Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When Similarities Clash

Being the diligent one in the family, Clarissa could at times be overly demanding of herself and others. I know that she takes after me in this aspect. It is almost like watching myself scolding Joseph or getting upset when things didn’t turn out as she had anticipated. It was like a déjà vu!

Today, she had a whole unending list of complaints, ranging from how naughty Joe had been behaving, her heavy schoolwork, unreasonable teachers to how useless she felt! “I am useless, mummy! I can’t finish my work on time, resulting in you having to stay up for me” as she burst into tears. “Leave me alone!”she tucked in her head under her duvet, refusing to speak to me.

I was stunned as I realized that she had behaved exactly as I would have been: her choice of words and her action were my mirror reflections! If I were in her shoes, I would be pleading to be left alone when in reality, I needed comfort and assurance from my loved ones. Memories of my own struggles came flooding back when I was left alone to deal with my own emotions. I had hoped for comfort but didn’t receive any until I came to know Jesus. As a result, I had expected not only myself to deal with such conflicting emotions, but Clarissa to handle hers too, so that she could be like me: independent and unshakable!

Little did I know that Clarissa was growing into me! At the point when she hid herself in her duvet, I felt compelled to break the cycle as I felt the Holy Spirit gently nudging me to offer words of comfort. “I don’t know many comforting words” I told Him in my heart. “ Just try and the right words would come out” To my surprise, I heard my own voice in the room, telling her that whatever her feelings were then, she was being deceived. “You have always been good at your work; a mistake here and there does not mean that you are useless. In fact, Satan is the one telling you that you are useless, so that you would think that God or mummy didn’t care for you.” As she peeped out of her duvet with her tearful eyes, I realized that she had stopped complaining and started listening to my reasoning.

It would have been easier to walk away from her, and giving myself the excuse that she needed “space” to wallow in her misery and get over it. But it took God to convict my heart that I needed to minister to her, so that she would not become another “me”, hardened and impenetrable.

Later in the night, while we were doing our devotions, the topic of Satan implanting lies in us came up. “What lies had Satan told you recently?” I asked imploringly. “That my mummy doesn’t love or care about me.” She said “But now I know, its not true!” Once again, I am reminded of the reality of God, if He didn't comfort me when I was down, I wouldn't have the emotional resources nor the wisdom to comfort my own child.

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 3-4)

Worm in the Teeth

From young, Joseph had the tendency to pop in a sweet behind my back. Over time, he has developed not only a liking for sweets, but for chocolates and sweetened juices too. Every night before he goes to bed, he would indulge in 2 to 3 bottles of high sugar-content soya milk, before dozing off to sleep. Being No 2, I tend to be less strict with him and did not insist that he should brush his teeth after each intake.

Two months ago, I noticed to my dismay that he had tooth decay in one of his premolars. For the following few Saturdays, we had to bring Joseph to the dentist in KL:-

First Visit
Dr Eric managed to fix one of his premolars, but there were still 4 more to go! Towards the end, Joseph was whimpering.

Second Visit
Dr Elizabeth did two fillings and he was hysterical!

Third Visit
He was crying uncontrollably even before his name was called. Visit was rescheduled.

Fourth Visit
Sunday with a dilemma: to visit the dentist or to attend church? Fearing by now that his decay could have worsened, we decided to visit the dentist and pray that we would still be in time for church!

This time, mummy decided to pray for Joseph while at the same time keep reassuring the fearful boy that God will give him courage to sit on that incline chair. “God, I felt silly praying to you about Joseph’s teeth but there is no one else that I can turn to! If he doesn’t get his teeth fixed today, we would have to come back another week!” I was near to desperation as the number of hours that we have clocked at the dentist has become incredible. “And by the way, I would really love to attend church, as I have missed church for the past 2 months! I missed being in your presence with your people!” I pleaded to our Heavenly Father.

When we reached the clinic, we were disappointed to learn that the doctor was still on his way from home! It was already 10am and with 5 patients before us, it would be a miracle that we could get out of the clinic before 11am and to get to church in time. 10.15am, I saw Dr Khoo rushing into the clinic. “God, please help him to speed up fixing his patients’ teeth!” I prayed again. Within 20 minutes, 3 patients had had their turns. When Joseph name was called, I hurriedly got him onto that chair despite his constant whining. Dr Khoo came and inspected his teeth gently. I told him that Joseph didn’t like the drilling and the suction. To my surprise, Dr Khoo started to dig out the teeth “worms” using his metal hook apparatus. “I am standing in for Dr Eric who is supposed to be on duty today. Anyhow, I am now extracting the rotten bits manually, so that he is more comfortable.” He explained. Each time when some white bits was extracted, he would show Joseph and say “Oh, look at these nasty worms! There are so many of them! But don’t worry, they are now gone!” Much to my surprise, Joseph was able to sit through the entire session without putting up a struggle!

At that instance, I realized that God had heard my prayer and sent Dr Khoo (a speedy dentist) to the rescue! If it had been Eric, I was certain that Joe would have turned hysterical! By 11am, we were out of the clinic and on our way to church! I could almost hear God telling me “Fee, I love Joseph more than you do. Next time, don’t hesitate in asking me to help Joseph! I love to help little children! They are my treasure!” And of course, I have no doubt that God loves me too, as I get to worship in church on that day too! How wonderful is His love for us!

