Yan's Corner - In Touch

Friday, April 29, 2005

Look at these women

Lee Kuan Yew delivered a keynote address at the World Ethics and Integrity Forum 2005 yesterday in Kuala Lumpur.

Lee said then-President Ferdinard Marcos of the Philippines only had an annual salary of USD5,000 (RM19,000). He asked, "Do you believe he was living within his means?" His own answer - "Look at his wife".

This seems to have nothing to do with my posting this evening. But I am asking you -

Look at these women.



GB International President with GB Hong Kong Posted by Hello


International President with GB Malaysia Posted by Hello

We are hosting the GB Asia Fellowship in Sibu starting today until 2nd May. I have the chance to do a quick posting here because the Chairman of Asia Fellowship, Mrs Sally Chew is still in Kuala Lumpur waiting for a flight to Sibu. She is supposed to touch down Sibu at 5:20 pm and our dinner has earlier been fixed at 6:00 pm. Other groups from Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong and West Malaysia are arriving at 9:00 pm. The International President, Ms Hee Piang Ching would arrive here tomorrow after her official trip to ChiangMai.

These women are all playing many roles in their lives. These roles include wife, mother, boss to someone, employees, daughter. Yet, week after week, they work faithfully with young girls teaching them about life and about Christ.

Look at these women. They travel from near and far to meet to discuss Girls' Brigade matters, to sharpen their saw and to have fellowship. That's why it's call GB Asia Fellowship.

The Asia Fellowship meets twice every year. We met in Singapore last December.

Some women enjoy living alone with their own privacy being able to do what they want when they want. But it is hard for GB to be a hermit GB. We need each other to navigate the spiritual rocky bumps.

Fellowship in GB means women - imperfect but important fellow travellers on the highway to heaven. The fellowship provides encouragement and support for each other. The fellowship provides and environment for healthy spiritual growth. The fellowship provides the chance to be trained in the art of love and sservice. The fellowship provides a ground of togetherness and caring.

For the next three days, these women will worship together. They will pray together. They will eat together. They will discuss GB matter. They will discuss GB international business. They will sharpen their saw. They will study the words of God.

Look at these women. They relinquish the anxieties, distractions and busyness of the day and empty themselves completely on their Lord. These women lean, rest and rely upon Him. And as they listen, talk and ponder, these simple women learn the truth of what it meant "to abide in Him and He in them".

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

America's Best Preacher

Reader’s Digest named Christian author Max Lucado “America’s Best Preacher”.

From airlines to ice cream shops, from pies to pet products and preachers – the Reader’s Digest listed the “America Best” in 100 categories. The issue hit the newsstands on April 19th.

The editors of Readers’ Digest said they talked to hundreds of experts and ordinary folks to select the best in each category. The Reader’s Digest editor in chief Jackie Leo said in a news release that the aim is to highlight hidden treasures, great products, cool trends and inspiring stories that show what’s extraordinary about America.

Max Lucado has published more than 50 inspirational books. He has been in pulpit minister at Oaks Hills Church since 1988.

Max Lucado once said in an article that he used to be louder and rougher on people than he is now. “Now I realize how much God has forgiven me.”

I like Max Lucado’s books for his very powerful and encouraging messages. Enjoy and ponder on some of the words from his book, When God Whispers Your Name –

It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is still asleep. The day is coming….

In a few moments, the day well arrive …

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demand. It is now I must make a choice…


I CHOOSE LOVE…
No occasion justifies hatred;

no injustice warrants bitterness.
I choose love.
Today I will love God and what God loves.

I CHOOSE JOY…
I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.

I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…
the tool of the lazy thinker.
I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings,
created by God.
I will refuse to see any problem as
anything less than an opportunity to see God.

I CHOOSE PEACE…
I will live forgiven.

I will forgive so that I may live.

I CHOOSE PATIENCE…
I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.

Instead of cursing the one who takes my place,
I'll invite him to do so.
Rather than complain that the wait is too long,
I will thank God for a momentto pray.
Instead of clenching my fist at new assignments,
I will face them with joy and courage.

I CHOOSE KINDNESS…
I will be kind to the poor,

for they are alone.
I will be kind to the rich, for they are afraid.
And kind tothe unkind, for such is how God has treated me.

I CHOOSE GOODNESS…
I will go without a dollar

before I take a dishonest one.
I will be overlooked
before I will boast. I
will confess before I will accuse.
I choose goodness.

