Yan's Corner - In Touch

Friday, March 31, 2006

A Tale of Two Birds


yingks asked,

I am a positive pessimist. Are you?

According to this young man,
a positive pessimist is one who envisages the worse possible situation and plans how to avoid it. He anticipates a glommy tomorrow, and thus does what he can today to make tomorrow a bright and lovely day.
That leads me to the tale of two birds. These two birds react differently to the threat of a storm. First, the turkey. The turkey reacts by running under a barn, hoping the storm won't come near.

Then, the eagle. The eagle rides the air currents of the approaching storm knowing that it will be carried higher in the sky and it can soar on its own.

Which are you? A turkey or an eagle?

I have just sent a young journalist to A'Fomosa for a working trip. He came back and tell me, "I can fly!"

I said, you did not fly. Obviously offended, he said, well, at least I dare to embrace the wind.

It really takes a lot of faith to be an eagle! On this last day of March, looking back over the 31-day period of loss and uncertainty in my life, in the life of friends, I find the new meaning to the tale of the two birds.

Should I live in content in the barnyard of comfort pretending that all the securities I need is there? Or should I soar like an eagle out of my comfort zone beleving that God wants me to soar higher in my relationship with Him?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Keep Me In Your Heart

This is not a good month. A number of things happened. And the month is not over yet. And even in April, it’s Ching Ming!

First, it was the death of Ker-May, a dear friend in Girls’ Brigade. Ker-May was only 38.

It followed with the death of my auntie, my late father’s sister-in-law. She was 88.

My colleague’s father died of cancer at the age of 59 the following week.

The husband of another dear friend in Girls’ Brigade met in a road accident with head injuries. At this moment of writing, he is still in ICU.

Then, this morning, the father of a dear friend also passed on. I have wanted to meet him during the coming Easter week in person when I have a trip to Sing-Land. I want to meet this fine man who has raised such fine child as this dear friend and probably to learn some secrets from him.

Are you hearing about a lot about people dying these days? Again and again, we say, “Life is so fragile.” Yet, we continue to waste so precious a gift as life.

May be I am getting old. Well, I am getting old.

Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart has not been more meaningful to me any other time than today –

Shadows are falling and I’m running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while

If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for awhile

There’s a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-li-li-lo
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-li-li-lo
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Sometimes when you’re doing simple things around the house
May be you’ll think of me and smile

You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view

When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you.

Warren Zevon is a singer-songwriter who died of lung cancer in September 2003. A year before his death, his friend David Letterman asked what he intended to do with the time he had left, Sevon replied that he intended to enjoy every sandwich. There is really much wisdom in learning to “enjoy every sandwich”. During Zevon’s last year, he spent much of his limited time with his two grown-up children.

This post is specially for this dear friend in Sing-Land at the time of his loss – I’m sure he will keep his father in his heart for a long, long time.

I have earlier sent him a poem, I am Not Gone, and thought many of my friends here would be touched by this poem, copyright of wisehearts.com:

I am not gone

I am not gone, I am changed.
Have faith and please believe me.
God did not take me away from you,
He split the skies and received me.

Now ...

I'm an echo in your laughter,
a reflection in your tears,
an extra thread of strength
to help you overcome your fears.

I'm an added ray of sunshine,
more joy for you to share,
a fragrance of the life you live.
Wherever you are - I am there.

Only Human!

"Stuff" of life

I have always taken it as great pride and joy when Chris (my 10-year-old boy) waves goodbye to me after I drop him off at the school gate every morning. He waves goodbye when he closes the car door, and turns to wave goodbye after a few steps, and turn back again ....

"Stuff of Life" was posted on October 19 last year. Chris continues to wave goodbye to me every time I drop him off. This morning, I dropped him off right in front of a traffic police. After the usual "goodbye", as I was about to leave, the traffic police knocked at my window.

I thought, a warning that I should not stop for too long to say goodbye? But, his smile did not give a hint.

So, I pressed the button (power-window lah!) to wind down the window.

With a big smile, he said, "Your son is so cute. I have not seen another child waving goodbye to their parents here at the school gate. He is not even scare of me standing right here"

I remember fishtail commented that Chris was not being insecure for waving goodbye to mummy so many times. He said Chris wanted to stay connected till he met mummy again after school.

Today, I learn that traffic police are only human who want to stay connected with the people. So, the next time if a taffic police stop you, do not flash your "press card" so fast, give him a big smile. He may only want to stay connected with beautiful people like you and me!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Whom Should I Love More?

The Borneo Post carries this AFP story today,

British men love football twice as much as their women

London: British men show far more loyalty, commitment and self-sacrifice towards their favourite football team than towards their partners, according to a study.

Some 94 percent said they would never stop loving their team no matter how bad they were while 32 percent would galdly ditch a relatinship that was not going well, the survey of approximately 2,000 men across Britain found.

Psychologist Aric Sigman said: "If men showed the same fidelity, commitment, self-sacrifice and honesty toward their partners, the divorce rate would halve overnight. In an age where politicians' loyalties are seen as chameleonic, where jobs and relatinships come and go, loyalty is now reserved for something men feel they can actually believe in: football."

The story continues with like a quarter of men admitted they would miss a family fineral to watch a game...

God commands us to love Him and people. There are times when you need to love God more than people.

Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes even his own life - he cannot be my disciple.: (Luke 14:26 NIV)

Jesus is using hyperbole - hyped-up language - to teach two things:

Your love for God is to be greater than your love for any person - even those closest to you.

You need to obey God rather than people.

That's it - love God more than people. God wants us to have an enormous love for every person in your life. But he wants you to have a love for him that's even bigger!

Well, how about that for a Monday morning? I am off to Cats City for two days!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A matter of Life and Death - and Life!

I read a very thought-provoking post titled Irony of Life by Vagus. I was linked to the story from Malaysian Medical Resources.

While I was much "nearer" to death itself this month, I posted the following comment at Vagus' site at that spur of moment -

Hi, linked here from MMR. Actually have been reading your blog for quite sometimes, not so regular, but frequent enough to have a glimpse into your “world”.

Perhaps to answer what’s life, we have to ask what is death. Life has four basic things opposite to death.

If death is fear, life is trust, hope and confidence.
If death is guilt, life is acceptance, security and assurance.
If death is hostility, then life is love, friendliness and even reaching out to others.
If death is emptiness, then life is fulfillment, fullness, good feelings.

I "experienced" three deaths for March alone.

