Sunday, August 28, 2005

Cherish The Difference

Recently, I have been pretty bothered, sparked by a question from a colleague, this is why I decided to throw aside my normal simple topics for my blog, and to look at a more global situation, yet hoping I will not bore you with this (for your info, I do think about global topics, just that I felt blog should be lighthearted and happy).

During my last 2-day trip to Hong Kong, other than being asked the above question, I also have some related discussions with another colleague. And this is also one fact that I was pretty bothered about, before and even after I became a Christian, so I shall be bold and write on this today. For my non-Christian friends out there, you can also take this time to understand a bit of us Christians, give me a chance to explain, will you?

I deeply believe there is always some quality in someone that we can always learn and respect. I look up to the housewives who gave up their dreams in pursuing a career to bring up their children personally. I look up to the refuge collection workers for their dedication in doing their job well, I look up to the uncle who takes pride in making the best coffee and toast, I look up at the roti-prata man in producing crispy pratas for his customers. Everyone is gifted and everyone is special, and I believe all of you out there who read my blog often, knew that I even wrote on some of these professions before, for I greatly respect them and I salute them even, for I am sure I will definitely not be able to do as well as them.

Now these are the questions I am often asked my non-Christian friends, which I felt it is rightfully asked, for I ponder on them too. Why are there so many denominations for Christianity? Isn’t it very confusing? Why are there apparent competition between churches? Why do some Christians dislike Christians from another church? It reminds me of those days in secondary schools, when we pit ourselves against the other schools, seeing them as our opponents rather than peers, and now when I have outgrown that age, how stupid those days seem to be. And this is exactly how I felt recently.

Hear me out before you throw stones at me (Thank God I am on the other side of the wireless line). A bit of church history, denominations came as a result mainly due to their founders, a rediscovery of a truth in the bible, and many denominations are named after their founders. Yet this to me is of no issue, as even siblings born in the same family has different names although we all share a similar surname. Just like there are many churches but we all Christians, carrying Jesus’ name in us.

I personally feel that all Christians are from the same family, whichever denomination one comes from, and this is doctrinally correct. I see my Christian fellows as my heavenly siblings, and I cherish everyone of them regardless of which churches they come from. And as I grow, I began to thank God for them, for I began to see the gift, the strength in each of the different churches, all are unique, special, with different functions, and no duplicate. That is why there are so many of us and yet no redundancy, but many failed to see this. Just like members of the body, no one is more important. It does not mean that because one is small in size it is lesser in value or one is big and therefore it is most important. And I believe I am speaking my Father’s heart. Just like we can’t say that because the skin occupies the greatest area in our bodies it is more important than the heart or vice versa. There is no competition and all complement each other.

For a few days, I was pondering on this, after a non-Christian colleague brought up to me about a church not liking another church etc, and for a short moment I was sad. Isn’t this a family issue, and such a shame that it is even discussed by someone out of the family? Aren’t we able to resolve it within walls, aren’t we all loved by Papa God? Aren’t we siblings?

Yet amidst all this, Papa God reminded me that nothing is too difficult for Him to handle. Somehow, somewhere, though I am not sure how, I just have this assurance in my heart that soon all of us will be united, and people will see us as one body. Yes, there will still be different churches but a HAPPY FAMILY, making up of multitudes of churches. And I rejoice now as I can almost see it already in my heart!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My Tired Legs

Wow, really surprised to see 3 comments on the blog about my eldest niece. Just to answer a few questions to those comments, I use water colors for some of the illustrations, but for the "sheep" series, i normally fall back on "photoshop". And Mei, as for a special blog for you, sure, if you are not afraid of me writing all those "scary" details I know about you?

Pardon my disappearance for the past few days. It was again one of those "serendipity" incident. I just came back from a "not planned" business-cum-study trip yesterday. (In fact, when was the last time where my business trip was not last minute?) The trip was only decided on Thursday at a meeting, when my boss became frustrated in failing to explain some buildings in Hongkong to my colleagues and I as all 3 of us had not seen most of them, that he decided to send us for a study trip. How our ignorance actually turn out to be a blessing, praise the Lord! (I was recently entertaining thoughts of going Hong Kong again for a short trip, and how it came to pass like that! Papa God is so good! This is what I mean by serendipity.)