I CHOOSE FAITHFULNESS…
Today I will keep my promises.

My debtors will not regret their trust.
My associateswill not question my word.
My wife will not question my love.
And my children will never fear
that their father will not come home.

I CHOOSE GENTLENESS…
Nothing is won by force.

I choose to be gentle.
If I raise my voice, may it be only in praise.
If I clench my fist, may it only be in prayer.
If I make a demand, may it only be of myself.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Of E-mails, SMSs and IQ

On April 21, NST reported that the Road Transport Officers have started looking out for drivers with one hand on the wheel and the other hand sending an SMS. It is an offence to do so.

It is unthinkable that many can do that.

CNN reported yesterday –

Workers distracted by phone calls, e-mails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana, a British study shows.

The constant interruptions reduce productivity and leave people feeling tired and lethargic, according to a survey carried out by TNS Research and commissioned by Hewlett Packard.


In 80 clinical trials, Dr. Glenn Wilson, a psychiatrist at King's College London University, monitored the IQ of workers throughout the day.

He found the IQ of those who tried to juggle messages and work fell by 10 points -- the equivalent to missing a whole night's sleep and more than double the 4-point fall seen after smoking marijuana.

I would not know how IQ can be lowered. But certainly SMS can cause a whole night’s sleep.

Not long ago, I received this SMS from my “superior” –

Write a letter to parents that we shall be closed 4 2 weeks.

I serve in a voluntary organization as Secretary. We meet once a week. Closed for 42 weeks? It was near to midnight when I received this SMS. It took me one night to get it right –

Dear parents,

We shall be closed for two weeks….

I can assure you that there is no decrease of IQ, my EQ elevated, but I am stressed-out.

The Curious Incident of the dog



I was as curious as Christopher when Desiderata (http://desiderata2000@blogspot.com/) told me he is now reading the book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night-time”. I got hold of a copy and started reading.

It’s a murder mystery story. Christopher Boone finds his neighbour’s dog murdered. He wants to find out who murders the dog. This is a story told by someone with a different view of life.

Christopher is an autistic child, or to be exact, Asperger’s Sydrome. That’s a form of autism and it means that he doesn’t understand or relate to other people the way most of us do.

My first encounter with autism was in year 2001 when I was the President of the Federation of Sarawak Journalists Association (FSJA). Shell Kenyalang Press Awards was an annual event of the Association. The sponsors, Shell, would like to do a social project while holding the annual press awards to journalists.

It was then that I met the Sibu Autism Society. Through the collaboration of FSJA, Shell contributed towards the funding of some equipment needed in the Sibu Autistic Association. From there, I had the opportunities to meet some autistic children gaining a little understanding of their minds.

I read the novel with much care, as I would have to in order enter into the world of a little autistic boy. Being a mother, it is natural for me to be curious about Christopher’s expression of love. I do not have much difficulty relating to Christopher.

What have I seen through Christopher’s eyes? What have I discover about myself as parents?

“Truth” is central in Christopher’s life. One of the hardest things in life is to be objective at ourselves. We make excuses. If we are parents who allow children to make excuses, our children will not take up responsibility for their actions. We train them to find fault with others. They never learned to face the truth.

Christopher writes that “everything I have written …. is true”. Have we, as parents found lies so indispensable?

Christopher talks about love. He seems to know how his father loves him. He does not exactly understand what exactly that should mean. His definition of love is – his father does not lie to him. Little does he know, his father lies to him. How can Christopher believe his father when his definition of love is “telling the truth” after he found out that his father lied to him?

Are we often caught in that kind of situation with our own children?

Christopher fears being touched. Is that the reason that he actually does not experience the parents’ love? Or does he understand? Or is he actually longing for hugs from his parents? When was the last time that we give our children a hug?

Christopher likes to be alone. He dreams of being an astronaut, alone in space. He likes the idea that there is no other people in the world. He contemplates a virus carries off everyone except “special people like me”. He disconnects himself from the world. H goes out at night to stare at the stars to make himself negligible.

In our packed schedule, do we spend time alone by choice? Do we allow our spirt to be revived, our mind renewed and body rejuvenated...

Chris observes “the world is full of obvious things which nobody by chance ever observes.”

