Moments to Share

The yearender of newspaper would always run the “top ten news” of the year. Some newspapers would run contests like providing twenty news and let the readers choose the top ten news that their editors would choose. Prizes are often very attractive. It’s also the tradition of my newspapers to run top ten international news, top ten national news, top ten local news, crimes round-up, sports round-up etc.

I thought, perhaps, I could do a round-up of those precious moments of the year that I have shared in this little space of the cyber world over the year. Over the past ten months, many precious moments have been put into words.

There were some humbling encounters that I drew priceless lessons, and I wrote it here.

There were moments when I stood in awe the beauty of nature that God has created and my heart broke out in song. I wrote it here.

There were times when I have half-way faith, half-truths, half-baked efforts, a lot of ifs and buts, but God confronted me with penetrating questions. I was reminded that His presence must rule over all – families, careers, business, pursuits … I wrote it here, All to Jesus I surrender, and all to Him I freely give.

There were times when circumstances seem desperate, dire, even hopeless, I wrote it here.

There were times of seemingly unending grief over the death of loved ones, I wrote it here.

There were times when I enjoyed relaxing morning lingering over a cup of coffee, experienced the joy of baking, I shared such simple things in life here.

Whether it’s God’s bounteous blessings, kind souls, prickly people, thorny problems, thick carpet of troubles, dark days, season of rest, words of wisdom I heard, comforting presence of friends and loved ones, the extraordinary gift of children … I wrote them here.

Here are the top ten of such moments I pick from my blog – to recapture the beauty of words. Give no thoughts to the pains, agonies and tribulations of the year that is going to past…

The Roses – February (Valentine’s Day, my first post)

A young charming journalist had one young bud in a vase on her table. She excitedly told me that she picked up the bud from the street and said the bud would soon blossom.

Yes, I caught that moment –
Within every bud, there is a rose
Within every soul, a rose too
Reach past the thorns of your life
and let the rose within blossom many times over.

Words not said (March)

This is taken from an older Danish novel called Borderliners, by Peter Hoeg:

“I did not say much, nor was it necessary. She sat on the box, leaning forward, and listened to me, even to my pauses. She heard everything, even things I did not say. We sat there and I knew this was how it felt to be totally accepted. You sit close to another person and are understood, everything is understood and nothing is judged and you are indispensable.”

I like that! Someone heard everything, even words not said. Someone listen, even to the pauses between words! Isn’t it wonderful?

But, in real world, it’s often not so. Words need to be said. Not only that, they need to be said loud and clear.

We have two children, aged 14 and 9. They are growing up in a “newspaper friendly” environment. They have access to newspapers, three locals and two nationals, English and Chinese.

Over the weekend, during my trip to the supermarket with my children, I was amazed by the children’s knowledge of the different promotions and marketing campaigns of different consumer goods. When asked, they almost said at the same time – mummy only read newspapers, newspapers don’t talk. These products are said in the television. Cool words are used to describe them. When these brands are sponsored by the online games we play, there are sounds too.

Yes, my children know all these products better than the titles of the newspapers that enter our house each morning. The newspapers have been there, day in, day out, ever since there were born.

Philip Yancey, in his book, “What’s so amazing about grace”, wrote, “As a writer, I play with words all day long. I toy with them, listen for their overtones, crack them open, and try to stuff my thoughts inside.”

Listen. Yes, he says he listens for the overtones of words. He stuff his thoughts inside. The words become his thoughts. His thoughts, his words. His words come alive!

Being remembered (April, Ching Ming Festival)

It is the season for the Chinese to pay respect to their loved ones who have left this earthly world.

Is it not also the season for us, the living to take a moment to ponder our life from the vantage of death? Imagine how your obituary might read. Imagine how your story will be told. Imagine how you are being remembered by loved ones and friends…

In the Bible, the story of Jabez is told in one paragraph (1 Chronicles 4). It is a beautiful story. The paragraph that tells it begin with “Jabez was more honourable than his brothers.”

It was what the Bible calls honour that drove Jabez to rise above his past, rise above even the pain of his mother, and live the large and bountiful life God had ordained.

How beautiful it is if our obituary begins with …. He/she was more honourable than many others …

Blessings (May)

In front, a truck blows a tire and careens across two lanes of traffic. One car is headed toward the truck. It looks like a terrible clash is not avoidable. But the car comes to a stop just in time.

