To my beloved Heavenly Father on Fathers’ Day 2015
I am so thankful for Your goodness and faithfulness. By Your grace and with Your love, You’ve brought me to a place of such solid security in You that I’m blessed with a core of deep peace that surpasses understanding. What a treasure of a gift to be anchored in You—unshaken by situations and circumstances, content to listen to Your heartbeat and simply obey my Lord and God. You give me a constant song of joy and praise that stirs up a passion to help others reach the same unflinching faith and rootedness in You—the trustworthy, unchanging, eternal Rock of Ages, Ancient of Days, Alpha & Omega, Father.
A gentle easing into blogging again after a year of extensive travels and intense experiences which I’ll describe in the upcoming posts. For now, I’ll simply share several links that are a blessing to me.
Your Favourite Name Is Father
阿爸天父 Abba Father
Streams of Praise
(with official English lyrics)
“My gracious God, what a good place You’ve brought me to.”
4 decades of living and the journey has been eventful but fruitful. Looking back, there are things that remain beyond my understanding, but I’m perfectly fine with that because there’s one thing I am sure of: “My trustworthy God reigns and He has been and continues to be faithful and good to me.”
“But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” -Psalm 13:5-6
When I focus on my God, everything else assumes a proper perspective.
My recent super smooth surgery is a beautiful demonstration of God’s amazing love for me. I shall dedicate my birthday to writing all about it so do stay tuned. 🙂
I am Abundantly Blessed & Truly Loved!
How Great Is Our God (World Edition) – Chris Tomlin & Friends Lyrics/Music: Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, and Ed Cash
Indescribable(an extract) – Louie Giglio
“John (the Baptist) saw Jesus (Christ, Son of the Living God) coming to him and said, Look! There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” –John 1:29
“After this I looked and a vast host appeared which no one could count, [gathered out] of every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. These stood before the throne and before the Lamb; they were attired in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. In loud voice they cried, saying, [Our] salvation is due to our God, Who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [to Them we owe our deliverance]!” –Revelation 7:9-10
The Whole Earth – 12 International Worship Leaders & Singers Lyrics/Music: Klaus Kuehn
To each of you who has been or continues to be a part of my life, I truly appreciate you. You have contributed to my growth and I am thankful. I wish you and your family Blessings of Love, Joy, Peace & Progress.
May you increase in the knowledge and revelation of our Mighty Creator God who described Himself in His inspired Bible (Exodus 33) as merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abundant in loving-kindness and truth, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty (because He is holy and righteous). I am so glad that the LORD didn’t stop there but reached out to restore fallen mankind.
“The righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah/Saviour). [And it is meant] for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and are falling short of the honour and glory [b]which God bestows and receives. [All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favour and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment.” -Romans 3:22-25.
Said the patient to the ward nurse, “May I have iced water please?
Said the nurse to the patient, “It’s the first time anyone has asked me for iced water!”
Said the patient to the nurse, “And you might want to remove the hot water flask 🙂 I won’t be using it so there’s no need to keep changing the content daily.”
Said the patient to the anaesthetist, “My pain threshold is very high, how about I stay conscious and watch the surgery?”
Said the anaesthetist to the patient, “That would be stressful for the surgeon! No one has wanted this, it’s the first time I’m hearing such a request.“
Said the patient to the anaethetist, “I prefer to know what’s being done to me.”
Aside It’s a journalistic instinct that dates back to my childhood.
Come vaccination time, the nurses that make their school rounds tell every pupil, “Look away.”
My reply to the amused or unnerved nurses as I stare intently each time, “I prefer to see.”
Have I become a legend at Singapore General Hospital? 🙂
This is my third stay here since I received emergency treatment here for Massive Pulmonary Embolism last February. And this time it takes me to the Obstetrics & Gynaecology ward.
It’s just hours to my morning surgery which looks likely to be done under General Anesthesia, or perhaps it’ll be changed to a localised application if my earlier request is moderated
As I sit in my comfortable room, God’s love washes over me in waves and my entire being is enfolded in His Embrace. I’m soaking in worship of my Good God, the Trustworthy One. Oh, how I love Him! He gives me a constant song of joy in Him and a core of deep peace that surpasses understanding. What a priceless treasure that can be possessed by every Christian – an absence of fear and worry as we root ourselves in the Rock of All Ages!
Background to the Operation
During the comprehensive range of scans done when I was first hospitalised nearly a year ago, the doctors found multiple fibroids and polyps enlarging my womb. The combined size was the equivalent of an 18-week pregnancy even though there was no obvious swelling of the tummy from the outside. Apparently there is a possibility that this added pressure to nerves/vessels and could have triggered blood clots – speculative, as till today there’s no definite known cause for my Pulmonary Embolism. A risk factor worth considering, according to my doctors. Added to that was of course the high volume of monthly blood loss due to the combination of fibroids and the anti-coagulant that I’m on which could mean a resumption of anaemia and potential need for fresh blood transfusions.
Solution: Open surgery operation, a swift procedure to reduce the possibility of fresh clots.
I’ve been waiting on God for some months and feel comfortable going ahead with this before I start my Year of Jubilee (Liberty!) with my birthday in February 2014.
My 50th year of life – a special season that started with Time Alone/Away With Him at a beautiful seaside resort where standing in the crashing waves never fail to connect me to God’s wider Creation. Trikora Beach Club on the Indonesian island of Bintan – I’ll be writing a whole blog post about that. It’s a God-given place of seclusion that I plan to return to several times this year alone.
Creator God – the LORD (the Father of Jesus Christ) said to the seas, “Thus far shall you come and no farther; and here shall your proud waves be stayed.” – Job 38:11
Creation Calls – Brian Doerksen
Back to SGH 🙂
God’s favour was evident from the start of my stay. I’d requested the more spacious corner room that’s similar to the one I was blessed with last February. There was a patient staying here the day before I was admitted, but her doctor discharged her hours before my reporting time.
Ward 53. Room 1. 1st patient on the Friday morning operation list. 8.30am.
Before I came in, the excellent senior physiotherapist Tang Shufen who’d helped me build up stamina and strength had messaged, “I hope you get the first slot so there’ll be no long waiting time.” Cherished by Father God – that’s how I felt.
Compression Stockings to prevent blood clots during the operation. I had to stop taking my anti-coagulant the day before so this was a physical precaution.
May this procedure pave the way for my going off blood thinning medicine for the prevention of blood clots – something my haematologist had suggested might have to be a lifelong measure. “If you want to stop taking anti-coagulant, I’d feel more comfortable if you had the op.”
God has blessed me with dual individual and company health insurance plans that allow me a single room in a private or restructured hospital. But with the excellent level of care I’ve encountered at different units of SGH and its affiliated National Heart Centre, the choice was easy.
