Yan's Corner - In Touch

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Stitch In Time


Before Rachel was born, I spent many hours enjoying cross-stitches. It was a long wait of four years before God delivered the bundle of joy to us. The pressures had me stressed, it was the little stitching that gave me the relaxation. It was the concentration in stitching that all the cares and anxieties seemed to be gone.

Cross-stitching is also one of the sources of some of my most favourite memories, especially with my mother while in Singapore. I made a lot for other people as presents during that time. The few pictures here are only the few I kept for my self.




The cushion was specially for Rachel with her name and her birth date stitched on it and the Bible Verse from Pslams 139:14 – I will praise thee, for I am wonderfully made. This cushion is special in my life. I stitched it while staying in Singapore General Hospital with threatened miscarriage. Indeed, Rachel is special.

The picture of the “Little Match Girl” also stitched in 1989/1990 still hangs in my living room. The “Mandarin Ducks” is kept in my living room. The Lord’s Prayer is in my bedroom. And the bookmarks are always my companion…



I wonder whether my friends still keep those cross-stitch pictures that I gave them as gifts …. I know the Last Supper that my mother liked so much is still hanging in my second brother’s home … Where is my “Home is where the heart is” ?



Chris has just taken a peep at what I have stitched for Rachel and said, “Please stitch one for me.”

Look like I am going to take up cross-stitch sometime soon! I can start with the bookmarks!


Any Order?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

New Year Day with Morrie

My late mother spent the most number of years with my second brother in Sibu. So, it is natural that brothers and sisters visited my second brother’s home most often. In recent years, my younger sister, my second sister and me (all the siblings who are in Sibu. Remember? My mother raise up nine children.) make it a point that we shall meet in second brother’s home during Chinese New Year.

This afternoon, the four families met and had a great time. My second brother has four children, aged between 27-17. My second elder sister has three daughters, aged between 22-16. My youngest sister has four children, aged between 13-6. Together with Rachel and Chris and our significant other, it’s quite a huge crowd. The children below 13 and below all crowded in the “IT” room either with internet or PS2.

It was a great time. We talked about our late mother, of how good she was as a mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. It made me wonder tonight whether we ever said all the good about her while she was alive.

I “re-visited” Tuesdays with Morrie this evening and learnt something new. Or rather this part of the book (below) caught me and gave me some new insights. You may not like it because it’s new year, and nobody talks of  “funeral” on New Year. If you do not wish to be affected by what follows, stop here please –

Lifted from the book, “Tuesdays with Morrie” –

The New Year came and went. Although he never said it to anyone. Morrie knew this would be the last year of his life. He was using a wheelchair now, and he was fighting time to say all the things he wanted to say to all the people he loved. When a colleague at Brandeis died suddently of a heart attack, Morrie went to his funeral. He came home depressed.

“What a waste,” he said. “All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it.”

Morrie had a better idea. He made some calls. He chose a date. And on a cold Sunday afternoon, he was joined in his home by a small group of friends and family for a “living funeral.” Each of them spoke and paid tribute to my old professor. Some cried. Some laughed. One woman read a poem:

:My dear and loving cousin …
Your ageless heart
As you move through time, layer on layer,
Tender sequoia….”

Morrie cried and laughed with them. And all the heartfelt things we never get to say to those we love, Morrie said that day. His “living funeral” was a rousing success.

Only Morrie wasn’t dead yet.

We still have three more days of visiting, perhaps say some heartfelt things to friends?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Missing From the Reunion Dinner Table


This is the second reunion dinner that dad in law is missing. Dad in law passed away on 2nd October 2004. I recalled that dad in law would always had his special “Mee Hoon Soup” specially prepared for him only. Mum in law would never fail to cook a special bowl for him.

With dad in law missing, the special “Mee Hoon Soup” is also not prepared.

My late mother would never miss her special “yam cake” for Chinese New Year. When she passed away on 18th June 2000, the special “yam cake” is no longer on our reunion dinner table.

Though life is to be lived forward, looking back will always give us many fond memories of the loved ones missing from the table, and those special food missing from the dinner menu.

Looking back, we remember the courage and the love of our loved ones. These loved ones will never come back to us. But, we shall go to them! One day, we shall feast together at Jesus’ feet. Then, it will be more than the “Mee Hoon Soup” and the “yam cake”.

I cooked ten perfect dishes plus another one for the reunion dinner. Fried prawns – the favourite of Rach. Fried noodles – the favourite of Chris. Drunken chicken – the favourtie of the significant half… The eggs of peace – I like best. I have yet to find out the favourite of mum in law…. A long way to go to be a better daughter-in-law …..

Have a look at the photographs. Though not the best, it's the thoughts that matters, and it's labour of love!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pre-CNY musings

My colleague, a young writer for my Chinese newspaper, knocked at my door this morning. He wants to interview me!

Huh? I interview people, not to be interviewed, I strongly protested. But, he was persistent. He wanted me to talk something about Valentine Day from a mature wise woman’s point of view. Well, mature is just another substitute for “elder”. “Wise” sounds a lot better, but it’s still another way to tell you that you are “growing old”, but wisely.

Despite all the sweet words, I did not accept the interview. We ended up sharing on the subject of love for the “older couple”.

Love for the older couple, perhaps, is intimacy of another kind – physical, still yes, but increasingly spiritual as well. I like this poem by Archibald MacLeish very much –

They have only to look at each other to laugh
No one know why, not even they;
Something back in the lives they’ve lived,
Something they both remember but no words can say.
They go off at an evening’s end to talk
But they don’t, or to sleep but they lie awake
Hardly a word, just a touch, just near
Just listening but not to hear.

Everything they know they know together –
Everything that is, but one:
Their lives they’ve learnt like secrets from each other;
Their deaths they think of in the nights alone.

My young writer left, disappointed that despite his sweet words I turned him down, but I know, he has learnt – everything an old couple know they know together, everything that is, but one: their lives they’ve learnt like secrets from each other…

Dear friends and visitors, this is probably the last post for the lunar year. Tomorrow, I shall be that woman in the kitchen. Cooking for 21 people, young and old, sure needs a lot of love plus hard work, and most of all kitchen management! Yeah, the kitchen is mine tomorrow.

Enjoy your reunion dinner, a blessed new year, to you and your family.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Baking the Stress Away


I thought I am not going to do any baking this Chinese New Year. I have been feeling exceptionally tired after a day's work. I have been hoping that I have more time to sleep.

As the clock clicks away, I know I can't go without that cheese cake my friends have been looking forward. I can't ignore the hintings of Rach and Chris of the chocolate cake.

So, I baked three cheese cakes and steamed one chocolate cake this evening.

Now, almost 11 pm, I am still up to tell you how great the rewards are. It is very easy to buy cakes from a store, but nothing gives you the feeling of peace and satisfaction and deep pleasure for baking your own.


Baking is as easy as ABC, but just remember some rules -

All ingredients are like children or ladies, handle them with care.

Always follow the same direction. If you are stiring the ingredients clockwise, keep it clockwise throughout. Don't mess them. They like tidiness and like to be in order.

All ingredients, unless specified, should be at room temperature before you start. For making pie crust, you need to have chilled butter, so there is one exception.

