Monday, February 27, 2006

More than Winners

Another weekend has come and gone, and what awaits me is a brand new day in a couple of minutes away. Perhaps by the time this journal is posted, it is already the brand new day. Truly it was a busy week, and what is before me is yet another busy week with several “datelines”, and I am really grateful to Papa God, He has kept true to me, to my resolution on 19022006.

Yet for the last week, it has not been an easy week for a few of my dear ones, and after watching tonight’s Superhost on Channel U, for the contestants as well, I supposed. That is why I have posted the above image, that we little lambs of the Lord, are the most fortunate, we can always take refuge in His presence, for He stands before every wave and trouble that comes before us. (The above image was inspired by a song during worship.)

In life, we face challenges, and there are occasions, I can’t say that it is many, but it does happen, at that precise moment when unfortunate circumstances happen, such as injustice seems to triumph, that we feel adamant towards it, and yet not able to do anything about it, we feel extremely frustrated, as if we want to take matter into our own hands, almost to the extent of taking revenge.

I just witnessed such an incident a while ago. My mom and I were just having a good time watching the Superhost. We noted one talented competitor, and undoubtedly, he scored the highest and won the praise of one of the judges. We were almost so sure that he was to win the competition, when at the last moment of announcing the winner, an unexpected competitor turned out to be the champion, not that she put in an exceptional performance, but she won in the general voting by the viewers. It was really sad to watch, and we could not bring ourselves to rejoice with the winner. We felt great injustice actually performed right in front of us. This was perhaps one of those really rare occasion that I saw my mom being “angry” and frustrated with the show, that she said if she knew anyone from the papers, she would definitely complain, and she was trying to instigate me to write an email to complain about the final result. (And I guess this is the best I can do, to post her frustration on my blog.) It was sad, nothing to rejoice, but a heart that regretted having watched such a dumb show, as if we were cheated of our precious time, watching an episode of injustice performed on stage.

That brought me to another episode that my dear friend is facing. She must have felt extremely sad and disappointed, angry and frustrated even, for being accused of things that she has never done, and there seems to be no one upholding justice for her. I felt angry and frustrated too. Friend, cheer up, I know without a shadow of doubt that all things will always work together for good for we are His beloved! And vengeance belongs to the Lord! Just put our trust in Him, man! Surely, I believe with all my heart, that when one door is closed, it is closed for our good, and another door will definitely be opened for us. Be assured, He stands before all our troubles! And my nieces, don’t be afraid, you have stepped out in faith on new journeys in lives, entering into new phases of life that you have never really experienced before, yet I know with all my heart, He is there with you, as you step into the “unknown”, He will reveal His faithfulness to you, even when we are faithless, He remains faithful.

A while ago, I also had a chat with my niece over MSN, and that is when she reminded me that, for so many of those past competitions such as Singapore idols, etc, it is almost always the runner up that is better, and finally outshine the winner later on in life. And yes, after reflecting on that, that is so true, the runner up may end up being the real winner finally, at the end of the day, several years down the road. So nothing is final yet, we are still in the race, and no one knows who is the final winner, only Him, for He is the one who writes our stories, and truly, He makes us more than conquerors! Jia You!

(Sorry, this journal sounds a bit preachy, friends, forgive me! I just hope to encourage a few of my dear ones!)

Friday, February 24, 2006

TV Addict?

Suddenly, I have this funny image in my mind today, seeing a lamb forming part of a TV, seems very much like a self-portrait cum self-ridiculed. (Hope you take delight in the cartoon above and cheer up your day!) I am a TV addict, since a kid, though now the situation is getting better. It has improved simply because I am busier these days. In the past, I could simply just throw down everything, and rush home just to catch a show. But with the advancement of technology and the invention of dvd players, etc, now I can watch almost any show at my own pace (usually even faster than cableTV, I could even be 1 or 2 years ahead of time in terms of dramas I watched).

Why the sudden mention of this? I love to watch Korean dramas, but only those with great wonderful happy endings. (I don't usually know or read the synopsis, but I have a friend who is even faster than me, and she usually give me a hint of the endings.) And in fact, I have been wanting to explain why I like Korean dramas the most, as compared to Japanese, English, Taiwanese and even Hongkongers' dramas.

Most, sad to say, not all, Korean dramas are very family oriented, though the main themes of the story could be love or friendship. It exalts simple yet powerful values such as filial piety, friendship, faithfulness, perseverance, love, which used to be common themes in most Chinese dramas in the past. Yet, nothing beats a light hearted, hilarious drama that made you laugh till you cry!

I have watched countless number, and perhaps the most impactful, most lasting one would be the show "Fullhouse"! It was hilarious, and there was hardly any moment that allows boredom to crept in. As far as I could remember, I may have watched it 3 or 5 times, and I still enjoyed it.