Two hearts pounding while witnessing the scene.

“What a luck!”

“What a blessing, mummy.”

Yes, what a blessing. A blessing brings happiness, and greater happiness if you know the meaning.

“To feel lucky” is to say “In good and bad feelings, I have been getting more than my share of good feelings.”

“To feel blessed” is to wonder “How is this God-sent happiness going to lead me and those around me to greater happiness?”

The power within (June)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about that power for a power trip?

Perfecting and shaping (July, my wedding anniversary)

My dear friend “SMSed” me yesterday that she is going to start her “braces” mission. She had one tooth extracted. Another one to go this Friday.

I thought, she would look kind of funny with a mouth full of metal. I also thought, what is the point of putting up with the aggravation to let your mouth be invaded with metal, cement and plastic?

I did not have much time to give myself an answer until today. Yes, the hardship of going through the “braces” journey or mission is for the reward of a million-dollar smile that will last through the rest of her life. She just has to live with the little annoyances and pain for a while, she’ll be rewarded with that “perfect-smile”.

How true it is in our marriage life. There are little annoyances. There are little pains. There are even sorrows no less than joys. There are daylong tug-of-war at times. There are some inconveniences at crucial times. There are times when sharp edges poke you. But, God is perfecting us, straightening us out, shaping us into something beautiful to share, cherish with our partner. And the reward? Anniversary after anniversary.

Yes, my husband and I are rejoicing over the ability to press through 19 years of shared life!

19 years, and entering 20th year…

Be Yourself (August)

“A woman without make-up on her face is a lazy woman.”

This was said by a make-up artist called Adriel Khoo.

He was interviewed by Post Mag (Weekend Leisure of The Borneo Post) in its August 6 issue.

I read it yesterday and still could not accept the fact that I am a “lazy” woman.

This morning at the breakfast table, just before going for my Sunday Worship Service, I asked my 10-year-old son,

“What do you think of this statement that a woman without make-up on her face is a lazy woman?”

The boy looked at me, for a while, he said this –

“A woman without make-up on her face is a woman who is not afraid to be herself.”

That’s it. That makes my day!

Thank you, young Christopher.

You are original, don’t die a copy (September)

Last night, the small star, the future excellent writer, the marvellous one asked me to wake him up at 5:30 am. I woke him up at 5:30 am. He took a shower. I fixed his breakfast. After shower, he put on his school uniform. He held tight to a sheet of paper at the table. I took a peek. Printed on it are two Chinese essays. One of them, he has to memorize and write it down “for” his teacher today.

Naturally, he looked sad. The star is not shinning. His little mind must be wondering – what’s this auntie Dobbs trying to tell me, I am going to be an excellent writer? No way. I am far from Auntie Ming’s Marvellous! I can’t even memorize this essay about “My Dog”. My dog is brown in colour, why should I say my dog is white, whitter than snow?

The little mind doubts too – when mummy says write your own story, how much can I trust her? Every time, I write my own story, my Chinese teacher gives me only 50 marks. When my classmate memorizes the essay given by the teacher, he gets 90 marks. Can I trust mummy?

Well, such is the stress of the star. He wants to be original, but the teacher wants him to be a copy. He wants to use his creativity, but the teacher wants him to follow others’ creativity.

F.R.O.G – Fully Rely on God (October)

By Christopher Lau

My mother told me this story –

There was a lady in a hospital who was dying. A pastor of her area came to visit her. This pastor was a very young lady with long blond hair. The pastor listened to the dying lady. She prayed for her. Before she left, the pastor left a tiny ceramic frog for the dying lady.

The next day one of the friends from the lady’s church came to visit her. The lady told her friend about the young lady pastor who came to visit her. The friend was amazed how the lady had improved. The friend thought of telling the young lady pastor. However, she was told that there was never any young lady pastor with long blond hair in the area.

The friend came back to the hospital again. She wanted to tell the lady that she might have mistaken. There was no young lady pastor in the area that fit her description. Just then, a nurse entered the room. The nurse saw the ceramic frog and said,

“You have a nice guardian angel with you.”

When asked why the nurse made such a comment. The nurse said,

“Frog stands for (F) Fully (R) Rely (O) On (G) God.”

