Saturday, September 30, 2006

Back To Basic

My Saturday morning routine is always a nice simple breakfast time with my mom, followed by reading the papers, which I only do once a week. Weekdays are too hectic for paper reading, so I chose to read the thickest set (which I always feel is the condensed set of the week), that is the Saturday’s papers, especially my 2 favourite sections: Saturday and Life!. Special report for today is on the yellow ribbon project, which somehow seems to be in the flow with my string of thoughts for the week. Been thinking about the youth, their lifestyles, their actions, many such acts are viewed as irresponsible, attention seeking, self-hurting and filled with unthinkable consequences. I thought of my teenage niece and nephews, their generation of young people. A short span of concern floods into my mind unconsciously at times when I witness their acts, that I almost forgot to cast them to the Lord, who loves them more than I do. As I read the report, I am back again to the same simple conclusion, down to the simple basic,

unconditional love + unconditional acceptance = extraordinary life

Lives are very vulnerable. Every human has an inner desire, seeking for love and acceptance from family, friends, peers, teachers, etc. If they are unable to receive love and acceptance, they would go to the other extreme, to agitate, to provoke, to upset. Yet I believe, many are not satisfied, many experience an emptiness within, which unknown to them, can only be satisfied by the Shepherd’s love. Many broken lives, heartaches, etc can be turned around if they know that Someone, the Greatest Being loves them despite of their imperfection, accepts them with no conditions attached. Many have a misunderstanding of the wonderful love story of the Shepherd and the sheep, if only all are to catch a glimpse of it, even just a tiny glimpse of it. I believe that there is no problem too big in this world that cannot be overcome once the comprehension of this great love is caught. The gospel of love: back to basic: unconditional love.

Since the day I made up my mind for my holiday destination, my stomach of butterflies has slowly been transformed into anticipation and excitement (must be because of the prayers of all dear friends), looking forward to all that I will be seeing. I zapped the maps, colored the places I wanted to see, and wow, I wonder if my 2.5 weeks are sufficient to finish all, plus the fact that I want a slow restful holiday. Been feeling so restless since August or much earlier, a need to retreat into Him suddenly seems more urgent than before as the days went by. I have little time for Him everyday, being bogged down by work and daily routine, so this holiday season shall be a break with Him, a time to restore my body, soul and spirit.

The second reason is, I think it is finally time to let go, a time to completely trust the Lord. Let me be a bit vulnerable, to speak my mind freely here. The day my superman assistant joined my team, an unconscious insecurity crept into my life, which I only begin to detect recently. I am agitated whenever I am challenged by him, his capability, his talent. An unknowing fear crept in, that my design will not be accepted but his instead, or that I would end up assisting him, fulfilling his design vision…I was fearful that as a result I would have less chance of designing. How scary our imagination can be? And even if that really happens, what does it matter? All things will surely turn around for our good…. And the desire of the righteous shall be granted.

The third reason is I need to go out and learn more, see more. There are times I feel, like the Chinese saying, a frog in the well, know so little, seen so little. (Plus my artist-friends gave me that picture, is that meant to be …? Joke lah, thanks for the picture, but I still dare not bring it home, I don’t want to scare my mom.) Yap, I want to learn more, absorb like a sponge all the beautiful visuals that I would encounter in this trip, storing up in my memory harddisk a library of designs, as future vocabulary to readapt, remodel and use!

Finally, why the above illustration? When I was deciding to choose between Beijing or NY for my holiday, I kept seeing myself sitting at Central Park reading, enjoy my simple quiet time with my Shepherd. (The illustration is a re-adaptation of Forrest Gump.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Prata Meal

Today I went to the tree-top walk again, but with another group of dear friends. Interesting to know that a few actually do not like suspended bridge, very strange reaction came from a few of them... I believe this is the first time we gang of friends venture into such an activity that is so healthy... other than church, karaoke and food. It was fun, let us conquer Sungei Buloh next? Hope we have lost a couple of kg in the process, but then, the roti prata meal that we had after the walk would most likely have upset the weight lost. Hope you all like the prata illustration above, notice the hand on the right bottom corner? Guess who is with us all the time?