The first death was a dear friend in Girls’ Brigade. She was 38, not married, dedicated one third of her life in the Girls’ Brigade Ministry. Attending her funeral service were hundreds of young girls whom she had nurtured and as the motto of Girls’ Brigade, bring girls to be followers of Christ.

It was trust, hope, confidence, acceptance, security, assurance, love, friendliness, fullness of life. It was not death.

The second death was my auntie. She was 88. The pastor shared on “Going Home”. The auntie was received by the Lord to His Home!

The third death was my colleague’s father. He was 59. The pastor shared an evangelical message, probably most of the family members and relatives are non-Christians.

I also attended a memorial service of my uncle. This uncle fought a good fight with the cancer cells for 5 years. He was 80 when he died in January 2006. At the memorial service, his book was launched. It was a colourful life, dedicated to family, society and especially towards the Chinese education. He was a millionaire. He did not die a millionaire.

These were totally different experiences.

If you have to look at what is death – fear, guilt, hostility, emptiness. Death is actually not the one waiting at the end of our life, it is something most of us experience right now. Can I say many of us are dead even if we are alive!

Just some thoughts to share!

Not long ago, I read a story of a very wealthy and well-liked man. Let's call him Ted.

When Ted died and his will being read, the family found Ted's plans for his own funeral! More than anything else, Ted wanted to be buried in his prized possession: a gold-plated, diamond-studded Rolls Royce convertible worth over a million dollars. Ted's family loved him dearly, so they followed his funeral plans exactly.

The day of his funeral came. Just as he wished, Ted was propped up in the backseat wearing his most expensive suit. His eyes were glued open and his mouth was pasted in a huge smile. The funeral procession through town to Ted's burial place included marching bands and Cadillacs full of VIPs. As the chauffeur-driven car came into view, the crowds cheered and clapped wildly for Ted.

Meanwhile, down by the railroad tracks, a stranger hopped off a slow-moving freight train hoping to find something to eat in town. Attracted by the noise on Main Street, the man pushed through the crowd. Seeing the marching bands and carloads of important-looking people pass by, he whistled in amazement.

And when the gold Rolls Royce came into view, the stranger's eyes grew side. Seeing the grand passenger sitting in the expensive convertible and hearing the wild applause of the crowd, the stanger could contain his excitement no longer. Pointing to Ted, he exclaimed to those around him,

"Now that's what I call really living."

Majorly clueless, wasn't he? Ted had all the appearances of living well, but as he paraded along in the Rolls Royce, he could not have been more dead!

What is death?

Perhaps, this Bible verse answers,

All who are related to Christ …. will be given new life.
1 Corinthians 15:22

A new life planned for us by Christ is far better than being propped up in a Rolls Royce for a parade!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Wonders of the Word of God

Since the beginning of the year, members have been assigned to write on the reflection of the sermon and print in the following week’s bulletin. Many members express their fear being assigned such a big task. However, Sundays after Sundays, I am quite amazed by their thoughts and expressions through words. My Reflection on one Sunday is picked up by the newsletter of Sarawak Methodist Churches, called Connection.

Here it is –

Just as the world has 7 wonders, the Bible also has its wonders.

The wonders of its inspirationAll scripture is God-breathed, that is inspired.

The wonders of its formationIt presents a unified portrait of God’s plans and purpose. It is an entire library of different kind of literature. It has its diverseness and uniqueness.

The wonders of preservationsIt is flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.

The wonders of its designIt is described as a sword, a hammer, a mirror, a burning fire and a lamp.

The wonders of its powerSo is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isa. 5:11)

The wonders of its messageThe Word of God is all about hope in a hopeless world.

The wonders of its promisesIt promises salvation, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, Jesus coming again and promises of hope.

There are three benefits of reading the Bible:

The benefits of life – Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word tht comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

The benefits of wisdom – The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)

The benefits of joy – The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Thoughts/Reflection

Indeed, what a marvel the Bible is. It brings us face-to-face with our God. The relationship is so real and personal that it seems to be a face-to-face encounter. For many, the Bible has unfolded to them the meaning of their lives. It restores when nothing else can do so. It arouses a sense of true worship, grounded in the truth. That’s the marvel of the Bible, the Word of God. How wonderful that we should have it in our hands.

Consider this prayer of Henry Van Dyke and make it our prayer:

Grant us the knowledge that we need
To solve the questions of the mind
Light Thou our candles, while we read
To keep our hearts from going blind
Enlarge our vision to behold
The wonders Thou hast wrought of old!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Beauty of God

“I should lose weight this year.” Chris said to his sister, Rachel this afternoon on the way back from school.

Rachel asked, “Why this year?”

“Next year in August I will be 12. I must have a handsome photograph in MyKad. I need to carry that card until 18. I do not want to have an ugly photo to hold and carry for six long years.” Chris answered.

Rachel and I plus Chris all bursted into laughter.

Rachel said, “Why I did not have such idea when I was 11. My photo in MyKad is so awful.”

Mummy said,

Let the beauty of the Lord be upon both of you!

What is the beauty of God?

Why is God beautiful?

God is beautiful because of two things –

TRUTH AND LOVE

Truth is always associated with beauty. What is not true is always not beautiful.

Love is warm. Love is gracious. Love is attractive. Love is beautiful.

So, love + truth = beauty

If your life is characterized by love and truth, it is beautiful!

Where can you get those – love and truth? The only place you can get those is from God. So the Psalmist prays,

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, (Psalms 90:17a KJV)
and establish thou the work of our hands upon us,
yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. (Pslams 90:17b RSV)

If the beauty of the Lord is upon you, Rachel and Chris, you can carry it all the days of your life!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Listen! That Still Small Voice

The Borneo Post reports today –

An Englishman who cycled all the way from China is stranded in Bintulu as he has fractured his left leg in a hit-and-run accident during the last Lunar New Year celebration.

A woman driver was said to have hit Gerald Joseph Roman who was consequently hospitalized for six weeks. He has been discharged andis now being taken care of by the Calvary Baptist Church.

The 54-year-old man might have to give up cycling because of the injuries, and he might have to go to China to take up Tai Chi lessons instead.

Desperate Gerald is now appealing for help to trace the driver who knocked him at 10:30 am on January 31 at Lebuh Abang Galau.

(paragraphs omitted)

Gerald was disappointed that the woman driver had no conscience to offer help to him after the accident.

“I am willing to pay a cash token for the public to help.”