Still, why the sudden mention of dramas? This is a pretty busy week for me, yet having make the resolution in the last journal, I am determined by His grace to keep to it. As a form of allowing my mind to rest, other than reading, is to watch a really cool, funny drama, and that was what I did for the past 2 weeks, after a long day at work. I had just finished the drama (Super Rookie), not that it is as good as "Fullhouse", but it is still a very good drama, the simplicity of the hero in the drama, someone always being regarded as an underdog, someone who does not seem to amount to anything due to his lack of qualification etc etc. Yet at every difficulties, he was able to come through the fire, with no smell of smoke, and yet at the same time, able to save and forgive those who hurt him in the process of the office rat race, climbing all over him. He became the most unlikely hero! The whole show put together 2 totally different personalities, one who is smart, intelligent, trying with all his might, by hook or by crook, trying his best to climb the corporate ladder, while the hero, simply by being himself, sincere, though not smart, almost by grace, won and overcome every obstacle that came across his path! I enjoyed the show, the childlikeness of the hero, perhaps, just as much as I love the show "Forrest Gump".

Yes, indeed, I am learning, to become a child again. Did I ever mention to you that I learn a lot and receive great revelations about life and most of all, about my Shepherd, from the dramas I watched?

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Something has been on my mind for a long time, perhaps for years even, and only a few days ago, I have finally determined to set a "resolution" this year, 2006 as the year to experiment what I thought I always believed. In fact, today, I marked this special date on my blog calendar in a form of an illustration to remind myself of what I have decided. (I never liked to set resolution but this will be an exception, as the only one who can keep it would have to be my Shepherd.)

For the longest time, I have noted a pattern in my life, and it seems to prove true for others as well, as I examined others' lives too. I must have related my own little story of how I struggled in school in the university, not able to meet my own expectation of myself, and how I struggled at designing, it seemed that the harder I tried, the further away I was from success, the more I struggled, the harder it seemed.

Yet through the years, I also noticed that there are many times when I have finally given up, or when I am in an extreme relaxed posture, that all of a sudden, designing becomes effortless, a joy, even as a surprise that I found myself in, thrilled by what has been produced in the process, and that the design is accomplished within a very very short time, so little is the time spent as compared to the amount of effort and time used when struggling. This happens several times in school in the latter years and also when I finally started working. And every now and then, I am always waiting for that sudden moment, when I feel as if something has dropped into my heart, a sudden spur of creativity and inspiration that comes from somewhere within my heart, and yet deep down within me, I knew it is from above. However, there are also many times, where that did not happen and I stayed in a state of struggle.

I am not sure if you can understand what I mean, but perhaps it is more commonly felt by those who are in fields such as music, art, film or literature. However, I felt that no matter which occupation you may be in, you should be able to understand what I am trying to explain, for most people should have experienced something of this sort in their lives.

Recently, I also visited a couple-artists/friends' place, when they showed us their art works. And I noted that deep within the conversations while they are trying to explain to us the works, there was a sense of great joy. Yet in the midst of it, I caught something, I noted that the artist mentioned he was very happy painting this series of works, as it was such a flow. That was the key word, such a flow!

I know what I was looking for, a flow, a simple, smooth and yet powerful flow, when designing, and when that design is out, you know that you know that "this is it!". It does not seem to come always, but it does come. And it only happens when I am in the most relaxed mood, most joyous and peaceful moment. Not to say that design does not come when one is not relaxed or not joyous, one can still design but there is a sense of emptiness in the design, a feeling that something better than this one can be sought after still.

Therefore, what did I determine after such a long essay? I shall not elaborate too much as it is pretty personal, between the Lord and I, but I can reveal this a little, only for the area of my work, I determine from 19022006, (or 20022006 when I actually go back to office tomorrow), from this day forth for this year, I take it as an experiment, that whenever I am in a struggle to trying to produce a design, I shall stop totally, draw back into the Lord a little, to find rest, to find back that peace that is always residing on the inside of me, no more fretting and no more worries, in other words, don't waste time! What do I mean by this? It means "don't bother to design anything or try as hard as possible to design, when I am in a fearful mood or when I am worried!" "Datelines" shall not be my guide anymore, but the peace within, and I hope by the end of this year, I can write a good report of this experiment, and what it has done to my life. No more fret! Unless the Lord builds the house, we labour in vain! If you don't mind, why not join me in this experiment as well for this year! He will surely prove Himself faithful as we all determined not to be troubled!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My Baggy Business Continued...Final Episode

I am on medical leave today, just a little redness in the eye since yesterday. (Actually I am so well and healthy, able to walk and run, I can even go shopping if not for the fact that I would be abusing my medical leave which was meant for resting, I just didn’t feel like working in a dry air-conditioned office staring into the computer for 8.5 hours, anyway, I hope my boss would not happen to read this, but then, shopping to me is a form of resting too!) Come to think of it, for several occasions for the past 3 years, when I was on medical leave, I still dragged my feet to work due to all the “datelines”, thus I thought might as well give myself a break today since I am officially given a day off by my doctor.

