21 on 21st ― Presenting A Newly Minted Adult

To My Firstborn,

My beloved elder son Caleb Brandon
Today you reach a milestone, a momentous point in life
Today you turn twenty-one and step out from the age of minor

21st_ birthday

Age 21. The threshold of adulthood in Singapore. Now you can vote in national elections―a citizen’s right and responsibility that you’ve been looking forward to. And in the years ahead, your choice may not always match mine but that’s your privilege in a free country blessed by God. And just as I respect your decision to not turn today into a large group celebration, I aim to listen to your views as I hope you will do mine; share my thoughts with you in the expectation of reciprocity. Next to God I will be your strongest supporter (until your eventual marriage after which this role should belong to your wife), always rooting for you to fulfil His perfect plan and purpose for you. For therein lies the only reason and meaning for our lives on earth―a brief sojourn preceding the potential and promise of a glorious eternal life anchored in our Lord Jesus Christ.

A Mother’s Heart

Within the two decades that you’ve lived, you’ve experienced both joys and pains. I could wish that you’d been spared the harsh parts but I know that hard times throw up valuable lessons and shape our character, usually for the better. And if we allow our hearts to remain tender to our Creator no matter what circumstances we’re in, He is always close to the broken-hearted and humble, a rock solid Source of Strength and Encouragement.

One thing that I am so thankful for—as your life becomes increasingly independent from mine, as it should be (I’ll ensure the apron strings are cleanly cut with no ungodly soul ties remaining)—I can always pray for you and know that God Almighty listens. His love for you far surpasses mine, and He is the Faithful and Reliable Refuge whom you can and should always turn to, whether concerning major or small issues. I ask that He keeps you ever zealous for righteousness and compassionate towards the needy and weak. I pray that He delivers you from evil and temptation daily. I ask that He provides for you and guides you each day. I desire that He pours out His favour upon you and shines His face on you. I pray that He grants you wisdom beyond your age, and gives you understanding, revelation and a spirit of excellence.

Among the abundance of gifts that our Heavenly Father has blessed me with, you rank right up there with your brother Joshua Jared in the top tier that’s marked Precious. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. As arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” -Psalm 127:3-5

The LORD said: “Because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it” -Numbers 14:24
Caleb has strength of mind and courage, displaying a right character and attitude toward God and His Word, having unwavering faith in Jesus Christ.

Fervent; One of Authority; ‘From the Beacon Hill’. “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden…Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy and noble deeds and recognise and glorify your Heavenly Father.” -Matthew 5:14,16


21st Birthday Meals

2013-12-21 14.50.35 - CopyWagyu Beef Rosti with melted cheese, poached egg, bacon, tomatoes and sour cream 🙂

2013-12-21 14.50.27 - CopyBlack Truffle Capellini

duck_03Peking Duck @ Imperial Treasure

A Mother’s Security

A Mother’s Prayer

May you always heed the divine counsel of Father God who cares for you and calls you His child
* “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’” -Job 28:28
* “Get wisdom! For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing. And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation).” -Proverbs 4:7
* “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent [or give in to them].” -Proverbs 1:10-19
* “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.” -Psalm 1:1-2

Personalised Blessing for My Son
“Caleb Brandon, may the LORD Almighty fill you with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. May your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. May you be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything you do shall prosper [and come to maturity].” -Exodus 31:3, Psalm 1:3, Colossians 4:6


Find Us Faithful – Steve Green (Much older but still faithfully pointing all to Jesus)
Lyrics/Music: Jon Mohr

We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives


Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

So, Do You Ever Doubt?

A Facebook Friend posed this question, “Is religion nothing more than a mere tool to control and placate the souls of those who find life unbearable?” A colleague who’s an atheist suggested, “Fervent Christians are likely to be people who need a crutch to cope with problems.” An acquaintance who used to attend church cites children in crisis as one of his reasons for questioning the goodness and love of God.

