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

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.

Joseph restoring joy to a friend

We were at a family retreat at Cameron Highlands. Children were having a fun time playing frisbees when one child, Ashton, threw the frisbee...