beautiful; There were shrubs of colourful hibiscus lining up on my left. At the next turn, I saw a plot of welcoming sunflowers with students snapping pictures next to it. The playground was full of activities; the children were having a smashing time under the watchful eyes of their parents. As my eyes were eagerly taking in the view, I saw rows after rows of cherry blossoms look alike shrubs greeting me as I “zoomed” passed them. There were some grandparents too, feeding the fishes at the nearby pond with their little grandgems! Before I knew it, I had completed my 2 rounds quite effortlessly! In fact, I could feel a certain lightness in my feet, as though I could go on and on and on.

I have cracked it! The key to jogging (longer than you think you can) is to focus on the prize in front of you! For me, I was chasing the sunflowers at one point and cherry blossoms the next! I could almost feel their applause as I sped past them.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witness, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

All of us have a race to run; and to run this race well, we need to focus on Jesus in order not to be entangled by daily worries and mundane work. Oh and don’t forget to enjoy the spectacular view that God our Father has orchestrated specially for us, to spur us on our journey!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Hair Raising Incident

While we were on our way out for dinner one evening with Ray’s family, I made a quick escape to the ladies. Ray came looking for me as I was holding up the entire entourage, as usual.

While the search and wait were taking place in the house, an unexpected incident was brewing outside. Both Clarissa and Joseph were overjoyed to see their cousins who returned from Singapore; and without looking out for one another, Clarissa had jumped into Ray’s brother car quickly while Joseph, looking lost was left standing behind the Honda vehicle.

Kevin was going to reverse the car but my sis-in law, instead of sending a usual sms to inform me that Clarissa had followed them, decided to hop out of the car to tell me directly. It was then that she noticed that Joseph was standing behind their vehicle, at a blind spot!

When Thant Lynn related the incident to me, my heart skipped many beats and my eyes were warm with tears! I knew that at that very moment, God had sent His angels to Joseph, protecting him and at the same time, prompting Thant Lynn to come out of the car.

“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone”

God’s scriptures and promises to us are indeed alive and powerful. Thank you God for protecting Joseph even when we are not around to protect him.

A Child Disobedience

Lately, I have been struggling to get Clarissa to do her homework on time. She used to be self disciplined and would ensure that her heavy school work is done before dinner time. However, recently, I found that she is easily distracted by numerous stuff such as TV programme, magazines, our pet Curly and including my mum's cooking! Without realizing it, she had let the day slipped by and eventually, she had run out of time! As a result, her homework time started to encroach into her bed time.

I have limited patience and had tried to talk some sense into her, but to no avail. Finally today, I couldn't take it any longer and told her off in a loud voice. Then, I retrieved to a quiet place to "discharge" my anger and disappointment. Little did I know that I would be nudged by a still small voice "Why are you so hurt? She is just a child! You are my child but do you always obey me? You were disappointed because Clarissa did not do her homework on time, do you know how disappointed I am when you turn away from me?" I was dumbfounded as I didn't expect God to speak to me especially when I was angry. However, He is right. While picking on Clarissa's mistakes, I have missed out my own; while dwelling in my own disappointment, I fail to realize that I have also inflicted God with my disobedience

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Nagging Feeling

I haven’t had this feeling for a long time until I listened to the speaker talking about the way Paul greeted Timothy with “Grace and Peace to you”.

Memories of my childhood came flooding back to me. As a child, I was a rebellious girl and being the youngest, I tend to get away with a lot of stuff, such as disobedience and talking back to my parents. Outwardly I may seemed tough but in reality, each time I did something wrong, I felt guilty. I wanted to apologise to my parents but my mind would dictate me otherwise; while my heart would be weighed down with guilt.

Fast forward to my teenage years, I became aware of my guilt feeling even more; no matter how hard I tried to shake it off, the feeling just wouldn’t go away. It was as though a small voice was telling me “You need forgiveness”!?; If I had offended a school friend, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I could feel it; worst, if memories of my childhood came to visit, I would again be haunted by the same feeling. I could watch TV or read novels all day but ultimately, the guilt stayed.

For sometime I didn’t know what this meant until Vera, my housemate, shared with me about Jesus and the need for forgiveness. First time in my life I discovered the antidote to this nagging feeling. What I could not understand was: “Why did I need forgiveness from Jesus when I didn’t offend Him but the people around me?”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.”

Ultimately, only God has the power to forgive and remove such guilt in my life permanently; and to experience such deliverance, I need to come back to God and believe in Him. To my amazement, not only did I experience liberation from guilt but reconciliation with those whom I have offended, in particular my parents.

Experiencing grace (His forgiveness) and peace (being set free from guilt) for the first time was liberating! Thank you God for your sweet reminder that it was so wonderful to be free…from this nagging feeling!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wired Differently?

For the longest of time, I wanted to do a surgical dissection on my heart or brain. Well, I am trying to figure out why I am a pessimist. Since young, I have had loads of negative thoughts bombarding me and eventually, to my dismay, I am able to cook up most of such thoughts, quite effortlessly. Then, through my adulthood, my pessimism slowly, unconsciously, turned me into a skeptic!

In my previous employment as an auditor, when asked to list what were the disadvantages of one option over the other, I would have no problem coming up with countless no-goes. In fact, I quite enjoy “shooting things down”! But when the question was to list the positive aspects, I would have a problem! Its like my heart is fighting with my brain; my back leaning against a moving wall; and eventually my brain will be subjected to vigorous exercise and after much “thinking”, I might just end up with something vaguely positive!

