Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gratefulness


Every Wednesday, the night life in Kampar comes alive! The night market here sells a wide range of yummy food, such as the Taiwanese sausages, Ipoh famed salted chicken, Clarissa's favourite chicken fingers, Joseph's must-have-ice-jelly, Daddy's weekly treat of Cameron Highland sweet corns and Mummy's cheap supply of honey sweet mangoes! However, there is one set back – it always rains on Wednesday nights!

This Wednesday was no different. Having left the house with a promising sunshine to fetch the children back from their art & music class in Gopeng (another town 15 min drive away), we were greeted with dark clouds as soon as we entered Kampar. Soon, we could see small and sparse drops of rain on our car windscreen. My normal response would be "Oh well, we don't want to get ourselves wet and our feet muddy right? Let's head home." Today, after a period of absence at the night market, I made an exception. "We are going with our umbrellas!" both Clarissa and Joseph were delighted at my suggestion and were eagerly anticipating their purchases.

Once there, the rain began. Despite having our umbrellas and moving as fast as we could through the crowd, we were wet and our feet were, well, covered with sand. We made our intended stops at the stalls as fast as possible. At one point, a lady (who was my mum's friend) commented "Wow, you were brave (read crazy) to come with your children in this weather!" Our last stop was the mango stall. By then, I was struggling with holding my umbrella, carrying our goodies and keeping Joe inside the sheltered area. I could barely reach for my wallet without dropping any of our bags. "Well, this is it! I have spent all my money and we are soooooo wet!" I exclaimed to Clarissa as we headed back to the car.

Despite being drenched, the children were very happy with what they had bought. When we arrived home, Clarissa came up to me with a RM1 in her hand and asked "Mummy, where is your wallet?" "Upstairs. Why?" I said. "You have used up your money in buying things for us. This RM1 is taken from my piggy bank and I would like to give it to you to show that I am grateful for all that you have done!" she spoke like an adult, no, scratch that, she spoke like a saint! I was profoundly moved by what she said!

If I could have my way, I would relive the drenched moments just to get her to say this to me once more! I wonder when we show our gratefulness to our Heavenly Father, would His response be the same? Afterall, our thanksgivings may seem very insignificant compared to what Jesus had done on the cross for us. At that very instant, I felt that the answer is yes, God would be moved too. That was why He had used this sacred moment to reveal to me how a child's response could bring tremendous blessings to the parent. Thank you God for blessing me with Clarissa and yes, I would want to be grateful for everything that you have done for me because whenever I do so, You would beam with pride and pleasure!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Little Agitation


Its always the small things that get to me. For sometime in my heart, I have been "boasting" to God. "I am just really happy to be able to attend church, join in the worship and absorb the sermon. I am oblivious to church politics and the crisis that has been encircling our church. I don't have much to ask but just to dwell in Your presence!" so, I have been telling our Heavenly Father.

This Sunday was no different. As I was preparing to join in the worship, I saw from the corner of my eye, three foreigner helpers took seat behind me. Before I knew it, they were happily chattering away. As the chorus reached a crescendo, so did their voices. As soon as the song came to a halt, their conversation would end aptly, until the next song began. This continued for some time until I became really agitated. I couldn't hear any tunes except their foreign languages resonating in my ears. Instead of focusing on God, I began to focus on myself and the need to "worship"!

Well, I had a dilemma. "Should I go up to tell them politely to not chi chat during worship or should I continue to mentally block out the noises and focus on singing?". One side of me felt that I should "stand-up" for God and inform the three ladies that talking during worship was a form of disrespect to God; while my other side kept saying to me "What if I am wrong? What if they were not Christians and had come to church along with their employers, and worship was the only time that they could afford such exchanges!"

This went on throughout the singing session and suddenly, a thought, almost instilled by the Holy Spirit came "Don't do anything that you would regret for the next few days!" With that, I decided that my dilemma came to an end but not my frustration.

The very next morning, during my morning quiet time, I was shocked by the verse from Micah 6:8 that appeared:-

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
       And what does the LORD require of you?
       To act justly and to love mercy
       and to walk humbly with your God.

I sighed a relief, knowing that it was God who had enabled me to make the right decision during the worship yesterday. The best part was: I was actually worshipping by choosing to do what is right! When I related the incident to my other half, he replied wisely "Next time, you just have to inform me and I will exchange seats with you; or move to other seats!" However, I wasn't sorry for what I have learnt during the worship time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nightly Routine


A few months back, I had the privilege of staying with my brother and his family for a night. He has four kids, aged between 4 and 12. One thing that his house didn't lack was noise! But come nighttime, I saw Fen Yee reading the bible with his children, the youngest on his lap. There was an untold peace in the place. I was inspired.