(the stories continues …and ends with - The public can call 019-xxxxxxx or 086-xxxxxx for Reverend xxxxx if there is any information on the white wagon car and its driver.)

Incidentally, Chris (my son, aged 10) was pushed to a corner in the carpark of his school’s compound by a car driven by one of the school teachers. Chirs landed in a drain and injured his knee. The teacher did not stop to help. His classmates helped him up from the drain.

While the mummy was about to open her mouth and commented, Chris said, “Mummy, that teacher is very old. He is going to retire soon. May be he did not know that he caused my fall.”

What a forgiving spirit of a child!

What helpful classmates!

Conscience has been defined as “that still, small voice that makes you feel smaller still,” or, as one little child put it, “It is that which feels bad when everything else feels good."

Through the forgiving spirit of a child, I feel that consience may not be a safe guide by itself. The moral standard we hear from that "still little voice" can be quite wrong when viewed in the light of God's revelation.

Perhaps, the saftest guide is that well-known doxology we quote so frequently:

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working you that which is pleasing in his sight. (Hebrews 13:20-22 RSV)

Amen?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

DIGI deposits in my Emotional Bank Account!

To say that I am faithful is self-praise. To say that I fear change is a confession.

My first connection on mobile is Maxis. When Maxis was first introduced to Sarawak, I was one of the “privileged journalists” to be given a nice number plus a stylish handphone. It was a tie for two years. I took the offer. I started with the connections Maxis provided for Kuching, Sibu and Miri. When I traveled to other towns like Bintulu, Sarikei and Mukah, my connection was cut off. I did not mind having to use the public phone at Bintulu airport.

I remain faithful to Maxis, till today. Over the years, I do meet my corporate clients like Celcom and DIGI who gently pass the message to me hoping to “connect me with people” through their services.

I remain faithful to Maxis.

I am not a big spender on phone calls. For Maxis, customer like me is like what the Chinese politician, poet, strategist, Cao Cao (155-220) said, “Chicken feet (claws), chicken feet, throwing you away is a waste, but there is no taste in you.”

I remain faithful to Maxis.

For two consecutive days, DIGI runs “What if?” advertisement in my newspaper -

Yesterday, DIGI asked -

WHAT IF WE KEPT IMPROVING THINGS?

This is the spirit that drives thinkers, inventors and innovators. And because of them, the quality of life on this planet has improved. It all starts with a question, “What if?”

What if we kept looking at the way things are and asked,
“What if?” And then applied that energy to make things a little
better?
Today, DIGI hints, and deposits further in my Emotional Bank Account (read my post on Monday)
WHAT IF SUCCESS WAS MEASURED BY HOW HAPPY CUSTOMERS ARE?

Customers are people. Our Company is also about people. This sounds obvious, doesn’t it? May be. But it helps us realize that our real assets lie in people. People like you. This shift in focus has led us to look intensely at our products and services and ask, “What if?”

What if we gave you surprisingly low rates? What if we just dropped our monthly fees completely? What if we let you
call the world at local rates? And what if we continued to improve things? And then measured our success by how you feel about our services?
Today, I am still able to sing to Maxis –

Of course I still love you
for the sun still rises and sets
And the moon still rules the tide
And my heart still beats in yearning
And my soul still lives in longing …

Of course I still love you …
For you’v become the air I breathe
The stars I see
The song I sing
Of course ..
How can I not love you?

But what if DIGI waived the the monthly fee? What if DIGI let me call the world at local rates?

I may change!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Status of Our Accounts

At the memorial service of my late uncle yesterday, the Second Finance Minister, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh recalled my late uncle telling him that each one of us should have two accounts.

One account is your personal saving accounts. For this account, it is best that the deposits be more than the withdrawals so that there is always balances for the rainy days.

As for the other account, it is our social responsibility. What we draw from the society must be equal to what we give back (deposit) to the society. It is also best that the desposit be always more than the withdrawal.

That reminds me of the emotional bank account -

The emotional bank account (EBA) is a metaphor for the amount of trust that exists in a relaitonship. It suggests that every interaction with another human being may be classified as a deposit or withdrawal.
Deposits build and repair trust in relationships. Withdrawals lessen trust in relationships.

- Stephen Covey

What are the deposits in the EBA?

Kindness and Courtesy
Keeping Promises
Honouring Expectations
Loyalty to the Absent (when you say something about some, say it in front of that person)
Making Aplogies

The Withdrawals?

Unkindness and Discourtesy
Breaking Promises
Violating Expectations
Disloyalty, Duplicity (double-minded)
Pride, conceit, arrogance.

Yan's thoughts -

EBA is different from the bank account in that you don't deposit in order to make withdrawals! Deposit has to be done with sincerity.

Keep depositing.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dance of May

This book by the late Dato Sri (Dr) Lau Hui Kang, Recalling the Past at Parkview, was launched this morning at Civic Centre. Some 1000 guests attended the Memorial Service held in honour of my late uncle exactly 60 days after he passed on.

The book was completed in September 2005. But, the late Dato Sri (Dr) Lau was then too sick to launch the book.

I have read the book earlier before its launching today. Parkview was the place where the author stayed in the later years of his life. At Parkview, the author looked back at his life and shared his life journey with his family members, relatives, friends and the society at large. It was written while he was fighting the cancer cells in his body. In the words of his friend, also the author of the first book about him, Lau Hui Kang KTS,

At first, I received his script in handwriting, clear and strong stokes, later, the handwriting showed weaker strokes, and towards the end, Dato Sri (Dr) Lau sent him recorded voices. He was too weak to write anymore.

The author shared his journey in the hope that many would be encouraged and his journey could be used as a reference. If I am allow to add in, it’s Labour of Love.

The Second Finance Minister and Miniser of Urban Development and Tourism Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh described the journey that the author took was a journey of peace, love, clear conscience, beauty and giving spirit.

The author dedicated a section each of the book in honour of his parents, wife, children, teachers and friends. The book also relates how he was involved in the social services, his unflagging support for independent Chinese school which he credits with shaping his attitude. A section of it was his battle with cancer and his faith in God.

The author was born on 5th of May which inspired his grandchildren to present scenes of his colourful and meaningful life in a video clip entitled “Dance of May”. The video clip started with a complete silence with words on screen, "Lovingly, a husband, father, grandfather, greatgrandfather .....

At the launch of the book, the song You Raise Me Up was played.