So many things have happened recently, or it seems like so many things, or the repercussions from just one thing, that I lost sight of some of the good things that happened around me. Yes, indeed I have been blessed in my work, despite of the seemingly increased number of administrative workload. The assistant I was horrified with, had finally left and a new one has joined my team for about 3 weeks. I was initially quite concerned that this new one would be the same as the old, but all thank to Papa God, this one turns out to be quite good after all, God knows my limitation and level of patience. Now as I looked at my team, I have a superfast 3d design expert architect, excellent administrative project architect, and 2 willing to learn cum hardworking assistants, I am truly contented, with the 4 of them, I almost feel we can conquer most tasks... and so I can go for my long holiday break, with no worry at all, because they will be able to handle everything well while I am away. Thank Papa God for them!

For several weeks, I have been deliberating as to where to go for a break this year, finding it so hard to find a travel partner at the last minute. Even willing friends and family members either didn't want to go to the places I wished to visit or unable to get leave from work. (Thank God I have a good boss, that I believe he will definitely approve my leave no matter what, come to think of it, I am truly blessed.) I considered joining a package tour alone, but it does sound really pathetic, one most likely will feel more "lonely" in a crowd than when truly alone. So yes after deep thoughts, I bought a ticket to NY, flying alone there, and bunk in with a friend who has kindly let me stay at her place while I am there. Thanks truly, friend, if you happen to read this, though I am not sure if you would. However, most of the time I will roam around alone, which does sound pretty exciting to me, though there are butterflies in my stomach now whenever I think about it, as this is the first time I travelled so far alone, but I know my Shepherd will be with me at all times. (Though I have gone to China on several occasions alone for work, it was just a few hours away by flight and China is a place where I always feel very comfortable with.)

Yet, I believe this will truly be a great time of refreshing for me, having 2.5 weeks in NY, I will take on a really slow holiday, on a real budget though, perhaps having to cook or just 2 meals a day, and may finally have a time to sketch and even paint over there. Perhaps I should bring my littlelamb series of postcard illustrations and sell along the street? Each at US$5-10 to earn some pocket money? And I would definitely go visit my dream, Niagara Falls in Canada. And all dear friends, do keep me in prayer for the month of October, while I venture to NY alone! I know my Shepherd is with me always!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Too Beautiful

I have been listening to this album “Too Beautiful” for a couple of weeks. It is definitely quite different, not loud and outstanding as the previous, which is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact almost too soft, and would definitely need time to digest, understand, and slowly likes it, perhaps a bit like wine.

I would say that this album came at a very appropriate time, to me at least. The past few weeks were not exactly time I would want to relive again, in fact it is a memory that I wished to erase or forget if possible. When my thoughts were overwhelmed with grief and questions, the album came almost like a gentle breeze, and I almost mistook several of the songs as gospel songs, or were they actually conceived as such but not openly proclaim? I wonder.

I first got to hear this song “Too Beautiful” at about 1140pm one night, when a dear friend informed me that it will be broadcast over TV. Nothing spectacular or deeply impressed I was with my first encounter. But being a “fan”, I bought the album days later anyway, and slowly began to digest the songs. Yet through the past few difficult weeks I went through, this song has the effect of momentarily freeing my mind from the circumstances around me, and the image that stands before me is my Lord, my Shepherd as I savored the song. Strange as it sounds, part of the song actually painted the above illustration in my imagination.

The song starts very gently, almost surreal, as if you are standing before a huge, still lake. And as the lyric gently unfolds, it speaks of the love of Someone, who never gives up, stands by you, and even with repeated mistakes on our part, this Person never leaves, making life worth living. How great this Person must be, who can melt a heart of ice…. I was overwhelmed, because in life, I believe there is no other who can be so, except our beloved Shepherd. (Put a link here, you may want to hear it for yourself, but the website only covers half the song, better buy one to listen, but please be reminded that this album needs time and patience to slowly savor it. )

There is another song that rings a bell “So Beautiful”. Strange as it sounds, it seems to describe a female character initially, yet as you slowly digest the song, it has a bit of “Song of songs” effect in it, and as you look at the lyrics, the Chinese character “you” is a “male you”. The description of the Person in the song, about Someone altogether lovely, and strangely, the image of John leaning on the bosom of Jesus is painted in my mind. It speaks of Someone strong yet gentle, lovely as silk, forever beautiful. Speaking of being loved by this Person is an enjoyment, and to think of this Person is pure luxury. Honestly, as I listened to it a few more times, I am reminded again and again the loveliness of the Shepherd. Very powerful indeed.