Oven must be preheated to the specified temperature. If space allows, and within budget, buy a reasonably big oven. Size does matter.

Size of baking pan does matter too. Stick to the recipe instruction.

Experience the joy of mixing, beating, waiting and the fresh aroma of cake wafting from the oven. O the blessed charm of simple things! You won't be disappointed.

It does get my stress out, today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sally

I met Sally few years ago in Kuching. She is a Singaporean lawyer turned educationist. She is a special lady. What makes her special as a Singaporean is she has 6 children. Yes, six, you do not read wrongly.

No doubt, Sally is also a very capable woman. She is able to use time and resources wisely and effectively between family, career and on her missions with God.

Sally answered to my wide-open eyes of her number of children. She said before she had her first child, she had many miscarriages. God heals her and she has one child after anther until she has six, not counting anymore. Her youngest should be 11 or 12. I guess she is ready to count her grandchildren soon. The eldest one is working as a journalist!

She shared that every difficulty we have dealt in life, every disappointment or weakness ends up working to our advantage. When we are weak, we are strong. She said because of what she went through before having the first child, she found that when she prayed for barren women, it is very powerful and fruitful.

It took me quite a while to understand how it makes sense. But, I know because of what I have gone through, I am very sensitive to women who have fertility problems. I have emotional connection with them. Not only that, what Apostle Paul tells us in Phil 4:6 makes sense!

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. (Phil 4:6)

Last night, an ex-colleague who has been married for ten years and childless called and delivered a gift to my house. She is pregnant and due to deliver her first child on the 7th day of Chinese New Year. She said she could never thank me enough for my encouragement and support.

I claim no credit. The story of Sally has been a great blessing to my own heart. I learn to bring my problems to the Lord in prayer.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Man In The Mirror

Finally, it's done! Yes, the bathroom attached to Rachel's room and our room. It has been almost a month of dust, drill, hitting and knocking.

It's a new look. From tiles to choice of bathroom accessories, my significant half handles all. I have been busy with work, trips outstation and church works. I appreciate it very much.

I also have a new understanding of my significant half. The bathroom is more important to him than it is to me. It means he spends more time in the bathroom. It also means he has more properties kept in the bathroom. So everything chosen are to his "fancies" and for his convenience.

My properties in the bathroom is the bare minimum, a tooth brush, a facial cleanser, shampoo. That's it. Tooth paste and soap are shared. And his? I took a rough stock last night -

A toooth brush, shampoo (he has his own) and conditioner (one more item more than mine), soap (two types, one is detol), facial cleanser, toner, facial scrub, facial whitening cream, body scrub, hair gel, hair mouse, comb, luxurious bath towels, some magazines stuffed in a basket hung on the wall.

Yes, a mirror. I did not even notice two days ago that there was no mirror in the bathroom. I remarked that it's nice, good taste. He said something still missing. I said, something else? All in the place already. He said, "No Mirror yet." I said I never use the mirror in the bathroom.

I remember a famous writer (could be Liu Yong?) said that to maintain a good marriage relationship, it is important to leave a little space for each other, that is to let the spouse have some privacy. And such little space could be a seperate bathroom.

It is a new understanding of our relationship. Perhaps, because I spend so little time in the bathroom that he seems to own the whole bathroom by himself. He certainly has all the privacy!
He has a mirror in place last night. I saw him appreciating his "creation" with Chris in the bathroom looking into the mirror. I thought I heard him saying, "It's good!"

I have a re-look at my study room. When can I have it re-done too? I know I have to take down the few books authored by Patrick Morley. Why? Because even reading "Man in the mirror", "Seven Seasons for the Man in the Mirror", "Understanding Your Men in the Mirror", "Ten Secrets for the Man in the Mirror", I do not gain much.

The Man In The Mirror is happiest in the bathroom, in his own privacy!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Going Home

Attending Christian funerals, or Memorial Services is usually an unforgettable experience. Yes, there are tears. We grieve over those to whom we bid a temporary good-bye. The sense of loss can be overwhelming. Yet, there is a sense of great triumph. Someone has finished his course and entered into the HOME that God has prepared.

My uncle’s funeral service this morning at Masland Methodist Church was one of the funeral services that I know, is hard to come by. Yes, there are tears. Tears shed by family members and friends.

Yet, the words, the touching words shared by the Ministers are really something I could not keep them for myself without sharing with others. The Ministers, yes, with the plural “s”. The Minister or the pastor who ministered the service. The Minister who represented the Cabinet Minister to express the gratitude and appreciation to the departed for his contributions to the State and nation.

Sometimes we are so close to the details of our daily living that we cannot see our lives as a whole. Have you ever given it a thought how you would like your funeral service to be like? If you imagine yourself at your own memorial service, perhaps, living will take on a new dimension.

The first thing you might realize is – we are not going to be here forever. Therefore, the Minister or the pastor administering the funeral service, Rev Kong Chong Ling related about “Going Home”. Going home, two words that could mean a world of difference to different people. Here is how someone feels about going home expressed in words and music –

I'm Going Home
words and music by Arlo Guthrie

Like the tree that grows so tall
Leaves turn gold and then they fall
They've gone down, now they've grown
They're going home

Mountain streams may run and flow
Clean the sands on which they go
Stretching down like it had known
It's going home

Sunrise early in the dawn
Slips away, then it's gone
Leaves the night to carry on
While it's going home

Once a man he lived and died
What he said death could not hide
Even though it's often tried
But he was going home

Now my friends it's time to go
And this love will live to grow
And I want you all to know
I'm going home

Yes, going home can be exciting and joyous. It can also be fearful if you do not hold hope for the home that you are heading for. Home, whether it’s warm, whether it’s cold, whether it’s magnificent, whether it’s humble – we all need to go home.

When I get home after an exhausting day’s work I do not say, “WOW” even though home to me is a warm and protected place. I say, “Whew, home at last.” It is because it's where your heart has rest.

So, for the one remembered at the funeral service, it is “Whew, home at last.” He is “Absent from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8)

The Second Finance Minister and Minister of Urban Development and Tourism, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, was between sobs when he paraphrased Winston Churchill’s “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” into “Never has so many owed so much to one person” as his tribute to Dato Sri Lau Hui Kang.

It took the Minister quite a whole to go back to his speech as he wiped away his tears.

He added, “People of Sibu, people of Sarawak owe much to one man.”

He said Hui Kang was a man of gratitude. He was grateful to his parents, to his family members, to his teachers, to the society and most of all, to God.

Perhaps as we consider attending our own memorial services, contemplating how we wish to be remembered, we will be prompted to live well, as Mark Twain says, "that even the undertaker will be sorry."

John Holmes has said it so well in his poem, "The Green Door":

But I have lived too much to guess of dying
That death's a garden, or to rhyme its fears,
And lived so long - a twelvemonth in a minute -
I think time goes by heartbeats, not by years.

Here in my heart I hold such strong abundance,
I do not care what lies beyond that door.
Life is enough. There is always music,
Always more love, more sun, and always more.

And if the green door opens on tomorrow,
And every friend still answers to his name,
A little death makes eloquent the daylight:
It will be glory that the world's the same.

And we have all been dead, who now are living!
Speak out the secret thing we're certain of:
We're back, we've all come back, we've all been given
A longer time to look, and touch, and love.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Where, O death is your victory?