I took a night walk around SGH as it’d be a while before I can move around at a fast pace so freely. What a beautiful time of communion and intercession as the joy of the Lord bubbled deep within me. “Who is like unto You, oh our LORD? No one else is worthy of our praise and worship!”
Psalm 134 “Behold, bless (affectionately and gratefully praise) the Lord,
all you servants of the Lord, [singers] who by night stand in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in holiness and to the sanctuary and bless the Lord
[affectionately and gratefully praise Him]!
The Lord bless you out of Zion, even He Who made heaven and earth.”
Let me start by apologising for the glitch that caused a blank post to be sent out with just the title “Destination Timor-Leste”. I really appreciate each of you who took the time to check it out and I’m so sorry that you probably went, “Huh?!”
It happened during the early morning hours when the otherwise effective WiFi in my Timor-Leste hotel room acted up. After checking and re-checking my laptop’s internet settings, I turned to the WordPress App on my cellphone to try to share photographs that I’d snapped. As they couldn’t load properly, I ditched the post but it somehow went public with only the heading intact!
The mysterious part of it all is that the complimentary wireless connection on my mobile phone remained intact! It wasn’t until my host arranged for the staff to give me the password to their office WiFi the next morning that I could access the internet on my laptop. But by then, our driver had arrived so it was time to leave the hotel.
* Why was I in Timor-Leste?
In Asia’s youngest country, half the population is illiterate and close to 40 percent of the people live below the international poverty line. I went as a Singapore Press Club volunteer invited to train local journalists to help build up the fledging nation’s media capabilities. The workshops that I conducted were on scripting for television, newsgathering and interview skills while the other trainers focused on areas like commentary writing, social media, crowd-sourcing news and revenue streams.
A CT Angiogram at the six-month mark following my Pulmonary Embolism showed “nearly complete resolution of the previous PE with minimal residual emboli (blood clots)”. As I’d been cautioned that it could take up to a year for life to get back to normal, I praise God that it’s only taken half the time for me to recover to the extent that I could comfortably resume regular workouts, assume a new round of counselling responsibilities and even travel abroad.
When my cardiothoracic doctor Lim See Lim (well-liked by patients at the National Heart Centre, I’m told, because of his excellent care) gave his stamp of approval for a trip to Timor-Leste, the good news took a while to sink in! Once it did, the sense of freedom was so palpable that I immediately wrote back to the organisers of the training sessions to say “Yes, I’ll go” and they confirmed my flight a day later! Committing to a meaningful activity was my way of marking the momentous occasion. 🙂
My heart swelled with a round of HALLELUJAHs to my good and gracious LORD. Hallelujah or Alleluia has Hebrew roots and is a spontaneous expression of joy, thanksgiving and praise towards God. Do check out the uplifting version of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus at the end of this post.
I learnt that a number of fellow Christians hadn’t stopped praying for God to heal me since I was first rushed into A&E in February. I’ve been truly touched by the love shown to me by so many and would like to say a big THANK YOU to each and every person who’s played a role, seen or unseen by me, known or unknown to me, in my journey to recovery. The Lord sees what I miss and I’m so glad that He records and rewards. May He bless you and all your loved ones!
* A Pictorial Record
Now for a photo essay on my stay in Timor-Leste. All the pictures were taken using my Samsung SII handphone—Android above Apple for me! I used to carry a still camera and a video camera on trips but stopped when I realised that I was spending far more time looking at the world through lenses trying to frame and capture people and scenes “just so” rather than simply enjoying the fresh experiences! It’s a job hazard that the cameramen I work with fully understand.
From Singapore, it takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to fly to Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. Sandwiched between Indonesia and Australia, the country occupies eastern Timor island and was once a colony of Portugal. Till today, Portuguese remains an official language along with Tetum. Bahasa Indonesia is also widely understood as neighbouring West Timor is under Indonesian rule.
Cheerful Cumulus Clouds—I snap a fresh batch whenever I get a window seat!
(An interest retained from Secondary School geography)
Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport
Enroute to Hotel
Room Security—a simple press-down door knob. Bellhops-Guards watch the entrance/exit at night.
Breakfast @ Bagan Beach Café yielded one of the tastiest stir-fried noodle dishes I’ve ever eaten.
I was glad I tried some one morning instead of just having juice and fruit.
View of Areia Branca Beach from the hotel balcony led me to take a Lovely Sunset Walk.
Amazingly, the WiFi was strong enough for me to use WhatsApp several metres across the road!
Tentative Smiles captured for posterity with permission from their Dad.
Most Timorese are Melanesian and the majority of the 800,000 citizens are Roman Catholic—a colonial legacy. This accounts for the giant 27-metre high Cristo Rei of Dili (Christ the King of Dili) statue of Jesus that’s inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Training @ Palácio Do Governo
The Government Palace is the official residence of the Timorese President but he lives at his private home so the sprawling structure is used by various government bodies. The thatched models are mini replicas of traditional houses.
Training was conducted with the help of an interpreter. Videos had to be downloaded beforehand as internet access was restricted to the offices in the Government Palace. The projector in the main conference room wasn’t hooked up to an audio system but a resourceful Timorese taught me to bend the conference microphone to amplify sound from my laptop speaker—a useful tip!
Streets of Dili with a Timorese journalist as guide. I met many friendly and helpful locals.
A Spot of Shopping @ US$4-US$6 dollars each. The local woven fabric is called Tai.
As Timor-Leste supplies organic coffee to major chains worldwide, I was told it’d make a great gift, so I bought boxes of Arabica and Robusta as recommended by a frequent visitor. Little did I know that the intended recipients needed a percolator to brew the drink! I’d thought ground coffee was like soybean powder that could simply be stirred into water. The reason for my knowledge gap is that I prefer iced water and cold juices so I rarely drink coffee, and if I have to choose between java and tea, I’d go for the lighter drink—preferably the ice-blended version!
For its Singapore-Dili flights, the national carrier charters an A319 aircraft from SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines. A business traveller who flies in every month told me that his fare fluctuates between US$650 and US$850 depending on demand. I learnt from a fellow journalist that the number of passengers on each flight is capped as the airport runway is short and a full plane wouldn’t be able to land or take off. While I wasn’t able to personally verify that, having an entire row to myself on the way home does lend weight to the information.
* What’s your impression of Timor-Leste, I’ve been asked. A serene and rustic environment balanced against the people’s strong desire to develop and prosper. The Timorese currency is only available in values below US$1 so American dollars are used in most transactions including cab rides. Locals say the cost of living rose because United Nations peacekeepers and their families freely paid more for daily items during the 13 years that they were on the island.