To me, it is a book about words, about what you can do with words. What it means to communicate with someone with words. Though everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning to him, Christopher is an excellent narrator. He gives me clear and effective descriptions of mental confusions. If this statement of Christopher makes sense to us, we are on our way to be better parents –

“I do not always do what I’m told. And this is because when people tell you what do it is usually confusing and does not make sense. For example, people often say “Be quiet” but they don’t tell you how long to be quiet for….”

I "challenged" Desiderata to write about the book two weeks ago. When he accepted, I regretted. It's just 50 minutes away from our agreed time - 11:00 am on 24th April. I have to post early because of an engagement at 11:00 am....

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fairy Tale

My teenage daughter, Rachel has never like Chinese songs. A week ago, she came back with a VCD by a singer called “Kuang Liang”. The song is “Fairy Tale”. Both of my children did not believe in the stories of the “fairy tales” when they were young. They were more delighted by the reading by their mummy and the delightful words. However, for the past one week, Rachel, Chris (my 9-year old son) and myself listened to the song over and over again.

Incidentally, I read this story.

AFP reported on April 22 that –

Young girls who enjoy classic romantic fairy tales like “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” are at greater risk of becoming victims of violent relationships in later life, a British researcher says.

The academic paper was written by Susan Darker-Smith. She found that many abuse victims identified with characters in famous children’s literature.

These victims believe that if their love is strong enough they can change their partner’s behaviour. And they tend to be more submissive in their future relationships.

Submit. The very word invokes negative images. But for Christians, submission is a lifestyle choice. We submit to God’s Word. We submit to God’s righteousness. We submit to the government. We submit to one another in the family unit. We submit to Jesus as head of the church. We submit to God’s discipline. We submit to leadership. We submit to our boss.

Relationships are about power struggle. To submit is to show deference to others. To submit is to respect others.

Submission is not a sign of weakness. It shows self-discipline and strength of character.

There is no reason that we should deprive our children of children literature for fear that they will be submissive in future relationships.

But on this World Book Day, will you read with me this very beautiful piece by Shel Silverstein that was read by my children over and over …

THE GIVING TREE
Once there was a giving tree who loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come to play
Swinging from the branches, sleeping in the shade
Laughing all the summer’s hours away.
And so they love, Oh, the tree was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

But soon the boy grew older and one day he came and said,
"Can you give me some money, tree, to buy something I’ve found?"
"I have no money," said the tree, "
Just apples, twigs and leaves."
"But you can take my apples, boy, and sell them in the town.
"And so he did and Oh, the tree was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

But soon again the boy came back and he said to the tree,
"I’m now a man and I must have a house that’s all my home."
"I can’t give you a house" he said,
"The forest is my house."
"But you may cut my branches off and build yourself a home"
And so he did.
Oh, the tree was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

And time went by and the boy came back with sadness in his eyes.
"My life has turned so cold," he says,
"and I need sunny days."
"I’ve nothing but my trunk," he says,
"But you can cut it down
And build yourself a boat and sail away."
And so he did and Oh, the tree was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

And after years the boy came back, both of them were old.
"I really cannot help you if you ask for another gift."
"I’m nothing but an old stump now. I’m sorry but I’ve nothing more to give"
"I do not need very much now, just a quiet place to rest,"
The boy, he whispered, with a weary smile.
"Well", said the tree,
"An old stump is still good for that."
"Come, boy", he said, "Sit down, sit down and rest a while."
And so he did
and Oh, the trees was happy.
Oh, the tree was glad.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Living with no regrets


No apologies Posted by Hello


When I first heard of the program – No Apologies – I could not understand why a program teaching teenagers about love, life and sex be called such name. Many years passed, until last year I attended the workshop conducted by the Training Coordinator of Girls’ Brigade Malaysia.

It’s “No Apologies”. It’s living with no regrets.

Together with my two other colleagues in the Girls’ Brigade, we facilitated this workshop for 97 girls aged 15 to 17. All 97 of them chose not to live in regrets. They signed a pledge to sexual abstinence until they are married. How amazing!

The program is developed by a Christian group, “Focus on Family”. It aims to help teenagers with their decision to abstain from pre-marital sexual activity. The goals are to help teenagers understand the value of abstinence and recognize the relationship between love and sex and benefits of having sex for marriage and produce the skills, strategies and strength of character needed to maintain premarital abstinence.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"Simple, Humble Worker"

Following is the text of Pope Benedict XVI's first address to the world after being elected as pontiff on Tuesday. The new Pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, delivered the address in Italian from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. Translated by Reuters.

