Yan's Corner - In Touch

Monday, June 27, 2005

Simple and Humble Message

Have a happy holiday, but take care on the roads as you heed to the beach.

How about this message?

That was the message Pope Benedict (the Pope who called himself "a humble and simple worker") delivered to the faithful in his weekly blessing on Sunday.

The Pope was reported to have said this to the pilgrims and tourists at St. Peter’s Square –

While I wish everyone the possibility of passing a peaceful few days of deserved rest and relaxation, I would like to call for prudence by these who are setting off for the various vocation sites. Everyday, there are so many road accidents with so many human lives tragically cut short and more than half of the victims are young people. Life is precious and unique, it must always be respected and protected, including with correct and prudent behaviour on the roads.

You hear this during the festive seasons here also. It’s simple yet profound.

Yes, life is precious and unique. It must be respected and protected.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Daylight Robbery


Daylight Robbery Posted by Hello

I “missed” this scene yesterday because I went to a lunch hosted by a bereaved family after a funeral service.

The Borneo Post reports –

A woman became a victim of snatching when thieves smashed her car window while she was driving yesterday noon outside xxx (lifted by me) Primary School when she went to pick up her children.

The housewife was about to stop her car at Jalan xxx (again, lifted by me) when two thieves on a motorcycle rode up from behind.

The pillion rider got off, walked towards her car, smashed the window and took her handbag which was on the front passenger seat.

The thief then hopped onto his motorcycle and sped off.

The theft caught the victim by surprise and when she came to her senses, the thieves were already gone.

The housewife lost RM300, two mobile phones and some documents.

That’s the place where I meet my little boy everyday. That’s also the time when I would be there. These are the women (mothers) I meet often. These are the women I sometimes talk to. This is the route I have to pass if I go to the book room near the school when I am early. This is the place where I sometimes park my car while waiting for my son.

My oxford dictionary tells me that a thief is “a person who steals things from another person.” Further down the there is a note –

A thief is a general word for a person who steals things, usually secretly and without violence. The name of the crime is theft. A robber steals from a bank, shop, etc and often uses violence or threats. A burglar steals things by breaking into a house, shop etc. often at night, and a shoplifter goes when it is open and takes things without paying. A mugger steals from somebody in the street and uses violence or threats.

A thief? No, it was not a theft.

A robber? More appropriate.

A burglar? More suitable here than using thief

A mugger? Is this the word?

I would say it’s a daylight robbery!

What the world is up to?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tuning our life

It is better to go to a house of mourning then to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. - Ecclesiates 7: 2 (NIV)

Kalimullah or Datuk Kalimullah's Sunday Column in NST is one of my "must-read" columns. He talks about family, about friends, about old memories - each one warms my sometime-turn-cold heart, and definitely soothes my troubled minds. Last Sunday he talked about his friends, especially his friend, Jack who had just passed away. I was touched, as always, by his thoughts.

Yes, friends we have. Friends who had left us ...

I went to a church's friend memorial service yesterday evening. Late Mrs Ding was a church sister, also a relative of my husband's family. My memory of her went back to at least 19 years ago. I was then a young girl, timid, reserved and not outgoing. One fine morning, I visited her office to get some documents to be signed by her elder brother, also her boss. I took her parking lot without knowing that. So, she parked her car right at the back of my car. If she did not move her car, I would not be able to get out. I was made to wait till lunch time despite my requests, my apologies and my pleadings.

I did not harbour any hatred. But, I remember that incident. A few weeks before her sudden death, she invited my husband to a dinner and explained to my husband of her actions for clarification. She also conveyed her apologies.

I did not have a chance to tell her that I really did not harbour any hatred. When my husband relayed the message to me, she has left for London and she never returned.

At the memorial service yesterday, Mrs Ding was remembered by friends as "ever-ready" to help, especially to the poor and needy. She was remembered as a friend who would always walked that extra mile, she was remembered as a friend in need.

Death means the end of the power to do good. Death means the lifting of the pen from the pages of their lives. As Ecclesiates says, it is good for the living to take death to heart, for then they will live more exceptional lives.

