O ye of Little Faith

I was in Sing-Land over the weekend. On Sunday morning, I attended the worship service at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. It was a true spiritual experience for me. I was touched. I was uplifted. I was redirected. I was refreshed. I was reduced. I was restored…

I was also enlightened by the speaker, a journalist-turned-preacher! June Tan, an ex-Straits Times Journalist, enlightened the worshippers to-the-point message titled, “Faith, key to healing”.

God has used her journalistic talent as instrument to bring His message to the people. And, of course, it was with her willingness to be instrumental to God’s glory.

The message is well structured.

The message is clear and precise.

The message is well supported.

The message has good and relevant referencing.

The message is truthful.

The message edifies.

The message builds.

The message gives hope.

June has lived up to the journalistic values of reading prodigiously about the topic, being a strickler of accuracy, adding colours to the topics, speak tightly within the right span of time.

She speaks as if her audiences do not know anything about the topic. She speaks as if her audiences do not care about the topic. Yet in the stunning manner, the message of assurance and hope was carried across.

Yesterday, when she related the story of Jesus calming the storm, a reassuring sense of His protection enfolds me. There was an indescribable peace entering my spirit. The ocean miraculously quietens and transforms into a serene seas of calm.

Great is His Faithfulness, indeed.

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Patchwork

On July 21st, a new blog was born! It’s my best friend, Sandra, who started her “Patchwork”. Lifted from her blog today –

In times of poverty, we learnt to appreciate life and also what richness really meant. When we were poor, we learnt that we should always appreciate what we have, and not to take things for granted. And most of all, I learnt to be humble and to have proper respect for everybody. I thank God for my blessings in disguise as it made me who I am today. There is a saying that goes ‘opportunity only knocks once’, so even if you feel that you only have little blessings in life, appreciate them – because you never know if you’ll have that opportunity again.

This is part of the touching story of her childhood which Sandra calls “A blessing in disguise”. Visit her at Patchwork and find out why she has called her blog, Patchwork, read her childhood story and be touched and inspired!

Posted in Soul Mates. Comments Off on Patchwork

Radiating The Lord

I was having a light moment with my teenage daughter, Rachel few minutes ago. I said Grand-Auntie lived to 90 years old. If I would be living to 90, it would be another long 40 over years! I ended with, “How Dreadful.”

Rachel was bewildered by my ending statement. She said,

“You are aging gracefully. Even if you are 90, you would still look great. You are, in fact, better looking now than you were in your wedding photographs. You are just radiant now, mummy.”

That made my day, really. My children live up to my famous lines –

If you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything.

Well, I know it’s “vanity” for me to feel good having heard what my daughter has to say about her mummy. That was my wedding day, I was supposed to be at my best, and morever, it was 20 years ago. No one is supposed to be better looking than her wedding day and after 20 years ago.

But, Rachel has been nice.

We all grow old and die. The clouds cover the sun, darkness sets in, our bodies deteriorate and we die. Let’s see the wisest man, King Solomon said about aging process in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon is old and failing.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain; in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through the windows grow dim; and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and the daughters of song will sing softly.

Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms. the grasshopper drags himself along, and the caperberry is ineffective. For man goes to his eternal home while mourners go about in the street. Remember him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the Spirit will return to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)

Solomon uses many metaphors to describe an old person’s body as well as the aging process: the clouds and the heavens, a great estate whose building is dilapidated and whose staff are old and weary, a lamp, a well, the insect world, etc. All of these metaphors testify to the certainty of growing old and losing one’s faculties.

A songwriter also observes the aging process in a song,

I ain’t gonna need this house no longer,
I ain’t gonna need this house no more.
Ain’t got time to fix the shingles,
Ain’t got time to fix the floor.
Ain’t got time to oil the hinges

Or fix a broken window pane.
Ain’t gonna need this house no longer,
I’m gittin’ ready to meet the saints.

How Dreadful!

But, today, Rachel has also given me the word, Radiant. I like the word. Only an intimate relationship with the Lord causes a person to be radiant, to reflect His glory and to be like Him.

Yes, we may grow old, our bodies deteriorate, but we can radiant with the Lord!

“The Grand Perhaps”

My 90-year-old auntie (my father’s sister) went to the Lord this morning. Auntie is the last one of my father’s generation to pass on. My cousin, Ching Yong, was ever ready with surprised statement, he said, “Yan, it’s now our turn to die.”

Auntie had a clean bill of health. She lived a simple life. This morning, after cleaning and dressing her, I packed her belongings. She had less than 10 suits (blouses and pants). Two of the suits were actually bought by me in Singapore some 16 years ago!

Thinking of my wardrobe at home – I told myself to simplify my life!

Auntie had only one son. I was told before I was born (the 5th of my parents), it had been agreed by all parties that I would be given to her as daughtr. My parents changed their mind at the last minute.

Probably, that is the reason I was specially dear to auntie. Three weeks ago when I visited her at the medical centre where she was warded, she cried like a baby. It took quite a while to calm her emotions.

Auntie had liked the company of my mother. She spent much time at my mother’s house. I think she is now in My Father’s home chatting with my mother. Will she tell my mother that “I miss her”?