"Dear brothers and sisters,

After the Great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the Lord's vineyard.

I am comforted by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and act even with insufficient instruments. And above all, I entrust myself to your prayers.

With the joy of the risen Lord and confidence in his constant help, we will go forward. The Lord will help us and Mary his most holy mother will be alongside us.

Thank you."

Yan's thoughts -

Simple and humble worker, as the new Pope calls himself -

In the city of humankind, powerful people command the obedience of others.
In God's kingsom, the one who would be powerful must serve others.
In the city of humankind, ambition rules.
In God's kingdom, meekness rules.
In the city of humankind, the simple and low are ground underfoot.
In God's kingdom, the humble are exalted by God.

Humility is the path to power.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Switching Values

In the book Who Switched The Price Tags, the author Tony Compolo relates the story when he was a little boy. He and a friend decided to break into a drug store to do some mischief.

They did not want to steal anything. They did not want to destroy anything. They only wanted to leave some marks.

They switched the price tags around. They put expensive price tags on cheap stuff. Cheap stuff were tagged with high price tags.

They reversed the values of all the goods.

Does that remind us of a truth?

We are switching our values.

I was disturbed this morning by the confirmation by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Singapore is "gambling" on two casinos.

Lee revealed the government's decision in Parliament to allow construction of two casinos. The decision was reached after months of mulling over the economic pros and social cons.

In justifying the country's decision, Lee said:

"In Asia, Shanghai is full of drive and energy. Hong Kong is opening its Disneyland; Hong Kong is also talking about opening a casino to compete with Macau. Will Singapore be part of the new world, or will we be bypassed and left behind."

It was reported that the ministers were evenly split in the debate. They shared the qualms of the public about the social impact.

I have always thought that Singapore's strict social controls are its main assets.

Is Singapore switching its values to things that are not as valuable as the tag that is attached to it?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Rewrite the success script

How about a success story like this -

Her husband was a sharp law student in class at the University of London, answering quick on the spot.

She kept quiet because she wanted to make sure she got her answers correct.

Her husband did not pass his examinations and had to switch to accountancy.

But she earned her LLB and join Malaysia Judical and Legal Service working her way up to become a Sessions Court Judge...


I did not write that success story. But this is a true story of success of a Malaysian woman penned by writer of Bernama today. And I guess the story was run by many Malaysian newspapers subscribing to the national news agency service.

The world defines success in terms of things like wealth, titles, and winning. Therefore, the terrorists' definition of success is blowing up buildings. The materialist's vision of sucess is that he acquires more money. We judge success by what a person owns - talents, good looks, fame, or just being way ahead of others. We fight for success even at the expense of downgrading our own family members.

Our definition of success has only two dimensions: ourselves and our goals. But, true success should be 3-D, God, His purpose and our lives. And our lives should include ourself, family, friends and community.

Can we re-write the script like this -

Her husband, a qualified accountant, has been her constant support and inspiration.

She has, through her works, touched the lives of many people, and building up and contributing towards her community and the country.

She strives to be the best. However, on her achievements, she attributed the success to her family members, friends and God.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Joys of Baking

Yesterday, I baked a banana cake. Today, I baked a cheese cake.

It gives me such great joy as the fresh aroma filled the whole house. I am reminded that Jesus said He is the “bread of life”. Whoever believes in Him will receive life and never go hungry.

Isn’t it not wonderful? The mixing, the blending, the waiting – and lo, the “bread of life” opens a window to His declaration.

Honestly, it took me a while to believe that simple things in life can open doors for God to do wondrous things.

Last week I was in Kuala Lumpur. When I am in Kuala Lumpur, the food I normally take is bread. I love the fresh aroma of bread wafting from the bakery shop when I pass by. I went to the usual bakery shop I visit. It was closed for renovation. I walked away with much disappointment. I felt lost and picked up a “cup noodle” for dinner (I do not like to eat alone in food centre) at the hotel.

Not only did I go without the “bread of life”, the “cup noodle” upset my stomach. I did not take any food until the next dinner time where at KIA I met two young friends. It was a relaxing hour lingering over a cup of “milo”. It reminded me of God’s drink of Me. Yes, this reminder gives me energy just like the cup of “milo” gives me energy after a day without food.

Miracles are really occurrences that we encounter everyday. Because they are dressed in uncommon God-inspired ways, we pass them by without really experience the spiritual adventure.

Discover the simple things in life.