Winston Churchill once wrote -

When the notes of life ring false, men should correct them by referring to the tunning fork of death.

Mrs Ding has lived life to the service of others. As she looked back of her life from the edge of her grave, she would have been pleased that many have considered her as a friend indeed, that many have praised her living a meaningful and deep life, many have praises for her to have a great passion to glorify God and fulfilled her destiny, that many have testified that she had made a difference in their lives, that many have agreed that she had given generously to friends and to the Church, to the community and devoted herself to God.

Will we be pleased when we looked back at our life from the edge of our grave?

Tune our life so that we can "live a life that is truly life".

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Great Fathers

Two nights ago, I sent out some emails to wish some great friends who are fathers “Happy Fathers’ Day”. Here is my message –

Thought this is great -

A Dad is respected because he gives his children leadership...
A Dad is appreciated because he gives his children care...
A Dad is valued because he gives his children time...
A Dad is loved because he gives his children the one thing they treasure most - himself.
- Roy Lessin

And sure, you must be a great dad to your children.

I have no dad to wish for "Happy Fathers' Day" anymore. So, I think I should wish all fathers a happy and meaningful day.

Here are the replies in my mail box from some great fathers -

Great friend/father A (a CEO, MNC)
Thanks for the sweet thoughts......I don't have a father too....but I am a father to 3 boys..

Great friend/father P (widely travelled journalist)
This is very kind. I wish I could indeed give more time and myself, but the new job is very, very demanding. I could do better.

I'm sorry that this Father's Day will seem empty for you. It makes me think that I need to show my own dad more respect, appreciation, value and love -- he was always there for me, and still tries, even 12,000 miles away.

My best wishes go to you.

Great friend/father M (professor/educationist)
Thank you for your kind thoughts.

Yes I am a father to a 26 year old boy (man?) and a 25 year old girl. I am sorry you have no father but I am sure you have many happy memories of your Dad. They never go away.
You will think of him on Sunday,

Best wishes.

Great friend/father W (a very senior lawyer)
Many thanks for remembering me , though as a father!

Great friend/father Y (a senior doctor)
Thank you. I hope so but I am not really sure I qualify for the adjective "great". I wish I did / do though.

Thank you, dear friends for being true fathers. Congratulations. If you think you have not quite achieved it – go for it. Even if fatherhood is becoming a lost art, be comforted that it can be rediscovered.

In fact, from the little woman's point of view - The greatest gift a child can have is a father who loves and respects the mother and does not tolerate disobedience or disrespect on the part of their children. In our confused society, children need this living example of a true husband and father.

I do not wish to upset you on Fathers’ Day, so I am writing this a day earlier with this quote from Robert Fulghum -

"Don’t worry that your children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you."

But, I would like to include also a little poem from a boy writing about his father -

My dad is the man. Do you understand?
He gives me all the love he can…
My dad wants me to learn in school:
He thinks that learning is real cool.
For my birthday he gave me a bike,
He knew just what I would like.
Every week he sends me mail.
My love for dad will never fail…
One day my dad and I will see
the Rocky Mountain snow.
We’ll find some gold,
more than we can ever hold.
We’ll take it home to mom:
“Look, mom, at this gold!”
We’ll trade all this gold to get my dad home…
Even though I may not see my dad again,
My dad will always be my best friend.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Surrender Thoughtfully

I have been following the “Sarong Party Girl” controversy after I read the story carried by The Star. Star carried this story a week or so ago. Part of the article read –

The local blogging community is buzzy after a girl posted nude pictures of herself on the internet. Writing under the moniker Sarong Party Girl, her weblog chronicles her life and numerous sexual escapedes….

I took a “peep” into SPG’s site and was very much impressed by how a 19-year old girl writes. She writes very well. Lately, I have been very troubled by some young girls whom I know writing journals on the websites using unsparingly swearing words like “fxxx”, “Axx”, and abbreviations like WTF and the like. SPG’s postings are different.

I have been silent. Silent but listen to what she has to say. If you note, silent and listen has actually the same words. So, if you stay silent, you listen better.