For years, I had intended to read the bible with my own children but other priorities crept in such as reading with them their favourite story books or books that could cultivate their interests in reading, and even playing Monopoly with them before bedtime (as mummy did not have time throughout the day until night time)! And if fatigue took over, I would permit them to watch their favourite programme; while in my heart, I would be telling God "I had a long day. I will try again tomorrow." But sadly, when tomorrow came, I would again be carried away with what I thought to be an more important exercise before bed time – reading books other than the Bible!

I mean, let's face it, even adults struggle with reading the Word! Kids would have found the messages dull and moreover, all the interesting stories would have been told in Sunday school, no? The night that I spent with Fen Yee and his family was the turning point for me as I could see that my nephews and niece were among the most obedient kids that I have encountered! Now, I know the secret within their family!

Since then, I tried harder to do daily devotions with my children. There were times that I failed but on the times that I succeeded, I could truly witness the transformations that were slowly taking place in my children. They were more obedient and willing to listen to reasoning. More importantly, I realized that they have started to care for others, to feel empathy for the less privileged. Once, Clarissa actually told me that there was this boy in her class that did not receive any birthday present from his parents as they were working overseas and he had hardly seen them; the next thing I knew, she was trying to get me to bring her to the nearest toy shop to buy a present for him!

The Bible is our spiritual food. Our kids need to hear the Word so that they can grow spiritually and cultivate a strong moral standard. More importantly, they need to know about their Heavenly Father and develop a relationship with Him. Let us not starve our kids but feed them with the Word, even if this means that the Bible would be the only book that they get to read for the day.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:2-3)

Friday, March 5, 2010

You Did the Right Thing


I was in the park with the children, chasing Curly, our poodle. It was one of those scorching hot days. The kids were feeling energetic, but I was lethargic. However, I didn't want to disappoint them and agree to bring them to the park. My dad came much later, just when we were about to leave. He went for his usual brisk walk around the park.

While tugging Curly with one hand and pushing Clare and Joseph alternatively on the swing with the other, I could feel big drops of rain on my shoulder. Very soon, the rain came slapping down. I quickly grabbed Curly with one hand and called out to Clare and Joseph to run to the car. At the back of my mind, I was thinking about my dad. I saw him wearing his well-used cap. "He must be running to the nearest shelter." I told myself.

As soon as we got into the car, I told Clare to lock the door while I went off to look for "gong gong" with an umbrella. To my delight, he was running at an amazing speed towards me! As I shared the umbrella with him, I couldn't help but smile that my dad could still run like a sportman.

Once back in my car, Clare quickly pointed out "Mom, you did the right thing!" "Huh?" as I put away the umbrella. "You did the right thing by going back to fetch gong gong!" she praised me! Although I maintained my calm, smiling demeanor, my heart was screaming "What? All these times you have been watching what I do?" Kids, they are watching us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week regardless of whether we are aware of it. The amazing part is: children do know what is right from wrong. Therefore, it is important that I set a good example.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-3)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Do It to Prove It


Despite her otherwise demure disposition, Clarissa has a tendency to "over-react" on issues which to me are not very significant. One such example came up during our recent trip to Meixian. From past observations, I know that she has a tendency to procrastinate in going to the washroom until it becomes immediately imperative. As I didn't want to see a frantic mother running around a foreign land asking for the nearest toilets, I asked her to go the washroom before we leave our hotel for sightseeing.

"No, I don't want!" she replied firmly. While Joseph followed his cousins into the washrooms, I gave a short lecture. "You know, it is no big deal to just go to the washroom. In fact, when you are travelling, you should try going to the washroom whenever there is an opportunity." I began my explanation. "Why?" she asked. "Well, when you travel in a group, you need to be adaptable. This means that you eat whatever that is being served to you including food that you don't like. Similarly, if you don't go to the washroom now but decide to go later, you would end up making the rest of the people here wait for you."

"So, you are saying that I must to it to prove it?" she replied with a twinkle in her eyes. "What do you mean?" I was confused by her reply. "To prove that I am adaptable, I must do what you say." She replied. "Why, yes! You are right!" As I saw her running to the washroom, I was chewing on these simple words. To prove that she is an obedient child, she must do what I say to prove it. Similarly, we could say that we are Christians and attend church every Sunday; but ultimately, we must obey God to prove that we are Christians! While trying to teach her a lesson, I was taught by her in return!

It all started with a stye!

2 months ago, Prissy had a stye growing on her right eye. Thinking that this would go away on its own, I ignored it until some time later, m...