Choice

The Star reported, “Patients get to pick medicine”. It is about choice. Yes, patients will have a choice of branded medicine or generic drugs.

From the Star,

The planned National Health Financing Scheme will give Malaysians a choice of whether to buy branded drugs or generic medication.

“This is to make things more customer-oriented,” said Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican.

“There are those who prefer branded drugs to generic ones. They will be able to buy these from the hospital pharmacy.

“It will be easier for them when they can make their own choice,” he said.

Dr Ismail said currently doctors prescribed drugs that they felt were most appropriate – generic or branded – to the patient, for free.

He said the new concept of prescription would be tried at the Selayang and Putrajaya Hospitals in June.

Branded drugs refer to drugs within a higher price bracket and are innovative in nature.
They contain active ingredients that have been “discovered” by the pharmaceutical company that holds the patent for the formulation.

Generic drugs – cheaper versions of the innovator drug – are developed by other companies when the patent has expired.

It contains the same active ingredient as the original but may have some different inactive ingredients, such as starch or sugar, that are added to provide a pleasant taste or colour or to help a tablet dissolve in the stomach.

With the explosion of choice in products, services and lifestyles, we are pushed to want the best of everything.

Choice is the power of preference, the right to select, the freedom to elect. Every choice we make may change the course of our life.

James Russell Lowell, the noted writer impeccably describes it this way

“Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood
For the good or evil side
With each choice God speaking to us
Offering each the bloom of blight
Then the man or nation chooses
For the darkness or the light

What will you choose? Branded or generic?

Friday, April 15, 2005

You are not a number


You are not a number Posted by Hello

Telekom Malaysia launched its new brand yesterday. It is now called TM Bhd. Its retail outlets is new called TMpoint. It was launched by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

For the past few days, Malaysians have been reading the above advertisement in all major newspapers.

Bernama reports,

Asked on the new rebranding of TM, Abdullah said "it looked more attractive and cheerful."

"I hope it would become a renowned Malaysian brand especially when operating in foreign countries. With the new branding, anybody who sees TM would recognise Malaysia," he said.

Abdullah also said he does not want to see TM to be known only as Telekom Malaysia but as an international telecommunications company which is competent, efficient and able to meet customers' demands.

"This is my hope and that of every citizen and I hope it becomes a commitment of every TM employee to play their role in ensuring TM's success as a renowned telecommunications company," he said.

But Malaysians have surely Mother Teresa to thank for, for it was Mother Teresa who first told us that we have not come into the world to be a number. The full quote -

How wonderful it is to think that we have all been created for a purpose! We have not come into the world to be a number; we have been created for a purpose, for great things: To love and be loved. – Mother Teresa

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Risk for Depression

I read with great amusement (?) fellow blogger, Desiderata’s choice of not knowing his blood pressure readings. The reason? “Ignorance is bliss”. (Read here) Or is it really?

With that reasoning, Desiderata would not need to take up a questionnaire to determine whether he is at risk of depression, that I am sure.

The New York Times reported on 13th April that doctors in New York City have begun to use a simple questionnaire to determine if a patient is at risk for depression, a practice that health officials hope will become a routine part of primary care, much like a blood pressure test or cholesterol reading.

The test includes questions about mood and behaviour.

Patients are asked if over the past two weeks they have felt “down, depressed or hopeless”.

They can answer by checking one of the followings:
Not at all
Several days
More than half the days
Nearly every day

It is reported in the same article, titled “Depressed? New York City screens for people at risk”, that surveys have found that about 16 percent of Americans - or as many as 46 million people - suffer from depression at some point. And by some estimates, depression costs the nation $44 billion a year in lost work and disability - more than any other illness, including heart disease.

Pause in awe and wonder of His glorious creation
Delight in His company and that of your fellow brethren
Respond to His precedent and rest from your labours
Find joy in a tender touch, the laughter of a child
Smell of a rose and the chirping of a bird…

And you need not be measured of your risk of mental problem…

Never Eat Alone

I do not like eating alone. At home, we make it a point that we eat together.

When I go traveling, I eat with friends. I especially enjoy eating with Sandra, my good friend. Why? Because we both enjoy food. Whenever we eat together, we order a little of various specialities of the restaurant. And for a while we forget about the calories, we finish all the food.

I also enjoy eating with two young friends. And for a while I enjoy taking care of these two young friends.