I’ve been asked, “Have such thoughts ever crossed your mind?”
The answer is, “Yes, of course.”
Another query has been, “Do you ever get discouraged?”
Again, my reply was in the affirmative.

Those who know me will testify that it isn’t naiveté or a refusal to face up to the real world that causes me to put my trust in God. I’ve never resorted to having an imaginary friend or security blanket. And I always knew that Santa Claus was just a man with stomach padding in a red suit. But I’ll admit to trying to spot a pixie or brownie in my garden as a kid due to a surfeit of fairy tales by prolific British writer Enid Blyton. 

thCA5WBQ9UPeanuts by Charles M. Schulz


My faith isn’t a mindless, unquestioning state of affairs. God who created humans in His image is the ultimate source of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, justice and love. And truth seekers will find that He’s more than able to satisfactorily address any of our doubts, uncertainties and concerns.

A biblical prophet Isaiah quoted the Almighty as saying, “Come now, let us reason together” and “Present your case, says the LORD, set forth your arguments.” Even a casual reading of the Scriptures would uncover men who challenged God and went on to be leaders who accomplished great exploits for Him.

It’s in the knowing that faith and trust are built, isn’t it?
When we know that someone or something is reliable, we won’t hesitate to depend on them.
We plonk ourselves on chairs that have served us well rather than gingerly lowering ourselves into them. We’re certain that we can count on loved ones who’ve been there for us through thick and thin. We feel confident about approaching those who readily agreed to help when we last sought their assistance.

My Experience With God
Encounter upon encounter, He has never let me down. Year after year, He has been present for me through good times and bad. Decade into decade, He has been faithful, patient, kind and loving. Instantly ready to forgive and embrace when I run to Him, even after my season of relinquishing Him to the sidelines of my life. Immediately offering counsel and comfort when situations turn sour. Always available to celebrate with me when I have reason to rejoice.



He’s a God who’s as real to me as the people around me. Perhaps even more so, for He’s the only one who is with me 24-7, no matter where I am, regardless of what I face, inspite of how I feel. No wonder He’s described by psalmists in the Bible as the Strength of My Life, a Very Present Help, Fortress of Defence, Rock of Refuge, Salvation and Light.


Two Faces of Parental Love

There’s a horrible story about a father who wanted to teach his son how harsh life could be. He placed the boy at the top level of a barn, then asked him to jump into his arms. When the kid did so in good faith, the dad pulled away. As the child hit the hard ground and groaned in pain, his father said, “This will teach you not to be so trusting.” Sadistic? Thus began a life of neurosis following the permanent loss of innocent trust.

Despite some hard knocks, I refuse to live a life of suspicion and distrust, always anticipating the worst, and hanging on tight to bitterness and regrets. I can’t fathom the concept that human beings are here by accident, fate or chance, and after rattling around for some years, we’ll just expire into nothingness.

Abundant life is what God wants us to have, both now and for eternity. As a parent who loves my two sons and would go to great lengths to ensure the best for them—may my ceiling be their floor!—I can well appreciate what Jesus meant when He described the nature of Father God.

“If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” -Matthew 7:11
“He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.” -1 John 4:8


There have been a couple of occasions when this thought flashed across my mind, “What if everything you’ve placed your hope in is just elaborate make belief? What if you come to the end of life on earth and find that there’s really nothing beyond?“

Well, I did test the limits of my physical existence back in February. According to, “A Massive Pulmonary Embolism is so called not due to the actual size of the embolus (blood clot) but due to the size of its effect. Massive PEs are, by definition, high-risk.” Endovascular Today provides these statistics, “The overall mortality rate of Massive PE approaches 60%, with most deaths occurring in the first 2 hours of presentation. It is second only to cardiac arrest as the leading cause of sudden death.”

When it was down to just me and God—or not—I found Him there, just as I had expected based on what He’d promised in His inspired Word the Bible. Chalk up one more encounter with the Living God who’s the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, He who was and is and is to come.