Yeah, I also have a big “FROG” jump for my final term exam. It’s from position 19 to 6. The next time you see a frog, don’t panic. It is Fully Rely On God!

Watch how you walk (November)

“Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15

When I suggested to Chris that we walk, he has many instructions on how we walk. Before the walk, he instructs –

“Don’t wear expensive clothes. Don’t bring your purse. Bring your handphone. Wear comfortable shoes.”

During the walk, he cautions and cares –

“Watch up, there is a hole there. It’s dark here, be careful. Is your knee painful?”

From the simple process of two steps repeated over and over again, I have gained much insights. How we walk is actually an apt simile for how to live our life.

The supreme thing is not where you talk, but how you walk, “Look carefully how you walk.”. It is followed with instruction on how to walk rightly and accurately.

As Chris and me walk along the road, we have no problem as to where to walk. We know where we are going. But how we walk is a problem. Part of the route that we take does not have a pedestrian walk yet. So, the reminders from Chris here, “Watch up!”

Know your way, understand your route. That’s how you should walk. “Understand this, be wise; don’t be foolish but act as a wise man.”

Here are the Top Ten of the Words to steal your hearts away just before the close of the year!

I wish you God’s Blessings for the coming year, 2006!

If you are in Sibu, you are warmly invited to my Church, Wesley Methodist Church for the Watchnight Service tonight that starts at 10:30 pm and closes at 2006 with an invitation to Lord’s table in a Holy Communion. Isn’t it a meaningful way to enter the new year?

Again, God’s blessings. Till we meet, next year!


Life, the Lessons, Food, the Fellowship

For the past two nights, my best friend, Sandra and I have adopted this philosophy –

Into this world to eat and to sleep
And to know no reason why he was born
Save to consume the corn
Devour the cattle, flock and fish
And leave behind an empty dish.

Well, we have consumed the quantity of food equals to the total of our normal one week’s meals in two nights! We are very “watchful eaters”. That quantity of food is not unthinkable. To many, it may be your normal one-meal quantity!

The first night we went to a steamboat BBQ by the pool at a leading hotel in Kuching. There, we stayed from 6:30 pm to 09:30 pm.

Last night, we went to a Japanese food buffet also at the same hotel but in a comfortable coffee house. From 8:30 pm to close midnight!

The Japanese food buffet was packed. It was not cheap. For both nights, if we have to pay out from pocket, it would be close to RM200. But, thanks to my significant half for the two complimentary buffet vouchers which he “contributed” to the fulfillment of our body, heart and soul!

Food and talk naturally go together very nicely. Nothing help conversation more than to sit down around a table of food and to talk and eat together!

For the past two nights, the fragrance of friendship and fellowship covered the aroma of food. When I returned to my hotel room that overlooked the beautiful Sarawak River, there was a deep sense of gratitude. A gratitude to God for provision of friendship!

Food can be for fellowship. Food can also be for life lessons!

One of the treasured memories of my two children have for their “gong-gong” (grandfather) is the mealtime. Dad-in-law was a busy businessman. But, at mealtimes, he was always that loving “gong-gong”. It was through the conversations shared at mealtimes that the children learnt from him the courage, the confidence, the joy and the wisdom that produce a sense of reality of God in our home around the table.

Indeed, conversations over food at the table are always sparkling, bright and interesting!

It’s Biblical too, go to Deuteronomy –

“talk of them when you sit in your house. – Deut. 6:7b

When do you sit down in your house? One of the times is mealtime!

Level 13 – Possibly Minor Depression

You have reached level 13 on the Goldberg scale

0-9 – Depression unlikely
10-17 – Possibly minor depression
18-21 – On the verge of depression
21-35 – Minor to moderate depression
26-53 – Moderate to severe depression
above 54 – Severe depression

You have some symptoms of depression. Some of these symptoms normally occur in many people. It is difficult to say whether you will need treatment or not, but it is worth speaking to your doctor about how you feel.

Depression is a disease like any other disease, and it can be treated very effectively. Recognising that you are suffering from depression is the first positive step. If you are depressed, you should arrange to see your doctor to talk about the illness right away. You may also want to raise the issue with your friends and family. You should look for support from these people you until you get well. Anyone can suffer from depression, and the symptoms can vary from person to person. Treatments, including medication and psychotherapy, have a very high success rate.