Yes, for many, Dato Sri (Dr) Lau had certainly raised them up –

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up; To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up; to More than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up; To more than I can be.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Be My Guest


It is always a joy to receive guests at home. It is “all-joy” to receive guest like Queen Elizabeth, I guess, but I have never thought of having an honourable guest like the queen. Yes, one family in Singapore had the honour to receive Queen Elizabeth II yesterday. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Pung’s family (thought it could be P’ng’s family, Joe?) in 1972.

I read from “Nayyang Siang Pau” that the Pung’s family was worried what to offer to the queen. Pung related that when the queen visited them in 1972, he did not prepare any drink, but suddenly the queen, Philip and Princess Anne wanted to drink water! He had nothing to offer, but 7-up. Now the three glasses is a priceless family heirloom for the Pung’s family. The paper reported that Pung wanted to go to Marks and Spencer to buy some better quality water.

Huh? It does give quite a lot of pressure.

Perhaps, receiving another “guest” is a lot easier. Read this all-time favourite –

Ruth looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter one more time...

Dear Ruth,
I'm going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I'd like to stop by for a visit.

Love Always,
Jesus

Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. "Why would the Lord want to visit me? I'm nobody special. I don't have anything to offer."

With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. "Oh my goodness, I really don't have anything to offer. I'll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner."

She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Seven dollars and forty cents. "Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least." She threw on her coat and hurried out the door.

A loaf of french bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk...leaving Ruth with a grand total of twelve cents to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt satisfied as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm.

"Hey lady, can you help us, lady?" Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn't even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.

"Look lady, I ain't got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and, well, now it's getting cold and we're getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us, lady, we'd really appreciate it."

Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad and, frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to.

"Sir, I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I'm having an important guest for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to Him."

"Yeah, well, OK lady, I understand. Thanks anyway." The man put his arm around the woman's shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley.

As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.

"Sir, wait!" The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. "Look, why don't you take this food. I'll figure out something else to serve my guest." She handed the man her grocery bag.

"Thank you lady. Thank you very much!" "Yes, thank you!" It was the man's wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering.

"You know, I've got another coat at home. Here, why don't you take this one." Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman's shoulders. Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street . . .without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest. "Thank you lady! Thank you very much!"

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit and she didn't have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox. "That's odd. The mailman doesn't usually come twice in one day." She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.

Dear Ruth,

It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thank you too, for the beautiful coat.

Love Always,
Jesus

The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Things God Won't Ask

March is my Company's annual review. This is the last thing I like to do. Still, I shall be doing this task for the next two weeks.

Results. Performance. How do you measure? How do you measure whether the staff worth their salaries? How do you determine the increment?

While many wish they can evaluate others, I wish to be evaluated. To be evaluated by my Lord.

Here is one reminder, also one of my "treasured words" that I have kept for years in my computer. Author unknown -

Things God Won't Ask...

God won't ask what kind of car you drove,
but will ask how many people you drove who didn't have transportation.

God won't ask the square footage of your house,
but will ask how many people you welcomed into your home.

God won't ask about the fancy clothes you had in your closet,
but will ask how many of those clothes helped the needy.

God won't ask about your social status,
but will ask what kind of class you displayed.

God won't ask how many material possessions you had,
but will ask if they dictated your life.

God won't ask what your highest salary was,
but will ask if you compromised your character to obtain that salary.

God won't ask how much overtime you worked,
but will ask if you worked overtime for your family and loved ones.

God won't ask how many promotions you received,
but will ask how you promoted others.

God won't ask what your job title was,
but will ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.

God won't ask what you did to help yourself,
but will ask what you did to help others.

God won't ask how many friends you had,
but will ask how many people to whom you were a true friend.

God won't ask what you did to protect your rights,
but will ask what you did to protect the rights of others.

God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived,
but will ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won't ask about the color of your skin,
but will ask about the content of your character.

God won't ask how many times your deeds matched your words,
but will ask how many times they didn't.

When there is nothing left but God,
that is when you find out God is all you need.

Will the Lord give a pat on my shoulder and say, "Well done, my child. I am well pleased." That's all that we want, isn't it not?
Here is another wisdom from Mother Teresa -

"How do you measure success of your work?" - they asked Mother Theresa -

"I don't remember that the Lord ever spoke of success.
He only spoke of faithfulness in love.
This is the only success that count"

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Here Come Justice Bao!

I did not grow up with fairy tales like Snow White or Cinderella. I grew up with Chinese Classics, Chinese Legendary Stories, Jing-Yuan’s stories and Justice Bao’s stories. Those were the books of my late father. One fine day, I found the treasures in one of the cabinets. Those books occupied much of my childhood years. I was also not a “text-book” person.

I remember when Pak Lah took over the torch of the country, in his first election, BN ran some advertisements in the press portraying him as Justice Bao. Do you remember that?

I was then, very very much delighted by the creativity of the PR company or advertising agencies of BN. It related well with me.

Today, uncle Lim (Lim Kit Siang) refreshed my memories of my days with Justice Bao and with Justice Bao, of course the memories of my late father. I called him Uncle Lim because Lim Kit Siang was my late father’s friend. I have known him from my teenage days.

Read what Uncle Lim said, (From the Star, page N14)

Justice Bao and Pak Lah’s anti-graft fight

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang used the famous Chinese classic Justice Bao to make a point about Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s fight against corruption.

The Ipoh Timur MP said those who followed the classic
would know that Justice Bao had a team of lieutenants who helped him fight corruption and power abuses irrespective of rank or wealth.

He wanted to know who Abdullah’s lieutenants were.

“Who are his Zhan Zhao, Gonsun Ce, Wang Chao, Ma Han, Zhang Long and Zhao Hu?” he asked in
debating the motion of thanks on the royal address.

He said without such lieutenants, Justice Bao would be helpless to rein in the corrupt among the high and mighty.

“Similarly, without his team of anti-corruption compaigners, there is nothing Abdullah can do to make a dent on the scourge of corruption, however well-meaning he is,” Lim said. “His would be a lone and helpless voice.”

I’ll stop here, because today’s posting is about Justice Bao, Uncle Lim and Pak Lah. (Please pardon me for quoting name not according to seniority)

Now, for my banana friends (I know I have many who are yellow outside but white inside) who may not have a good grasp of what my Uncle Lim was saying, perhaps, this explains better –

A story was told of an American who was first appointed Ambassador to France. When someone asked him, “How is your French?” He said, “Oh, my French is excellent, all but the verbs.”