So when doubt comes knocking again, remembrance of the countless times that God showed up means I won’t entertain what’s contrary to my experience. For me, personally, the score’s entirely in His favour.

Sure, there are things that I don’t fully understand. As a family member pointed out, “You thank God for saving you but why didn’t He stop you from getting blood clots in the first place?”

In short, I believe that my God never intended there to be sickness or sorrow on earth when He created humans. What He wanted was a loving relationship with beings made in His image who would enjoy pure goodness. Yet the first couple Adam and Eve were tempted by satan the fallen angel turned devil to disobey God, and when they succumbed, the human race became vulnerable to all things evil. That’s why the immeasurable love of Father God prompted Him to send His Son Jesus to die on the Cross to redeem us from our fallen nature, and through His divine resurrection raise us back to the original glorious hope of eternal joy and undefiled intimacy with Him.

Each day I learn a little more about my God, His nature, character and will. If I knew Him better I would be a more accurate representation of Him, but I can only be His Ambassador to the extent that I currently know Him. It all boils down to knowing, and as God is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted, this is an exciting journey and adventure that will never end!



To successfully complete my first session of worship leading after a break of several months. I’ve regained enough breath, stamina and energy and am ready for more! I’m fond of my Taylor Big Baby acoustic guitar—it’s a great companion for my Yamaha Grand Concert classical guitar. use

To be back in the gym after staying away.
Close-to-midnight walks have been my main form of exercise in recent weeks, prompting a friend visiting from India to note that only in Singapore can a lone woman move around freely and safely in the night. It’s indeed a blessing that I’m mindful of each time I set out. As I felt ready to resume more strenuous activity last week, I visited a gym to try out several machines but hit a snag when my heart rate surged to 160 within 10 minutes of working out on an Elliptical Trainer.

Doctor Charming referred me to a lovely physiotherapist at SGH whom I’ll write more about after further sessions at her gym on the third floor of the National Heart Centre. During the first assessment at the well-equipped gym, I was taught to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N because my heart seems to be rather sensitive at this juncture to changes in movements, especially sudden ones. It’s going to take some adjusting because the recommended walking pace brought to mind a vivid picture—I imagined myself s.l.o.w.l.y window shopping to kill time while waiting for a friend who’s extremely late!


There are several reasons behind my usually rather fast walking speed.

Participation in Singapore Youth Festival outdoor band competitions and National Day Parades during my school days required brisk marching and precise steps to create complex formations. And when I started my broadcast journalism career as a reporter, rushing to catch newsmakers for interviews at events or constantly moving ahead of politicians on their walkabouts so as not to miss any action was par for the course.

A Paternal Legacy

Then there’s the example of my late father who was a Speedy Gonzales well into his eighties, before he developed Senile Dementia. He was a great storyteller who’d spring up to act out his youthful exploits, kindling my interest in the dramatic form and musicals.

He would pluck chilli padi that he’d grown in our back garden and pop them straight into his mouth. While I haven’t graduated to that yet, I do consume an immense amount of the spicy condiment, a liking I share with my siblings.



You Are Good – Bethel Music
Lyrics/Music: Brian Johnson

Holy Spirit – Jesus Culture
Lyrics/Music: Bryan Torwalt, Katie Torwalt

I’ve Found A Love – Bethel Music
Lyrics/Music: Ben Cantelon

The Lord Reigns – Gateway Worship
Lyrics/Music: Klaus Kuehn

The Lord reigns, let the people shout!
He reigns in righteousness
Let the heavens be glad, let the earth rejoice!

Morbid Or Plain Pragmatic?

Use This

A fat package sat in my letter box today and it yielded a booklet entitled Understanding HOTA—Human Organ Transplant Act. Produced by Singapore’s Health Ministry, it’s sent to all households where a member is approaching the legal adult age of 21. That’s because HOTA allows the kidneys, liver, heart and corneas of all adult citizens and permanent residents to be used for transplantation after death unless the person is “mentally disordered” or specifically objected while alive.