Most East Timorese voted for an end to Indonesian rule in a 1999 UN-sponsored referendum. However, anti-independence militias backed by Indonesia’s military responded with a scorched-earth campaign until an International Force ended the violence. I’d been heavily involved in my TV network’s extensive coverage of the tense conflict so it was particularly meaningful for me to be in Timor-Leste a year after the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers. The young state shares large deposits of oil and natural gas under the Timor Sea with its neighbours Australia and Indonesia. May it experience strong growths and stability in the years ahead.
* Hallelujah Chorus – Andre Rieu (Conductor) with Harlem Gospel Choir, Sopranos and Tenors Lyrics/Music: Charles Jennens, George Frideric Handel Hallelujah Chorus is the climax of Messiah by Handel. It’s said that he composed the piece in 24 days while modern musicians can barely even copy it within that timeframe! At the end of his manuscript, the composer wrote “SDG”—Soli Deo Gloria which means “To God Alone The Glory”. With this inscription and his speed of composition, it’s believed that he wrote the music in a fervour of divine inspiration during which he “saw all heaven before him”!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord
And of His Christ. And He shall reign for ever and ever
King of Kings and Lord of Lords for ever and ever
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
* Revelation Song – 11 International Worship Leaders Lyrics/Music: Jennie Lee Riddle
…you are molested by a trusted family employee because you’re a cute child and you don’t know how to verbalise the horror so you gorge on food, and everyone in school wonders why you can no longer sweep all the prizes on Sports Day?
…a sister returns home from a night class filled with fear, and undergoes a swift and sudden behavioural transformation, and stops making sense and starts swearing, and later succeeds in taking her own life after several failed attempts?
…a brother is reported as MIA (Missing In Action) and your family frantically follows the most tenuous leads. Then a stranger calls and suggests you check out the mortuary as the body he’d seen at the base of his block of flats resembles the Missing Person ad with your sibling’s photo. But he thinks the person’s in his 30s while your brother’s just 19, so you decide to head to the morgue alone in case he’s mistaken and you don’t want your loved ones to be troubled by a false alarm. After the staff lets you identify the corpse pulled out from a “freezer”, they realise you’re underaged and can’t sign documents to claim the body. So you, the baby of the family, calls your parents to break the devastating news to them
…your elderly father develops senile dementia which progressively worsens, and for more than ten years, you have a dad who’s there physically yet not quite there
…the spouse you’d entrusted your virginity to walks out and disappears, presumably overseas, for close to a decade, and has zero contact with the wife, children and mother he left behind
…your kids react to your single-parenting with a range of responses varying from stretches of appreciation and love to sessions of cynicism and defiance, and from bouts of violence and rage to rounds of withdrawal and anxiety
How will you respond to traumas and tragedies like these?
Do you weep till there are no more tears left?
Rant and rave and hit out to release your anger?
Sink into depression and become suicidal?
Vow never to trust anyone ever again?
Torment yourselves with regrets or pledge revenge?
Turn the sorrow inwards and hurt yourself in some way?
We human beings resort to myriad ways of coping with negative, painful and traumatic situations. The unhealthy effects often culminate in a combination of disorders and dysfunctions. A spectrum can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Latest edition DSM-5). Often, the prescription is long-term medication coupled with training in coping mechanisms.
For Christians involved in the Healing and Deliverance ministry, one vital component of a complete cure is to uncover and address the spiritual roots of conditions afflicting the human spirit, soul and body. This is clearly recognised by practitioners of many other religions as well, hence through the ages, their devotees have turned to witch doctors like mediums, bomohs, shamans and sorcerors.
I used to think that it was a cop-out or shirking of responsibility when adults attribute the problems they face to their childhood experiences. But I’ve since learnt that deeply entrenched blows like rejection and abandonment that’s birthed in a toddler, infant or even a foetus—such as through the mother’s attempted abortion or desertion—can colour a person for years or even a lifetime, unless they are identified and properly dealt with.
Jesus Christ promised His followers, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” If you’re a believer struggling with issues that you need help with, you might want to find out whether your church has a Healing and Deliverance Ministry.
One Christian organisation that offers personal ministry sessions is Ellel Ministries International headquartered in the United Kingdom with centres across the world. This is the website: http://www.ellelministries.org/ ~ All its counsellors undergo thorough theoretical and practical training. In Singapore, most are volunteers like me. Counsellees aren’t charged a fee but those who can afford it support the work through voluntary donations.
Freedom Reigns – Jason Upton Lyrics/Music: Mike Larson
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom
Showers of Mercy and Grace falling on every face
If you’re tired and thirsty, there is freedom, feel the chains fall away
We lift our eyes to Jesus, there is freedom
SNIPPETS FROM MY PAST
The first time I stepped into a church was to attend a holiday camp at the invitation of my primary school Chinese teacher. It was a semi-detached house in Serangoon Gardens just a short walk from my home and I recall sewing a fat pink pig as one of the activities! Cherith Baptist was where I was introduced to the Bible in Mandarin. As Father God has His ways of bringing about divine connections, in case that kind teacher is ever led to my blog, I’d like to say, “谢谢老师! 愿恩惠与平安从父神和主耶稣基督归于您.”
My water baptism took place in East Coast Lagoon. I was then part of a Christian youth group comprising mainly military cum symphonic band members from Cedar Girls’ Secondary and Victoria School. We were Ambassadors For Christ meeting every Saturday in Balestier. On Sundays, most of us attended Bethel Assembly of God which used to be at Palm Grove Avenue in Kovan, near where I now live.
Purple and pink were my favourite colours for a long time, and at one point I only wrote in purplish ink. I had a hot pink jumpsuit in my teens and I used to pose against gorgeous flowers when taking photos. I’ve retained my liking for purple clothes, but am now mostly leaving pink attire to youngsters while I opt for red accessories as being more befitting of my mature status. However, I do still enjoy a refreshing pink strawberry milkshake!
MORSELS FROM MY PRESENT
I’m happy feasting on fruits and salads as a meal in themselves (the photo above shows my dinner presented as food art) but I’m mindful of the need for a healthy balanced diet. To me, fresh raw salmon, a juicy steak and a cheesy prawn-spinach pizza are tasty treats indeed!
Being a Hainanese, I have high expectations when it comes to one of Singapore’s favourite foods—Hainanese Chicken Rice. I consider Pow Sing Restaurant in Serangoon Gardens as serving one of the best versions on the island.
As we kick off the 9th month of this year, for all who began 2013 with plans, dreams and resolutions, this would be a good time to take stock. For me, it’s the start of a six-month COUNTDOWN to my fiftieth year of existence on earth. I’m hoping to make my first trip to Israel next year to trace the footsteps of my Lord while He was on earth.