This is the description of Pak Lah’s administration. The administration is excellent with wonderful nouns –

peace, faith, justification, fairness, love, harmony …. (name all the wonderful mouns)

But, it lacks verbs, the action words –

loving, forgiving, restoring, healing …..

The administration is beautiful and wonderful but the actions leave something greatly to be desired. The administration is far removed from life as it is. It is talking about ideals but not dealing with gut issues of life where people are bleeding, struggling, fighting and facing terrible problems.

Justice Bao was a man of love, justice, faith and justification. His lieutenants work in line with him in loving, forgiving, restoring, healing … so that a real

Pak Lah’s administration is right, it is good, it is solid. Without Zhan Zhao, without Gongsun Ce, it is DEAD! There is no demonstration of life!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Goodbye, Ker-may


A dear friend in the Girls’ Brigade Ministry, Ker-may left us without a “goodbye”.

I first got to really know Ker-may in a camp four years ago. She was the camp commandant of the Girls’ Brigade Junior Leadership Training. I was one of the speakers. She was many years senior than me in the Girls’ Brigade. I felt small in front of her. But she did not make me feel small. She gave me all the encouragement and made me feel that I was a great speaker!

I could never forget how she made me feel. For that, I have never turned down a speaking opportunity in Girls’ Brigade Ministry.

I have missed the Girls’ Brigade’s way of biding goodbye to a faithful officer, a loving madam, a strict commandant of camps, and a God-fearing Captain.

I have recollections from my Captain of the good-byes, the tears, the officers, the over 400 girls, the band, and Ker-may in full Girls’ Brigade’s uniform.

Life is short. For Ker-may, she had led a colourful life with family and friends, and beyond that, a meaningful life in the Girls’ Brigade with the young girls and life in her teaching career with her students. She had fought a good fight, how about us?

Robert Browning wrote:

Just when we’re safest,
There’s a sunset touch,
A fancy from a flower bell,
Someone’s death,
A chorus ending with Euripides,
And that’s enough for fifty hopes or fears,
The Grand Perhaps!

How striking had Robert Browning put it in this poem. Ker-may’s death, a sunset, the beauty of a flower knowing that in a little while it will be crushed – all remind me of the brevity of life.

Goodbye, Ker-may.

A Spa For The Soul


I remember reading a story about a man walking down the street one day. He passed by a store selling used books. Looking through the window he saw a book with this title, How to Hug. He was caught by the title, and being a romantic person wanting to learn more skills, he bought the book. Back home, he discovered that it was the third volume of an encyclopedia that covered the subjects from “How” to “Hug”.

I am not a “hugging person”. My “hugging” is kept within the significant other and my two children. Perhaps, I am not a warm person. Or perhaps, inwardly, I am a shy person. However, I have not thought of buying an instruction book on “How to Hug”. Oh yes, I have attended one or two seminars when the speakers taught the participants “how to hug”. But, it was never useful to me. Hugging remains a “no-no” to me.

But, last night, I gave Yvonne two big hugs! And it was so natural! Hugging is easier than I think! And I begin to believe that I am not a “cold” person!

Today’s thoughts is not about hugging. It’s about friends. It’s about “a spa for the soul”.

SPA? Whenever I have an opportunity to travel to Sing-Land, mGf, Desi would always ask, “spa-ing?”. No, it’s not “spa-ing” in Sing-Land. I was only given a free spa in Sing-Land once.

But, “spa-ing” is a term that I would identify with shelter for the soul, healing for the spirit. And I connect that with friends to ease the soul –

A deep heart-to-heart talk with a cherished friend feels as comforting and soothing as a spa.

Having friends who understands your world, your difficulties and triumphs give that comforting and soothing experience in a spa.

What do you do with friends? Sharing. If you run into a bargain at a department store you share the news with a friend. If you have an opportunity to enjoy some unusual experience, perhaps like a spa, you tell your friends. Friendship is always the sharing of intimacy, like a spa!

An open door, a cup of coffee, listening ears, open hearts, a little time, a commitment, a connection – are all that could give you a spa for the soul!

Thanks to friends, Desi, Yvonne, Fishtail, Imran, Kyels and John for that refreshing spa for the soul last night!

I have to borrow Desi's poem again for a Spa For The Soul again ...

Just Friends

A generous spread on a round table
Juicy suckling piglet, roast to a golden sheen
Oyster-sauced kailan, teased with Chinese wine
Healthy washed down with vintage Le Gordon Bleu

But what's all these food and drinks worth?
If not for the boisterous crowd
Of back-slapping mates dating back a decade
Growing richer and wiser with passing years
Like good old wine, Chinese or French

So cheers to hearty and sincere company
The meal might just as well be mere entree
Or one main course
Or just desserts

It matches not really the dish
What's really cooking, whetting
Is your presence, old chap.
Camaraderie
Among just
Friends




Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Slow Down? Slow Dance?


S L O W D A N C E

Have you ever watched kids
on a merry-go-round
Or listened to the rain
slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last

Do you run through each day on the fly
When you ask "How are you?"
do you hear the reply?

When the day is done,
do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow
And in your haste, not see his
sorrow?

Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
'Cause you never had time
to call and say "Hi"?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast
Time is short
The music won't last When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away...

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.


Once in a while, I enjoy reading some poems. Here is one. Someone forwarded it to me quite sometime ago. The mail said this is a poem written by a little girl who has cancer and only six months to live. People are asked to forward the email about her to as many people as possible because the American Cancer Society will give 3 cents per email to support her treatment. The email is signed with the name of a professor of Yeshiva University in New York. Anyway, Truth and Fiction said this email is a hoax. Read it here.

I have put in a photo taken long, long time back. It's the life of the natives in Sarawak. Travelling against the rapids can be a race, but still, I see the simplicity in their lives. Enjoy the next photo -


Can we also enjoy a slow dance while being burdened by pressing issues in life?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Child In Our Midst

Chris posed this question to me few hours ago –

What is more important? Keeping the promises you made to your boss or keeping the promises you made to your children?

Like most women, my answer would not be “A” or “B”. It’s neither “A” nor “B” or “Both”.

Like most women, I would start a new question to close the subject and begin a new subject.

Does mummy promise you something and does not keep it?

La…la…la… Chris is very “disciplined” when coming to question like this.

Not really. But, I thought you said you could get me a new SIM card while in KL last trip.

That’s it!