There’s a form for those wanting to opt out, along with a caution that doing so would mean lower priority if the objector needs an organ in future. Another form gives the choice of donating additional body parts under MTERA—Medical (Therapy, Education and Research) Act.

And thus a conversation ensued between my older son and me on my preferences upon death.

Just an hour earlier, a kind neighbour Angela who cooked me a delicious lunch had recommended maintaining a fuss-free collection of personal effects so that those we leave behind wouldn’t be burdened with extensive sorting out and clearing up. After all, she reminded me, there’s a saying that goes, “One man’s treasure is another man’s garbage.” So I was challenged afresh to streamline my possessions. I’d written previously about seeking to lead an unfettered life free of joy-draining emotional baggage and clutter. But books, documents and gadgets have a way of sneaking up on you!

A bible verse comes to mind, and here’s The Message version:
“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.” –Matthew 6:19-21

Then there’s the beautiful promise in Psalm 55:22, “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—He’ll carry your load, He’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin.” And 1 Peter 5:7 urges us, “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” How comforting!


Back to my list of deathbed preferences—the reason for the title of this post. My sweet boy said, “Mum, please write them down somewhere as I hope it’ll be many decades before I need it, and I might forget by then.” So here it is…

*Life Support & Organ Donation
The HOTA booklet, written in the four official languages of Singapore—English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil—explains the difference between cardiac death and brain death, and between comatose and brain dead. As one who believes in the sovereignty of God, I do not believe in giving up hope because He can perform miracles that defy medical science, as many real life testimonies attest to. When it’s time for my earthly life to end, I know that my Lord will let me breathe my last naturally. And therein lies the controversy surrounding turning off life support at the recommendation of doctors. With my belief that God is ultimately in control, is it better for me to opt out of HOTA while I’m alive, so that my loved ones would have the final say instead of medical professionals? I’m reviewing this issue thoroughly.

After I die, I’d be happy to donate every organ and all tissues that can be harvested to benefit the living. After all, “Then shall the dust [out of which God made man’s body] return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.” -Ecclesiastes 12:7

I like the way bible scholar John Piper puts it, “Burying your loved one is a sign that you believe in the resurrection. The body is precious. I know it decomposes; we’re talking symbolic significance. God created it, He’s going to resurrect it, there’s going to be continuity between what you were and what you are so that you can recognise each other. You want to symbolically put it to rest because that’s the language of the bible—you’re sleeping. He will waken those who sleep.” 1 Thessalonians 5:10 states, “Whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life.

*Songs At The Wake & Funeral
I’ve asked my loved ones to refer to my favourite songs in the blog page Carol In A Nutshell. A must-have is “Blessed Be Your Name” which contains the powerful line from Job 1:21, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed (praised and magnified in worship) be the name of the Lord!” My good and just God has the perfect perspective and I know His timing is always ideal, never too early or too late.

*My Graduation
Jesus wept”—the shortest verse in the bible. It is God who gave us humans a range of emotions, and it is healthy to properly grieve the loss of someone you love. Every treasured family member and good friend is a gift and blessing from the Lord and we’ll miss their company when they’re no longer around. But underlying and underscoring the sorrow at a Christian’s death is the glorious hope that he or she has “graduated” to eternity.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognising the benefits He has bestowed].”
1 Corinthians 2:9

“Death is not the extinguishing of the Light but the turning down of the lamp because the Dawn has come.”
Author unknown

Last Words of Great Christian Leaders:
The best of all is, God is with us. Farewell! Farewell!
John Wesley (Co-founder of the Methodist movement)
Live in Christ, live in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death.
John Knox (Leader, Scottish Protestant Reformation)
Our God is the God from whom cometh salvation: God is the Lord by whom we escape death.
Martin Luther (Initiator, Protestant Reformation)


Life Scales & Acts Of Kindness


As some of you are aware, my company website has been revamped and the collection of staff blogs has been archived. So I’ve reproduced and updated several of my musings that attracted the most discussion among readers far and near.


