Were You There?

Last night I bought a pack of sanitary pad for Rachel, my 16-year-old daughter. She held it in her hands while watching television.

Daddy asked, “You start using this now?”

Rachel answered, “Daddy, where were you the past six years?”

It was followed by a burst of laughters of Rachel and his brother, Christopher. Mummy was amused by the “humour” of the wonderful daughter while the daddy was speechless!

It really requires a lot of desires and determination for working parents to be involved in all the changes of the lives of our children. I remember having that burning desire to be in every stage of the lives of my two children. But so often, the “spirit is willing, the flesh is weak”.

Parents, here are strong recommendations to invest in these two books –

The Sound of My Daughter’s Voice
If you take my hand, my son
Author: Wayne Hastings

There is something in the rain

It was raining the whole day yesterday. I did not like the rain yesterday.

It was in the storm and rain last Sunday that little five-month-old Cathrina Peter was seriously injured after sailing away underneath a zinc roof that was ripped off by raging winds. Cathrina died last Friday.

It was in the storm and rain that Chua Ming Hui, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) student was killed by lightning while walking to class with two friends. It was raining also when the pastor conducted her funeral service at the mortuary of Sarawak General Hospital.

Then I heard this song from my ipod. There is something in the rain…. by Tish Hinojosa

Again, it is a moving song about a boy’s little sister, poisoned by the pesticides that farm workers are exposed to in the United States.

It’s a most overtly political song, a bitter commentary on the environmental hazards farmworkers are exposed to.

“Mom and dad have worked the fields,
I don’t how many years.
I’m a boy, but I know how,
and go to school when work is slow.
We have seen our country’s roads,
Bakersfield to Illinois.
and when troubles comes our way,
Oh yeah, I’ve seen my Daddy pray.

There’s something wrong with little sister,
I hear her crying by my side.
Mama’s shaking as she holds her,
We try to hold her thru the night.
And Mom says close your eyes Mijito,
dream of someplace far from here,
like the pictures in your schoolbooks
someday you can take us there.

There’s Something In the Rain
I’m not sure just what that means.

Abuelita talks of sins of man,
of dust that’s in our hands.
There’s something in the rain,
well what else could cause this pain,
Those airplanes cure the plants, so
things can grow, Oh no, it must be
Something In the Rain………….
…………until we break the killing
chains, there’s Something In the Rain”

There is something in the rain?

Being Tagged

I have been tagged byJust me on five things you don’t know about me.

Probably, the ‘big thing’ you don’t know about me is I am dyslexia. Huh? Yes, I am. I am going to tell you what I don’t know how to do being dyslexic.

I am not going to count because I don’t count. I don’t count well. I remember when I was in Primary school, when we started to learn the times table (2×2 equals 4 etc), my teacher hit hard on my palm 99 times because I only get one correct, that is 2×1 is 2. Today, still very much handicapped with the times table, thanks to technology, there is a thing called calculator.

I learnt my Chinese first. That was an advantage to a dyslexia. Because I only concentrated on one language. I learnt Chinese well, but not without tears and pains. Thanks to my father who had treasures of Chinese classic stories that attracked me.

I learnt my English only when I entered fourth form. Thanks to my Engish teacher from India, Francis! I wrote about him somewhere in this blog. read it here

I never get to settle with Bahasa Malaysia! I just could not grasp the logic of per, me, kan…

Yes, I am dyslexic. But I read pretty well. I write articles too, both Chinese and English. Thanks to God for working on me, and still working on me…. I always borrow the words of Robert Brownings to tell my significant other or good friends –

Grow old with me, The best is yet to be!

Well, it’s my prayer too!

Coffeeshop ConneXtion

I am a coffee person. From brewed local coffee to latte to cappuccino .. I like them all. With different friend, I go to different coffee place. I go with Ming to local coffee shop, with colleagues in PJ to Starbucks or coffee bean, with mGf in Sing-Land to Coffee Club.

