Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Process of Waiting

Have you ever felt this way before? That a week has passed and that you felt as if nothing much has been done, this is how I felt for the past week. Not sure was it because of my work, or the hectic schedule, or the fact that I felt I have little time for myself... It felt that time flew too quickly, and what I set out to do for this week, suddenly seemed so unattainable, so huge as the week drew to an end. And work seemed to be turning in circles, what I mean is that, almost everyday I felt that I am starting from ground zero, as if the amount of work done on the previous day was all useless... This is the "painful" process of design, I presume.

Design, the process of finding an innovative solution, creative and yet functional, even to the extent of being meaningful, and at the same time generating or evoking an extraordinary experience for the users, for the designer per say, is not an easy task. How many try to innovate, to be unique, special? Yet, as one would examine further, one would suddenly recognise that in fact that somehow, somewhere, someone may have already thought of what you considered an unique solution. And even when someone, somewhere may not have come up with your unique solution, somehow nature itself may have already created something that is much more superior than your unique solution. I hope I didn't confuse you, guess you are now thinking that you are reading someone pretty baffled in her thoughts, and yes you are right.

It is precisely because of this, and an understanding of this truth several years ago in school, that I felt that, many times, the answer can be found in nature, ideas can be drawn from the very environment around us,the library of inspirations that God has left behind for His beloved creation. Yet how often we tend to forget this truth, browsing through works of great designers, almost to the extent of imitating them. I am not saying that this is wrong, yet there is a limitation to this method, and I have also often fallen into this trap of searching outside, looking towards man's wisdom for help, for inspiration, although deep within my heart, there are many occasions where I felt that the design isn't right yet, or the source of inspiration is not there, but simply because I felt I needed to do something, I started to look, to search.... yet forgetting the one most important thing, rest and wait, for within myself dwells my most Beloved.

Did I forget to ask Him? Yet when all this mental exercise is going on in my mind, I remembered I asked, I even remembered my dear friends asking on my behalf too. Yet why was the answer so late in coming? This is often the case... the process of waiting... Or did I actually wait? I pondered, I reflected, only remembering myself fluttering from one design to another, not taking time to be alone with Him after asking... perhaps that's why the answer can't get through my busy phone line...

Yes, indeed, I need to Stop and Rest in Him, for surely the answer will come, for He never fails, although it may seem late at times, in human terms. (Hope I remember what I have written here, and not rush off straight after this to try very hard on my own again..... Lord, help me even in this, teach me to labour into the much needed REST! Help!)

And yes, as a reminder to myself, I drew the above, as I needed to be reminded to rest in Him, because only in Him, can I truly be satisfied, and only in Him is where all my help and solution come from. I rest.


(Just a side note, thanks for all your encouragement and comments... my dream picture book will surely be born out of rest, not through my own puny self effort!)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My Favourite Theme

For most of my journals and illustrations, one can see a great part of them with the sheep or little lamb as the lead character, and subtle portrayal of its Shepherd with His backview, reflection or His hands.

This illustration above has come a long way. I was very moved by the sermon I heard on Easter Sunday, with my pastor explaining the Shepherd and the sheep relationship, a closeness that I treasure very much, in fact, more and more through the years. A relationship that I often would picture myself as, just a little lamb with my Shepherd, to me, that is the safest and best place to be in.

Yet, I had a bad attempt drawing the above a few weeks ago, initially it was meant to be a birthday gift illustration for a friend, but partly due to the fact that I did not have time, the idea was abandoned. However, since last Sunday, also having read in the bible the promise that no one is able to snatch the sheep out of the Shepherd's hand, I decided to redraw this idea properly. I started with a simple pencil sketch, and I attempted to colour it on Tuesday, yet was unable to finish it, until today. I supposed this is the longest length of time I took to draw the "little lamb" theme.

I used to think that I would soon run out of idea for this theme, but this theme itself is simply amazing, now that I am already in the 11th month since the beginning of this blog, I am still in the running of this. In fact, the theme may still run for another year or so? There are also a few dear friends who often visit this blog, suggesting that I can even use the lamb illustrations for products, and even hold a solo exhibition with them! (How amazing and big their ideas are to me! But why not? I am supposed to think big for my Shepherd is more than able to meet all my dreams!) Above all, my greatest "little" dream is perhaps one day all these illustrations can be compiled into a book, and as one picks up the book, it will put a smile on one's face or brighten up one's day. Just a little dream, food for thought. Any sponsor?


And meanwhile, I am still in the running, celebrating the 1st anniversary for the "Sheepish Day Dream" in the month of May. Any suggestion as to how to change the look? Anyone? And pals, thanks for always dropping by as and when you are free, leaving a few short comments here and there, they do mean a lot! I like to read comments, hint hint... Have a blessed week ahead! You are in the Shepherd's hand!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Dreams

Wondering why but for the past few days I have been dreaming quite a bit, perhaps it is because I slept more for the past week (8 hours sleep) or maybe I was too tired in the past to ever remember my dreams upon waking up.