August 2011

My heart leapt for joy the other day when my teenage son Caleb Brandon voluntarily carried some food for an elderly couple to their table, without any prompting from me, and without being asked. At the time, we were waiting in line behind the man, who looked to be in his seventies. When I told my boy how pleased I was with his act of kindness, he dismissed it by saying, “Mum, it was only a few metres!” “That’s not the point,” I said, “Well done, I’m proud of you!”

Just this morning, my younger boy Joshua Jared made my heart sing too. We had walked passed several foreign construction workers catching a nap during their early lunch break. “The music blasting out of their CD player sounds funny to me, Mum, but I recognise and appreciate their hard work,” he said.


cat bunny

These are the moments that make me truly thankful, for they provide glimpses of the loving and caring nature of my children. How glad I am too that hugs are still permitted, and when deemed “inconvenient”, pats on the head and a quick squeeze of the shoulders are acceptable!

A decade ago, several people more experienced in parenting urged me to exercise tough love. It goes something like this—teach your kids the realities of life early so that they’ll be better prepared to face adulthood. One man recommended telling a child who didn’t deliver top grades that if he failed to pull up his socks, he would have to get out of the house until he “woke up”. The other, a trained counsellor, deliberately locked her daughter out after she’d broken a curfew, although she did tell the girl to go to a McDonald’s near their home for “shelter” during the night.

Such advice would have resonated well with Yale Law School professor Amy Chua, who wrote the bestselling “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. Check out:,9171,2043477,00.html

The mother of two girls, now in their teens, freely shared the extremely strict parenting methods that she practised, which some have denounced as being harsh and merciless! She described the measures as being typical of Chinese families, and claimed they were highly effective in producing generations of successful children. Her revelations drew a whole gamut of reactions, mostly shock and even disgust.

Prime examples: Forcing her children to put in hours of drills and practices every day, using derogatory labels on them and withholding approval if she felt they had not met her desired standards, threatening to burn their stuffed toys if their music wasn’t played perfectly, and imposing strict controls on how they spent their leisure.

The irony is that Amy Chua’s American husband Jed Rubenfeld, also a Yale professor, stands in contrast as a relaxed, reasonable and “permissive” Westernised parent. Yet it was clear he regularly gave in to his wife’s streak of maternal ruthlessness!

As for me, I do believe in discipline, for the age-old advice in Proverbs 23:13 remains relevant even today, “Don’t fail to correct your children. You won’t kill them by being firm, and it may even save their lives.” But selfless love must always be the underlying motivation and the Bible also instructs us that “mercy triumphs over judgment” for “judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13).

What I really pray for and work towards is that my sons will grow up to be trustworthy and kind men who love the Lord, are full of godly wisdom, live right, show good sense and display sound judgement. Then I shall be a joyful mother who can safely and will gladly cut the apron strings.
(It’s not easy getting teenagers to pose for photos so here’s a snapshot of Mum & Sons dated 2006/07)


July 2011

A survey by the Singapore Kindness Movement found that more than 40% of Singaporeans believe they’re more gracious than their fellow residents. Only 15% of those polled rated others as being high on graciousness. The movement’s General Manager was quoted as saying that changing this attitude will be a challenge because Singaporeans are indifferent to improving their level of graciousness. The 1400 respondents were given a statement that read, “It is not possible for Singapore to become a more gracious place due to the hectic and stressed lifestyle in the country”. More than half agreed; only 4 in 10 were optimistic.

That report led me to wonder if the apparent gap between personal and communal graciousness is more a case of bad publicity than reality. It’s true that some commuters on the local Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system or pubic buses do not voluntarily give up their seats for the elderly or for pregnant women. Some cite illness or fatigue; others say they were having a nap and didn’t notice that their seat was needed. Yet based on my personal experience, I’ve seen far more people offering seats quickly and cheerfully than not. And I know that both my teenage sons belong to this kinder and more courteous group. 🙂


Survey findings like the latest data only add to the public perception, or should I call it “misperception”, that Singaporeans aren’t kind. And the comparison with other Asians like the Japanese merely seal in the general belief that locals have a long way to go in attaining true graciousness. Wouldn’t it be more helpful for the annual State of Kindness report to reflect a balanced picture of both the negative and the positive?