There are many new words related to death being used today.

A dead body is no longer called a corpse. We refer a dead body as “the departed.”

We do not say that a person has died. We say, he has “passed away,” or he has “passed on.”

Coffins are re-worded as caskets.

Even graveyard has new name like "Memorial Park".

Such new descriptions of death revealed the truth that we are afraid of death. We do not like the words. T.S. Eliot put it well,

It is not what we call death that we fear, but what, beyond death is not death. That we fear, we fear.

However, D.L. Moody said, “One day you will hear that D.L. Moody of Northfield, Massachusetts, is dead. Don’t you believe it! In that day I will be more alive than I have ever been before.”

When Martin Luther’s daughter, Magdalena, 14, was sick and lay dying, Luther prayed, “O God, I love her so. But nevertheless, thy will be done.” He then turned to his daughter and said, “Magdalena, would you rather be with me, or would you rather go and be with your Father in heaven?” The girl said, “Father, as God wills.” She passed away. Luther said, “Oh my dear Magdalena, you will rise and shine like the stars in the sun. How strange to be so sorrowful, and yet to know that all is at peace, that all is well.”

It is the hope in the hour of death which the resurrection brings before these two men who live life to the fullest. They have hopeful assurance in life. They are certain of resurrection. They are confident that their lives will count. The hope of resurrection keeps them from despair.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is nothing vain in the Lord. I Cor. 15: 58

We are to be steadfast and immovable.

We are to be always abounding in the work of the Lord.

We have hopeful assurance in life. If what we have done are for Lord’s glory, we will accomplish something. Nothing will be wasted.

Death and its loss are painful to experience. Even if we know we have victory over death through our Lord Jesus, sorrow is inescapable. We are human. Even Jesus Wept. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. The death of someone we love cannot be met with anything but a sense of loss and tears.

But beyond the tears and mournings, there are answers to the needs of our hearts in the Scriptures, we can succeed in facing all that life has for us if we will learn of the Lord and trust Him.

“Death is swallowed up in victory …. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These random thoughts were put together in memory of Dato Sri Lau Hui Kang, my uncle who went to the Lord at 7:52 pm on 19th January 2006. He has indeed lived a full life.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Traveling Light

Working in an organization with diversified business and with a travel agent can give you some surprises now and then. It also means your itinerary is not a secret. Though I have nothing to hide about my travel itinerary, I do mind the travel agent reveal my itinerary to Tom, Dick or Harry!

Probably because it’s near to Chinese New Year, not many staff travel. So, my travel to Kuching today (few hours from now) becomes the target of many within the organization who want to send things to Kuching.

The surprises were all mine. I have a hefty 5 Kg of documents to carry to Kuching and to bring back also. I was given to understand that all these are urgent documents to be signed by staff at the headquarters.

Fair, helping each other is carrying each other burden.

But, but …

Since that fateful day (three days before Christmas two years ago) I slipped and landed on my knee, I have been working very hard to “travel light”.

First, I worked diligently towards taking away the extra kg. It started from the minute I was wheeled out from the operation theatre. I was successful to let my weak knee carry 10 kg less. I still have 5 kg to work on.

I have learnt to travel light. It’s a bonus to my injured knee. Having to start work the minute you step out of the plane, waiting for check-in luggage is a luxury. So, hand-carry luggage has to be packed with minimum weight. What do you do? Pack clothes of same colour scheme for each trip so that you do not need extra shoes or handbag to go with. Pack clothes that you can easily wash and dry. That could at least take off 5 kg from my luggage.

I even changed my 2-3 kg computer notebook to one that weights 1 kg. I have been extremely pleased with this notebook. So much so that my husband would say this if I am sick and do not wish to see a doctor, “If you die someone else will be using your notebook. Think about that.” It does sound very scary, someone using my notebook?

The extra 5 kg for my knee really means something. I need to travel light for the sake of my injured knee and also for my own joy!

Max Lucado in his book “Travelling Light” suggests – For the sake of those you love, travel light. For the sake of the God you serve, travel light. For the sake of your own joy, travel light.

Sounds good? He even gives names to the luggage we carry that bogged us down. Suitcase of guilt. Duffle bag of weariness. Hanging bag of grief. Carry-on bag of loneliness. The trunk of fear. Briefcase of perfectionism.

Max Lucado says if we do not discard those heavy bags, Psalm 23 will be read like this,

I am my own shepherd
I am always in need.
I stumble from mall to mall and shrink to shrink
Seeking relief but never finding it.
I creep through the valley of death and fall apart
I fear everything from pesticides to power lines
And I’m standing to act like my own mother.
I go down to the weekly staff meeting and
Am surrounded by enemies
I go home and even my goldfish scowls at me
I anoint my head with extra strength Tylenol
My Jack Daniel’s runneth over
Surely misery and misfortune will follow me
And I will live in self doubt for the rest of my lonely life.

Travel light today. It’s just a mater of knowing what you have in your Shepherd.

“God isn’t going to let you see the distant scene. So you might as well quit looking for it. He promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into the future. We do not need to know what will happen tomorrow. We only need to know He lead us.” – Max Lucado, Traveling Light

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

If you have nothing good to say ....

Yesterday someone remarked - you are a true journalist at heart. You have something fantastic to say about every single thing. I replied that I took all what he has to say about me!

But, I have nothing good to say today...

The car plate number dropped last night. This morning on the way to school, Rachel murmured at the back seat, “Mummy is using raining as an excuse.”

I heard it loud and clear and very, very irritated.

So, I said, “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything.”

Silence. Even chatty Chris did not say anything.

Stopped by a traffic police after dropping off the two children. I smiled (very cool!) and said, “I am going to get it fixed later.” The police smiled too. (a confession to make, pull out "My PressCard" instead of "MyCard", Hello, by mistake lah!)

Reached office at 6:50 am. Running the series of events in my thoughts. Realized that I have used “raining” as excuses three times within the last 24 hours.

I knew the plate was loosened yesterday afternoon. I thought of getting it fixed after work. It was running cats and dogs (raining elephants and tigers actually, borrowed from fishtail’s word bank) when I stepped out of the office at 5pm.

Rachel asked me to photocopy two books for her yesterday afternoon. I sent the books to the photocopy centre to pick up after office. It was raining and I was caught in a jam. Chris was at a classmate’s house doing a class project, and expected me to pick him up at 5 pm. So, I decided that I could pick up tomorrow. When she asked about her books at 6:30 pm, I told her about the rain ... The shop closed at 6 pm.

Rachel called me at 4:30 pm and talked sweetly whether I could buy the same chocolate bun that I bought on Sunday for her. I agreed. When I reached home at almost 6 pm, I told her it was raining I would go to the bakery shop later when I fetch her from tuition at 9 pm.

When I went at 8:30 pm to the bakery shop, the chocolate bun had all been sold out! I bought her a slice of cheese cake which she said, “Mummy’s cheese cake is much, much better.”

Rachel had her reasons to make that not-so-nice remarks!

Just as I felt sorry for letting the small irritations control my life, a colleague called me on the internal line. In her usual high-pitch voice, “Why you don’t have car plate at the back?” I answered, “It dropped off.” “Why? Are you going to fix it later?” Even higher-pitch. I was a little irritated, “Yes, later.”