I mentioned previously that I dreamt of visiting the Niagaras Falls in my previous journal? Last night, or rather this morning, I dreamt I was in a car, not sure who was I with, but we passed by a beautiful sunset with the reflection of the sun, the orangey sky reflected on the still water, with some fog and little empty boats. I remembered myself exclaiming “wow so beautiful!” And then we passed by the next scene, another beautiful view, though I could not recall what it was this time. So this explains why the above sketch, a very serene quiet image that I saw in my dream last night, which stayed on my mind till today. This is perhaps the best way I know how to capture my dream into reality.

Yet, in life itself, from young, I was and still am a dreamer, in real awoken life, not just in my sleep. As a kid, I loved to let my mind wander off, dreaming, while staring at the sky, be it a cloudy day or at night. When I looked at the fluffy clouds, almost without fail, I could see images of familiar objects or animals in them. And when at night, while staring into the dark, starry sky, I would then start wondering is there someone out there looking at me from those stars, and pondered on very deep topics like why was I created? What is the purpose for living? Is that all to life? What is life after now? Young as I was then, perhaps less than 10 years of age, I dreamt and pondered a lot. Partly because I was the youngest in the family, with my youngest older brother 11 years older, and I don’t have many playmates when at home except my neighbours who were also schooling.

Besides all these serious almost scary questions that I pondered on, being spoilt with lots of toys by my father, I loved to dream. I talked to my toys, making them talk to one another, built imaginary houses with Lego, and majong tiles, with books, and even drew my multi-storey apartment with openable doors and windows, and little paper rabbits and other animals which lived in the apartment, and played the toys I made with my friends.

However, as I grew up, somehow, I seemed to dismiss dreams, thinking that dreams are just dreams, though I still dream a lot. Yet as I looked back those years in the past, many of my dreams have come to pass. Those “scary” questions I no longer ponder on, because I have found the answer. And those toys I made, they seem to have become reality in my working life. As for dreams for my family to come to know the reason for living, they too have come to know the purpose.

On this special day, I remembered the dearest Dreamer in the whole Universe, He dreamt of a family, a huge family that He can pour His love on. He went on to create what He dreamt, and that process was not easy, as His creations could not understand His unconditional love and they were fearful and even hateful towards Him, moving towards the direction of self destruction. Yet despite of it all, He loves them till the end, beyond our puny human comprehension and on this special day, 2000 years ago, He died to block the way to their self-destruction and directed them with His death to His home. He is the true Master Dreamer, and He never gave up His dream to see us saved and resting in His arms, and now His dream has become reality! So do you, do not give up your dreams! Blessed Good Friday!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Papa God Is Into Details

I have moved into my own flat for slightly more than half a year. It is in a pretty old estate, and the flat is about 21 years old, old enough to gain full adulthood. The outside of the flat (fa├žade) is old looking, with pretty bad selection of paint colours. (I still ponder many times on why the recent upgrading or repainting of old estates takes on such “scary” colour schemes. Sometimes, it is most beautiful and classic to just leave it simple, in one or two, at most three colours, preferably white. It simply makes the whole building looks new and almost modern, timeless.) But I still like old estates, for their convenience and all the amenities, and also for the seemingly larger, spacious unit, I like my own flat very much.

Remembered my previous mention of my neighbour’cat urinating at the public staircase? Or had I mentioned about the constant ponding of water at the landing of the public staircase going to my flat? There are several times I wanted to complain about the above two matters, either writing to town council, HDB or give them a call, hoping they will either ban my neighbour for having a pet or force them to allow their cat to use their own toilet rather than sharing our staircase for that purpose! I am just short of putting a fish with poison at my door step….

As for the ponding of water, I dislike having to jump over the puddle of water, and occasionally having the water getting into my open toes shoes. And at times, I also felt bad about my mom and other senior residents having to face such dangerous staircases. Yet much as I wish to do something about it since the day I moved in, perhaps I was busy, or perhaps I had started to get used to it, that as the days go by, it slowly slipped my mind, lost its priority, with many other more demanding issues fighting for my attention.

Yet my dearest Papa God never fails to amaze me. Just a month ago, when I discovered that my estate is due for repainting, I was delighted, thanking Him for seeing to my little desire. And true enough, the proposed colour scheme for my block is really much better than the previous. (There are many occasions it ended up worse.) And just a few days ago, I was pondering on the water ponding issue at the staircase, as I was waiting for my lift at the lift lobby, on my way to work, I was thinking to myself, why am I trying so hard? Why not just leave it with my Shepherd, and for that brief second, I cast it to the Lord and ask Him for help for the first time for this little issue.