Please note that this test result is not a certain assessment of your mental health. You should always consult a doctor if you feel depressed or if you feel that worries and anxiety have taken over and affected the activities of your daily life.

Medical adviser: Jørgen Holm, specialist
Source and copyright: Dr. Ivan K. Goldberg

This is the result of my test!

I run a test for myself (did a google and just hit one sit for a test) after reading Deputy Human Resources Minister that “whether they like it or not, they need to have the tests.”

What tests? Psychiatric test to find out whether workers are “depressed” or “burn-out”.

Look like I need to see a Psychiatrist! I wonder what will employer do with the above result. Adjusting their system of increment? Asking the employee to leave? Sending them to psychiatrist to be counseled?

I am “worried”. I am “depressed” and I am “burnt-out”! Am I? No, not at all. My employer said, “No mad person will admit that he/she is mad.”

A bleak future..….

Dear Datuk Abdul Rahan Bakar, have mercy on us!

I am just musing with the new directive from the Minister on screening all employees of their mental health next year. But, I believe, many will be worried – employers and employees alike. Reasons? Do we have enough psychiatrist? I want to talk to one, but I have not found in my town!

Let’s face it. Whatever comes along, face it and find a solution.

Interestingly, I read that C.W. Lewis also suffered from clinical depression. Lewis showed signs of clinical depression before his conversion. In his diary and letters, he appears irritable, pessimistic, gloomy and hopeless. After his conversion, joy was “the central story of my life”. His friends described him as cheerful and outgoing. Lewis found happiness with his newly established relationship with the Creator.

Lewis said that God cannot give us happiness apart from Himself, because it is there, there is no such thing.

Be comforted that there is hope. All of this, then, rests upon the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. What would we do without that to live today? Keep working, keep occupied, face the problems of life, and handle them all with the sense that the Lord of peace himself will give us peace in all ways and at all times.

Words of Love I’ll Remember

I often get a little sentimental at the close of the year. It seems like so many things need to be done, yet left undone. It seems like I have wasted much of the time. It seems like racing against time before the sun sets…

This year is a lot better, seemingly. Because I do not seem to worry about things undone, I do not seem to rushing for many last minutes’ things…

I have time to even remember some of the beautiful words I have read or heard this year. Thanks to this blog, thanks to Rachel, thanks to Christopher, thanks to the significant other, thanks to friends, far and near, old friends, new friends, friends whom I have never met …

A young woman who misses her father writes,

Dad has been widowed 20 months now. And each day I see him getting smaller…. He misses my mum very much and he’s holding on to their memories together…

Dad is such a wonderful man. He gives and he gives and he gives; of himself, his time and his love … Thinking how little time is left for me to look after him…

I missed my mum so much after she died. I am so afraid that Dad would go too someday. I know tht is inevitable for isn’t that the cycle of life? But I don’t want him to go without God – he has shot down every mention of Him as long as I can remember. And I pray desperately that when he eventually walk through the door to eternity, God will be waiting at the other side…

Dad, how can I make things better for you??

I remember how the daughter’s cries touched my heart. Who could write words better than a daughter’s love for her father? Thanks, DBW. My heart goes to you, my prayers for you and your father.

A young girl who lost her father in an accident two years ago, writes this in May on the first anniversary of his passing on,

My dearest Papa,
I know that you’re enjoying more than golf in Heaven.. so why does my heart still bleed?
I know that the good memories will suffice.. so why do I selfishly long for more?
I know that your 52 years were years well-spent.. but why wouldn’t I give for a 53rd?
I know that you love me … could you tell me again, in some way?
You’ll always be the man of my life

How much love, how much longings are expressed in those words? We know how difficult it has been. Thanks, Jem, though I only know you through the blog you kept until May this year when you said you would “vanish into the real world”.

A young boy waited for his grandfather to return home from hospital, but his grandfather went to stay in Jesus’ home. After a year on “Grandparents’ Day” this year he writes,

My mooooooost loving grandpa went to stay in Jesus’ home last year in October. I miss him very much. I miss the time watching TV with him. I miss the dinner time with him when he would always joke with me. I miss the time when he and the driver fetched me from tuition lessons and music lessons. I just miss calling him “Gong Gong”. I even miss him calling me from downstairs – Liang Liang.