Yes, I have to make a new plate today. I have to collect Rachel’s books. I have to buy the chocolate buns early. I have to say “sorry” to her. I have ….. many things to do. I have to travel early tomorrow...

And Oh, dear ... A major client is in town today. I am supposed to have dinner with them tonight, but I have to lead a Bible Study group ….

I really have nothing good to say today …..

I do have! God’s words....

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace...(Isa. 55:10-12).

It is God who has something good to say about every single thing. It's not me who is so fantastic. It's only by His Grace ....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oh, Dear

A little girl hurt her finger. She ran to her daddy, who was a preacher. The preacher was engaged in studying. She showed her daddy her finger. But the preacher was so engrossed in his studies that he just took a look, and said, “Oh, that will be alright.” He sent the little girl away.

The little girl ran to her mother, weeping and crying. Her mother said, “Oh, dear, does it hurt so much?”

The little girl said, “No, mummy, it’s just that daddy didn’t even say, ‘Oh, dear’”.

That’s sympathizing with her. She just wanted her daddy to say “Oh, dear” with her.

Chris has his second ear infection in five weeks. It was a long night for both Chris and mum. The pain started at 1 am. Time was slow when we were experiencing something we do not like. What more to say the ear pain? It was then I decided to call off my planned trip to Kuching the next day.

Finally, the morning broke. We saw an ENT surgeon at 10:00 am. He started work at 9:30 am. There were not many patients in the clinic. Chris was the second patient.

The doctor checked Chris’ throat, nose and finally ear. The right side was inflamed with swollen ear drum (layman term). The left ear was ok but with a little ear wax at the ear drum. The doctor insisted that “someone had done something funny to push the ear wax into the ear drum.” (Doctor’s exact words) Chris said he did not dig his ear. But the doctor looked at us with disbelief saying, “Wax will not grow at the ear drum.”

The doctor then said that the swollen ear drum might burst anytime and if it happens, it will be difficult to cure. (again his exact words)

Then the doctor asked whether Chris had finished his medication. The moment Chris said he still had some, the doctor frowned and said, “The mother should manage it, he is too young to manage. You should have finished the medication.”

Chris was given four weeks’ medication for his allergy after one week’s treatment of his ear infection earlier. That means by today he should have exactly finished his medication.

We did not have a chance to tell the doctor the reason that Chris had not finished the medication. We stopped the medication for four days to do an allergy test in Singapore.

We left after taking one week’s medication for the ear infection. Chris was upset. Mummy was upset too.

I wrote an email to Chris’ doctor in Sing-Land of the ear infection. It was a quick update. At 4 pm, the doctor replied with these opening words, “Oh, dear.”

At that magical moment, this little “Oh, dear” swept away the not-so-good-feeling that has been building up tension in the mummy!

Yes, many times, when we are hurt or in pain, it's just that "Oh, dear" that we want.

This is what God does with us too. Paul tells us to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Romans 12:15) Jesus Himself shares the heartache of Mary and Martha on the death of Lazarus, their brother. As he started out to the tomb where Lazarus was laid, “He wept”, He broke into tears. Jesus shed tears. While walking to the tomb, His grief overwhelmed him, he so sympathized with them that he broke into tears. He knew that in a few minutes time, He would raise Lazarus from the death. There was no reason for him to weep. He was weeping because He is sharing their heartache.

It is a precious thing to have someone sympathize with us, someone sharing our heartaches, someone who say "Oh, dear" with us!

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Lost Coin

What did you do when you were 8 years old? If you were from a poor family staying in the village, you would probably be like me –

At 4 or 5 am, I was in the rubber garden collecting latex from the rubber tapped by my mother and elder brothers and sisters. It means my mother and elder brothers and sisters started their days at 2 or 3 am. By 8 am, I was in a primary school. I did not even have a pair of shoes to wear to school. I walked bare-footed to school. In the late afternoon, we were running around in the vegetable farm, watering and weeding. Then, to the river for cleaning clothes and bath.

At night, my siblings and I lit the kerosene light and did our homework.

Those were happy times.

Last November, I wrote about Singaporean parents spending ten of thousands on their 6 to 8 years old daughters for their singing and dance lessons as well as costumes to prepare them for beauty and talent contests. (Refer “The early Birds” posted on 08/11/2005)

Today, I read a report in Sunday Post (Australian newspaper) with the headline,Girls 8 new sex targets. The paper reported that girls as young as eight are dressing provocatively and encouraging sexual predators because “sick” marketing is leading them to grow up too quickly. These girls called tweenies (8-12 year-olds) are wearing padded bras, make-up, in some cases racy (lacy?) underwear!

The article also reported a survey by the Australian Childhood Foundation that more than 90 percent of parents thought marketers were targeting their children too aggressively.

Fair enough, it’s the marketing push to the tweenies. Where are their parents? What are the parents doing? Who buy the racy (lacy?) underwear for these tweenies? Who allowed marketers to use their 8-year-old to push their music videos, magazines, make-up and clothing? Are parents going to do anything about it?

These questions lead me to the parable of the lost coin –

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.” Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:8-10 RSV)

The ten silver coins here was of not much value, but it was of tremendous significance to the woman. Something was lost. Something was lost at home. Is someone lost at home? The woman did three things which were extremely important.

First, she lit a lamp. She knew that she needed light. Literally, she sought God’s work.

Second, she swept the house. In those days, the floor was spread with straw. So, it would be difficult to find. When she swept the house, it meant the woman opened up to the family circle, admitting the failure. That made finding the lost ones possible. It’s not easy, right? It concerns pride!

Third, the woman searched diligently. She meant business, the lost coin was valuable to her.

There are surely lessons to learn from this parable. If you have a lost one at home, do the three things. Remember even the angels will rejoice.

The poet, Edgar A. Guest, said:

If I don’t help my boy to grow up right, I’ll call myself a failure no matter how much money I make or how big a reputation I get. I have a number of tasks to do all of which I should like to do well. To be a failure in any one of them would be disappointing. Yet I could bear that without whimpering if I were sure I had not failed my boy. Not somuch of me in the bank, and more of me and my best in the lad – that’s what I should like to have to show at the end of my career. For me to succeed as a father, he must succeed. Unless my boy comes to manhood fit for the respect of his fellow men, I shall have been a failure. The glory of our handiwork lies not in ourselves, but in our children.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

P B P G I N T W M Y

A husband returned home from work. The wife asked for quite a substantial sum of money from him. When asked of the purpose, the wife said, “I need to buy a new dress for the community dinner/dance tomorrow.” The husband said, “Dear, you have just bought one yesterday.” The wife answered, “I saw the woman next door having the same dress. I am afraid she will be wearing the same dress tomorrow night.” The husband was bewildered. The wife continued, “It would be much cheaper to buy a new dress than to buy a new house elsewhere.”

It’s many women’s nightmare to go to a party to find out that another woman is wearing the same dress! Once upon a time, many years ago, my decision of buying clothes depended much on whether there was another set in the boutique or even in town. Assurance from the boutique owner that there was no second set was a must before I opened my wallet.