Fellowship means people – imperfect but definitely important fellow travellers on the highway travelling together. Eating together has always been an important part of fellowship and friendship. The warmth, the handshake, the smile, the showing of loving concern for each other … are all parts of eating together.

Well, I have just finished reading the book, “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. In smaller prints it reads “and other secrets to success, one relationship at a time”. The covers also reads, “The ultimate net worker reveals how to build a lifelong community of colleagues, contacts, friends and mentors.”

So, you know it’s not a book on food. I pick up three points from the book. The three points may not be the most important ones, but it’s something to remember –

People naturally care, generally above and beyond anything else, about what it is they do… if you are informed enough to step comfortably into their world and talk knowledgeably, their appreciation will be tangible… as William James wrote “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated”

A shared meal in your own home is a powerful way to comfort, nurture, and connect people.

Consider writing articles for publications. Articles provide a terrific environment for meeting anyone anywhere, Tthe odds will never be stacked so clearly in your favour. Consider sharing credit and offering a byline to the person who becomes most helpfu. Welcome their co-authorship… by article’s end, whether it’s been published or not, you’ve managed to learn a great deal and to meet a group of important people who potentially might be important to your future.

Don’t eat alone. Martin Luther said, “Shun solitude. Eve got into trouble when she walked in the garden alone. I have my worst temptations when I am by myself.”

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Cuddling a rattlesnake

On Thursday (7th April), Sibu town was flooded. My 9-year old son's school compound was also flooded. My son came home telling me that he saw a snake in the water. He asked whether he should have "saved" the snake... I told him this story, an old Indian story, if my memory does not serve me wrong...

A story was told of a young man who climbed a mountain on a cold winter's day. When he reached the top, he saw a rattlesnake coiled beside a stump. The young man walked over with careful steps to see if it was alive.

"Pleas.....se.. could you warm me under your cloak and carry me back the valley where I belong?" The sname whispered a voice that barely audible over the cold breeze.

The young man was not too sure. He said, "You would bite me."

"Pleas...s..e.., I'm freezing. I am nearly dead. How could I harm you? Your are strong. Your cloak is warm. What would you lose if you help me?"

The young man's mother had always told him that only a fool would trust a rattlesnake.

But, this dying snake seemed so sincere. It was convincing too. It was certainly pitiful.

So, he picked it up and put it under his cloak to warm and carried it down the mountain.

When they reached the mountain foot, he reached into his cloak and pulled out the snake. The snake, now warmed and feeling more itself, bit his forearm.

"Why did you do that? You cheated me." The young man was shocked.

"Cheated you? I never. You knew I was a rattlesnake when you picked me up." hissed back the snake.

I taught my son not to trust a rattlesnake. I also picked the opportunity to tell him that there are temptaitons out in the the world and it always says things like - it's not going to hurt you anyway. But, the real truth is - you knew it was a rattlesnake when you pick it up.. Resisting the temptation is as easy as not to pick up the rattlesnake, walk away from it ...

My son was holding a chocolate bar and he dropped it back into the container....

etcetera ...
Companies know that even the thought of temptation sells. They market Temptation Perfume, Temptation Splash, Temptation Bubble Bath, Temptation candles. And there are Chocolate Temptation Ultimate Truffles, and even a book series called Harlequin Temptation ....

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Who Are You?

My teenage daughter's group of friends keep a blog at http://ignorantcow.blogspot.com. They are many contributors. They call it -

Ramblings of Malaysian Teenagers

I paid a visit to their cyberhome and was greeted with these words -

Welcome to our realm of rambles. We are a million contradictions, we make no sense! We're perfect and sometimes we're a mess! We're not sure who we are..

There are millions of teens making their thoughts and feelings available for friends and strangers alike. What's all about? Why are they re-shaping their lives into short stories that can typed up and posted on the internet? Why do these teenagers feel the need to connect with other people through their stories? Why do they feel that they need to leave mark on the world, even if it means tucking away in an obscure corner of cyberspace?

God is the creator. He creates us in His image. Only creatures with souls keep online journals or make art. It reflects God's creativity.

This piece is specially dedicated to this group of young people in my own church community who certainly do not make much sense to me in most of their postings. But, I see God's creativity in their works...

If you are in Christ, your name is written on God's hands.
It is not written in ballpoint, or the way you write in your blog, or even the way you might write "History test on Monday" on your palms to remind yourselves. Your name is written in eternity.