It was a fruitful trip except there is a little disappointment. Fruitful in the sense that all of us enjoyed the trip and learnt quite a bit from what we saw, the layout, the interiors, the planning etc. This being the main agenda. Yet the little disappointment, besides the little time to shop, was my inability to use this opportunity to bond with my dear capable assistant. Despite the fact that we have been in a wonderful working partnership for the past 2 years (wonderful as in my own perception), I still regret to say there seems to be a wall between us, we could not really talk like good friends, although there is actually no gap, no hierarchy between us, we are equal, on the same standing, except that I have a few more years of experience than her, that's all. I always wonder, is it true that it is hard to develop a friendship out of such working relationship? Am I boring or difficult for her to talk to or relate to? Or is she too quiet? At times, I really wish she can talk to me more, and let me know her thoughts, instead of me trying to understand how she feels from her action and little speech if any, for I really hope to expose her to what she enjoys doing. But unless I know what she likes, I can only guess, isn't it? Yet I pray and know that Papa God will surely give me wisdom.

Anyway, just to give a few run throughs on the trip. Firstly, it was the walking. It has been a long time since the last time I walked so much! We have covered so much ground by walking, I believe if all these steps were added up, I may have walked from Jurong to Pasir Ris 3 times? However, the walk was still worthwhile, judging from what we saw and learnt in the process. It was a humbling journey for me, as the more I see and learn, the more I realise how little I knew. (I thank God for this reminder, only in Him, I am sufficient.)

Secondly, it was my pair of tired feet. I love and enjoy walking, and I can walk long distance. However, when compared to my last trip to Bangkok where I shop from early morning till late evening, I can't remember feeling as tired as how I felt for the past 2 days. In fact, presently my legs are still experiencing muscle ache, or was it due to my lack of exercise?

Finally, it was the shopping experience. This would be one of those rare occasions where I failed in my shopping, failing to get what I purpose to get, partly as there is truly very little time left for shopping, though we visited quite a few shopping areas. And also with a pair of tired feet, and little cash, shopping becomes a not so fun experience for me perhaps for the first time.

Yet, Overall, it is still a great trip, a good break from work, an eye opener, a time of increasing my limited architecture vocabulary, but a missed opportunity of bonding with my assistant. I am not sure if I would let my assistant read this, I doubt so, for I am very shy. Though I would use this opportunity to thank Papa God for her, for blessing me with a great co-worker, and my prayer for her would be that she too will come to know the depth, the width of Jesus' love for her. Thank you, my lovely assistant, Thank God for you.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My Beloved Family

Those who really know me know that I come from a big family, but few really know how big it is. The size of my family is a rarity now, in fact it is something that I am proud of, and thankful to Papa God. As the day of me moving away from this big household is drawing closer, and this being the first time that this huge family would be living apart, a sentimental sense of not willing to change this fact surfaces.

We, as a household, are made up of 3 different generations, and we stay in a moderately spacious house. It consists of my mom, who holds the family together, my eldest brother, myself, my second brother and his family. (If any of you out there are already speculating, let me assure you, there is no dispute in my family that requires us to live separately.) Not many people will believe, for such a large household, where there about 10 persons under one roof, (during weekends, it is even larger, as my sister and her son come over to stay, and during Christmas, the entire extended family, which includes all my other grownup nieces and my 3rd brother’s family come over) the family is most of the time full of peace and joy, I would say it is almost like an ideal family. (This happens ever since everyone of the family comes to know the Lord.)

I have 4 siblings, being the youngest. As a family, we went through thick and thin together. We had faced challenges in the past, yet all these were not able to weaken the bond but rather built up the love and trust over time. We cherish and we enjoy time being together. In my memories since I was seven, I never had a moment in life where there are no children in the family, and as far as I could remember, it is always noisy, lively and there are constant additions to the household.

My mom, my eldest brother and I are moving away next month, to settle into our own cosy little flat. Be it so, we still choose to stay close together with my other brothers, in the same district. One thing for sure, there is no longer a need for me to take a feeder bus to the MRT station, as it is just a few minutes walk away. There is no need for the 10 minutes late night walk to the 24hrs roti prata shop, as I will soon live right next to a popular food center.