This morning I wore a very nice suit to Church. It’s simple, but unique and I think there is no same suit in town. As soon as the pastor dismissed the congregation with the benediction, the sister seated next to me asked whether she could borrow the suit for her to ask her tailor to make one with the same pattern. And I readily said “Yes”. It was not an impulsive one. Up to now, I have not regretted to say “Yes”.

Guess I am growing old. But, it does not mean it’s maturity.

Just now over lunch, Rach (my daughter) asked Chris how old he was. Quick as a flash he said, “I’m ten, going on eleven in August, but soon to be twelve. By twelve, I can join the Holy Communion.*” That’s the kind of eagerness for maturity we all should have. I am on the way. I am progressing. I am growing towards the right direction. Soon, I shall be there!

The first baby step moving away from childish attitudes is not to measure yourself by comparison with someone else and moving towards childlikeness with simplicity of faith. Note the difference - Childlikeness and from childishness

Please be patient, God is not through with me yet – that’s what the title stands for.

Change takes time – but it must be taking place!

* In Methodist Churches here, only those baptized and above 12 are invited to join Lord's table.

Friday, January 13, 2006

One Fine Day

Many years ago, probably before I was married, I heard of a story of a man who dropped his wife at the market and came back to fetch her. He heard the door shut. He drove home. On reaching home, he stepped out of his car, went straight into the house. Telephone rang. (No handphone then) He picked up. At the other end was his wife. His wife was still at the market. She had merely dropped her groceries at the back seat and closed the door. The husband drove off without her!

I thought that was unthinkable. But the friend who told me that story said it was a true story of her friend.

I have not a doubt about it now.

School re-opens. I also start my other job – that of a full-time driver of my two children. It’s actually between home, work, appointments with clients and driver’s job. I dropped Rach and Chris off at 2 pm – Rach for her BM, Chris for his Chinese. At 4 pm, I went to pick Chris first. It was 4:10 pm when I arrived. He opened the back seat door behind the driver’s seat. When I heard the car’s door shut, I drove off.

Yes, I drove off without Chris. Chris has just “upgraded” himself to the seat beside the driver this year. He meant to put his bag at the back seat and took the front seat!

It was by instinct I took a glance at the side mirror and saw Chris running after my car still laughing away!

It was a hilarious moment for him when he finally sat in the car!

When we arrived at Rach’s place it was 4:20 pm. Just at that point, Rach called on my handphone.

How could Chris, the great story teller not telling the story to his “Jie-Jie”? But, he is creative –

“Jie-jie, do you get frustrated when mummy is late to fetch you?”

“No, not really,” Rach is more “diplomatic”.

“No, then, why do you have to phone mummy just now?” Chris needed a “yes” to tell his cause.

“Oh, it’s my policy to call after 20 minutes just to make sure mummy is on the way, or there is other arrangement.” Rach was trying to state her case.

“Late by 20 minutes you also have to call, do you know that I have to run after mummy’s car?” Chirs started his story ….

It is a happy ending.

But, it leaves me with many thoughts –

Why are we always in a hurry? Jesus never runs around. He never seems hassled or harried. Jesus never tells others to hurry. If there is, he only said to Judas “What you are about to do, do quickly” (jn 13:27)

One fine day -

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to meditate in His temple. – Psalm 27:4

When?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lovers' Language

Today, I woke up finding the newspapers all “flooded” with bridges and roads.

Many years ago, Sibu people longed for bridges and better roads. Bridges to connect to the smaller towns. Better roads’ connectivity and not flooded once it rains. Yes, throughout the past years, some bridges were built and being used. Some bridges are still under construction, some far behind schedule. Better roads constructed.

Ah, election is near. Lovers’ Language is here once again. Lanang Bridge will be ready by April, ahead of schedule. Lanang Bridge, yes the road that will connect me to Sarikei, the little town that I spent my teenage years. The little town where I first heard of “Love Language” from the BoyNextDay. Durin Bridge will be ready by August, though behind schedule, still we could see the date. Yes, Durin Bridge will link me to my childhood’s place. The place where I spent hours in the rubber garden. The place where we waited for the durians to fall!

Bridges and roads connect you with places. Politicians connect with his people through promises of bridges and roads. Someone said, politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river!

How much are we better than the politicians? We are no better. Heart language is always difficult to say. Heart language is also difficult to hear. We wonder what is meant. Hearts that have been spoken to are vulnerable.

We are in an age in which words are everywhere. You can read news from most remote place in the world. Getting e-mails from a far away continent is now a routine event. I remember when I first started work, it was telegraph, then, later, I have a telex machine. Later, when I communicated with the timber camps, I have to fix a time for a “radio-call” where every conversation ended with an “over”. Now, friends and business associates are just a “click” away!

However, the fact remains unchanged – there is little connection. How many words we hear, but how few of them penetrate to the heart.

Heart language remains as elusive today as it was 2000 years ago!

But, this morning in my devotion, I read a very delightful conversations between Ruth and Boaz! If you are curious about it and want to improve your art of conversation, turn to Ruth Chapters 2 and 3. Knowledge is message plus your own thoughts!

Ruth is able to talk about the relationship. Ruth says, “You have spoken to my heart.”

Is there anyone whom you can say this too? “You have spoken to my heart.”

Boaz speaks about provision, protection and appreciation to Ruth. He says, “You don’t need to be afraid of the present or of the future.”

Is there anyone who can give you that environment of confidence and safety?

Ruth is able to say, We are connected to one another at heart level. What you have said about my good and about your protection have reached my heart. You have built a bridge, Boaz.”

The art of Lovers’ Language from the conversation of Ruth and Boaz starts with openness, protection, appreciation and intimacy. It's not easy. But, we have this guide from the Bible too -

For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. - Matthew 12:34b-35

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bumper Sticker Hypocrisy

I read this Bumper Sticker Hypocrisy this morning –

A police officer pulled a driver aside and asked for his license and registration.

“What’s wrong, Officer?” the driver asked. “I didn’t go through any red lights, and I certainly wasn’t speeding.”

“No, you weren’t”, said the officer, “but I saw you waving your fist as you swerved around the lady driving in the left lane, and I further observed you flushed an angry face as you shouted at the driver of the Hummer who cut you off, and how you pounded your steering wheel when the traffic came to stop near the bridge.”

“Is that a crime, officer?”

“No, but when I saw the ‘Jesus loves you and so do I’ bumper sticker on the car, I figured this car had to be stolen.”

(Adapted from Homiletics magazine, May 2004; submitted by Gino Grunberg, Gig Harbor, Washington)

Incidentally, Elie Yourssef Najem also asked: What is my crime? (The Star carries the story today. The Star just reached my office table. Yes, The Star reached Sibu at noon.)

Indeed, what’s his crime?

Even the Immigration Department enforcement director Datuk Ishak Mohamed does not know why Najem remained free despite having overstayed his social visit pass. Najem is supposed to be held in the department’s detention centre for overstay. Read the story just below Najem’s question –

Dept to probe why businessman remains free (The Star, Page N3)

Immigration Department can’t answer Najem’s question, what’s my crime?

In the same story, Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin was “brave” enough to say that many Malaysians, including journalists (the “including journalists” are my understanding) are no better than a school child! He said, I quote, “It does not make sense. He declares that he is worth USD46.5bil (RM174.3bil). Even a schoolchild can see through that.”