Cling to Christ. Hold on tight to Him.
If in anytime your grasp starts to slip, know that it's God who is gripping on you, it is not your grip on him. That's the assurance.

The things on earth, if they fill you at all, fill you only temporarily.
You can try to fill yourself up with activities, accomplishments, popularity - but earthly fulfillment leaks out the bottom as fast as you can heap it in the top. The fulness of a life in which God reigns is a fullness that overflows today, tomorrow and forever.

Look to God alone for approval, for the substance of who you are.
When you know God's love and acceptance, you can accept yourself just as you are, with all your imperfections. You can discover who you are, and helps you feel loved and valued.

Give thanks often to God for how He created you.
"You are wonderfully and fearfully made." (Psalms 139:14a)
Demonstrate the "God-created" you to your friends and family.
Exhibit acceptance of the God-created you by learning to be your own best friend, by enjoying your own company, by being content whether you are alone or in a crowd.
Resist peer pressure to do things that doesn't match who you know you are.

Well done - invite your parents to "see" your imperfections in the realm of rambles...
Graciously receive my sincere compliments...

Keep on writing. Let your thoughts be a blessing to many other young people. Proverbs 11:25 says, "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself."

Money matters

Fellow blogger, YLChong (http://desiderata2000.blogspot.com) offers me to use his article "Two Lucky Countries" in my newspapers. He is "uncomfortable" when coming to money matters even when I was very gentle about it.

If you are like most people, you feel uncomfortable talking about money. This is especially so for writers/authors. But my other good friend, Angela, said that she wants to work on projects that satisfies her emotionally, spiritually and financially. Because she said, at the end of the day, she still have bills to pay.

Money does provide a sense of worth in some ways. How much your boss pay you indicates how valued you are in the workplace.

But, it is your attitude towards money that shows the direction of your spiritual walk.

The Bible says our attitude toward money is a major test of our true heart's desires (1 Timothy 6:17). An example of good use of money is Barnabas selling a field and donating the proceeds for extension of God's kingdom. A bad example is Ananias and Sapphira selling the land for their own motive of self-glory.

Someone wisely said, "The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money."

Be grateful with what you have, acknowledging it all comes from God and reaping spiritual rewards. How you use and get your money shows your trustworthiness. The gift of money is a test of your personality.

SMS rage

I was not quite finished with the girl seated next to me in the plane sending SMS. Yes, it’s the SMS. As I stepped into the airport terminal building, many handphones were on now. SMSs started pouring in with all sorts of alert tones. I switched on my handphone too as I queued to buy my taxi coupon.

I received an annoying chain message. This woman rarely ever sends me messages aside from those annoying chain messaging. She annoys me every time she sends me a chain message. I pity her. I know she is also a victim of the chain message stupidity complex. But to spread the chain message to others is a totally different thing.

You think it’s fun? If you receive this on your phone and see whether you can smile to the phone –

God is good all the time. All the time God is good. Send this to 20 of your friends, if 5 comes back, it means you are a good friend and your family will be safe. If you ignore this, one of your “love” will leave you in 2005.

To me, it’s more than a curse or life threatening message than having good-intention to send you some luck.

Short words are sweet. But chain SMS is bitter. It annoys friends. A new term, SMS rage, to emerge soon? Send this to 20 of your friends? No, no, no.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Air rage

I was seated next to a young girl yesterday on a 30-minute flight from Sibu to Kuching. As soon as the plane touched the ground, she pulled out her handphone, switched it on and started sending SMS. I stared at her. I wanted to tell her that we can only switch on the handphone until we have reached the terminal building.

I was irritated.

I read from The Washington Post that the United States government is studying the prospect of lifting its ban on cell phone use during flights. Industry and government are pouring millions of dollars into research to determine whether wireless communications pose a threat to airline navigation systems.

If it proves that the usage of wireless communication is not posing a threat to airline navigation system, does it mean that I shall be listening to unwanted conversations in the half an hour flight to Kuching? Imagine on a flight from Sibu to Kuala Lumpur, just as the Captain says, “Cabin crew, please be seated for landing”, there are a hundred voices yelling at their handsets, “Darling, I am landing at KLIA”.

I know that will be the time when a new term will be used in the newspaper – the air rage.

Don’t worry yet. It was further reported that no change in the airline rules on cell phones is likely for at least a couple of years. The result on whether the phones interfere with navigational equipment is only due in December 2006.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Bishop of Roam

I do not know Pope John Paul II personally. I am not a Catholic. But I read quite a bit about him when he was alive and read more about him when he passed away.