I give both children a supplementary line to my Maxis line paying RM10 each. Rachel hardly uses the phone. Chris calls only when I go traveling. His SIM card was spoilt recently. When I called Maxis Centre I was informed that a replacement would cost RM50. When I said that I would like to cancel the line, Maxis’ well-trained staff quickly said if I walk in a Maxis centre, I could get a free replacement. There is no Maxis Centre in Sibu. So, I decided that since I would be going to KL the next day, I could drop by the Maxis Centre in KLCC to get a replacement.

Because Chris stuffed some “masks” into my luggage and reminded me to put on the “mask” if I go to KLCC, I decided that I would not leave the hotel which is just opposite KLCC.

I broke the promise.

Chris’ question brings me this beautiful scene in Mark 9:37 when Jesus called a child to him and, putting his arms around the child, he said to the disciples who were arguing who was greatest –

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.

The true greatness is modeled on this! Receiving such a small, unimportant child is not going to bring you something of great value. The motive is purely to do it “in my name”. The true greatness is to welcome people simply they are people, to take no consideration of whether they are in power or with status, whether they can do something for you or not, not to care whether the service can enhance our image or prestige.

This lesson of a child has been put nicely by William Barclay in “The Daily Study Bible Series, The Gospel of Mark”. He wrote,

Now, a child has no influence at all. A child cannot advance a man’s career, nor enhance a man’s prestige. A child cannot give us things; it’s the other way around. A child needs things. A child must have things done for him. And so Jesus is saying, “If a man welcomes the poor, ordinary people, the people who have no influence, and no wealth, and no power, the people who need things done for them, then he’s welcoming me. And more than that, he’s welcoming God.

The mark of greatness is – to treat everyone the same, whether your boss or your children! What a lesson to learn!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Smile, an everlasting Smile

Smile an everlasting smile,
A smile can bring you near to me
Don’t ever let me find you down
Cause that would bring a tear to me
This world has lost its glory


Let’s start a brand new story now, my love
Right now, there’ll be no other time and
I can show you how, my love.

Talk in everlasting words,
And dedicate them all to me.
And I will give you all my life
I’m here if you should call to me
You think that I don’t even mean a single word I say

It’s only words, and words are all I have
To take your heart away.

Bee Gees may sing this song into your heart over and over again. But there are times when words just can’t express the feelings. Words, only words? No word has been sufficient to tell the stories, stories of those around you, whether they are your family members, friends or strangers.

Or, at least I find myself very inadequate this week, it speaks of my long silence from Monday to Friday!

On Tuesday, I wanted to write about how the Lord is intimately and compassionately concerned of the every details of our life after reading Leviticus Chapter 15. Lev. 15 records the every details of how to be hygienic, from washing hands to bathing to changing of clothes. The first part is about the men, while the second part is about woman. It is exactly like the practice of modern hospitals now.

I did not … Because I was so overwhelmed by things happening around me …

On Wednesday, I wanted to write about the Prime Minister asking the authorities concerned to be transparent when coming to figures and statistics of infectious diseases such as HFMD.

I did not … Because an email from a friend came in quoting, transparency is not a virtue of politicians.

On Thursday, I wanted to write about the findings of my journalists that some kindergartens are operating under “closed doors and windows”. Imagine the conditions of children in “closed doors and windows”?

I did not … Because my heart goes to those parents who really need to work to earn for a living. They have to “beg” the kind souls in the kindergartens or child care centres to look after their children.

How could I “talk” like how Dr Chua “felt disappointed that some kindergartens which defied the order to close temporarily?” I am blessed to have a maid at home. My children have “outgrown” the age for HFMD and are in a lower risk group. But, I do remember how blessed I was in 1997 when I had my own mother to take care of Rachel and Chris while I worked.

How could I sit in the office and comment on these childcare operators and parents? I even could not comment on changing of lifestyle by just boarding an LRT once.

Today, a smile takes away my heart. Here it is ….



This is one of the moments captured during my young days. One of our children in the longhouse along the mighty Sungai Rajang.

Friday, March 10, 2006

My Heart Cries Home*

The Borneo Post has chosen the headline –

Oh, why always Sibu?

for its lead story today. I do not quite like it when it “greeted” me this early morn at 6:00 am. I think I would like to re-write it to –

Oh dear! Why ten years later?

I do have very sentimental reasons to think my “Sibu way” today.

I remember telling this “Oh, dear” story to a young inspiring doctor friend who is full of compassion. I reminded him always remember to say “Oh, dear” always. Indulge me. I am going to tell the story again.

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.

Here ends the story. But, it’s the beginning of another “Oh, dear” story.

The first outbreak of Head, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFM) was in 1997 when it claimed 31 lives of children. Rachel was infected with HFM disease in 1996, a year earlier. Rachel used to be seen by a pediatrician in Sibu Hospital since birth until this pediatrician left for private practice in Kuching. I remember seeing GP one after another. One said, “Oh, she must have overused the shampoo or soap,” after examining her hands and feet. Another said, “Don’t worry. You are being too concerned.” Another remarked, “If you have more children, you won’t be over concerned.”

Finally, I called Rachel’s pediatrician in Kuching. He said, “Oh dear! Send her to the hospital immediately.” True enough, Rachel was warded immediately and aggressive treatment was given together with the monitoring of her heart. There was another case of 2-year-old having the same disease when Rachel was warded.

Such was the efficiency and professionalism of the pediatrician in Sibu hospital 10 years ago. To-date, the same pediatrician is still in the hospital. I salute him. I have not seen him around in my church for quite a few weeks. I guess he and his team of pediatricians must have not stopped working since the outbreak of HFMD.

The Health Minister, Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek was here in Sarawak two days ago. But, he chose Miri to be the place to express his empathy. We are in the age of “remote control”, I think. So, it does not matter where you work.

If Dr Chua had touched down in Sibu and said, “Oh dear” to parents and health care workers here, would it win more votes for his colleagues here in the coming state election? Sibu is the place where the most number of HFM patients are found. The healthcare workers have been working around the clock!

But Dr Chua did not come. He did not say “Oh dear”.

What did he say? I do not wish to quote from The Borneo Post, I am quoting from the national newspaper, NST –


NST Page 8 – Prime News Friday March 10, 2006

Three stories on the same page –

The lead story
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak
Bintulu girl is fifth fatality

2nd story
RM1m for research into disease

3rd story
Brunei closes 181 schools

Back to what Dr Chua said, (taken from the 2nd story)

“A researcher with the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Dr Jane Cardosa, thinks that it might have something to do with Sungai Rejang in Sarawak, with regard to its water quality or virus content.

