Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Calling Abrahams

As I peered into the window, hoping to catch a view of what lied inside, I was moved not by the spider-web covered furniture, but more so by God's calling for this family to move to their "Promised Land". This room was my dad's study room when he was a child. He was born and bred in Meixian, China, a small town about 500km away from Guangzhou. The primary economic activity here used to be farming and planting crops. All was well until communism set in more than fifty years ago. Suddenly, landowners became overnight prisoners and criminals. The comfortable life they had was plunged into desperation and poverty.

During this period, God was watching and calling. He called my grandfather to leave China with my dad. Despite knowing that they may not come back alive, they took the risk and took a boat, heading south, to Malaysia, a foreign land with unkown tongue. Their promised land appeared to be Kampar, a land surrounded by hills and waters, very similar to the Hew village. Against all odds, they decided to build their homes here, away from their loved ones and comfort zone. They had worked hard to adapt to this country and establish their careers here.

It was then that I realized that God had a great plan for my family. If my grandfather and my dad had stayed on in China, we would not have the opportunity to know God; in fact, if it were not for our forefathers, all of us, Chinese Christians would have lost out on the most valuable inheritance ever, becoming children of God. Although my grandfather and my dad had no idea of the great plans that God had in stored, they were instrumental in being part of His plan. I marveled at how awesome God is! Truly, He knew us even before we were born! Praise the Lord!

Let us join our hearts in praying for China, that as much as we were the given the opportunity to know Him, may the people of China come to experience His salvation and His love.

"Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139: 16)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Good Guy vs Bad Guy – No in between!

Over the Chinese New Year holidays, I had the privilege of eavesdropping on the conversation that took place between my 5 year old and his cousin, Caleb who is 1 year younger. "Last night, I dreamt of the Tou Foo Cat. It was climbing…" shared Caleb. "Is that a good guy or a bad guy?" interrupted Joseph. "Tou Foo Cat is a good guy!" came the prompt response. I was amused by the urgency to discern between a good guy and a bad guy right at the beginning of every conversation that involved "made-up" superheros.

Both Joseph and Caleb are at a stage where getting the right guy at the start is more important than anything else that transpired in their little conversation. In fact, in their storyline, their good guy will go round saving people, possess the most power ever imagineable and is fully capable of overcoming the bad guy. The bad guy of course deserve every ounce of what he gets i.e. got kicked around and eventually died!

If I were to interrupt their conversation with cheeky suggestions such as the good guy could end up dying while the bad guy lived; or that there was the grey guy, who was neither good nor bad, I would immediately be banished from Joe's sight and labeled as "Naugthy Mummy!" Somehow, I am inspired by Joe's determination to glorify the good guy and condemn the bad one. In fact, I think its us adults that came up with grey areas in our lives, thus leading to confusion and eventual compromise.

Child-like belief and purity. This is what our Heavenly Father desires from us.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Homework Challenge or Character Building?

When I first became a parent, struggling with night feeds and napping times, I was told by someone who had a toddler that “So, having sleepless nights eh? Wait till she learns to walk and talk back at you!” Seasons came and seasons went. When mine became a toddler, I was overwhelmed with her food picking habits and reluctance to communicate. “Well, you think you are having a tough time? Wait till they go to school and you have to go through their school work!”

At the blink of an eye, I am now going through Clarissa’s school work and complaining of the amount of time that I have to spend with her. I have not sighed so much in my life until now! “If you think going through school work is tedious, wait till Clarissa becomes a teenager!” my sister-in-law shared her insight. Wait, before I get there, I have to grapple with the daily tormenting task of monitoring and tutoring.

Almost every day after work, I would put away my bags and get started with checking Clarissa’s schoolwork. I dread the time spent as I find it a real struggle to be patient with her. Sometimes, I have to deal with a tired girl; some days, a foul-mood child; other days, a distracted child. Finding a day that Clarissa would be happily settled down and seated next to me is close to striking a lottery (not that I buy one of course).

However, over time, I realized that the problem lies with me as much as it does with her. Before I demand that she change her attitude, I need to examine mine. An honest dissection soon reveals that I am overly impatient and demanding. My irritated voice and constant sighing probably propel her to feeling unmotivated more than anything else. I can’t change the way I am, not with my own strength. This is when I am reminded again that God is the one who could change me and grant me patience when it is needed most.

Slowly, I realize that on the days when I rely on God for strength and patience, my sessions with Clarissa turn out to be fun and fruitful; the days that I allow my own irritations to get the better of me, both Clarissa and I end up feeling sore about each other. Perhaps God is using Clarissa to change me, so that I could grow to be more Christ-like.

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A New Home

Since moving back to Kampar, all four of us have been sharing a room by default. Therefore, our bedroom is also the kids' playroom, tv room, entertainment room and occasionally dining room! However, in a few months' time, both Ray and I are looking forward to moving to a new house, where there will be more rooms and space to be shared among us.

To prepare the children for the big move, I have been telling them the advantages of sleeping in their respective rooms such as having enough shelves to put their toys and they would no longer have to fight over “who gets to put their toy on mummy's dressing table!”. Joseph was especially concerned about moving. “What about my toys? If I didn't bring all my toys over, kakak would end up selling them to the recycling man!” he exclaimed. Then, he turned and fixed his eyes on the Chinese New Year lights hanging at our car porch. “What about those lights?! I liked them very much and the new house would not have such lovely lights as these.” To conclude, he loves his “old” house more than his “new” house and suggests that we should continue to stay here!

I was both amused and surprised by his response. For a five year old, Joseph has given much thoughts about physically moving to a new house! “If only he knew how wonderful the new house would be” I thought aloud. “If only he knew that whatever he had in this present room was nothing compared to his new room!” Yet, he had grown to love his bed on the floor, adore his toys placed in plastic bags and draw on uneven carpeted floor!

We are no different from our kids. As we grow older, we learn to love the way of life on earth but forget that God has prepared a place for us in heaven. We fear death more than anything, as this means that we would have left all that we had behind, including our loved ones, our achievements and our possessions. But as Christians, we are immensely blessed as Jesus Himself had promised, that He was going away to prepare a room for us, thus offering hope and a new lease of life. Death is not the end but a new beginning with God and with all those who love them.     

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)

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...