On the other hand, I will definitely miss my 3 young nephews and niece, whom I stayed with for the past few years. There will not be someone who will greet me “Hao Peng You” (good friend in Chinese) when I reached home at night. There will not be someone who would fight with me for the TV remote control. There will not be someone who would share my pack of instant noodle late in the night. Thus, it seems like although I would gain some things, yet there are some precious things I can only hold as memories in the future.

How I would miss all these wonderful, simple, little moments. Yet I still believe that all things will work together for good and that no amount of distance shall be able to separate this strong bond that holds the family together, the bond being established by the love of God. Thanks, Daddy in heaven, surely You will see to it.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Blessed birthday! Heaven rejoices the day you were born! Thank God you have grown up and no longer fight with me over my food!
little lamb art

B's Birthday!

Today is a day to celebrate, as it is my niece’s birthday. I dedicate today’s blog to her as a birthday gift for she is an ardent supporter of this blog. How to describe my relationship with her? I wouldn’t say we are the closest (though we are close), but I dare say I knew her, the longest, since the day she was born (besides her parents and grandparents). In fact I played a huge part in raising her up.
Soon after she was born, she stayed with us during the day, while her parents went to work. I would describe my relationship with her then as a “love-hate” one. Much that I liked playing with her, there were times, I really disliked her. Those vivid memories of the past! I would try to elaborate a few below.

Very often, I was “forced” to give my mom a hand to put my niece to bed. She was such a difficult baby, she would not sleep unless we moved the old grandmother’s cloth cradle up and down with a regular rhythm (one that uses a piece of cloth tied unto a spring to the ceiling). But now, how she sleeps, she really enjoys sleeping! I often find her sleeping in one of our beds whenever she comes round to visit us these days.

I still recalled the day when she took my music exercise book and tore it, thinking it was a toy! I got the shock of my life! For that very moment, I felt the whole sky has fallen and I was stuck underneath it, feeling that there was no more tomorrow for me.

And how she would fight with me over my food! Let me give a little explanation before I proceed to pour out my grievances then. During those good old days, there was no such thing or shop known as “Breadtalk”, we had to buy our daily supply of fresh bread from a “roti man” who would come round the estate from block to block, from floor to floor, carrying a carton of breads, knocking on doors to see if anyone would want to buy them. (A bit like the garung guni man these days.) My mom would always get me my favourite Chinese ham bread. My niece loved the bread too. Many times, after she had finished her fair share, she would secretly climb to the table and nibbled away my share, which I wanted to save till later! I remembered how badly I cried, so hard, so upset!

There were also several occasions that I got to feed her when my mom was busy. Not knowing anything about hygiene then, since I was also just a kid being only 7 years older than her, I would bite her food in my mouth and put it back unto the spoon to feed her. Now as I think about it, it is really quite terrible and scary. Sorry, forgive me, Niece, I know no better then. I did that so that I could quickly speed up the process of having to feed you.

As she grew older, I became her tuition teacher, for Mathematics and Sciences. How I must have shouted at her countless times when she could not answer those terrible ten years series. During that period of time, I think she was quite fearful of me, because truly, I was a very stern, strict teacher. Not sure if I did help her through her studies though.

Yet today, she is already a grownup, in her early twenties. How time flies! From a saliva-dripping baby, to one who is now a kind, discerning lady. From a crying baby to one who now brings comfort to troubled kids. Even now as I bring you to walk along memory lane with me, how things had changed and how she has been transformed daily by Papa God to a fine person, from glory to glory. B, surely Jesus will give you the desire of your heart! Aza aza fighting! And a very blessed birthday to you and many more to come!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

National Day

Today is National Day, a long awaited break for me. It’s been almost close to a full year since I last took a long holiday. That was last year’s August, when I made a trip back to Taiwan with my mom to visit her family. (This made me a “half” Taiwanese? My mom came over to Singapore with her adoptive parents, separated from her sisters and brother since young.) I am looking forward to a break soon, hopefully by November I can go for a 2-week holiday, to somewhere cool or cold. Anyway, this is just an idea.