I believed you would not be surprised by what I am going to write next. True enough, just a couple of days ago, there are workers coming to every floor of my block, creating textures on the staircases and corridors, preparing for re-screeding of all the public spaces! I was touched, not so much by the event, but by the faithfulness of my Papa God, in seeing to the little desires of my heart, taking care of even such small incidents as this. Isn’t He the busiest Being in this universe? And yet He always has time for me. If it matters to me, it is not insignificant to Him, it also matters much to Him, as I slowly figure out.

It reminds me of the snow flakes, how every single one of them is different and yet perfectly patterned and sculpted, for the pleasure of His priced possession, us, to enjoy. It reminds me of the beautiful flowers He has created, for His beloved ones to smell, find rest and admire.

Yes, I am still waiting for the miracle to the cat incident, yet perhaps while waiting for it to happen, I am becoming more patient. But you know what? All these tiny episodes in life really make me ponder in wonder, awe, and in love, how much I must have meant to Him! It also creates a little “fear” and stir in my life these days, “fearing” that I forgot to let Him take charge, even down to the smallest details. For nothing seems to prosper through my puny effort, yet when I put them into His hands, I am always assured that they are well taken care of. Lord, always remind me not to take things into my own hands…. Only You Lord! And you too, cast all that trouble you into His hands, they are never too small, and He sure has more than enough time for you!

Sidetrack: I had a most interesting dream a few days ago. I dreamt that I was at Niagaras Falls, in Canada. This as a holiday place was never my agenda, yet come to think of it, the dream was so real, so beautiful, that I even saw the rainbow in the midst. I am longing for my sabbatical leave, and I can feel it drawing closer…. Thank you my Shepherd!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Purpose Of Life

Alone on a weekend with our domestic helper at home, writing my blog now, before I embark on the journey in my dream land (zzzzz…). A strange Saturday indeed, having to attend a meeting in the late afternoon, therefore it felt as if my time for today had been fragmented into 2 portions, before and after meeting. (I don’t normally have to work on weekends, much less having to attend meeting, this happened once in a moon blue.) As a result, I missed out 2 important celebrations, one is a friend’s baby’s full month (what do you call that?), and another is my brother’s birthday (tomorrow is his actual day, but we normally celebrate as a family on a Saturday).

I have been thinking a bit again recently, perhaps due to sudden extension of several “datelines” at work, I did not have to stay too late in office for the past week. (Somehow, I noticed that “datelines” tend to crash together, they always seem to fall within the same period, attempting to compete with one another for my attention at the same time.) I have been having a little bit more time to sleep (finally 8 hours a day), time for half an hour of TV and some chatting with my mom. Perhaps I have almost reached the threshold of my strength, after working for about 6 years, designing at a pace like never before. I have never designed so much with all my university years added together, with an average of about 8 to 10 designs or more in a year now perhaps? Such a frantic pace, when ideas seem no longer refreshing at times, but mere effort of trying to pass it off hopefully. That is why I am looking forward for a long break soon, as the feeling of “all is vanity” gets stronger every passing day in me. (Don’t misunderstand, I still enjoy designing, but I want to design from a God-given inner reservoir, not with my puny, insignificant creativity or self effort.)

Pondering on “all is vanity”. Have you ever asked yourself this question? Why am I born into this world? There must be a purpose for living? And as you look at what you are doing everyday, you begin to ask, is that all to life itself? I bet you must have, all must have at one point or another asked the above, and sure enough, I did. That was why finally the One who gives me purpose for living comes into my life, gives me a hope and a reason to live. I was suddenly reminded of this truth again yesterday, as I sang through the lyrics “I was made to praise You…I was made to love You…I was made to worship at Your feet”. I love the simplicity of this truth, the simple fact for my life, not for anything else, not for achievement, not for fame, not for money, although the above are good to have, but most of all, and if nothing at all, is to know and behold my Shepherd. The simple fact of life, the simple joy in life. Thank God for putting me back into the right perspective. For a moment, I almost forgot about this. Hope you too are reminded as well, after all, many of us are so caught up with the demands in life!

You must be wondering what has the above illustration got to do with what I am writing today. You are right, yet this mental image has been on my mind for the past few weeks, partly due to work, and I thought I might as well draw it out. (I showed my mom the painting, and she commented that it looks like a pair of hands holding a piece of chocolate! Hope you don’t think the same. Sob…) In life, we are bound to meet stormy weather and circumstances, such as Noah in the ark, yet I know for sure that there is a pair of living, invisible, yet most powerful hands protecting the ark and watching over it. So fear not, you are not alone, Someone who loves you dearly is watching over you relentlessly. Cheers! (And thanks again for reading my fragmented thoughts today!)