SPG has been angry, but to me, she is still under control, at least in the use of language and words. This is something commendable for a girl of her age.

This morning when I logged on to her cyber home, I have heard clearly that – because her parents do not like it, she decided to take out one of her nude pictures from her cyber home!

Human nature bristles at obedience from the first moment a baby’s told, “Don’t touch!”. From then on, obedience seems like a drag: “Do your revision before you can play”, “Follow the doctor’s orders”, “You can't go..”

Obedience has to begin in the mind and the thoughts, and soon to be seen in the actions.

SPG has done it beautifully.

A moment ago, just before I started writing this post, I logged in again to SPG’s home, and she has written this –

I was very glad to have talked to my dad before I left. Because I feel a great deal more relaxed now. And while he is really upset at what I have done, he’s managed to calm me down a great deal and made me realize that hey, there really are more important things then publicity and what the media wants you to stand for. My peace of mind is definitely one of those things.

We sat around on the couch for awhile talking about stuff, the bible mostly, and Russian roulette, and love and art. All of those things, and then some. And he prayed for me, and I felt better.

I feel better. SO much better.

This is definitely a great fathers’ day present that SPG has given to her father.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Belly Button Piercing

I picked up an old book from my bookshelf last night. It’s titled “Between mother and daughter” by Judy Ford and Amanda Ford.

It is a teenager and her mum sharing the secrets of strong relationship. Judy is the mother. Amanda is the teenage daughter.

This is not a book to tell you about “how to”. Each chapter starts with a true scenario followed with discussions by the mother and daughter on each issue from their own perspective. It’s definitely enlightening.

There is a chapter on “Belly Button Piercing” which I think, I would never agree to let my daughter, Rachel to do that. But Judy (the mother) agreed to let Amanda get her belly button pierced for her fifteen birthday!

Judy wrote this –

I wasn’t totally comfortable with my decision to let Amanda get her belly button pierced. I’m sure you understand how a mother can be talked into something without being sure of how it happened. You know how your daughter begs, pleads, reasons, and talks circles around you until you finally give in? It was like that with the belly button piercing.

Have you ever felt particularly ignored by your teenage daughter? Judy said that the mother-daughter relationship is made up of two very alive women. Therefore, if your daughter pulls away, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you anymore. She simply needs her privacy. Honouring the time apart will keep the bond alive.

Amanda wrote this –

Taking time to yourself is important because it allows you to unwind and collect your thoughts. After spending an entire day with people, you can get run down and stressed out. Everyone needs to have their private thoughts and space. When I need to get away, I spend an afternoon at the art museum downtown by myself. There, I am free to be with my thoughts and exactly what I want without pressure or disturbances.

If your daughter has been pleading you to have her ears pierced with three holes each, before you say “If God wanted you to wear earrings, you would have been born with holes in your ears", grab this book and read!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Power Trip

“Pa, you don’t need pills to make you smart. The power is within you.”

My teenage daughter said to my husband last night. My husband has just watched a “Discovery Channel” report about the power or magic of “Omega 3” fish oil to the mind of the young ones. Being very “scientific”, he asked the two children to take “Omega 3” soft gels before going to school every day.

That’s the reaction from the young ones. The 9-year-old son, of course, agrees with “jie-jie”.

“Yeah, the power is within us.” He can’t wait to agree.

Yes, dear young ones, to be able to get your way – you are a powerful person. To be in a position where nobody can force you to do anything you don’t want to do. That’s all anybody really wants, isn’t it?

The power is within you. You can be the most popular person in your school. You can make the best grades. You can get rich. You can…. do anything if you set your mind to do it.

But any power you get from that kind of success is only temporary or illusion. It melts away.

God is the ultimately powerful one. What kind of power do you have through Him? The power of God in your life isn’t the world’s kind of power. It is the power to live your own life, free from the sins.

How about that power for a power trip?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Girlfriends

This is not my work or words, a dear friend, Sandra, forwarded to me today. Source unknown, I would love to give credits. Anyone?

I am sure that some of you would agreed that a man needs a woman to understand him, where else a woman needs another woman to understand her!