Guess enough is said, it is not meant to be an album review, just want to mention a few songs that have helped me through a very difficult time. Thank God for them! And I am glad to say, I have come out of it all! Life is worth living because of Him, Jesus!

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Not sure if any of you remembered one of my very old entries on 18 January this year? It is about a bag that I wanted to buy, but it went out of stock. You know what? I saw a very similar one recently at the same brand shop a few days ago, and today I went to get it. I believed it was cheaper than the last time when I wanted to get it. It taught me a very precious lesson, about waiting patiently and not be discouraged. I remembered I wanted it so badly then, yet with all my might, I could not have it. Despite of that, my Papa God has answered my prayer a few months later, though now I knew I can live without it, I bought it anyway, as it taught me something. Some incidents we viewed as disappointments in life may in fact turn out to be real blessings later on when we look back. In life, I know if we are willing to wait, we will never be put to shame, especially when we have already cast all our cares unto our Shepherd, who loves us so much that He gave His life for us. We only need to wait, it will surely come to pass.

I was not feeling exactly uplifted or joyous recently, despite constant reminder that my name is written in the Lamb's book of Life. And I have been looking for escape or refuge, and I think a little break will surely do me much good, a break that I have been wanting since last month, with the accumulated work pressure that I must have imposed on myself,etc that happened. Just pray that I would have the courage to travel alone this time since no travel friend is in sight for this time round. In fact, I know I will not be alone for my Shepherd is with me. Papa God gives me courage.

Sometimes, the people you least expected bring you the greatest laughter. This was exactly what happened today, having a simple Uno game with my niece and nephews, we have the noisiest fun I ever had for the longest time (2 months?), perhaps finally laughing from within me, forgetting the past for that brief moment, putting powder on the faces of the losers of the game, taking pictures, etc, the simple pleasure of being with your loved ones. How simple the game was, but how powerful and full of impact the joy of being with my family. Lastly, just a reminder, Jesus our joy, and His love comes through the people He placed around us.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Friends Together

It’s been through an indescribable week, almost wishing it was just a nightmare every morning I woke up for the past few days. Working was never that draining on me, although there were times of frustration and incidents that did not turn out the way I anticipated, or clients did not express the same excitement as I hope just as the way I had when I was designing, or even when disagreement happens between my boss, colleagues and myself. Only yesterday I realized mental and physical workout is not as draining and tiring as emotional workout. I went through this perhaps the 3rd time in my life, it was never easy in the past, neither is it easy this time. But I sort of went into “auto-pilot” mode for a few moments, just like what happened in the movie “Click”, fast forward some moments.

Yet I am thankful to God, I have come out of it, I believe. I slept well last night. Sleep was not like sleep the few nights before, though I slept, it didn’t feel like I had slept. And I ended waking up much earlier than I had planned. Doing my work was hard, I always feel that design has to come from that inner part of me, and when I know right within me that “this is it”, I know this is it, yet, for the past few days, I just produced design for the sake of design, and I just know the product is not up to par. If the presentation turned out well yesterday while I am absent, it must have been the mercy of God.

Though the week was difficult, I was glad at least I finally put down my “so-called” important daily engagement (or simply routine), having a little time with my friends, finding comfort in one another, though little was spoken. I had reflections of the wonderful times we used to spend together, doing props, studying for exam together, chatting over lunch and practicing our songs. Those good old days shall be wrapped up as treasures in my heart. And I realized that several of those wonderful times together, someone dear has been the one who put those times together, arranging the gatherings and entertaining us, thanks dear. We will meet again someday in the future. Friends bring comfort, just by simply being there, not even with a word spoken.

Finally the above picture is for those friends whom I have found comfort together for the past few days, though we were too tired to enjoy the movie yesterday, I am just really glad I have you all with me. Actually, I wanted to drew our Shepherd as the 7th person, but then it would be unfair to draw Him sitting close to just one of us, so just imagine He is right within. (And also I was a bit lazy today.) I have learnt and must further learn, take some time off, man! We shall all move on, dear friends, and come out stronger than before, through our dear Shepherd, Jesus. He is ever so faithful and things will definitely turn around for good! We shall meet up often from hence forth! I hope I will not forget! I need constant reminder on this! Forever friends.