Today is a family day for me. Seven of us, made up of my nieces, nephews and myself, we caught a nice, heart-warming movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. It has been close to 2 months since my last movie, how I missed the nachos and the smuggling of cheese fries into the theatre. I am a law-abiding citizen most of the time, except when it comes to food, I smuggled durians up the bus (I know I have a good friend who reads this blog regularly who dislikes the smell of durian, please forgive me for my little indulgence in food), I smuggled food that is not sold by the cinema into the theatre, I sometimes eat sweets, even very occasionally chew gum in the train. Forgive me for imparting really wrong values to my young nieces and nephews; this is one thing that I knew it is not good yet I still commit, because of the “sin of gluttony”.

I enjoyed the show tremendously, for it’s old fashioned family value and simple moral lessons to kids and even to parents, of not spoiling your children, not letting them watch too much TV, of not putting too much emphasis on achievement and winning, and finally the emphasis of enjoying what you already have, which is, your family, a simple down to earth story that I loved and I enjoyed greatly. If you have time for just one movie, do catch this one!

I also did something I loved to do other than the abovementioned; I saw the fireworks, not on TV but in real time. I loved fireworks, and am always thrilled by the impact, and the “woo wah” sound of standing beneath them, being enveloped by the lights and the short-term beauty. Saw one of the most beautiful fireworks I have ever seen during the opening of Esplanade. Saw several fireworks during several Chinese New Years and New Year Days. Saw the fireworks at National Stadium during the few occasions I was present at the National Day parade.

Today, I was so excited, upon hearing that there would be fireworks in several parts of Singapore, I actually dragged my mom and my eldest brother to accompany me to the nearest one to take a look. It was not the most beautiful I have seen, yet the event was still memorable, how we parked at the road side, and I stood in great anticipation for the release, not wanting to wink my eyes just in case I missed the first shot!

I love to see fireworks, despite they being so short life, yet precisely because they are so, that I tend to cherish them even more, knowing that it is a moment to be savored, and being only able to be stored in my memory. Therefore this painting above was also drawn from memory (not that beautiful despite my 2 attempts to paint them, realised it is not easy to paint fireworks), not with reference to any photos, this may not be those that you would ever see, as it is a composition inspired by several fireworks. Hope you too have a wonderful day today, either with your family or your friends, just like I did! Wish tomorrow is a holiday as well, how I envy students, for they do not have to go to school tomorrow!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I enjoy looking at Jimmy's books, and I don't deny I am influenced by his graphics, though I don't really like the pessimism found in several of his books. I learnt how to draw the tree trunk from his illustration. A strong healthy tree here, have a blessed week ahead!
little lamb art

Trees, Roots, Crowns

A colleague once mentioned to me, the crown of a tree is proportional to the volume of soil available for the root to grow, that is, one cannot expect a huge crown if the soil volume is limited. (So never expect a tree to develop a huge crown if it is in a pot, the size of the pot normally reflects the eventual size of the crown of the tree.) This was to me a very interesting discovery.

Most of the times, we only have a very superficial understanding of what we see, be it a newspaper report or a rumor, and tend to formulate our own subjective opinions from that. (I often fall into this, forming my own bias opinion.) For example, I may see a wealthy person, or someone who has a wonderful family or career, but I tend not to see the journey taken in the dark, in the closet, to reach where he or she is, instead I jump to my own conclusion. The truth is, that person may have gone through several failures before he reaches the success he has in his business. Or she may have cried several nights for her husband who was given to much wine and yet stayed with him through thick and thin, until her husband finally turned around and was touched and changed, before she has a blessed family now. Or another may have gone through dreams being dashed, and yet without losing hope in Him who is able to deliver her, and now able to stand strong and have a wonderful career. Yet how many of us bother to search out the truth behind someone else’s story, for most of time, we are pretty self-centered?