In the Bible, the 50th year is known as the Year of Jubilee. Blow the trumpets and proclaim a Holy Year! Liberty and a Fresh Start! Respecting every human. Renewing our dedication to the Lord Almighty. Recognising the call to Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with our God.
“Every 50 years everybody’s bank balance was levelled up, debts were cancelled and all the property reverted to the family who originally owned it. So the leases would get cheaper the closer you came to the fiftieth year. Slaves were also set free in the Jubilee year. Thus people looked forward to the Jubilee, known also as ‘the acceptable year of the Lord’. It was good news for the poor because they would be rich again, and it was a time when captives would be set at liberty. Jesus proclaimed in Nazareth: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on Me…to preach good news to the poor…to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ In other words, Jesus began the real Jubilee to which every one of these people had been looking forward.” –Unlocking The Bible by David Pawson
Jubilee – Michael Card Lyrics/Music: Michael Card, Randy Scruggs
Jesus is our Jubilee
At the Lord’s appointed time His deep desire became a man
The heart of all true jubilation and with joy we understand
In His voice we hear a trumpet sound that tells us we are free!
He is the incarnation of the Year of Jubilee (Thanks to Juliana for sharing this lovely song)
The Year Of Jubilee (Shnat HaYovel) – Paul Wilbur, Batya Segal Lyrics/Music: Yochanan Ben Yehuda, Bill Cuomo, Ann Hilsden, Ian Jupp
We sing this song to You, it’s a sacrifice of praise
From the fruit of our lips, we come to bless Your holy name
Your mercy endures forever, and You delivered us from sin
Lord please teach us to love our brothers, and forgive as You forgive
In The Year of Jubilee
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.
Peanuts 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 patient.co.uk, “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!
IT FELT GOOD…
…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.
…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!
“You must learn to swim because one day, the waters surrounding Singapore will rise and the island will be completely submerged!” That warning given to me during my childhood came to mind a week ago—the first time it’s surfaced in decades. I believe the memory was triggered by seeing so many Singaporeans donning face masks while going about their day-to-day activities.
Since the annual haze returned in mid-June, earlier in the year than usual, locals and tourists alike have been avidly monitoring the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI). The general sense of alarm reached a height when the index surged to an all-time high of 401 on 21st June. Any reading above 300 is classified as Hazardous by the National Environment Agency. Not surprisingly, its website crashed at one point due to the sheer volume of visitors.
The low cost slash-and-burn method of land clearance is still practised on Indonesia’s huge Sumatra island, and during the dry season, smoke from raging forest fires drift to neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia.
The severity of this year’s haze created Singapore’s worst environmental crisis in more than a decade, while in Malaysia, a state of emergency was declared in its worst hit Southern district. There were days when the smell of burnt wood permeated closed windows, not sparing the elderly, young, pregnant and ill who were advised to avoid or minimise outdoor activity. Apart from health risks, the economic damage is extensive—three months of haze in 1997 cost the region billions of dollars from disruptions to air travel, tourism slowdown, higher health expenses and related impact.
When Singapore leaders urged Indonesia to take action, one of their ministers stirred up public anger when he accused the republic of behaving like a child in a tizzy. However, ruffled feathers were soothed when the Indonesian President apologised and promised to come down hard on the culprits.
Oh, For Fresh Air & Blue Skies!
EMMANUEL Photography & TV Production image
The N95 mask became a highly coveted commodity and quickly sold out across the island, with long waiting lists at retailers while stocks were being replenished. It’s one of the few respirators proven to be efficient against fine haze particles of 0.1–0.3 microns that can “lodge deeply into the lungs”. The last time the N95 was this sought after was during the 2003 SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic. As the PSI climbed, sellers of air purifiers also made a killing. Here’s a photo of the masks given to my family by a relative who works at 3M—a manufacturer of the N95. Father God who loves to give good gifts to His children always provides for me!
It’s amusing and perhaps amazing how quickly we humans adapt and adjust. When the haze first started, many people expressed concern when the PSI reached the Moderate and Unhealthy categories. But after the reading had crossed into Hazardous territory, sighs of relief could be heard when it dipped to the Very Unhealthy range, with some even assuring one another that the value was “only” 250!
Singing In The Rain!
I decided not to pray for a change in wind direction as that would have meant a transference of the problem to our neighbours. So I asked God to send rain to clear the haze and douse the Sumatran forest fires, for He created the elements and commands the weather. When rain fell in the late afternoon of 25th June, I celebrated by filming this 10-second video on my handphone! 😀
In Western Singapore, respite from the haze came from a rare hailstorm that rained marble-sized ice chunks for some ten minutes. I experienced this on our tropical island as a very young child and recall that the phenomenon lasted for barely a couple of minutes then—a blink and you’ll miss it encounter. One explanation offered is that even though we’re near the equator, hail can occur during thunderstorms when super-cooled water droplets in the air freeze upon contact with dust particles.
Having produced a documentary on the devastating 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan that saw buildings swept away like toys, it’s clear to me that earthly possessions and all living things are extremely vulnerable. So whenever there are reports about freak weather and natural disasters, I remember God’s promise in Psalm 46.
You Are My Hiding Place – Selah Lyrics/Music – Michael Ledner Based on Psalm 32:7, Psalm 56:3, Joel 3:10 You are my Hiding Place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance.
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
Let the weak say I am strong in the strength of the Lord.
No More Metal In My Body!
The procedure to retrieve the IVC filter was successful and I now own the stainless steel device which will serve as a memory stone to remind me of God’s deliverance and kindness. It’s bigger than I’d envisaged. Somehow, I’d imagined it as being half its actual size!
The minimally invasive surgical procedure was carried out in an Interventional Radiology Suite by Doctor Eloquent who’d implanted it four months ago. Dr Shaun Chan from the Singapore General Hospital patiently and thoroughly described why and what he was going to do and I appreciated that tremendously. A catheter inserted into the neck~the filter retrieved~the catheter with the filter withdrawn~pressure placed on the entry/exit point for ten minutes—and that was it!
If mankind could tap more of the unlimited knowledge and wisdom that our Creator God has, medical science and all other fields for that matter would easily progress by leaps and bounds and be totally transformed!
The excellent doctors Charming and Witty whom I wrote about in Staring Death In The Face dropped by to explain the results of my Echocardiogram. Their real names are Dr Lim See Lim and Dr Tan Ann Kheng, both from the National Heart Centre. I learnt that while there’s still some heart valve leakage resulting from the Massive Pulmonary Embolism that I survived in February, there’s been improvement over the months, so the assurance was that there’s “nothing to worry about”.