There have been many “deaths” in my life this year that I really could not ignore death. Robert Browning’s words always strikes me at time of death –

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

Ray Stedman has given an excellent explanation to the meaning –

Well, he (Robert Browning) meant that we spend much of our time trying to forget about God that just when we think we have got everything taken care of, all our plans are made, and we have excluded him from our thinking, then something happens to intrude. We see a sunset, and it reminds us of the ending of life. Or we see the beauty of a flower, and know that in a little while it will be crushed. Or someone’s actual death occurs, and we are forced to face up to the issue of life and death. And that, he says, arouses a bevy of hopes and fears within us which he calls, “The Grand Perhaps.”

The Stories of Two Mothers

A very distinguished journalist wrote to me in an email quite a while ago, “You should write more often for the newspaper.”

For that encouragement, I have been busy writing for The Borneo Post. Blogging has become less frequent. Having said that, this cyberspace still occupies a big space of my heart. It’s here I keep more personal and innermost thoughts.

Yesterday morning, I woke up reading this from mGf in an email, “In a moment of sentiment, I imagine our mothers chatting with one another about their children.”

Yes, both our mothers are in heaven. mGf and I are working on a project to pass on some kindness to remember our mothers who have (yes, still present tense, because our mothers still live in our hearts) taught us to pass on kindness along our life path.

mGf’s imagination of “our mothers chatting with one another about their children” is a joyous moment for our mothers. They must be feeling good that the children are trying to live up to their teachings.

Could it be just imagination? Could our mothers be chatting with one another? I remember I wrote on Christmas remembering my mother, “She is now in a better place, often I wonder whether my mother still cooks.” Yes, I do wonder.

Last night, I dwelled much time on these thoughts. I remember reading somewhere that those who have died still have feelings and can show concern for those whom they have left. The story of Lazarus and the rich man was quoted –

“And he said, ‘Then I beg you father to send him to my father’s house for I have five brothers so that he may warn them lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said ‘No father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'” (Luke 16:27-31 RSV)

The rich man was concerned for his brothers on earth and begged Abraham to send someone to speak to them to turn from their wicked ways.

I read some bible commentary. I was struck by one comment by Dr Helmut Thielicke more than ever before –

The torment of the dead is that they cannot warn the living, just as it is the torment of the mature that the erring young will not listen to them.

The torment of the dead is – a desire to warn but an inability to do so!

These are the clear and precise words – To fear God and to walk in fellowship with him, in obedience to his commandments. That is living.

Then, our mothers could really enjoy chatting about their children and even with coffee connection!

The Four Things Tag

Thank you to Rodney of TheJourney for tagging me on the “Four Things” a while ago.

Honestly, it “tricks” me. It makes me open my eyes to see “who I am” – a pretty boring person. Still, in all honesty, here are four things about me –

4 jobs I have had in my my life
Translator
Administrator
Journalist
Business Development
(All with one newspaper organization)
4 movies I could watch over and over
I don’t watch much movies. Here are four that I think I would not mind watching another time –
The Sound of Silence
Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey
It’s a Wonderful Life
You’ve got Mail
4 Places I have lived
Sibu
Sarikei
Singapore
(no fourth place 🙂
4 TV shows I love to watch
News
Still news
Still news
I have loved the series “Little House in the Prairies”
4 Places I have been on vacation (this I have more than four)
China – Beijing, FuZhou
Philippines – Manila, Cebu
Indonesia – Bali, Jakarta
Canada
4 websites I visit daily (or often)
(take those “daily inspiration” of my blog’s sidebar)
4 of my favourite food
Bread with butter
Steamed Bread with butter
Bread with coffee
Still bread
(Fresh from bakery!)
4 places I would rather be right now
Home
Singapore
My childhood home
My teenage years’ home in Sarikei
4 Bands/Singers
Jim Reeves
Bee Gees
Lobo
Bob Dylan
4 people to tag
(shall I end it here?)

From Automation To Real Expression

I was in Kuala Lumpur last week on a business trip. Before I left, Rachel (my 15-year-old daughter) requested me to buy a skirt for her. She described the type of skirt she wanted. While in Kuala Lumpur. Chris called and asked whether I could buy him a tie clip.

During the last night in Kuala Lumpur, I thought of retiring to rest early. I thought Rachel’s skirt could be bought in Sibu. Chris’ tie clip could be bought in Sibu too. But, at 8 pm, I was a little restless. So, I did the last minute shopping. I found a skirt just like how Rachel has described. It was on 50% discount, a good buy. I got Chris a tie clip.

Back home.

Rachel said, “Oh, thank you! I love it.” She was at her childlike best, the thank-yous burst form her with exuberance.

Chris said, “Thank you. Thank you again. Thank you again.” He was polite, but beyond the politeness, I could see springing from his heart the burst of joy. It was not an automatic reflex.

Now, Rachel has been wearing that skirt for the past three days! When I “interrogated” of how she could wear the skirt for three days, she said she has sent it for washing!

I remember when Rachel and Chris were small, I seemed to be saying this all the time, “Say thank you”. Sometimes, they dropped their heads and mumbled the words into their chests. I did that so often that eventually, they automatically say “thank you”. Because mummy demanded so.

Today, they have moved beyond this kind of robotic “thank you”. They find way to the gratitude attitude that is beyond the automation. Yes, it’s only by grace that we move to become aware of God’s blessings in our lives.

Count your blessings! Name them one by one…. the old hymn says so…

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