There at these coffee places, many stories, heartwarming, sad, happy, spiritual or just some silly jokes, have been shared. Many dreams and visions also shared. All this with a cup or a mug of coffee in front. Sometimes, the coffee are just great, other time, it’s just ordinary. But, all the moments shared over great or lousy coffee are true and beautiful.

This morning, I woke up at my usual 4 am, with much anticipation on what the Lord would like to speak to me. I was caught by one article by one pastor, David Swanson titled “Coffeeshop Connections” with the tagline –

What one pastor is learning, as a part-time barista, about relationship and discipleship.

I identify with David on many points –

David shared,

Our church is a highly structured and very busy suburban environment where spontaneous interaction with friends rarely happens. Just getting together with some folks is an exercise in long-range planning!

That is something I feel about my church too!

David further said,

If we believe the church community is the sum of its people, and if we believe that relationships are not something that can be programmed, then we do well to consider how to create margins in church life for spontaneous relational moments, similar to those that attract people to the coffeeshop.

David, with the help of a friend at the church, started a place call “the loft” to experiment with what he was observing at the coffeeshop. They created an environment where folks could learn about the way of Jesus in a space that expected spontaneous relationships between people. He said,

This was partially motivated out of a desire to invite others into the kingdom of God, but also to fill my own longing for this type of coffeeshop discipleship.

The result?

David has this to report,

On Sunday evenings you can find 15-20 of us gathering for coffee and conversation about what it means to follow Jesus.

Sherry is a Jesus follower who works as a stage manager in a theatre in Chicago. The loft is a place where she can come and refresh.

Thomas is a guy we met at the coffeeshop. An artist and deep-thinking Jesus follower, he was looking for a place where his contributions would be valued.

Zeb grew up in a Buddhist home and now is a part owner in a rapidly expanding business. I am not sure where he’d place himself spiritually, but he’s a regular on Sunday nights.

He ends,

Now I don’t think our church is going to replace our sanctuary chairs with couches anytime soon. But then, that’s not the point. May be the point is to create the type of environment that invites the Jesus-follower and the skeptic into conversation; the homeless and the CEO into relationship, the pastor and his neighbour into life together.

Do we have something to learn from the coffeeshop?

Children at School

I have been ‘bothered’ by this situation yesterday. My learned and esteemed readers, may be you can help? I am going to start that with a story and end with a prayer. The story is real life situation and the prayer is lifted from the book called ‘Prayers that avail much for Business’.

Now, the story,

On the first day of the second week of the new school year, a busy mother suddenly realized that her teenage daughter has not asked for any money for misc school fees, text books and stationery.

The daughter said, ‘Mummy, I have money. I have used my own money to pay all the fees and buy the books.’

Surprised, mummy asked, ‘Where do you get all your money. It’s no less than a 100 ringgit?’

‘I earned the money by drawing for my classmates last year. I have classmates who do not know how to draw. So, I drew some extra pictures and sold to them at 10 to 15 ringgit each.’ the daughter said.

‘That’s very enterprising. Do you think it’s right to do so?’ the mother asked, clearly worried.

‘I draw and sell, it’s a legal business transaction. They buy and submit to the teacher as their own works, it’s their business.’ the daughter replied with much calm and confidence.

The mother, still worried of the ‘virtues and values’ remembered this prayer which she has been praying –

Father, I confess Your Word this day concerning my children as they pursue their education and training at school. You are effectually at work in them both to will and to work for Your good pleasure.

I pray that my children will find favour, good understanding and high esteem in sight and judgment of You and men – their teachers and classmates.

I ask You to give my children wisdom and understanding as knowledge is presented to them in all fields of study and endeavour.

Father, thank You for giving them the aptitude for every kind of learning, that they may be well informed, quick to understand and qualified to serve You. I ask You to help us (the parents and the children) remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

Thank You that my children have the appetite of the diligent, they are abundantly supplied with educational resources and their thoughts are those of the steadily diligent, which tend only to achievement. Thank You that they are growing in wisdom and knowledge.