My new Haematologist has just started me on the anticoagulant Rivaroxaban which was developed for human consumption, unlike Warfarin which began as a pesticide.Trivia: Apparently Warfarin is losing its efficacy as rat poison because many rodent populations have developed resistance to it. Now, more potent chemicals are needed to kill the critters!
The switch to Rivaroxaban reduces the need for frequent blood tests, monitoring and consultations. I’m praying that it will also mean an end to the adverse effects of Warfarin which included hair loss and fatigue. One major downside? Each Raivaroxaban pill costs close to S$6 compared to just 10 cents for a Warfarin tablet. Happily, my corporate and individual health insurers are picking up the tab.
How thoughtful! Take a closer look.
The printed days of the week are a very helpful reminder!
Here’s one of my favourite dinners that I’m enjoying again after abstaining for several months. As I was taking Warfarin, I was advised to avoid foods high in vitamin K like Soya Bean and Lettuce (a member of the Cabbage family). That’s because Vitamin K aids in clotting—as well as bone health—and a diet rich in it would likely have translated into a higher daily dosage of Warfarin for me.
Coincidence Or Luck? Not Quite!
Over the last fortnight, a couple of doctors remarked that I had been “lucky” to survive the Massive Pulmonary Embolism in February, but cautioned that I might not be so “lucky” should it happen again. I replied that it was through a miracle of God that I’d made it safely to a hospital to receive the emergency medical care that I needed. Personally, I don’t believe in the concept of luck because my God who loves me and whom I love is sovereign and He’s always watching out for me. While I might face humps and bumps on the road ahead, I’m confident that all is well with me at the level that really counts—my eternal destiny and victory through my Saviour Jesus Christ.
Two verses that I often pray are, “Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts/anxieties!” (Psalm 139:23) and “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
MATCHING ACTION TO INTENTION
Intention: Resolve, determination to act in a certain way Action: Activity, whether physical or mental, that one consciously wills
In modern parlance, it’s called “Walk the Talk”.
In the bible, Jesus warned against blindly following religious leaders who don’t practise what they preach. He taught the people how to identify false prophets who distort God’s Word. “A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit… Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:18-20
Someone asked me when I’d be completing a new blog post, the one you’re reading now. Here’s the reason for the longer than usual gap. I’ve been reviewing my commitments and actions—the way I allocate my time and resources—to see if they truly match my intentions and goals. At the end of the day, it’s really all about the daily choices that we make, isn’t it?
In this new season of my life, God brought to mind my teenage years when I found myself inexplicably drawn to the prayer room in the church that I was attending. The building was a huge bungalow in Kovan—a 5 minute bus ride from my house in Serangoon Gardens followed by a 10 minute walk. Most afternoons, I didn’t have any prayer list with me. Those were simply times of waiting on the Lord, communing with Him, enjoying His Presence and being with Him, much like the way we feel about people whom we truly love.
And I believe much of the trust and faith that I have in God first took root during those times of quiet communion with Him when I had the prayer room all to myself. When a personal crisis struck some years ago, my prayerful pastor’s wife who didn’t know much about my history looked at me searchingly and said, “I believe your roots are deep enough.” And they were!
PRESSING IN—UPWARDS & CHRISTWARDS!
To my brethren and fellow followers of Christ, I invite you to hold me accountable. Ask me whenever you see me how my walk with our Lord is going—whether I am walking ever closer with Him, knowing Him more and more, “soaking” in His sweet and awesome Presence, drinking deep from His well of wisdom and revelation, accessing His rivers of living waters so that His life and light will overflow from my innermost being to bless those within my circle of influence.
“Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood or to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully.” – Psalm 24:3-4
So I press in to always Seek the Truth, Love the Truth, Live the Truth!
And in so doing I encounter Jesus—the Way, the Truth and the Life Oh, worship the Lord for He is worthy of our praise!
No Higher Calling – Maranatha Singers Music/Lyrics: Lenny LeBlanc, Greg Gulley
Down at Your feet, O Lord, is the most high place. In Your presence, Lord, I seek Your face
There is no higher calling, no greater honour than to bow and kneel before Your throne
I’m amazed at Your glory, embraced by Your mercy. O Lord, I live to worship You!
As The Deer Music/Lyrics: Martin J. Nystrom
Based on Psalm 42
Six self-administered injections later, I’m so thankful that I don’t suffer from Trypanophobia—an extreme fear of needles which causes some sufferers to avoid medical treatment altogether. Apparently this phobia afflicts one in ten Americans, and “sometimes people with this disorder faint when exposed to needles or injection, even when the procedure does not involve them” – allaboutcounseling.com
I am blessed in never having to struggle with this fear, for these few days, I’ve had to self-inject the anticoagulant Heparin (Low Molecular Weight LMWH – brand name Clexane) twice daily. It was necessary as I’m undergoing a surgical procedure on 11 June to remove the implanted metal IVC filter—Angels in the Operating Theatre! explains why I needed this. As the oral medication Warfarin takes a few days to start and stop working, to prevent the risk of excessive bleeding during the removal procedure, Heparin is an effective bridge as it’s both quick to act and short-lived.
Isn’t it wonderful that so much useful information is now readily available on the internet?
Here are pictures showing:
An IVC filter trapping a clot and preventing it from moving up into the lungs
The use of a wire hook to close the umbrella-like filter
A closed filter that can be safely removed
An ultrasound scan shows that the remaining blood clots in my legs are only “partial” now so my doctors gave the go-ahead for the precautionary filter to be taken out. It’s advisable not to delay this any longer as retrievable filters may get stuck to the wall of the IVC and cannot be removed. The potential risks of having a permanent filter include its penetrating through the vein and piercing a nearby organ, or even breaking loose and travelling to the heart or lungs. A fresh scan of the Pulmonary Embolism area to review the state of the clots that choked my lungs in February will be done in a couple of months.
I’m so glad the school holidays have started. Here’s a humorous exchange when I was last warded.
Son to Mum in hospital: “Don’t worry, I can iron my own uniform, realised it’s not so difficult.”
Mum: “That’s good. Send it to the Laundry Service if necessary.”
Son to Mum after my hospital stay: “I didn’t iron my uniform, wore it straight from the dryer. Asked around and my classmates said they didn’t notice any difference. I mean, which weirdo stares at people’s clothes anyway?” 😀 …So guess who quickly resumed ironing duties?
* Stuff I Find Funny
Quinn Miller Photo’s creative Wedding Entourage is a huge internet hit!
* You Are Special!
You are unique! You are a special blessing to those you know and you have something to give to the world that no one else can. God created you to be you. As you walk with your Creator and partner with Him, He will unfold a marvellous plan for your life and you will understand to a fuller measure why you are alive on earth in such a place at such a time among such a people.