I blush with shame – I confess.

I wonder whether Najem’s cars carry any bumper sticker? Does your car carry any bumper sticker? Watch up, the school children can see through that!

Still in my garden

Still in my own garden, but I steal (stole) from the garden of others today.

While I am still looking at my own garden and thinking it may be gone forever, a delightful newsletter from guideposts arrived in my mail box this morning. I know God whispers, speaks, and now He shouts –

Happiness held is the seed
Happiness shared is the flower

In a story, “Good things come to those who wait”, Genie Aylor related how she felt the rebirth of her husband, Jim in her life. Genie would always sow the seeds of her children’s name in her garden in Spring. This spring, she added in another seed, the blue nigella also called “Love-in-a-mist”. She called it “I love Jim”. Her husband, Jim was battling leukemia. Genie had to leave her own house for an apartment near the hospital in order to take care of her husband. The husband died. She went home, to find that the garden which had left untended for were in a mess with split tomatoes, dried-up corn, weeds in flower beds, but the blue nigella bloomed. She was comforted because “the seeds, like Jim, had been reborn.”

In another story, “In search of the pure white marigold:, Alice Vonk wrote, “God was the creator and grower of the pure white marigold, the new love gift to mankind. We are merely planters”.

In “How to sow the seeds of love”, Jill Taylor said she would package a few seeds to enclose with each Christmas card, together with a message saying, “These seeds come to you with my love. Plant them if you like, enjoy flowers and perhaps next Christmas you’ll send their seeds to someone you love, just as I send these to you.”

Jill continues, “Even a dead seed never really dies. Like God’s love, it continues forever if the seeds are cast on fertile ground to sprout and grow and blossom.”

From my own garden…

On the significance of a sneeze, I wrote…. we hold on the faith that "the sneeze has blown a seed and the seed has been planted", God of harvest will cause the little seed to come to fruition.

On my first post in this blog on Valentine Day last year, I wrote ….. love yourself, reach past the thorns of your life, and let the rose within blossom many times over…Yes, within every soul there is a rose…

In March 2005, when my neighbour pulled down the tall wall, I wrote … Sometimes, we appreciate only our own garden. The garden outside the tall wall may be more beautiful than our own garden… Many years past, I still remember the glow in my daughter’s eyes and the excitement in her voice when the tall wall was pulled down.

Happiness held is the seed
Happiness shared is the flower ..

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

In the coffee shop

He ordered a fish-noodles. I ordered a Foochow style rice noodles with home-made red wine and egg. She ordered Sibu “Kam-pua Mee” (dried noodles) He ordered an iced Milo “kurang manis”. I ordered a hot chocolate without sugar. She ordered a teh-chi.

We talked about “Milo”. He said he also liked “Vico”. I told him story about “Auntie Jenny” who worked with Nestle and every time she visited our town, she brought along some young girls from the advertising agency and all of them would wear Milo T-shirts. It was like “Milo marching through Sibu town, and Vico has to stand by the side.” I also told him that when I was young “I longed to get sick” because Milo was only for the sick ones in the family. But, I was as strong as a bull and never got sick. As I grew up, I would not like Milo anymore because Milo is only for the sick. I do not wish to get sick.

He told me a joke about a mother who received a call from her son’s teacher reporting that her son stole his classmate’s pencil. The mother asked her son why he stole someone’s else pencil. The son answered that he did not have any pencil. The mother said, “Why don’t you tell me? I can take some from my company!”

She told me about the music that she has downloaded and added that her friend’s father appreciated the music that she listened too.

Food was served. I told him that this Foochow style rice noodles with home-made red wine was one of the specialties of my mother. “So, you remember your mother every time you have this?” Both of them asked.

The Lord has given me such friendship in my children, Rach and Chris. We went for breakfast once a week. They enjoy the food fellowship. I share with them the things that God has shown me. They believe me. This all takes place each week at the same coffee shop.

To me, that coffee shop is the place of sweet fellowship among God, my children and me.

I posted “My Garden” last night because I might be losing that garden to the authority. The authority wants to take back part of the land for building a double-lane road in front of my house. My other wise friend far away in Fu-Rong wrote –

Don’t worry about “missing the garden” – build a more beaut one when the time comes. Menawhile, continue planting some flowers in your Good Friend’s lives!

Indeed, the coffee table at the coffee shop where friends meet is the mountain of God, the place for God to reveal His wonderful works and also the sweet fellowship among God, my friends and me!

God gives us the gift of fellowship whether of children or friends to encourage us to enter life – to engage the world, to engage people, to encourage and to challenge.

To every man alive, one must hope, it has in some manner happened that he has talked with his more fascinating friends round a table on some night when all the numerous personalities unfolded themselves like great tropical flowers.
- G.K. Chesterton

Monday, January 09, 2006

I stand in awe


This is my garden. It is always there. I do not do much gardening. The gardener comes once a month. He came this afternoon. I stayed a while watching him. He cut, trimmed, pruned, snipped …

I thought I saw the picture of the workings of God through the hands of the gardener. He cuts away my worldly passions that have begun to take roots in my life. He prunes away the clutter from my life. He is my Master Gardener!

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. – John 15:2

This evening I came home and walked in the garden. I remember this song -

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above

And I stand I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You.

Wisdom in handbag

When I was in secondary school, my Chinese teacher liked to share his "wisdom" about women with boys. Such "wisdom" includes -

If you want to know how your wife would look like at middle-age or old-age, just look at her mother. If you think you can accept such a woman, then marry her daughter. Your marriage will last.

Women need to carry huge handbags because they need to put milk bottles and all the like in her handbags.

This Chinese teacher did not mention about carrying condoms. However, Datuk Lee Chong Meng, Bukit Bintang MCA Chairman said this,

"It does not mean that women who carry condoms are postitutes. There are many rasons for women to carry condoms. They carried condoms to protect themselves when having sexual relation with their respective partners."

Whatever reasons women may have in carrying condoms in their handbags, there is one thing that women should never forget to carry - WISDOM.

Wisdom, in the book of Proverbs, is personified as a woman -

"Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven pillars, she has slaughtered her beasts, she has mixed her wine. She has also set her table. (Proverbs 9, 1,2)

Here you see a woman of strength and dignity. She has established per personal identity by building her own house. She has perfect righteousness of Christ by setting up seven pillars. Seven is the Scriptural number of perfection, while pillars are firm foundation. Mixing her wine symbolizes joy with which her life is characterized.

Setting up her table, she is ready to share her joy with others. Read on ...

"Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave simpleness, and live and walk in the way of insight. (Proverbs 9, 5,6)

That's her lifestyle - one of freedom, joy and dignity and ready to share with others.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight." - Proverbs 9, 10

Peace, freedom, beauty, fidelity, love--all are symbolized in the female gender. Wisdom, too! Do not forget to carry "Wisdom" in your handbag today, my dear friends.

Greater Call to Answer

Greater call to answer

Last Friday, Telekom Malaysia (TM) ran a full page full colour advertisement in The Star. The big words read –

How do you submit to God
When you are talking to someone else?