Despite of the slight discomfort, I am extremely thrilled and happy since yesterday, remember my journal “my baggy business”? I didn’t like to end that episode without giving any idea as to what happen to my dream bag, so here it is, my humble attempt. From then till yesterday, I came across another bag which was much to my liking, but as my habit is, I would let it stay for a few days, and if I still like it, I would then go and buy. This is another of such a bag, as the price is again beyond $40 even after a rather huge discount, so need careful thinking, to consider whether the bag is of more value than my parting with my money. Anyway, it stayed on my mind, and I went to get it, and much to my dismay, it was gone again! Finally, after gathering enough courage, I asked the sale assistant if I could get it anywhere else, as this was terrible to have such similar happenings occurring to me twice within 1 month!

The sale assistant was really helpful, checking out with the main office, explaining to me that they have taken that design back to the warehouse, and it would be available in the following week at one of the branch only. With a little disappointment in my heart, I ventured to ask, then the “SALE” will be over by then, and she affirmed me that there might be a better deal then, however, she sort of instructed me to go to that branch preferably on Monday. And that was what I did yesterday, even when my site meeting ended really late, I still went to take a look. And you know what? Papa God answered me way beyond my wildest imagination, even in such a small, insignificant situation as to a bag! All the bags at that branch, regardless of size, shape and colors, were selling at $15 each! That brand of bags was never so cheap before, even when it was still not that well known a few years ago as compared to now! I was overwhelmed, touched, beyond words of what the Lord had done for me. I could have gotten 3 bags with the same price I had to pay a few days ago! So I shared the unspeakable joy with all my nieces, sister and mom, buying a total of 5 bags and 2 blouses in the end, all for less than $100.

And you know what? Now, whenever I look at that bag, I am reminded again of how man’s disappointment can turn out to be God’s appointment, and how all things will always work together for good for those whom He loves! (I am no longer mad about that bag I like in the previous episode, so I am glad I didn’t get it.) And this new bag I have gotten will always be a reminder of His love, of how much my Lord, my Shepherd loves me, and that He is my Shepherd, I shall not want (which means I shall not suffer lack or be in want). Thank You, my dearest Lord and Shepherd, You answer way beyond all I could ever imagine or think! And yes, Blessed Valentine’s Day! The greatest Lover, my Lord!

Saturday, February 11, 2006


As a family, we always celebrate my mom's birthday based on the Chinese lunar calender, as her birthday falls on the 15th day of Chinese New Year, making it an extraordinary occasion to celebrate. We have a wonderful family reunion dinner today (brought forward a day as Saturday is much preferred than Sunday for all family members). Making up of an extended family of 18 persons (plus 2 more if we would include all our domestic helpers), we require 2 tables. Not a fanciful expensive dinner, just a simple meal at the "zhi2 cha4" stall (those stall that sell dishes such as hor fun and seafood, etc) near our place. Definitely it wasn't the food that matters the most, but the wonderful time of bonding we all experienced in the process. My mom is very thrifty and not very particular about food, therefore where we eat, or the ambience of the place whatsoever, does not really matter much to her, but what matters most to her is that she enjoys the presence of her family, get to see her children and grandchildren coming together, having dinner with her, for I know my mom, the traditional Chinese woman, where family matters more than anything to her, even more than her own life, I believe.

I also had a wonderful time of catching up with some old friends whom I knew for 13 years, university classmates cum church pals, today as well. Just a simple cosy lunch, lots of catching up and chatting, encouraging one another, and plenty of jokes to share. When was the last time? I could not remember and I felt a bit nostalgic, and yes, I am looking forward to the next catching up/encouraging session. Friends, we should meet up often, don't you think so? At least twice a year, and please consider my proposal, our superband competition and holiday together next year!

Come to think of it, I have another session of catching up tomorrow at an artist-cum-church friends' place, to take a look at their new art works, not that we are the "arty" type of persons or has a taste to appreciate art, I felt that we are just finding every occasion to catch up with one another, to have a good time fellowshipping, and yes, I am really looking forward to it.

Another one came to my mind suddenly, I think I have another such session next Saturday, meeting friends from secondary school, friends I knew for close to 20 years. Amazing, how time flies! My old secondary school friends, are you all keen to join us next Saturday?