* My Current Praise & Worship Favourites:
God Is Here – Darlene Zschech Lyrics/Music: Israel Houghton, Darlene Zschech, Phil Wickham
Let The Rain Of Your Presence – Danny Chambers Lyrics/Music: Danny Chambers
It’s My Joy To Love – Sarah Edwards Lyrics/Music: Sarah Edwards
“You’re a Christian. Shouldn’t you always be happy and chirpy?”
“Why do you have problems when you’ve made Jesus Christ your Lord?”
One of the best answers to questions like these comes from theologian John Piper: “What the world needs from the Church (Christians) is our indomitable, invincible joy in the midst of suffering and sorrow.”
Not joy alone, for that would be unreal. Not problems alone, for people have enough troubles of their own.
Instead, a combination—a strong core of peace and joy even when surrounded by adverse or undesirable external circumstances.
A Paradox? Actually, no.
Who can deny that in this world, there exists “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration,” as Jesus forewarned His disciples. What makes them all bearable—week after week for some, year after year for others—is the promise that in the midst of storms and upheavals, a peace “which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” An unshakeable faith that this latest challenge too can be overcome and that “joy comes in the morning” as there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve tested this over and over again, and from personal experience, I declare that it is true. Life has a way of throwing up unwanted shocks and nasty surprises, and I’ve had a substantial amount of those. When bad things happen, negative emotions try to run riot, but focusing on my ever present source of Hope & Help enables me to keep fear, worry and stress at bay. If they manage to gain a foothold, turning my gaze upwards to God empowers me to shake them off so that they can’t take root.
After winning my recent battle with death, through the saving hand of my Lord, I’m determined to make my days count fully. I like the following extract from Fulfilling Destiny by Peter Horrobin. He’s the founder of Ellel Ministries International (www.ellelministries.org)
“Destiny people are people who will keep on moving forward even when there is opposition. They’re aware of the attacks of the enemy but they keep on doing what God’s given them to do. ~ Continue to press on to walk in that which God has made us for. And it is in the doing of that, that we know the joy of the Lord, which will then be our strengthening and our empowering.”
I appear to have adverse reactions to the anticoagulant Warfarin, which thins my blood to prevent further clots from forming, even as my body naturally breaks down existing clots in my legs and lungs. Persistent fatigue plagued me when I first returned to work, and when it finally lifted just over a week ago, I guess I unwisely plunged into more activity than I should have, for my haematologist noted that I looked tired when I last saw her. “Slow down! Don’t rush!” is the refrain that I’m learning to sing for now.
The International Normalised Ratio or INR measures the clotting tendency of blood. It’s typically close to 1 for most people. For those on anticoagulants like me, the target range is often 2-3, which means if we get a cut, our blood will take longer to clot and the bleeding will be more profuse than for the average person. During recent fortnightly checks, my INR was 4.4 and 3.8—eliciting warnings from the nurses to be extra careful and to head straight to A&E in the event of excessive blood loss or extensive bruising. Someone mentioned that my daily dosage of 6mg is high for an Asian woman, but when it was reduced slightly for a fortnight in March, my INR fell below the desired range, which meant an increased risk of developing a blood clot.
My doctor is arranging to have my implanted IVC filter removed in mid-June. Without that as a gatekeeper to prevent any future clots from travelling upwards, the projection is that I’ll need to take Warfarin for one to two years. I don’t want that, for I’m already experiencing mild hair loss—Alopecia—after just three months on this drug. Long strands falling onto my palm after a shampoo isn’t an enjoyable sensation. Another possible cause of hair loss and tiredness is the Lucrin Depot hormone jab that I was given during my hospitalisation. I’m praying that I can soon be restored to a medicine-free self, and I’m really thankful to everyone who’s continuing to pray for me. I appreciate you and bless you. 🙂
Faith in Jesus—Delusional or Actuality?
A colleague of mine thinks that fervent Christians are likely to be those who don’t quite have it all together; people who need a crutch because they are plagued by problems. Another cannot reconcile the suffering of the poor and oppressed with the concept of a loving God.
I may not be able to answer every query posed by sceptics or sincere seekers of the truth. But the Bible, which I believe is God’s inspired Word, urges each of us to “taste and see that the LORD is good.” I did, and everything that I testify to concerning my God is based on my actual experiences and encounters with Him. He is real to me, for I have tasted, and I proclaim that He is good.
Here’s my simple analogy. Imagine a luscious looking apple touted as the tastiest in the world. As long as I only gaze at it, I will not have the confidence to recommend it to others. But if I’ve bitten into it and its flavour and crunchiness prove to be extraordinarily good, I would not just promote it; I’d buy a good number of that particular variety to share with those I care about. And if doubters were to insist or try to persuade me that it isn’t worth my money, I’d stand firm on my belief anchored in experiential evidence.
Author and theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, “It is not the objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence, that is the miracle we are really after.” Brennan Manning penned in The Ragamuffin Gospel, “A living, loving God can and does make His presence felt, can and does speak to us in the silence of our hearts.”
Does God Care About Our Happiness?
This answer by Ravi Zacharias who has spoken at top universities across the globe.
“When I love you and you refuse to love me, I hurt because I have lost something.
When God loves you and your refuse to love God, God hurts too. God hurts because you have lost something. He is concerned. That’s why He sent His Son to die on the Cross.”
J.R. Miller wrote In Time of Loneliness and here’s an extract:
“In a certain sense—all of life is lonely. Even with sympathetic companions all about us, there is an inner life which each one of us lives altogether alone. ~ Friendship may be very close and tender—but there is a sanctuary of each life—into which even the holiest friendship may not enter. Blessed are they who in this aloneness can say, “Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me! God’s is the only friendship that can really meet all our soul’s deep needs and cravings. Human companionship helps us at a few points; but the divine friendship has its blessing for every experience. We never shall be left alone, when we have Christ. ~When other faces fade out of view—His will shine out with gentle love, pouring its light upon us.”
When death beckoned, it was down to God and me. No family member, no friend, no pastor present. It’s a scenario that I’ll face again when my sojourn on earth reaches an end. How will I account to my Creator for the days given to me?
One of my favourite authors, Max Lucado, expresses it beautifully, “After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot rule the eternal. ~ Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—to these I commit my day. If I succeed, I’ll give thanks. If I fail, I’ll seek His grace. ” (http://maxlucado.com/read/excerpts/when-god-whispers-your-name/)
Your Love Never Fails (2 Versions) Lyrics/Music: Chris McClarney
I know I still make mistakes but You have new mercies for me everyday
Your love never fails. You stay the same through the ages. Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me. Your love never fails
One Thing Remains (2 Versions) Lyrics/Music: Brian Johnson, Christa Black, Jeremy Riddle
Higher than the mountains that I face. Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change. One thing remains
Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me
In death and in life I’m confident and covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love
A youth asked me the other day, “Is there hope for this world?” The question came in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, the death of a 4-year old girl after she was viciously raped in India, and the collapse of a factory complex in Bangladesh that killed more than 400.