Mummy said “Gong Gong” is now living in Jesus’ home. It is a beautiful home with many rooms. One day, we all shall meet in heaven. But, why doesn’t Jesus let him stay here in our home for a longer time? There is a big room for him and grandma.

Gong-gong, I know it is more than a house in heaven, it is home of Jesus.

I know you are singing happily there with a better karoke-system than the one at home. But, why do I still want you here?

I “battled” with Liang Liang for almost a year to overcome the “loss”. I thought it’s over. But, it seems there’s some more battles ahead when he called late night crying bitterly. Dear Liang Liang, hold on that strong faith that you shall meet your loving “gong-gong” one day in heaven.

I also remember this beautiful poem by Christina Rosetti called “Remember”. The poem was read by Condoleezza Rice during the 911 anniversary this year,

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d;
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray

Yes, if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve;
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Words, words, it’s only words that I can take your heart away?

Remember is a look-back. It’s the season of the year to do so. But looking back does not always need to be sad. It could be thankfulness for those beautiful people, beautiful things in your life. If it is of something to regret, remember, realize, return and repent.

Unbroken Love from A Broken Heart

By Christopher Lau

We finally watched The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. The movie was on in Sibu the day before we left for Singapore. Mummy said we could watch it in Singapore. Upon arriving Singapore, we realized that the movie would only be on 22nd December. By then, we have returned home. So, we still watched the movie in Sibu.

However, we had the opportunity to walk through the wardrobe and experience the magic of Narnia in Singapore. We were on our way to Borders Bookshop when we passed by the stage set up by Focus on Family at Orchard Road.

The four scenes were Lucy’s first encounter with the Faun; Walk through the white witch’s castle; Gather clues in Mr & Mrs Beaver’s kitchen and Prepare for Battle in Aslan’s Camp.

I even acted as one of the wounded soldiers in preparing the battle in Aslan’s Camp. It was fun. At the white witch’s castle, I was quite uneasy being “scolded and chased out”!

The next day I even found out the secret of my doctor. He went through the wardrobe also. I knew it because he did not clean the stamp on his hand properly. I wonder if he was scolded and chased out also at the White Witch’s Castle.

Watching Narnia is a wonderful adventure. I imagine myself to be one of four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. The four children discovered a world with talking animals. A great lion, Aslan, rules in majesty. It roars in triumph. Each time Aslan roars, I am a little scare. The children in the movie also tremble. But, they find hope in the loving roar of Aslan. Aslan submits to being put death by the evil characters controlled by the White Witch. However, at last the Kingdom of Narnia is freed. Winter goes. Springtime arrives.

I told my mummy that my heart melt when Aslan dies for Edmund. It is like the death of Jesus for you and me and all mankind.

What a friend we have in Jesus!

From a childlike adult – Yan

Narnia is a captivating fantasy. Like little Chris, I also went through the wardrobe of “Focus on Family”. I like the gathering of clues in Mr & Mrs Beaver’s Kitchen. There is a conversation often quoted by speakers –

“Ooh!” said Susan, “Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs Beaver. “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” asked Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver, “Don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

I like Lucy. She is so pure. The Bible says, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humble himself like this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

In the Narnia adventures, Aslan is a powerful, unpredictable, remarkable lion. But Aslan is not a tame lion. He is not, in fact, tamable. He is unchallenged and unchallengeable. Following Him, it is always an adventure. We can never know ahead of time what encounters He has in store for us.

Narnia is a world of friends and enemies, battles and betrayals, sacrifices and a promise to become a king and queen. How could C.S. Lewis used such world filled with battles and betrayals to effectively show the significant metaphors of God’s Love – having the faith of a child, sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, His resurrection from the dead resulting in salvation for sinners?

C.S. Lewis’ life was told in the book, “Images of His world”. Keys to his life were long walks in the country side alone, hour after hour. He got all his fantastic insight into the mind of God and the way He works through this time. He walked and talked to God. He walked in fellowship with God.

C.S. Lewis, undoubtedly, did a wonderful job of capturing what hope is about in the Bible. The four children go to Narnia and become kings and queens there. They returned to the real world and grow up. Three of them remembered that they were once upon a time kings and queen in Narnia. They remembered the life of joy, beauty and friendship and being given honour and authority. Their life were forever changed by their memories and experiences. Susan could not remember. To her, it was a mere child’s tale, and it ceased to persuade her. Susan, like many of us, is overtaken by the things of this world.