For instance, if I were to come up with negative words beginning with the alphabet “s”, I would happily list: sad, sick, stagnant, skeptic, scheming, stern, serious …etc; but if I were to list something positive, erm, I need to think, sober?

I wonder if many people are like me. Although you may think otherwise, I don’t enjoy being a pessimist and skeptic. Its like a hurdle that I have to overcome every time I pray or hope for something better. God knows how to deal with my weakness. In fact the recent events in my life have shown me that it is always better to focus on something better. And the key to stay positive is to immerse myself in God’s words. This may sound too good to be true but it is actually God’s promise to us:-

“Do not let this Book of Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9

The Israelites, after they were delivered out of their enslaved lives in Egypt, arrived at the gates of the Promised Land and conveniently forgot about God’s goodness and faithfulness. Instead, they chose to focus on themselves, on how ill equipped they were for invasion, how poorly trained they were and how small they felt. I could almost see myself standing in the midst of them, asking Moses “Are you sure that you heard God correctly? We are used to being slaves, not warriors!” They had lost their focus on God.

Forty years later when the Israelites (now replaced by the younger generation, more eager and willing) arrived at the gates of the Promised Land, Jericho:-

Then the Lord said to Joshua “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its kings and fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, everyone straight in”

When I read this, my first thought was "Gosh, if I had known this 40 years ago, I wouldn't have thought what I did. Now, I feel like an idiot!" God will never give us a test to fail us; in fact, He will do all He can to make sure we pass with flying colours. The problems lie with us, our reluctance to believe, our unwillingness to remove our stare at ourselves and choose to focus on Him, who is greater. In this case, the Israelites had lost 40 years of good life by wandering in the desert. I wouldn't want to lose out on any time or blessing by being a pessimist or skeptic. Instead, I will choose to focus on Him and His word.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Clarissa's Little Miracle

One of the greatest gifts that God has given me is to watch Clarissa growing in faith. Being in Chinese school has its challenges, the tops being the heavy workload and the strict discipline, sometimes might I say, unreasonable punishment. For example, when Clarissa first started school, she told me that on average she would get disciplined twice weekly. She has hardly complained about such discipline, in fact, she seldom brought it up unless I probe. More usually than not, such discipline was given to the whole class for disobedience. Therefore, Clarissa (she is actually quite demure and obedient) gets punished as she is part of the class, so to speak.

Today is her first day back at school after one week’s break. She packed her school bag yesterday; I dread helping her to pack her bag as almost every time, I would miss out some books, resulting in her getting disciplined. Therefore, I have decided not to get involved in this “packing business”, except to help her “load” her pile inside the school bag.

When I picked her up from school, my habitual question would be “How was your day?” Today, her reply was far from the usual “Ok lah”; rather, “Guess what mum, I packed my bag wrongly! Today is Tuesday but I had packed Monday books!” she said. My immediate response was “O dear, how many times were you punished today?” my heart was swelling with sad thoughts. “You know ah, I prayed to God very hard today, that the teacher would not notice that I have forgotten my books. First, it was the PE teacher but thankfully, she didn’t use the text book. Then I continue praying for my English class. Guess what, my English teacher didn't notice that I didn't have my books! Praise God yah!?" she related her day happily.

I could feel tears welling in my eyes as I learn that my little girl is growing in faith! She knows that the best person to turn to in crisis is not mummy or daddy but her Heavenly Father! I can't be there for her all the time but God can; I can't perform miracles but God can. Thank you Heavenly Father for reaching out to Clarissa, meeting her where she needs most and where I can't be.



Monday, August 31, 2009

What Is It Gonna Take?

Over the weekend, I was reading about the great King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar (“Ned”). He was an egoistic king, one that was full of himself.
“I, Nebuchanezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions passed through my mind terrified me.”

As it turned out, God was trying to tell the King a message, that there is a greater King, one that is ruler of all mankind and of the Universe. King Ned was unusually prosperous; in fact, he was once hailed as a hero in Iraq and the Middle Eastern history, therefore, it was understandable that his head was pretty much stuck in the clouds. Yet, the Great King wanted to reach out to King Ned, giving him a message that could turn his life around. After 12 months of non-repentance, King Ned was stricken with a mental disease, turning him into an animal, feeding on grass, with hair growing like the feathers of an eagle and nails like the claws of birds.
He was driven out of his people until seven years later, God restored his mental health and Ned was reinstated to his former glory. At that point, King Ned finally acknowledged the King of Heaven: “Then I praised the most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation.”
What I marvel was the conjunction word “until”. God needed to teach King Ned a lesson and the word “until” promises forgiveness, deliverance and restoration! This is amazing indeed! As much as God took time to reach out to King Ned, now many generations later, in a different culture and context, God reaches out to us, to me. No one will escape His attention, no matter how small we feel, He is reaching out to us now. Believe me when I say that after 20 years of being a Christian, I still do not fully comprehend His love, that even my puniest problem does not escape His attention. Although I am no King Ned (who by the way, was responsible for the Hanging Gardens, one of the 7 ancient wonders), I am still His child, His sheep, whom He longs to care for, and bring back to the fold. When I walk astray, He will use people, scriptures, nature to bring me back. It took me a while to realize that God is working in my life; King Ned took seven years, how long would it take for yours?
“pray that you may be able to feel and understand, how long, how wide, how deep and how high His love really is”

Joseph, Humble, Kind & Thoughtful

Today, I was in the car with my sister in law CY.  She commented she will be running out of petrol in car soon. "Joseph will remind me ...