“She has been asked to come up with a costing plan for the research, and estimates about RM1 million,” he told reporters after opening the 11th Malaysia-Singapore Nursing Conference today.

“We want to study why this disease has broken out in Sibu and continues to originate from there, as well as its fatal effects.”

Now, hear what Dr George Chan, the Deputy Chief Minister and also the state disaster and relief management committee chairman said, (from the lead story)

“As of noon today, Sibu registered the most cumulative number of cases of HFMD since the outbreak with 1,561, followed by Bintulu (530), Kuching (411), Miri (288) and Sarikei (254).”

On comments by Health Minister that the current and past HTMD outbreaks could be connected to the mighty Sungai Rajang. Dr Chan said the Federal and State Governments had agreed to conduct research on the matter.

“We want to find out why this is so because the HFMD outbreak seems to occur in central Sarawak, from Kapit in the deep interior down to Sarikei at the mouth of Sungai Rajang.” he said.

10 years after? After it claims so many innocent lives?

My heart cries Home!


Sungai Rajang used to be the river of life for the people living along the mighty river, especially the longhouse folks. They made a living from the daily catches there. Today, the river is like a “dead sea”. I remember the clear water where my childhood days were spent. We swam there. We fetched the river water for drinking and cooking. We washed clothes there. That was our river of life! It was not the suspected river of viruses!

What happen to our river? Our river is not only polluted, it’s getting narrower! The logging activities, the extracting of sand and even the filling of the river in order to build their mansion or empire overseeing the river!

Who are the culprits? Everyone in Sarawak knows!

Who suffer? Everyone, perhaps, except the culprits and cronies.

My heart cries Home!

I think I hear someone singing,

There’s a river of life
Flowing out from me
Makes the lame to walk
And the blind to see
Open prison doors
Sets the captive free
There’s a river of life
Flowing out from me.



May we see the mighty flow of the river of God in our lives and, rediscovering its power and its grace and its depth so that there may be healing and fertility and escape from barrenness in our lives. Our hearts may have been broken by this world, but we know there is another Home where there is a mighty, gushing torrent of the rivers of living water – everything begins to live, and life becomes significant and full for us.

The photographs in this post were the lives along Sungai Rajang some 25 years ago when a young girl carried a camera trying to appreciate life and God's creation. Gone are all such "life". Enjoy the crude works of a young girl. Perhaps, you will hear the cries of this mature woman now - for Home!

*The title of this post, “My Heart Cries Home” is the title of a book authored by a friend, Jennifer. Jennifer wrote the book in memory of her husband whom the Lord favours and receives him into heaven early. She wrote in a prayer to God two days before the first anniversary of her husband’s death,

One of the lessons is that You have taught my heart to cry Home, my real Home – Heaven. I think if this earth had not broken my heart the way it did, Heaven would just be a destination where I will go to when I leave this world, rather than longing for it as my real Home.

Monday, March 06, 2006

No Hugging, No Kissing for Sarawak Children

"The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
(Ps 121:7-8)

“During such a critical time, you don’t have to hug and kiss your children often.”

I do try to find some amusement reading news every morning though most of the news are not so amusing. This advice came from Dr Faizul Mansoor, the Divisional Medical Officer while speaking at the HFM Disease dialogue organized by one of the Clan Associations here. The statement sounds like it's a duty and a difficult task for parents to hug and kiss their children and what a relief that they do not need to do it now!

But, Dr Faizul did not mean that. He identified his feelings with parents. He said this could be painful emotionally, but they found such precautions necessary because the infection could be transmitted through such close contact.

But parents, don’t despair, read on –

One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother’s lap in the bleachers of a local ballpark where her brother Dustin’s baseball team was practicing. As always, Danae was chattering non-stop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddently fall silent. Hugging her arms across the chest, Danae asked, “Do you smell that?”

Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana (the mother) replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.”

Danae closed her eyes and again asked, “Do you smell that?”

Once again, her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet, it smells like rain.”

Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.”

Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Danae then happily hopped down to play with the other children.

Before the rains came, her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extending Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along. During those long days and nights of Danae’s first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.

Danae was born premature at 24 weeks. She was 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces. The doctor said Danae had only 10 percent chance living through the night and if by slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one. But Danae clung to life hour after hour, with the help of every medical machine and marvel her miniature body could endure. It was an agony for the David and Diana (parents). Because Danae’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially raw, the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Danae struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl. Danae went home from hospital two months later.

You would have probably received this widely circulated inspiration stories on the internet through emails forwarded to you. Truth or Fiction has confirmed with the Blessings who confirmed the story is true. Read it here.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

As A Little Child

"Unless you are converted and become as little children,
you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 19:3 (NKJV)

The first step towards entering into the kingdom of grace is to become as little children - lowly in heart, knowing yourselves utterly ignorant and helpless, and hanging wholly on your Father in heaven for a supply of all your wants. It is further true that unless you are turned from darkness to light, from the pwoer of Satan to God, except you are entirely, inwardly changed, renewed in the image of God, you cannot enter into the kingdom of glory. Thus must everyone be converted in this life, or he can never enter into life eternal.

All who are in this sense little children are unspeakably dear to our Lord. Therefore, help them all you can, as if it were Christ Himself in person. And see that you do not offend them, Jesus, or turn them out of the right way; neither hinder them in it.

Let us be careful, then, to receive and not to offend the very weakest believer in Christ. For as inconsiderable as some of these may appear to us, the very angels of God have a peculiar charge over them (v.10). Indeed, these angels are of the highest order, who continually behold the face of the Father, continually appear at the throne of the Most High. And these "little children" are the very ones Christ came to save.

- John Wesley

(Taken from Renew My Heart, Daily Wisdom from the Writings of John Wesley)

Yan: I have always like to take photographs of little children, whether my own children or friends' children, or children in the longhouses we visited. This photo was taken some 25 years back in one of the longhouses.

In our chase of careers, personal pursuits and goals, it's the close encounters with children that always refreshes and draws me nearer to God. Children are completely trusting and pure. It's these gifts of children that often leads me into the profound truth that "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matt 5:8)

Today's photograph and wisdom are taken specially for the children of Sarawak who are facing the threat of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, and parents living in fear, and the health care workers who are at the fore front of the battle! May God Bless you all in abundance!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Adding Life to Years



"Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man."
Psalm 112:4

I finished reading “Add Life to Your Years” during my last trip to Kuala Lumpur. Probably, the only thing I enjoy while I am on business trip is being able to read books.