Imagine the anguish that a loving heart can experience? It is the pain of estrangement, the paths of longing to love someone, yet having its love manipulated, resisted, taken advantage of, or totally rejected.

But, He has not given up – His love is unbroken though His heart is broken.

Think about His love, think about His goodness
Think about His grace that’s brought us through
For as high as the heavens above
So great is the measure of our Father’s love
Great is the measure of our Father’s love

“Some people come into our lives and quickly leave, but others stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same.” From the way little Chris’ heart melts with C.S. Lewis’ metaphors of Christ dying for us, one of those sets of footprints that leave in our children’s heart belongs to C.S. Lewis.

Posted in Soul Quest. Comments Off on Unbroken Love from A Broken Heart

Not doing anything

By Christopher Lau

When we were in a Christian Bookshop in Singapore choosing a present for my teacher, my Jie-Jie (sister Rachel) suggested to buy a book about how to “teach” students, how to “love” students.

She went on to explain, “Then Chris would not be abused by this teacher next year! He will have a great time!”

My Jie-Jie does not know that Jesus has changed this teacher. She has been a loving teacher since Jesus came into her life. In fact, she was “OK” even before that, only that she was very strict.

I remember last year on Christmas Eve, we went to fetch this teacher to the Church. I sat next to her. Later, I learnt that one of my classmates said to his mum, “Poor Christopher, having to sit next to this teacher.”

Now, my mother is her good friend. However, don’t think that I am his favourite boy and live happily ever after in her class. She still punishes me when I am naughty.

The moral of the story is Santa knows when you are good, when you are bad, you better watch up!

Yesterday, I went to the Family Christmas Party of my mummy’s colleagues. When the “game master” asked for some male participants in the first game, I was the first one to stand up. I ended up making a fool of myself. The game was to dress up as a “Miss Santa” and be judged as “Miss Santa”.

I wonder whether they could organize better games. Boring!

The moral of the story is always know where you are heading before you jump into it.

Yan’s remarks

So, the moral of the two stories?

Christmas is over. Sit in your garden today. Not thinking. Not doing. Not worrying. Appreciate the pleasure of being alive!

I am not going to write anything today. In fact, I thought of writing one on “Remembering My Father” since most of my friends here are “Fathers”. But, but, I found this wisdom just now (can-do one, to share with “Fathers”). Here it goes –

I find time spent doing nothing really important and as soon as I complicate it, it loses something. If I add a cup of coffee to my solitude, then it’s a coffee break and not a space just for me. If I listen to music, then it’s a music break. If I have a companion with me and I chat, then it’s a social occasion. If I read the papers, then I have moved away entirely from the concept of a little space for me. Keep it simple. Keep it bare. Keep it pure.
– Richard Templar

Remember? My mother taught me always to have a little margin or a little space.

During my teenage years*, my late father always said, “Find something to do. You can’t idle your days away like that! You will never amount to anything by having nothing to do.”

*(My father passed on right after I out-grown my teenage years.)

Remembering My Mother On Christmas

(She is now in a better place, often I wonder whether she still cooks….)

Christmas would not be Christmas without remembering my mother. Remembering mother can’t do without remembering the childhood. Childhood memories were made up of food, friends, fun, play and work.

I was “tagged” by Dobbs to do “Childhood Memories Food” some three weeks ago. I have wanted to keep that till Christmas.

Today’s “Remembering my mother” is modified from an article on “food review” that I did for my newspaper, The Borneo Post during last Mothers’ Day. As I read the article again today, on Christmas morn, I know it’s going to bring me much tears. I do not mean to affect your Christmas mood. Pardon me, if I do.

My mother had never baked a cake before. So, Christmas’ memories are not about Christmas food cake, or a baked turkey. But, my mother was a great cook. It was my mother who taught me to always have a little margin in life.

What’s this little margin?

It’s leaving a little space in our busy life, whether it’s emotionally, physically or spiritually. Then, no matter what situation we are caught in, we always have a little space to stretch. And cooking is one of the ways that you can have that little margin in life.