I will not cease to pray for my children, asking that they be filled with the knowledge of Your will, bearing fruit in every good work.

Father, I thank You that my children have divine protection since they dwell in the secret place of Your Most High. They trust and find their refuge in You and stand rooted and grounded in Your Love. they shall not be led astray by philosophies of men and teaching that is contrary to truth. You are their shield and buckler, protecting them from all attacks or threats. Thank You for the angele whom You have assigned to them to accompany and defend and preserve them in all their ways. My children are established in Your love, which turns all fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror.

I pray that the teachers of my children will be godly men and women of integrity. Give them understanding hearts and wisdom in order that they may walk in the ways of piety and virtue, revering Your holy name.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Thank you for your time

I was at Sibu airport with a flight delay of four hours. But, in that four hours, many wonders happened. I have one of my projects of the year almost done with blessings from a minister whom I had the opportunity to talk to because of the flight delay. I have this project supported and funded by a kind grand uncle whom I also had the opportunity to talk to because of the flight delay.

The flight delay turned out to be a blessing to me.

I also had the opportunity to listen to some lamentations of aged relatives on how the children leave the aged at home alone while they moved out of Sibu town. How they wish their children will spend time with them ….

Last night, I retrieved this story of ‘time’ from my file, and wish to share with friends –

A young man learns what’s most important in life from the guy next door.

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.” Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

“Jack, did you hear me?”

“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him.

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.
“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said “He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important…Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time, the house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories.
Every picture, every piece of furniture….Jack stopped suddenly.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.

“The box is gone,” he said

“What box?” Mom asked.

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died.

Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.

“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:

“Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser”

“The thing he valued most was…my time”

Thy Lovingkindness is Better Than LIFE

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Yesterday I experienced what’s Loving-Kindness!

I boarded FlyAsianExpress (FAX) from Sibu to Kota Kinabalu and FAX brought me back home on the same day.

The flight departed at 12:15 pm and arrived KK at 1:30 pm. I have my business done by 5:15 pm at Kota Kinabalu Terminal II. I was booked on the next day’s flight. Looking at the time, I thought, I maybe allowed to board the 5:50 pm flight back to Sibu.

Not seeing any enquiry counter, I ‘jumped’ the long queue with an asking face. Even before I asked, the staff at the counter though engaged in the check-in of passengers, gave me a pleasant smile and cleared my doubt. I could move forward my booking. I went back to the long queue. (pix above – busy KKIA2)

Just as my injured foot began to hurt more, my mind wondered more whether the counter would just close at my face at my turn, or all the seats were occupied, one FAX staff came to me and asked if he could change my booking first. I was led to another counter with an amazed mind that he could identify me from the crowd. This staff was not the same staff who attended to me at the counter.

The kind staff after changing my booking even said he could see that I am exhausted and offered to check me in if I do not have a luggage!

There, it settled my aching foot, exhausted body, wondering mind and unrest spirit!

As I boarded the plane, this little story came to mind –

A mother asked her son what loving-kindness meant. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘when I asked you for a piece of bread and butter, and y0u give it to me, that’s good; but when you put jam on it, that’s loving-kindness!’

That loving-kindness – it’s better than life!

As soon as I landed and hopped into the taxi, I texted my good friend, Sandra –

Landed safely. Thanks to God and to Tony Fernades.

Sandra texted back,

Great! Guess it’s the first time people thank Tony… It makes a difference when it comes from the mouth of the press.

I was home by 8 pm – with an exhausted body, but mind refreshed, redirected and spirit renewed and recharged by the ‘jam of loving-kindness’ of FAX.

Yan’s Thoughts in the light of time and eternity – when we give others the ‘bread of life’ do we also seek to make it more palatable by adding the ‘jam of loving-kindness’?