My answer was an emphatic “Yes!” I’m not burying my head in the sand, for news is the essence of my career, and I’m keenly aware of the tensions, scandals, chaos and disasters around the globe. And yes, I realise that many animal and plant species are going extinct while natural reserves are being depleted at an unsustainable rate. Closer to home, I know people who’re struggling with money problems, family breakups, terminal diseases and mental illnesses.
But what is life without hope? To me, that sounds like the surest route to depression, or severe ennui as the French call it—listlessness, utter weariness and discontent. To be perpetually pessimistic is to embrace what King Solomon of ancient Israel (gifted with great wisdom yet foolish in his lifestyle choices) concluded in old age, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” or “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” -Ecclesiastes 12:8
Hopelessness paralyses. Hope keeps us going, even if it’s for just one day at a time. An author who suffered crushing childhood abuse entitled her book, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On.” Stormie Omartian exemplifies the spirit of the biblical holy women who “trusted and hoped in God” and “do not give way to fear” but do what is “good and right.” -1 Peter 3:5-6
More than a decade ago, a colleague commented with a tinge of envy, “Carol, you have everything!” By which she meant a good job, a husband with a promising career, bright children and the 5Cs sought after by many Singaporeans—Car, Credit Card, Condominium and Country Club membership. She couldn’t see the insecurity and fears that I felt deep inside me despite the outward achievements, and in fact, I wouldn’t have known how to express it if asked then, although now I recognise that it was a God-shaped void in me. I certainly wasn’t ready then to encounter death and meet my Creator face-to-face, for my family had lapsed into nominal Christianity.
My forties have been a decade of coping with major losses including the death of my mother who wasn’t a Christian. Witnessing the intense agony that I went through—a very dark few weeks during which I had to literally “wrestle with God” the way Job did in the bible—a long-time friend remarked, “I don’t know how you manage to stay sane.” The answer to that was that I had drawn close to my Heavenly Father again during those years and was firmly anchored in Him, assured of my true identity as His beloved child. My life hasn’t been a bed of roses, but my faithful God has seen me through every storm, so I’ve learnt to constantly find my security in Him and draw strength and refreshment daily from “my ever present Help in trouble.”
Now, whenever something happens that I don’t appreciate and may never understand this side of Heaven, my many personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness, goodness and guidance enables me to continue placing my confidence and trust in Him. So in the midst of the worst situations and circumstances, I can boldly declare that my sovereign Lord is the perfect blend of Love and Holiness, Grace and Judgement. “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right” and “deal justly?” No one will have any cause for complaint against God when His perspective is fully revealed at a future date in history.
There are useful experiences and hard-earned lessons that I plan to share in my future posts, with the hope that they’ll encourage those facing the same issues and struggles. Some colleagues who’ve been with me most of my working life will be surprised that they never knew what I was going through at the time. But if we’re honest, I think most of us don’t really have a clue as to what the majority of the people we interact with at work are really feeling or going through. I don’t put on a front, for I believe in honesty and am typically grounded in reality, but I’ve also learnt to be wise. Share personal matters only with those you trust, people who’ll take the time to provide good counsel or even lend a helping hand when needed. You don’t have to oblige if you suspect that all the other party wants is more fodder for the gossip mill.
During my first year as a Broadcast Journalist, an older reporter asked me bluntly, “So did you get one, two or three?” She was referring to the standard increments then of $100, $200 or $300. Taken off-guard, I blurted out the figure. Since then, my company has corporatised and increments come in a wide range of amounts. At the same time, I’ve learnt to simply smile when faced with such brazen queries. One tip is that it’s helpful to prepare your answers at home if there are things you prefer to keep to yourself or disclose only to a select few.
WHO AM I?
Who am I, they ask me? I’m LOVED & ACCEPTED—the cure for so many of the world’s ills. Many are trapped in a relentless search for that elusive security, never finding a level that satisfies until we come to the feet of Jesus Christ. LOVED—for eternity! Surpassing all expectations and exceeding all imagination. Beloved Lord, I hunger and thirst to love and be loved to the full measure that You intend for me.”
Father God loves us, accepts us, and wants a personal relationship with us. So He’s made it possible for us to be saved by grace and “raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” -Ephesians 2:6
As I was using my calculator today, I was struck by the similarity between a plus sign and the Cross of Calvary. God our Provider adds good things to our lives—Love, Family, Purpose, Wisdom, Hope of A Glorious Eternal Home through Jesus Christ!
What repels God? ==Pride. An excessively high opinion of oneself/one’s importance; contempt for others.
What attracts God? ==Humility. Throw ourselves upon the mercies of God with all our guilt, shame & unworthiness. Our Heavenly Father races to embraces us just as we are. He gathers up the fragments of our lives into His loving, healing arms. –(40-Day Prayer 2011 @ http://www.lovesingapore.org.sg)
~ My Prayer For You
My friend, if you’re troubled, stressed or discouraged today, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy & peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
– Romans 15:13
Here’s a song that stirred up hope in many victims of Typhoon Katrina in America. Still/Be Still My Soul – Don Moen Lyrics/Music: Reuben Morgan
Everything Falls/Arms That Hold The Universe – Fee Lyrics/Music: Eddie Kirkland, Steve Fee
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”
–Alexander Pope (An Essay on Man)
A very disappointed soft drinks salesman returned from his Middle East assignment.
His friend asked, “Why weren’t you successful with the Arabs?”
He explained, “When I received my new posting, I was very confident of making a good sales pitch as Cola is virtually unknown in the Middle East. But I had a problem as I don’t know Arabic. So I decided to be creative by conveying the message through three posters…
Poster 1: A man lying in the hot desert sand, totally exhausted
Poster 2: The man drinks Cola
Poster 3: Our man is totally refreshed and energised!
…I made sure these posters were put up all over town,” sighed the salesman.
“That sounds like a good idea that should have worked!” said the friend.
“To my horror,” replied the salesman sadly, “I found out that I had made a huge mistake!”…
…“Don’t you know that Arabs read from right to left?!”
On my way home the other day, I saw a boy who was as tall as his mother lightly holding hands with her as they walked down the lane. It was a heartwarming sight that got me thinking about the power of touch.
Someone once said, “Happiness is an unexpected hug.” Our need for physical connection starts from birth—a nursing newborn instinctively seeks nourishment and comfort. Young children who are frequently cuddled and adults who receive regular positive touch (as opposed to negative forms like abuse or molest) are reportedly happier and healthier than their peers.