In fact, since end of last year, I just had this warm feeling that this year would be a year for me to catch up with many old friends, friends that once matter a lot to me in my life, friends that had and are still playing a great part in my life, be it in the form of encouragement, love, fun, and through troubled times. And yes, how those beautiful faces of my friends brought back such keen wonderful, lovely memories of the past, thanks pals, for being there in my lives, you all are great! You all are wonderful, lovely presents, wrapped in different packaging by the Lord for me, and yes, forgive me for being pretty busy for the past few years, yet you all will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you, Thank God for you. Let's meet up more often, not for anything else, but to find comfort and encouragement in one another, reminding one another how much we are loved by the Lord! And yes dear friends, have a blessed week ahead! And thanks for dropping by! Some things are better expressed in written words rather than spoken words, such as now, for I am a bit shy (whether you believe it or not).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My dad

The celebration of Chinese New Year has slowly quieted down, life is almost back to normal, with a little lethargic added, after all the festive goodies and lazing around at home, wanting to do nothing, absolutely nothing. Almost every year about this time, we would visit a Christian columbarium, where my dad’s ashes are placed. Not that he is there, but just part of our Chinese culture, perhaps, though we know that he is now in heaven with the Lord, we would still bring some fresh flowers there, to pay respect.

This is not going to be a short journal; I can foresee it, as this is no easy, simple task to write. I have wanted to write my dad’s story for the longest while, though I have limited knowledge of it, plus many memories that were not appropriate to mention. I had a good time of chatting with my mom yesterday morning, getting as much information as I can from her.

My dad, the eldest of 10 children, did not have the easiest of time in life. After finishing primary school education, wanting to move on for further studies, he was forced to start working and help support his huge family. Yet, he had a strong desire for learning, and he continued to pursue his studies in night classes while working in the day. As far as I could remember, even when he was pretty old, he was always either reading newspapers or books, books that seemed so “deep” to the “shallow” me.

Working in a trading company, (sort of a middleman, buy in goods to sell to local shops etc), he supported his family with the meager salary he received. At the age of 19, he and my mom married, and with several kids coming along through the years, the burden increased, and perhaps, the desire to break free from poverty lying deep within his heart, he started his own business finally, in the trade that he was most familiar, at the age of about 34. That was when I was born, and when our family began to do a little better in life, after also having moved out of my grandpa’s place.

Yet, life was not as smooth sailing as one would suppose, not that his business was not doing well, but trusting in the wrong person in his business venture, his business finally failed, after several years of good success, and perhaps due to tremendous pressure and stress as a result, he also fell ill of health, that he was almost given up to die, with heart failure. However, miracle did and still happens, he was given a second chance to live, though then having kidney problem, he lived on for several few years, knowing the Lord, in fact after the entire family gotten to know the Lord as well.

Perhaps, the part where I am most familiar with is that I have a dad who spoilt me the most among all the children, maybe because I am the youngest, 11 years apart from my youngest older brother. He showered his love on me, with lots of toys, perhaps to make up for the little time for the family, as most of the time he was travelling oversea working.

However, as and when he was free, he would as much as possible, drove me to school after we all had a bakuteh breakfast in town. And during special occasion, the entire family would go fishing, or feasting. Yet what I could remember, one of the fondest memories I had is, my dad loved to sing. (Perhaps that explains why several of my siblings love singing as well, and we sing quite well too, by the grace of God.) He would have his children seated by his side, and he would start singing a line of a song, or hummed a tune, and we would either continue the song, or guess the title of the song. And if we got it right, we would be rewarded with some pocket money. And that was really pretty fun, even right to the time when he was blessed with grandchildren, this game was still commonly practiced among us, with the grandchildren involved in the game as well.

Yet, there were times, when I see my dad in his latter years, I could almost see a false sense of worthlessness he must have felt, maybe because he became dependent on his family then. Perhaps he was unable to support the family. Perhaps he felt he did not fulfil his duty as a husband or a father well, perhaps... A sense of loneliness even, and condemnation crept in slowly, eating him up.

I cannot say my dad is the greatest or the “bestest” dad in the world, but I am glad I have him in my life, though to be honest, I was often in disagreement with him when I was young. Yet, I am thankful to the Lord that He found both of us, my dad and I, in fact my entire family, and has given us new lives in Him, and I am really, really thankful for that.

Next month would be the time when he left us to be with the Lord, after 6 years. I could not remember what he was like the very moment he passed away, as I was not by his bedside, one of my “greatest regret” in life. Though I visited him in the hospital then, almost everyday for a couple of hours, I was not able to be there with him for the entire day, being split between rushing my final thesis project, then being in the last month of my university education, the only project that will determine whether I passed or not. I was really hoping he could see that I finally graduated, after more than 1 year of deliberating whether to continue with my design study or not.

Life has moved on and we have come out of it slowly, without our knowing. At times, we still missed him, yet I thank my Lord who always comforts us, and He amazes me, letting me know that my dad is never again feeling condemned, and sick, but forever dwells in the wonderful presence of God in heaven, forever healthy and young. My dearest Lord and he are watching us with love from heaven. Meanwhile, cherish those loved ones you have with you now, the best gift for them is your time with them.