In Singapore, charity drives and news reports of needy families facing tragic circumstances typically attract generous donations. Perhaps we should start highlighting more examples of Good Samaritans? Just a week ago, I saw a taxi driver stopping his vehicle because he noticed an old man trying to push a bulky item across the road. He ran to the man, helped him quietly, and then got back into his vehicle to continue earning his living.


Imagine graciousness like a tangible living spirit spreading across our island, and stories of kind and courteous behaviour multiplying. Visualise a society where the members are caring and compassionate towards one another. With God’s help, every Christian’s goal is to cultivate and manifest the 9-fold fruit of the Holy Spirit—Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches”

Origins & A Matter Of Perspective



September 2011

“We would worry less about what others think of us if we realised how seldom they do.” -Ethel Barrett /~/ “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

Someone mistook me for a mainland Chinese yesterday. He said I didn’t look like a Singaporean. Over the weekend, a woman promoting pastries at a mall kiosk tried to speak to me in Japanese. “Konnichiwa (Hello/Good afternoon). Du-ri-an! Du-ri-an!” she exclaimed as she handed me a fruit tart sample to try. I smiled and accepted it without a word ( And at a business dinner last month, I was asked if I had come from Taiwan.

None of those encounters took me by surprise. Why? They were replays of many similar queries in the past. According to these observers, I would be able to blend in with the locals in any East Asian country. Less commonly, I’ve been wrongly identified as an American Chinese. While I’ve gotten used to the idea that I apparently qualify as a citizen of the world, going by appearance alone, an interesting chain of thought was triggered.

My parents migrated to the island of Singapore from China’s Hainan Island (海南岛 hǎi nán dǎo) in the mid 20th century and all of us children were born in this sunny Southeast Asian nation. Hainan, located off the tip of Southern China, is often called the Chinese Hawaii, and it’s become a popular holiday and conference destination. If my parents hadn’t left their homeland, I could well be a card-carrying Communist right now. Besides the Hainanese dialect, I’d be conversing in 普通话 (Pǔtōnghuà – Standard Mandarin) and I would greet you with a “你好吗?” (nǐ hǎo ma – How are you?).

What if they had ended their journey a little further north, say in Malaysia? To find out how you’re getting on, my question in Malay (Bahasa Malaysia, Behasa Melayu) would be, “Apa khabar?” And if my Dad and Mum had enjoyed sailing and decided to continue due south, I’d probably greet you with a cheerful “G’day!” as they say Down Under!

As it is, I was born and bred in Singapore, in the cosy laid-back suburban estate of Serangoon Gardens. It used to be an enclave popular with military families from the Allied Forces. When they left for home, most sold their good quality reading material to a Used Books cornershop owned by an enterprising Indian gentleman. And I would devour the literary treasure they left behind, treating the collection as my personal library!

With worlds opening up before me, the authors who filled my childhood days unknowingly nurtured my love for the English language. And you could say that my career in broadcast journalism has its roots in that intense period of imaginative fervour. 🙂


What’s In A Name?
My surname Foo or 符 (prono: fú) comes down from my father’s ancestral line, which is typical for the Chinese. My given name is Say Chin or 之珍 (prono: zhī zhēn), and relatives who prefer not to use my Christian name call me 珍 (zhēn) which means precious or treasure. For the Hainanese (the dialect group that I belong to) who share the surname Foo, the first given name “之 or Say” is a generational name that’s reportedly based on an ancient Chinese poem. So there’s a prescribed character for each generation of Foos. For example, the middle name for my father’s generation was 国 (prono: guó) which means country; translated as Kok in English. His full name was Foo Kok How.