The smaller print read –

There is always a greater call to answer. We are indeed fortunate to have access to the best of modern communication. Let us also have the wisdom to know when to turn it off. Phones in mosques (and other place of worship) are not only inconsiderate to our fellow worshippers but also disrespectful. Please turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode.

Indeed, it is commendable for people to go to worship places to worship God. However, the value of it vanishes if all we do is sit while our thoughts are elsewhere. The central fact of worship is to listen to the word of God, to listen to the voice of God.

A powerful communicator, Eugene Peterrson has said that true worship does five things to us –

You see God as the centre of everything.
You become part of a family or a congretation.
You begin to understand things you never saw before.
You begin to sing.
You respond to God’s promises with “Amens”.

These are certainly greater calls than these seven selling point –

Get connected
Games, play hard.Internet, surf wherever you can
Entertainment, watch live TV anywhere, all the time
News, live global updates
Business, latest financial news
Sports, live results
Community, share your life with video blogs
Music, make your own party with over 10,000 tones

How about buying Pizza for all worshippers if your phone rings?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My Father, my father, fathers

No aspect of Christian faith warms my heart more than knowing that God is my Father. Whether I am in joy, in sorrows, in tears, in laughers, in fears, when I come to my Father in prayers, with the utter of “My Father”, there is always a warm feeling that passes through my body! It is an inexpressible joy to know that I have a Father who loves me.

My father passed away when I was 20. My four younger siblings were 18, 15, 10 and 6 respectively. I do not have many memories of my father. Remembering my father is more “fears” than “love”. At 5 or 6, my father was seriously ill, I overheard the elders saying that the doctor said my father would die. So, for the next 15 years or so, whenever my father fell sick, I remembered what I had heard. I lived in fear that my father would die. Practically, it was an everyday’s affair, because my father was sick most of the time.

Real father love is not in short supply in the real world. Last Friday, in a very hectic schedule in KL, I rushed in a shop to get a white cotton school shirt for Rach. I saw a not-so-young father looking for a school bag. He could not decide which one to buy. Well, it was more of journalistic curiosity than wanting to be helpful, I have to confess. So, I asked my “Yan-bites” – who, what, how. Who – 9-year-old boy. What – for school. How – walking long distance, having to carry the bag up to 3rd floor. Done! I told him that the one he had in hand would be too heavy to carry up to 3rd floor, without the books in, it’s about 2 kg (woman’s skill to know the weight just by holding), plus at least about 8 kg, it would be a hefty 10 kg. I “whispered” to him that my 10-year-old son got one in one of the chain stores which I have just passed by. He readily followed me to that shop – seeing the radiance on his face, I knew he could find one that’s “friendly” to the back of his son too in that shop.

Yes, real father love is really seen everywhere. Just last week, I read from the newspaper that the “judge” took leave to settle his children in school! Another friend of mine who is a doctor also told me he took few days’ leave to settle his children in new school.

From the Bible, is there any more beautiful picture than the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son? The old father waiting at home, watching the horizon, and at the first glimpse of his son on the horizon, the old man ran down the road to meet him with arms wide open. Before the son could utter a word of his memorized statement – “I am no longer worthy to be called your son”, the old man had called out for a celebration to kill the fatted calf. Such is the picture of a father’s heart – forgiving the son with a full and free heart!

Rach and Chris are close to their father. To them, their father is a friend and model for them – patience, fortitude, manliness and humour – which they do not find in their mother, I guess!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Talk about it, That's all!

Christopher Lau

There are two entrances to my school. The side gate is located opposite a shopping complex. It is a small road with a rain shade all the way leading to the school. The other entrance is the main gate. During rainy days, most parents drop their children at the side gate.

I do not like using the side gate. It is very smelly. When the school began two days ago, my mother has to take a route that passed by this side gate because we have to drop off “Jie-Jie” first. The first day when we passed by the side gate, she asked, “Can I drop you off here?”

I said, “No.”

This morning, it was drizzling. My mother asked again, “Can I drop you here? Then we would not be caught in the rain.”

It was drizzling. We were also a little later than usual because of the traffic jam caused by the rain.

I said, “No, it is smelly.”

My mother asked, “Are you telling me that all your school mates dropping off here like the smell of the smelly drain?”

We looked at each other and burst into laughters.

Driving from the side gate to the main gate, I told my mother that by taking a longer route, I could stay in the car a little longer to be with her. If it’s raining, she could park her car and walk me to the school under a big umbrella. It’s just very warm. Of course, I do not like the smell of the drain at the side gate. Remember? I am allergic to many bugs, I can go sneezing the whole morning!

Yan's thoughts -

No one else has taught me more "wits and wisdom" than my own two children! Indeed, if life has narrowed down to boredom or just an routine and humdrum existence for us, it is difficult for us to communicate excitement, joy, humour, wonders, and glory to children. The Bible, in Deuteronomy 6:7 commanded parents,

"... and you shall teach them deligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise."

And now, even in a car! It is to talk about it, not lecture. Talking - it's just very natural.

God is very journalistic by nature, for art of talking alone, He has taught us here the how (how to teach), the when and the where!

Well, I shall not be "talking" here for the next few days! Off on a business trip! Over to you, friends of cyber home, talk, talk, talk!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Will the circle be unbroken?

NST’s front page headline today “Will the circle be broken” confused me. I remember a hymn called “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. The words are here –

Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Words: Ada R. Habershon
Music: Charles H. Gabriel



There are loved ones in the glory,
Whose dear forms you often miss;
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?

Refrain

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
In a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?

In the joyous days of childhood,
Oft they told of wondrous love,
Pointed to the dying Savior
Now they dwell with Him above.

Refrain

You remember songs of heaven
Which you sang with childish voice,
Do you love the hymns they taught you,
Or are songs of earth your choice?

Refrain

You can picture happy gatherings
Round the fireside long ago,
And you think of tearful partings,
When they left you here below:

Refrain

One by one their seats were emptied,
One by one they went away;
Here the circle has been broken—
Will it be complete one day?


It is not unusual during this time to get nostalgic over the continuity of many qualities and values we held during our childhood days with our loved ones across the generations. Most of all, the faith that we hold – we do not want to let the circle be broken!

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
In a better home awaitingIn the sky, in the sky?

Why would NST want the circle be broken?

While burried in my work, adjusting to the first day "Back to School" rush, I could not take that out of my mind. I logged on to NST on-line again, this time, I got it -

It’s the cycle of things in Malaysia. A cycle that goes like this -

A tragedy happens,
everyone clamours for tough action,
and the authorities promise
better enforcement
and stiffer punishment.

NST continues ..... Similar noises are being heard after Friday’s incident when a cement mould fell off a building in Sri Hartamas and crushed management consultant Liew Boon Horng. The Cabinet will discuss the case tomorrow. Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Fong Chan Onn said he wanted to put recalcitrant contractors out of business. City Hall Datuk Bandar Datuk Ruslin Hassan said his officials would step-up inspection of other high-rise building projects. BUT WILL ANYTHING CHANGE?

It’s the CYCLE OF THINGS! It's the cycle of things that NST is pressing for a break, not the circle! Not the circle of values, of tradition, of qualities, of faith to be broken? Is there a difference?

I hold on to my faith and never, never want the circle be broken -

Matthew 22:32 "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."