Touch communicates love, conveys comfort and heals hurts. It breaks down barriers so that even normally reticent teenagers would be more open to sharing their thoughts and feelings. It’s a nonverbal expression of caring when you can’t find the right words at a funeral or sickbed. I’ve read that touch strengthens our immune system, and it also lightens dark moods.
Remember that warm fuzzy feeling you had the last time you gave or received a touch? One of my favourite cartoonists Bill Watterson captured it perfectly in “Calvin & Hobbes”.
Why not give someone whom you care for a gift of touch today? Surprise him or her with a hug, a squeeze on the shoulder, a pat on the head or just lightly place your hand over theirs. Go on, make their day, and yours too! And while you’re at it, how about taking the time to say aloud, “I love you” or “You matter to me” or “I value your friendship.”
A hug is a great gift—one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange. ~Author Unknown
A hug is like a boomerang—you get it back right away. ~Bil Keane, Cartoonist, “The Family Circus”
“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.” ~Apostle Paul
A MEMORABLE HOUR November 2011
3.14pm – My phone notification sounds….a friend just delivered her third child.
3:53pm – A colleague calls….his dad just passed away.
Life and Death within an hour. Two certainties in life; two ends of a journey that every living creature must go through. At times like this, reflection is normal: “What is it that’s truly important during our sojourn on earth?”
How many people look back when their final hour beckons, and wish they had worked harder? The reality, according to a survey, is that a desire to turn back the clock and spend more time with loved ones tops the list of death-bed regrets. Recall or read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and the warning by miserly Scrooge’s partner Jacob. He laments, “In life, my spirit never rose beyond the limits of our money-changing holes.”
“If Only” is always Mr Right –that’s the quaint expression someone I know used to say. More typically, the phrase “Hindsight is 20-20” is quoted. Few people go through life without acquiring excess baggage that sings the tune, “If only I/they had….” or “If only I/they hadn’t…”
Heed the wise sayings that go like this, “Enough for today are today’s own problems”, “Let bygones be bygones” and “Do not anxiously hope for that which is not yet come; do not vainly regret what is already past.”. That’s not to say we don’t carry forward valuable lessons learnt from past experiences, but let’s travel light.
Treasure the people in your life; they won’t be there forever. Some will be like ships that pass in the night—if that line sounds familiar, it’s probably because crooner Barry Manilow used it in a song. Others will be there only for a season but let’s be content with what they add to our lives during that period. A final group will be like cosy blankets or comfortable outfits, sticking with us through thick and thin as together, we witness the decades go by. My recommendation: Value them all!
I’ve realised the necessity of arranging or rearranging my “prioroties” to match what’s in my heart. Said an exhausted parent to his children, “I’m working day and night so you’ll have a better life.” Perhaps a pertinent question to ask is, “Better by whose standards?” A sorrowful parent told anyone who’d listen to her woes, “I worked so hard to provide for my son and spent all my time building up my business. Now, my teenager doesn’t even talk to me. He treats me like a stranger and our home like a hotel.” It’s the age-old argument of quality time versus quantity. Can our kids only enjoy one or the other?
Time is unbiased, and rich or poor, we all get the same 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 60 minutes an hour. So if someone says they’ve no time to celebrate or mourn with a family member or friend, answer a call or catch up over a meal, isn’t it a matter of choice? On a day when Life and Death met, it was time for me to reassess my commitments and activities. I know my answer to the first question in this post. How about you?
She sits in a cubicle in the Lady’s Washroom, and every once in a while, she’d get up to wipe the basin dry. She rarely makes eye contact, and if you pause to offer a word of thanks, she looks surprised, as if compliments are foreign in her solitary world. “Alone In The Crowd” is the phrase that comes to mind if you stop to observe her.
He sits at a corner of the Bus Interchange, unseeing, holding out packets of tissue paper that he hopes passersby will buy. When he doesn’t hear anyone around him, he slips into a still, silent cocoon of his own. Some people stop in a simple act of compassion, but far more are too caught up with their own thoughts or troubles to turn aside and reach out to him.
Stop For The One!
That’s the cry of a woman brimming over with love and compassion. Heidi Baker founded the non-profit IRIS Ministries that cares for countless orphans and provides free health clinics and feeding programmes for the poor and sick in Mozambique. Primary and secondary schools and cottage industries are other tangible demonstrations of genuine care and concern.
In his song I Refuse, singer songwriter Josh Wilson declares, “Sometimes I just want to close my eyes and act like everyone’s alright when I know they’re not. But I refuse. ‘Cause I don’t want to live like I don’t care. I refuse to say another empty prayer. I could choose not to move but I refuse. I refuse to turn my back.”
Someone noted that, “The faster our world gets, the less we notice people around us.” It’s not uncommon to see families and groups of friends sitting down for meals “together” but each person is focusing on an electronic gadget-checking a social networking site, playing a game, reading emails or picking up calls. Etiquette consultant Ms Manners would have a lot to say about such behaviour that’s become the norm!
Why not take time to notice someone today? Reach out to those who usually hover on the fringe and are seldom accorded any attention. Make a connection and find out something about the person that you never knew before. Here’s a challenge from a wise teacher: “Be nice to people who’re different from us, to those who won’t or don’t treat us well, and to those who can’t or won’t pay us back.” Radical Living—what a world it would be!
“Keep in touch!” is a phrase whose context has been turned upside down, especially among those who make it a point to stay connected round-the-clock via social media and instant messaging applications. Not so long ago, a timely response meant getting or giving a reply the next day, but now some of our contacts may well express annoyance if they don’t hear from us within minutes or even seconds!
The benefits of constant connectivity are evident but the pitfalls shouldn’t be lightly dismissed. According to a new survey of 900 young people, many are struggling with growing stress as they try to stay in the loop all the time and actively participate in one another’s blow-by-blow sharing. The respondents aged 19 to 26 confessed that their social media commitments had a negative impact on their studies or jobs.
I read an amusing headline that proclaimed, “Stressed by social media? There’s an App for that!” As much of the urbanised world rushes along at breakneck speed, let’s take time to appreciate the meaning and importance of R.E.S.T. which is defined as:
– A state of quiet or repose; tranquillity; to be still
– Rest from physical or mental exertion that wearies or disturbs
– Peace; security; freedom from anxiety
There’s a lovely Hebrew greeting that can be used whenever people say Hi or Bye. It’s “Shalom” and it means well-being, wholeness, soundness, health, peace, rest, no agitation or discord, prosperity, safety, harmony and completeness.
Isn’t that beautiful? Well, dear reader, I’d like to wish you, “Shalom!.”