What am I driving at? Staying in the northern part of Singapore, I travel along Upper Thomson Road on several occasions, and there is this stretch of well shaded road with beautiful rain trees lined on 2 sides, which looks as if there are 2 rows of soldiers holding up their swords to welcome me like I am a royalty. (This is how I feel every time I travel along this road, so honored, and overwhelmed.) Yet for the trees to develop to such beautiful huge crowns, it takes several years, most of us would know. However, there is one thing that we never bother to find out, the depth of the roots of those huge trees. Huge trees would normally have deep roots. We only see the beauty above, but we do not look beneath the soil, at the roots. This is so like life itself. Somehow, I believe if one day, Papa God is to show us the journey in our lives, how He arranged events and paths to meet, and how accidental they may seem now, we would be extremely surprised, grateful and touched by what He has done.

Anyway, food for thought, pardon my babbling, not sure if you understand what I am trying to express here. This is just a recent thought, which I am not sure how to explain it, but still hope you can made out some sense of what I am trying to express.

Finally, just to give a short summary of how things turn out for me this past week. I was really, extremely busy. Yet Papa God has proved to me His faithfulness again. The presentation was changed from Wednesday to Friday, and the presentation materials were completed on time. Another good piece of news is my boss intends to take one project away from me (making it about 4 to 5 projects now). Not only that, he is also getting another assistant for me! How things turn out for our good! Praise God, my Jesus is surely faithful, although many times I am not sure how He is going to solve the problems at that very moment, yet He sure knows the way to do it and never fails! Isn’t He great and wonderful? Thanks to all you pals out there who have said a prayer for me too during this short, trying moment.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

When I am weak, then I am strong, because His strength is make perfect in my weakness. His grace is sufficient for me, in fact, it is more than enough, overflowing! And it applies to you too!
little lamb art

Inadequate? More than Enough!

Have you ever caught yourself in the midst of doing something and you have no idea how to pull it through? Or have you ever found yourself in a midst of a situation where you wish you could just sleep through it? In cases such as this, often, a sense of inadequacy overwhelms us, propels us to step back or falter. It has been so for me for the past few days, my emotion went through a small roller coaster ride.

In my profession, there is hardly a day that goes by without any challenges. My job is seldom a routine, and almost everyday I am faced with situation I have never faced before, new design, new requirement, new project. This is a life long learning career indeed.

Often, when I looked back at such occasion where I felt inadequate, I knew that at that very moment I had lost sight of Him, my Shepherd, instead of looking to Him for help and strength, I looked at the mountains around me, and my limited knowledge and experience in handling such situation. The ever “familiar peer” by the name of “inferior complexity” crept in, trying to be my friend again, whispering doubts and fear into me, and several times, I unknowingly entertained him. Yet, I am thankful to Papa God who always sees me through overwhelming situation such as this.

Today, I reached home at 1.20am, after rushing 1 of the 6 projects, which is due on Wednesday. (Another is due today later in the afternoon. Thank God, I have a dear freelance friend who is helping me with that project. Pal, whether you believe it or not, you are a help sent by my Papa God to me. Thanks for being available when I needed help the most!) Till now, to be honest with you, I have no idea how I am going to finish my task due on Wednesday, yet I have learnt through the last few years, never was there once that my Shepherd has ever put me to shame. Therefore, being assured of this again, I decided to came home early today (this is considered early for a situation such as this) believing that there will be a miracle later. (I will keep you updated later this week on how it goes.) Strange, I actually feel fine and peaceful now!

Perhaps the actual breakthrough came last Sunday. On that faithful weekend, I brought another project home to do (not the above 2 I just mentioned), planning to do a little during the weekend, hopefully to alleviate my suffering for the coming week (due to accumulated work). In fact, I have almost finished the shopping for my home renovation except for some loose furniture now, so I was able to go home early on a Sunday, to start on this new project.

But I was exhausted! (This may be due to weeks of little rest.) I actually fell asleep at 10pm, after having just typed 2 sentences for this journal. (I woke up to shut down the computer at 1 am though.) For a long time, I have not slept from 10pm to 7am, 9 hours of sleep! (I actually wanted to go to bed now, but I am still waiting for my hair to dry.)

And you know what? At least for the next couple of days, I am reminded again, not to trust in my own puny strength. I am just going to go on enjoying my life, enjoy drawing for my blog, read my books, watch my Korean dramas, despite of all the works piling up, and watch what Jesus does for me! And friends, you too, step back and let Him do the work! Amen!