While the father embeds into the heart of a child of God’s trustworthiness being strong and safe and always trusting, mothers are warm centre, the safe place. They are “Home”. Mothers are model for a child that God is “there”, that He exists and is ever present. It is a mother, after all, that a child runs to when feelings are hurt or the knee is skinned. All through life, whatever accidents happened to me, it was my mother who was there who said, “O, I know it’s painful.” Two Christmas ago, when I broke my right knee patella, my mother had gone back to the Lord. I remember, after the surgery, it was miserable. In the hospital bed alone, I thought I saw my mother at my bedside telling me, “O, I know it’s painful.”

It’s the mother whose presence makes the house a home and makes a home a safe base to launch into life from. It’s the mother whose presence makes the pain more bearable!

Yes, home, the warm place. The place where it is always safe, where it is always filled with the good smell of food during dinner time, lunch time and even early morning the aroma of coffee and toast.

My mother was a great cook. Her small refrigerator was always not even half-filled. But, we had never gone hungry with her around. She could always produce some home-cook food in a most economical way for her nine children. Yes, nine children! Anytime, we visited her, she would be able to have something for us.

My childhood food were not of burgers, fries, fried chicken or chicken rice. It has always been the home-grown vegetables. One of them is the bitter-groud fried with egg. Eggs were also from home-reared eggs-laying hen. It was not bitter, because my mother had her magic way of taking away the bitter juice. My mother also presented the dish with all the six “musts” of good food, the colour, the aroma, the taste, the presentation, the quality and the nutritional value. So, the bitter-groud fried with egg filled my days.

Yes, we did not have refrigerator then. So, what did my mother do with all the long beans from the farm? She cleaned them, boiled them, and dried them under the sun. After that, these beans were salted. When come to cooking, she added in some red stuff, the end product of home-made wine. That was another one of that. Preserved long beans cooked with the “red stuff”, with warm smell of wine!

And the third one? This one was not home-grown, but very, very precious. The cream-crackers! Cream-crackers? Yes, but not the “Jacob’s brand” we are having now. I don’t know the brand. Why would cream-crackers bring such memories?

It’s because we could never have enough of them! Imagine our children saying “yuk” to the cream-crackers when they have all sorts of “cookies”? I am glad Rachel and Christopher like cream-crackers too!

Now, why we could never have enough of them. Remember there are nine of us. My mother had to keep the tin of cream-crackers under lock and key! Every night, before we started revision of school books, my mother would give each one of us one stack of about 5 or 6 pieces of the cream-crackers. That was for supper after finishing the revision. We treasured them so much.

I remember when I related to my mother few years ago how she kept the cream-crackers, she was so “angry” and denied that she ever did that to us. She reasoned that how could she be so “mean” to her children as to keep a tin of cream-crackers under key and lock! But, we had a good laugh over it.

Though childhood food memories was not of “burger”, my mother and I did share a secret on “burger”. 15 years ago, we were in Singapore staying at Paterson Tower, near to Orchard Road. I was then pregnant with Rachel, our first precious baby. One night, I craved for ‘burger”. So, we decided that we walked down to buy. We bought one “King Burger”. That “King Burger” brought me to SGH, where I stayed for 100 days and it was CRIB! My mother and I never ever talked about it during the 100 days, even during the years that followed. I know my mother meant good to me. The secret remained until the other day I talked to an inspiring doctor, also in Singapore.

Yes, my mother is a glorious creature, a representation of part of God’s nature. She is the woman who keeps the flame of faith burning. She checks on the aggressive nature of me, perhaps the most difficult of all her nine children. The surprised story of cream-crackers is just like my mother who surprises me time and again…

My mother protects, encourages, blesses and celebrates the good and she believes in the good of all her children, nine of us.

She is now in a better place. Often, I wonder whether she still cooks.

My mother went to the Lord in 2000. You would have noted that the last three paragraphs of this post are written in present tense, that any English “guru” would give me a big “X”. Allow me to forget about the grammar on this Christmas morn, to me, my mother still lives in us, each one of her children, and nine of us altogether…

All mothers, and all fathers, blessed Christmas. You may like to log on to my friend’s place, fishtail for a heartwarming story of “Fear-Not –Angels” on this Christmas day and give due honour and respect and love to your parents.

Also visit The Tent, the cyber home of a Malaysian doctor who has just returned from a Pakistan Mission on his “Grown-up Christian Wish”. A wish not for himself, but for the poor, the broken, the downtrodden and the sick.