A daughter and mother talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of adulthood. The mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.

"Don't forget your girlfriends," she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass.

"They'll be more important as you get older. Nomatter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you'll have, you are still going to need girlfriends. Remember to goplaces with them now and then; do things with them. And remember that girlfriends are not only your friends, but your sisters, our daughters, and other relatives too. You'll need other women. Women always do."

'What a funny piece of advice,' the young woman thought. 'Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now amarried woman, for goodness sake, a grown-up, not a young girl who needs girlfriends! Surely my husband and the family we'll start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother; she kept contact with her girlfriends and made more each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her Mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, girlfriends are the mainstays of her life. After 50 years of living in this world, here is what she learned:

Times passes.
Life happens.
Distance separates.
Children grow up.
Love waxes and wanes.
Hearts break.
Careers end.
Jobs come and go.
Parents die.
Colleagues forget favors.
Men don't call when they say they will.

BUT girlfriends are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can reach. When you have to walk that lonesome valley, and you have to walk it for yourself, your girlfriends will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end. Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you. Or come in and carry you out.

Daughters, sisters, mothers, sisters-in-law, mothers-in-law, aunts, nieces, cousins, extended family, co-workers, and friends bless our life! The world wouldn't be the same without them, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joy or sorrow that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still.

Have mercy

Michael Jackson acquitted. Jury finds him not guilty on all charges.

Few months ago my 9-year old son asked why Michael Jackson was charged. I was not able to immediately use suitable words to answer him in Mandarin. But my 14-year old daughter was quick to answer his brother, “He was accused of molesting children.” Thanks to Rachel.

CNN showed the life of MJ during the past few days. My son was relating to me MJ’s life story, giving me full descriptions of MJ’s hairstyle and look in different stages of his life.

This morning at 6:00 am, I was in a mood to joke with my son who was dressed and ready for school.

“Your friend Michael Jackson is not guilty.”

My son pulled a long face and said, “Michael Jackson is not my friend.”

When I dropped him at the school gate, he was still pulling a long face and did not wave me goodbye!

Mercy is really not easy to give when we know what’s been done. It can pit you against people and let you into controversy. Others may have a different take on the recipient’s situation. They may resent that the full and proper sentence wasn’t served. They may consider you naïve and not aware of all the facts.

Yet mercy is the basis of God’s interaction with His people. We like to say, “God helps those who help themselves.” The fact is - God helps those who cannot help themselves. He redeems His own not because they show promise, not because He needs them on his team, not because He owes it to them, but simply because –

He delights in mercy (Micah 7:18 NKJV)

Justice works, when the punishment fits the crime. If you have any say in the matter, or any power at all in the outcome, will you err on the side of mercy?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Lifestyle Virtue

Four years ago, when I first joined the Girls’ Brigade, I participated in the first girls’ training camp. I was assigned to the kitchen together with Mee Lin. Mee Lin is a much senior officer. She is not only gifted in craft-making, she is also good in cooking and in the planning of budgeted meals.

So, two of us worked through the days preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for over 100 girls. We worked on cost, nutrition and yummy food. For cost and yummy food, we decided that we would cook all the food. For nutrition, we looked at the food pyramid. We thought we have done the best because we really did our whole heart into it.

When the evaluation forms came back, we were hurt for a long, long time. The girls evaluated the food as “poor” with remarks like eating vegetables or “tou-fu” every meal.

Since then, whenever we have camps, we order food from the catering services.

Today, I read the postings of our young ones on the recent camp organized by the Youth Worship Service of the Church. Yes, food is again one of the subjects that the young ones feel that is lousy.

Yes, thankfulness – what a chore! But a thankful heart is one of the keys to a joy-filled life!

To give thanks is –

Acknowledge and appreciate someone, whether God or another person

Someone has given their time, their resources to play a part in making your happy. Isn’t it right and good to say “thank you”?

As a mother I used to nudge my two young children: “Now what do you say?” whenever they were given something. They would readily say, “Thank you.” This type of thanks is often linked to an event or an occasion. When a child receives a gift, the child says thanks for the gift. This type of thanks is looking backward. A service is done, and you thank for it. That’s the way we build up our children towards the healthy habit of saying thanks.