Monday, January 02, 2006

The Best Is Yet To Be!

All set for “Back-to-School”!

Few nights ago, I was wrapping up the books for Chris. I am a nagging mother who never wants to miss an opportunity to tell my children the childhood days.

“During my time, we used the past year calendar to wrap our books.” I said.

“Oh? That must be beautiful. Your idols’ pictures?” Chris asked.

“No, we turned it inside out. You know, we did it all by ourselves. My mother never did that for us. My mother had nine children, if each one had 10 books, it would mean she had to wrap 90 books.” I said.

“You teach me, I can do it myself next year.” Chris said, clearly offended.

“By the way, how long have you been wrapping text books?” Chris asked.

“For as long as Jie-Jie started schooling.” I answered.

“Plus your own years, it would be about 20 years. I think it’s still not up to perfection yet.” Chris said.

Yeah, still learning. God is still working on me! The best is yet to come!

Rachel would go to morning session. Since her secondary days, she had been taking the 15-minutes walk back to home after school in the evening. I have been getting remarks from friends that I am a very “cruel and mean mother” by letting her walk home. I remained unmoved by all remarks. This time, I had been struggling whether to pick her up at 12:40 pm after her class, or still let her walk home. It would be extremely hot under the sun at that hour.

Rachel decides that she would still take a walk home. She has always been that considerate darling knowing that if I pick her up at 12:40 pm, it means rushing her home and making another trip to Chris’ school that ends at 1:00 pm.

By letting the precious princess to walk under the hot sun, I know, starting tomorrow, I would be facing the music of mean-to-good friends.

Yes, preparing the children to be independent from us is one of the important task of parents. Parents are to trust them, equip them to move out, and send them forth -- not just at the time they are teenagers ready to break away, but the process should be going on all along, so that they will learn more and more how to become stable and dependent upon God and not on their parents.

Many lessons to learn ….

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made.
- Robert Browning

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Because A Little Bug Went KA-CHOO

By Christopher Lau

Here is the story -

One fine morning, a little bug sneezed.
Because of the sneeze, a little seed dropped.
Because the little seed dropped, a worm was hit.
Because a worm was hit, the worm got mad.

When the worm was mad, it hit a tree. A coconut dropped. It hit on a turtle. The turtle splashed into the water. A hen got wet. The hen got mad.

When the hen got mad, it kicked a bucket. The bucket went up and when it went down, it hit Farmer Brown. Framer Brown's head got stuck in the bucket. He phoned for help. Police came speeding. They hit a stone. One policeman flew up all alone. When the policeman came down, he landed on the boat of Mary Lou and made a big hole in the Mary Lou's boat.

The boat started to sink. Everyone started to scream. Mrs Brown called on the phone for more help. They tied a strong rope on Mary Lou's boat. The boat did not sink, but it needed to be fixed.

So, they went to town. They ran into a circus parade. The whole town turned into chaos!

I thought the story was hilarious when my mother read to me when I was 3 or 4. Then when I was a little older, I thought it was boooooooring! But I think the whole thing started with the worm getting angry and hit a tree. The hen also got mad and kicked a bucket. It will be a happy ending if the bug sneezed and hit a seed that fell to the ground and grew up to be a bean tree. Then, we can continue with the story of Jack and the Bean Stalk! I think it is more interesting.

I also have a story of sneeze and bugs. I sneeze very often. So often that my mother does not get excited over it anymore. But, this time, it was a little different. Because I sneezed, bugs went around. Because the bugs fly everywhere, I caught a sore throat. Because I had a sore throat, my nose blocked. Because my nose blocked, the bugs ran to my ear. Because the bugs stayed there, my ear got infected.

Because my ears got infected one time too often, my mummy got panic.

Because my mummy got panic, I got to see a special doctor in Singapore. Because the doctor is special, he said I am allergic to many bugs and cockroaches. So, I sneeze often. Because he is special, he also said I am over-weight. Because I am over-weight, he asked me to work on losing 2 kg first.

Because he said so, I have been working very hard. Because this special doctor said so, I even felt guilty eating a little piece of chocolate yesterday! Yeah, I have lost 1 kg!

When school begins on Tuesday, I will have to carry a 8-kg school bag and walk all the way to 4th floor where my class is located. Then it wil be fast for me to lose another kg.

See, sneezing is not bad, if you don't get mad. The moral of the story is "Don't get mad and hit a tree or kick a bucket. Then, even if you sneeze, you can meet a nice doctor who not only help you sneeze better, he can help you lose some weight!"

Lessons for adults from
Because A Little Bug Went KA-CHOO
Rosetta Stone
Dr Seuss Series for Child Books


By Yan


This is a book of great truth. "You may not believe it, but here's how it happened ..." (that's how the book begins.)

Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher said, "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards."

It is easier for us to understand this truth at the beginning of the year. On new year eve, just last night, did we realize more than at any other time in our lives we can never go back in time? We looked back and remembered, but we could not retrace a single moment of the year that had past!

Therefore, little Chris looked back at the story of the Little Bug and felt that if the worm had not been mad or the chicken had not been mad just because of little irritations, the whole serious chain events would not have happened! He understood life backwards, and seemed to understand that a little "bends" in life can make a whole world of difference!

Who can measure the potential of a sneeze?

Only time will tell. Therefore, the second truth is no matter how insignificant your work may seem now, but only time will tell the result of the consequence.

Who would have thought that a little sneeze of Chris would give him a determination to "lose some weight" by accepting certain forms of discipline or give up certain habits? We would not be able to see the influence on his life, it may reach beyond our years. But, we hold on the faith that "the sneeze has blown a seed and the seed has been planted", God of harvest will cause the little seed to come to fruition.

When it does, it will be more than you can measure.

Before us stretches a new year. We feel the challenge of the unknown, of the unexplored, of the year ahead of us yet to be discovered. I feel a bit of excitement, a bit of fear, a feeling of weakness, but I know there are great possibilities in store for each of us in 2006, for God has said,

Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for them who loved Him. - 1 Corinthians 2:9b)

Grace and Thanksfulness

When our Boys' Brigade Band said farewell to year 2005 with Bag Pipes (Auld Lang Syne), blowing of bugles followed with the chiming of Church Bell at 12:00 midnight sharp, we welcomed the new year and sang Amazing Grace with the faith of striving forward with God's grace.

Today, I want to share with you two poems read last night at our Watchnight Service and the hymn that we sang -

Yesterday

I've shut the door on yesterday
Its sorrows and mistakes
I've looked within its gloomy walls
Past failures and heartaches
And now I throw the key away
To seek another room
And furnished it with hope and smiles
And every springtime bloom ....

I've shut the door on yesterday
And throw the key away
Tomorrow holds no fear for me
Since I've found today.

Tomorrow

God is in every tommorow,
Therefore I live for today;
Certain of finding at sunrise
Guidance and strength for the day,
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain.

God is in every tommorow,
Planning for you and for me,
Even in the dark I will follow,
Trust where my eyes cannot see,
Stilled by His promise of blessing,
Soothed by the touch of His hand,
Confident in His protection,
Knowing my life-path is planned.

God is in every tomorrow
Life with its changes may come
But He is always behind and before me!

Thanks to God (Hymn)

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!