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Monday, January 18, 2010

Denying Myself Relearned

Now that both Clarissa and Joseph are capable of feeding and changing themselves, I have more time to indulge in doing stuff that I enjoy such as exercising, reading and even taking a nap. I have forgotten how life was like without kids until now. It was so easy for me to slip back to my “old life”. In fact, it came to a point that I would demand for my own space or my allotted time of peace and quietness. Should Clarissa or Joseph require any assistance (such as doing homework or fixing many of Joe’s transformers), they need to come back later; unlike previously, I would drop whatever I was doing to attend to their needs.

This is how much I treasure “my space”, as I would like to call it. As time passes, I find myself more demanding and less patient with them. Unknowingly, I have allowed “self” to rise above my children until one weekend, I helped served a difficult customer whose grown-up child was looking for an accommodation in Kampar and came to us for information.

“I totally disagree with the tenancy agreement drafted by your Company, are you sure its legal?” came the unusually loud voice. Seeing that the situation was getting out of hand, I went over, took a deep breath and said “ Yes, our agreement was drafted by a lawyer and had been in placed for the past 2 years” I replied meekly and firmly. “You guys are worst than Ah-Long, imposing such high charges for overdue rental..” the machine gun just couldn’t stop. “I am sorry that you find that this is so. However, our policy is in placed to discourage students from paying late; and at the same time, we are answerable to the landlord of the property” began my attempt at explaining. Just to make the customer feel better, I offered apologies and even suggested that he looked for alternative accommodation for comparison as politely as I could.

What transpired during the conversation wasn’t important; what I had experienced during that short span of time was more important. By his demands and unwillingness to accept reasoning, I was reminded of my self-centredness. Whatever happened to denying myself and carrying the cross each day? If I couldn’t deny myself for the sake of my children, how could I deny myself for the cross, for God? By denying myself, I have to put aside my self interests, pride, and anything that hinders me from drawing close to God.

Then he (Jesus) said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fans & lights (only)

Clarissa was excited that her school term has started again. This year, her teacher will be electing new class monitors and captains (the role of the latter is to collect homework books from each row before handing over to the respective teachers).

I could tell that she was looking forward to playing a role in her class. “Would you like to be a class monitor?” I asked tactfully. “No, because being a class monitor, I have to take part in speeches and singing competitions!” came her firm reply. After the 3rd day, she came to me if her usual choice of good news vs bad news.

“The bad news is that my teacher hasn’t selected me to be the class captain” she started off. “But, the good news is, I am now the lights and fans officer of my class!” Despite being in a café, I broke out in laughter. At the back of my mind, I thought the teacher was being polite and didn’t want to disappoint Clarissa and her enthusiasm. “How are you going to reach for the fan speed adjusters? You are not tall enough for those.” I said holding back my tears from laughing too hard. “Well, I have an assistant to help me with that.” She replied matter-of-factly.

At that point in time, I felt a gentle voice nudging (ok, I didn’t expect this especially when I thought this to be a very funny role). Flashes of bible verses about those who were entrusted with little, will be entrusted with much came to my mind. I realized that God had assigned this role for Clarissa and was pleased that she was taking it seriously (except for the mother who didn’t get it until now).

I was reminded to encourage Clarissa in taking up responsibility, whether big or small and to do it to the best of her ability.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much (Luke 16:10)

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Visit By Angels

Due to work commitment, we were in Kampar on most weekends in December. This particular weekend, I was looking forward to a quiet Saturday when out of the blue, Ray announced that his ex-colleagues are coming down to visit him. His exact words were: “Dennis and Josephine are coming down to bless our marriage!”

Now, this is something new and totally unexpected. In fact, I started questioning if there were anything in our marriage that gave away that we needed help!? I confessed that there were the usual tiffs of who should cut Joseph’s nails and get him ready for school. But, did God think that I needed help?

The hours of anticipation were over when Josephine and Dennis came to our house. They brought along a lovely banner, depicting the cross with two white doves bearing two hearts in the middle. Josephine shared that 2 weeks ago, they went to Taiwan to seek blessings on their marriage from God. Unknown to me, Josephine came from a family of divorces. In fact, both her brother and sister are divorcees. As a Christian, she strongly believes that family is of utmost importance to God and that Satan is all out to destroy marriages, so that he can draw people away from seeking God. Therefore, she decided to make a pilgrimage to Taiwan with her husband, Dennis. At the end of her trip, she felt called to bless others in their marriages and had brought back 2 extra banners, one for her church pastor and one for us!

I was truly touched by her enthusiasm and concern for our marriage. After her sharing, both Josephine and Dennis prayed for us and presented us with the banner, reminding us that God is watching over our marriage; that our union is God intended.

More importantly, I realized that God wanted to remind us that He loved us. As our Heavenly Father, He just want to bless us just as we would like to remind our children of our love for them, by showering them with hugs and kisses.

For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. Psalm 117:2

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...