But, that’s not enough. The child is not yet there. He is only on the way towards the healthy habit. If you are not looking backward, you should be looking around or searching or looking forward. So, being able to give thanks in all situations is to find out the good in every situation and give thanks to God and to other people.

The food given in the camp may not be to your liking, but to find good in the situation would be thanking the hands who prepare the food, thanking that there is food for you to give you physical strength, thanking God for the provisions. Look around, look forward and search.

A quote from Henry Ward Beecher –

The unthankful heart…. Discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart … will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Letting Go

It’s the National Museum again. Last week when I visited there, I took this picture:



It looks familiar to me. I know it’s not for the reason that I have seen in TV when the “Agong” (King) performs one of those ceremonial rituals.

It only clicked my mind that it was one of the scenes of my dream that should have “played” many times when my daughter wrote me a heart-warming card. I Here is the scene that matches the picture:

I am seated on a throne, something like the one in the picture. I am dressed with a kind and forgiving look on my face. In the room, there are people lining up. It is a real crowd, but in order. These are people who have wronged me through the years. Strange enough, I do not know any of them. They have come from far and near to beg for my forgiveness for all the wrongs they have done to me. They kneel before the throne, begging for forgiveness.

I extend my hand……
and lo, I wake up.

It’s but a dream!

Do I secretly long for a scene like this? They say dream are actually your secret wishes. Do we remember wrong that has been done to us even though we have forgiven them? One of my learned friends said that if you have not forgotten the wrong done to you, what you have dispensed is “technical forgiveness”. You only forgive them from the will and the mind, but your heart still holds the offense and still demands its due. You said it in words, but you don’t actually let go. Therefore, you have the scene sitting on the throne like this playing in your mind over and over.

I choose Charles Dickens’ sayings –

May I tell you why it seems to me a good thing for us to remember wrong that has been done us? That we may forgive it.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Four billion hungry people

For the 4 billion hungry people Posted by Hello



Also for the four billion people hungry of words of encouragement

This is the "man" mentioned in the second note of encouragement
Back home, finally, after spending 9 days in Malacca and Kuala Lumpur!
I wrote of the four billion people going to bed daily hungry of words of encouragement while in Malacca. When I visited the National Museum, I took a peep of the Visitors' book and took few pictures of the "words of encouragement and appreciation". Indeed, there are many kind souls out there who not only leave footprints on the places they visit, but only leave footprints in the hearts of those behind all the great works.
National Museum is a must, but don't forget to reduce the number of people hungry of encouraging words.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Great Pretenders

For the past one year, I have been traveling to Kuala Lumpur so often that when I boarded a plane to Melacca for my Girls’ Brigade meeting on 28th May, one of MAS ground staff in Sibu asked me whether I am now based in Kuala Lumpur.

That’s a good question to ask. At least he wanted to clarify his doubt with the person concerned.

When my two children traveled on “young passengers” tag on 31st May to join me in Kuala Lumpur, the MAS ground staff “assumed” that my children’s parents are divorced. The children were sent off by their father to join their mother in Kuala Lumpur for holidays.

When my daughter, upon arrival, related to me the assumptions made by the MAS staff, it gave me some thoughts.

How often we make assumptions. We assume that children will not be able to actually understand adult’s conversations. So, we talked freely without reservations.

The harm that we cause to the young mind can’t be ascertained. But, we surely are “great pretenders” in the eyes of the young minds.

Here is another one how we are a great liar beside being great pretenders in the eyes of the young minds.

“Mummy, someone tells a lie just now.” My 9-year-old son said.

We were in Petronas Science Centre at KLCC yesterday from 11 am to 1:30 pm. I looked around. Parents and children, quite a crowd.

“Oh? A lie? How do you know, dear?” I asked.

“A daddy was answering a phone call on his mobile phone. He told the other party, I am driving, I am driving, call me back. Surely he was not driving.” My son answered.

Well, watch out, parents, the young ones are watching!