“Add Life to Your Years” is a collection of stories of the older adults who are still actively pursuing their personal growth, challenging themselves to achieve new goals, and continue to live in the light of God’s amazing grace.

I am not going to write a book review. Rather, the reason of picking up this book from my Church library last Sunday. Here it goes -

During my young days, I loved photography. Together with Ellen, an ex-colleague and good friend, we traveled far and near Sibu town on our bicycle to take photographs. Later, Ellen bought a motorcycle, so we traveled on motorcycle and was able to travel further away from town. Then, Ellen started dating one of the guy from the photography club, we traveled by car and could travel even further. We also joined trips to longhouses. Those were the happy days.

Soon, Ellen married his photography boyfriend. Trips to take photographs became fewer and soon, I was totally left out!

Recently, I have made an effort to include a picture to complement my words. I have been thinking – when can I pick up that passions on photography art again?

The book, Add Life to Your Years with a small print, Aging with passion and purpose, caught me ….

I remember few months ago a long time friend who has been very successful in his profession wrote me an email telling me he has taken up photography as a hobby. He wrote,

Most around me feel it must be part of a mid-life crisis, dreaming to achieve what one did not in ones’ youth. However, my thrust is that splashing out a few thousand on a camera and lens is not the equivalent of getting Ferarri or Porche, and more creative.

The photographs posted here are some of the works I have kept. The colours are fading. I have mixed up the works of Ellen and mine. So, photo credits go to Ellen and Yan.




Friday, March 03, 2006

Engineer Instructs, Technician Fixes!

My mother-in-law forwarded to me this letter through email yesterday. Don’t look back, it’s mother-in-law, you do not read it wrongly. The little froggy story is not very special, but I want to “re-tell” this story today. Indulge me. It’s a happy story anyway.

Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs … who arranged a running competition.

The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.

A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants….

The race began ….

Honestly: No one in the crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as:

“Oh, way too difficult!”

“They will never make it to the top.”

“Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!”

The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one …

Except for those, who in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher…

The crowd continued to yell, “It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!”

More tiny frogs got tired and gave up ….

But one continued higher and higher and higher …

This one wouldn’t give up!

At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!

Then all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it it?

A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal?

It turned out …

That the winner was DEAF!!!

The wisdom of the story is:

Never listen to other people’s tendencies to be negative or pessimistic… because they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you … the ones you have in your heart!

Always think of the power words have.

Because everything you hear and read will affect your actions!

Therefore:

Always be …. Positive!

And above all:

Be DEAF when people tell you that you cannot fulfill your dreams!

This little froggy story ends with this –

To the world you might be one person; but to one person you might be the world.

You have been tagged by the froggy, which means you are a great friend!

Yes, someone is celebrating birthday today. Not my mother-in-law, it’s her son’s birthday, and my significant other.

I have always told my children that birthday is another of the special days when you remember God and your parents. Remember this Psalm?

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
You made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast upon you;
From my mother’s womb you have been my God.
(Ps. 22:9-10)

I will praise thee
For I am wonderfully made.
(Ps. 139:14)

Yes, thank you, mum, for the wisdom in the froggy story. You have given me a froggy that always says, YOU CAN MAKE IT. IT’S SIMPLE. JUST LISTEN TO INSTRUCTIONS.

Yes, he “instructs”. One day, Rachel asked, “Daddy, you say you are an engineer, why is it that mummy always repairs the faulty things and fixes the bulbs?” To which the daddy answers, “Engineer instructs, technician fixes.”

To the engineer, thank you for allowing me to experiment with all that’s in life, giving me the space to grow all these 20 years!

Happy Birthday.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Any Happy Stories?

On Sunday night while I was packing for an overnight trip to Kuala Lumpur, Chris reminded me that I have to bring some surgical mask,

“Bird Flu in Kuala Lumpur. You are staying in the hotel just opposite Twin Towers. Twin Towers is within the area monitored for Bird Flu. Remember to put on the mask if you go there.”

I thought, wearing a mask?

Later, I found out that Chris stuffed some masks into my luggage with a gentle reminder,

Don’t forget the mask. Beware, Bird Flu!

I could not imagine myself as the Masked Woman walking around in KLCC. So, I decided that I would not walk out of the hotel so that I did not have to wear the mask, so that I did not have to tell a lie.

True enough, Chris called on Monday night and asked,

Did you use the mask? Have you caught the bird flu?

No bird flu, but craving for roasted chicken or Terayaki Chicken, I teased him.

We put on mask for different reasons – but the common factor is FEAR.

But, we really do have legitimate reasons to be fearful. The things we fear are fearsome indeed. And it seems that the media brings more fearful news than happy news. I would not have felt it that way (probably I am immune to such news) if the children have not been reading newspapers together with me in the morning. Each morning when we awake, the newspapers greets us with all the unhappy stories.

Oh, mum, another child dies of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in Sibu Hospital. There are 20 cases in these five days and two children in critical condition.

Oh, dear, petrol price up by 30 sen. Mum, you should have pumped the petrol to full tank on Sunday.

The mummy threw the baby out of the window when her house was on fire. Poor baby.

We won’t have a chance to sit in an airbus from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching because MAS has decided to cut Frankfurt flights to Kuching!

Those are the “lamentations” of the children over the past two mornings.

No happy stories? It seems there is none.

I have a 79-year-old friend who wrote me a mail in response to the delightful stories I related to him in the course of my work. It reads,

I have enjoyed the happy stories. Your work in the press is obviously quite exciting. I know absolutely nothing about how your press operates in Sarawak. Our (U.S.) press, however, is well known to be overwhelmingly liberal and what appears in print or on television clearly reflects that view. This does not sit well with me as a long time ago I was trained to recognize biased and slanted reporting. These days I simply overlook it, as I know newspaper reporting is directed at selling newspapers while TV reporting is directed at ratings. Then, considering that somewhere between nine and eleven years old is thought to be the intellectual age of the average American, getting away with it is not difficult. Would that be an old curmudgeon speaking?

Any more happy stories?

In another mail, also relating to newspaper, he writes,

You must be forgetting that everyone has some kind of an agenda or a bias and are doing their job as they see it. This is particularly applicable to those in the media. Luckily, I don’t have to read, listen to, or watch any of it, or if I do, believe any of it.

A quote from Niebuhr says it better,

“God give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, the courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

Are we short of heartwarming stories? Happy stories? This is the question I put forward to the journalists this morning.