My brothers’ sons (optional for their daughters as the traditional thinking was that women marry “out” while sons carry on the family lineage) share the same first given name of “Chuan”. If they meet other Foo Chuan xxx anywhere in the world, they’ll know they all belong to the same generation of Foos. To find out which character to use next, the source to turn to is apparently the relevant clan association (会馆 huì guǎn). Formed on the basis of kinship and descent, these social institutions originated in China and were reproduced by migrant populations abroad to provide mutual support and protection. Not all Chinese follow this traditional method of naming their children; some families I know just pick whatever sounds nice to them, and others don’t even know there’s such a thing as an ancestral poem.

Carol means Song of Joy/Praise and it became part of my official name after my Water Baptism, but I believe it was my big sister who first called me that when I was a kid. I recall clearly that for some reason, my neighbours adulterated it to Carrot! And in secondary school, I was sometimes called Apple in the leadup to the biennial inter-school outdoor band competition because we’d spent hours marching in the sun to get the formations just right, and my cheeks would turn apple-red! Nowadays, most people don’t believe I ever led such an outdoor life because I don’t tan; I just burn if I’m not careful and then get back my original fair skin tone. My second “Christian name” officially added in 2014 is Kathryn which means Pure and Beloved. It’s linked to my God-given call to be in the Christian healing ministry.


Our attitude toward ourselves—our self-concept or our self-image—is one of the most important things we possess. It establishes the boundaries of our accomplishment and defines the limits of our fulfilment. If we think little of ourselves, we either accomplish little or drive ourselves unmercifully to disprove our negative self-evaluation. If we think positively about ourselves, we are free to achieve our true potential.” – Bruce Narramore (Psychologist & Author)

“More Beautiful You” is a lovely song worth listening to, especially for those struggling to accept themselves. If you’re a Christian, remember that “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”1 Samuel 7:16b

Father God’s Love Letter


This is a wonderful production that spells out why each of us is special, with a unique purpose for being right where we are at this point in history.



June 2011

“Ask Carol. She’s tech-savvy.”
– from one of my colleagues to another

“You know about live streaming?!”
– from a teenager, with a tinge of incredulousness

And so it is that to some, I’m the go-to person for queries like how to download online videos, extract and convert music from videos, change .3gp phone voice recordings to MP3/WMA format, or edit visuals with various free software. Yet to others, especially youngsters who grew up with gadgets galore at home and in school, I’m viewed as a toddler in this arena!

A recent global survey of 7,000 youths and young adults yielded some unusual findings. A little over half the respondents who were aged 16-22 said they would rather give up their ability to smell than go without technology. One quotable quote arising from the exercise was that to this group, “losing the ability to explore and communicate via technology would be like a blind man losing his stick.”


According to McCann Worldgroup’s report, three factors motivate today’s young people: the need for connections and community, social or personal justice, and authenticity.”

I believe the three items identified have their echoes in earlier generations, for they reflect essential human needs. However, the expression of these motivators has taken on a new dimension. The world has never been this connected, and I can appreciate that for some, staying in touch through tech-enabled media has become an invaluable part of modern life. It’s also clear that owning the latest gadgets is a priority for many. An extreme example that proves this can be found in China, where a 17-year-old student sold one of his kidneys to buy an iPad 2!


As for me, I can honestly say that if you were to give me an assignment to stay away from mobile phones, computers and other hi-tech devices for a period of time, I’ll happily accept the challenge, and be confident of accomplishing the task! For sure, I treasure every one of my physical senses, and wouldn’t give up a single one of them just to stay on Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Google+ and the like.

I must admit that one thing I do like to have with me is anything that plays music and Christian teaching. I guess we all place different weightage on the stuff we surround ourselves with. 🙂 I’m eyeing a product that will convert recordings on cassette tapes to digital files. The reviews have been good so it might be time for me to do a spot of e-shopping!