The title today is not my original, but I “borrow” from Washington Post.

Of all articles that I have read, Robin Wright, Washington Post Staff Writer’s Bishop of Roam allows me to photograph in my heart the Pope he knew. The story carries a sub-heading “For John Paul II, the world was his parish”. Join me as I relate to you through the eyes of Robin Wright …

Picture No. 1 – In the slums of Rio, the Pope quietly slipped off his gold papal ring and gave it to a poor Brazilian parish to help its flock. What’s so special about this act is the ring that he gave away was a gift from Pope Paul VI. When he was elevated to cardinal in 1967.

Picture No. 2 – He led prayers in Hiroshima to the long-forgotten victims of the radiation more than 30 years after two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan that ended World War II. Later he showed his justice anger that two Catholics had been on the planes that unleashed the world’s deadliest weapon.

Picture No. 3 – In the Philippines, he embraced a little boy who had dodged through a massive crowd, defying tight security, to touch his pope.

Picture No. 4 – In Sao Paulo, he stood in a freezing rain at a stadium rally of some 120,000 Brazilian workers, thrusting his fist in the air shouting “Solidarity, solidarity”. He was urging the Brazilians to mobilize against their own military junta, and eventually they did.

Picture No. 5 – His private meeting with Ferdinand Marcos in 1981 ended with Marcos storming out of a room in his own palace. Robin wrote that he could still remember the fury on Marcos’ face. The pope delivered a blunt message that no government could justify subverting human rights in the name of its own security or survival.

Picture No. 6 - The pope always insisted he was only preaching Christ's timeless message. But he was shrewdly deliberate in where and how he used that message. Each of his trips to some 130 nations was masterfully planned.

Picture No. 7 - He reached out to personally console Associated Press correspondent Victor Simpson and his wife, Daniela Petroff, when their young daughter was among the 20 people murdered in simultaneous 1985 attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports by Palestinian renegades loyal to Abu Nidal.

Picture No. 8 - On most trips he came back on the plane to thank the journalists for traveling with him. He moved from seat to seat, answering the journalists’ questions, sharing a story or engaging in banter -- usually in whatever language the journalist spoke. He was accessible on any subject, from sex and birth control to modern warfare and economics.

Picture No. 9 – He entered a Jewish house of worship -- at a Rome synagogue in 1986, he held a joint ceremony with the chief rabbi and spoke in Hebrew. John Paul was the first pope in 2,000 years of Christianity to do so. He later prayed with Muslims at a mosque in Damascus, another first.

These are certainly great pictures of love in action.

The writer ended with the closing remark –

In the end, time was the only limit to John Paul's extraordinary papacy.

Or is there a limit?

Friday, April 01, 2005

I remember

I remember the boy living next door to me yesterday.

Desiderata (http://desiderata2000.blogspot.com/) wrote on the power of poetry and also included part of the lyrics of the the song “First of May” by Bee Gees in his blog yesterday. It brought me down memory lane of my teenage years. It was the days of Bee Gees, Lobo, John Denver and many more.

For a while, I recall with wonder the simple yet unique way the boy living next door to me touched my life.

I remember –
The many songs that he played specially for me. Whenever, I was at home, he would play Bee Gees’ “Don’t Forget to Remember” and the speakers of his spinning machine directed to my house. Owning a record playing machine was a dream during those days. With nine siblings and parents trying to make ends meet, I considered having a small radio a luxury. So, it’s indeed a delightful thing to have my favorite song being played over and over.

I remember –
The many songs that he played on his guitar for me at his balcony. His balcony and my balcony was just separated by a wall, say about six feet tall?

I remember –
The many poems and letters he wrote and being folded in an “jet plane” shape that were flown over the wall and landed in my balcony.

I remember –
The many times he peeped over the wall from his balcony over to my balcony.

We were just a wall apart, yet in real sense we were a world apart. We were so close, yet so opposite. He spoke Hokkien which I never got to learn to speak. He spoke English which I did not utter a word during that time. I spoke Mandarin which he did not know a word. The only effective communication was the English poems and letters that he wrote and I could read.

He was a “stranger” in strict sense because we had never physically together without that six-foot wall. But, he has certainly left me with many good memories…

I did not remember that I have thanked him for filling my teenage days with surprises and delights day after day.... Would I have ever have a chance? I know I would not forget to remember ...