Look at these women

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

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

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

Look at these women.

GB International President with GB Hong Kong Posted by Hello

International President with GB Malaysia Posted by Hello

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


America’s Best Preacher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a few moments, the day well arrive …

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

No occasion justifies hatred;

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

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.

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

I will live forgiven.

I will forgive so that I may live.

I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.

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

I will be kind to the poor,

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

I will go without a dollar

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

Today I will keep my promises.

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

Nothing is won by force.

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

Posted in Soul Reflections. Comments Off on America’s Best Preacher

Of E-mails, SMSs and IQ

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

It is unthinkable that many can do that.

CNN reported yesterday –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear parents,

We shall be closed for two weeks….

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

Posted in Soul Tapestry. Comments Off on Of E-mails, SMSs and IQ

The Curious Incident of the dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairy Tale

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

Incidentally, I read this story.

AFP reported on April 22 that –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living with no regrets

No apologies Posted by Hello

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

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

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

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

Posted in Soul Quest. Comments Off on Living with no regrets

“Simple, Humble Worker”

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

“Dear brothers and sisters,

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

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

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

Thank you.”

Yan’s thoughts –

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

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

Humility is the path to power.