What I Value

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COUNTING MY BLESSINGS

I’m thankful that you take the time to read my blog. I appreciate you and pray that God will bless you with abundant love, joy and peace.

I’m grateful to family, friends and the brethren for being a meaningful part of my life. Each of you is important to me and you can count on me to be there for you.

I’m indebted to God for sustaining me and for His love, grace and mercy. He has my allegiance and all my days are in His hands. He is worthy of all praise, worship, honour and glory.

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TIPS THAT TICKLE

Samsung Phone Voice Recordings
To convert Samsung 3GA sound files to MP3
Right click, rename 3ga to mp3 ~ Voilà!
The new files will be stable
If you want to play it safe, make a copy before testing

Mouse Power + http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/upgrade-your-life/hidden-powers-mouse-164928637.html

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RESOURCES I FIND USEFUL

File Sharing
+ http://www.dropbox.com
To send large files to individuals or groups

Audio Visual
+ http://www.any-video-converter.com/products/for_video_free/
This software allows you to download videos from YouTube and extract sounds

Document Convertor
+ http://www.nchsoftware.com/documentconvert/index.html
More good stuff @ http://www.nchsoftware.com

English Pronunciation
+ http://www.thefreedictionary.com

Language Translators
+ http://www.bing.com/translator
Some of the translated words will make you go “Huh?!” but most are accurate

Hanyu Pinyin (Romanised Chinese Phonetics)
+ http://www.words-chinese.com/pinyin-converter

Borderless Communication
+ http://www.whatsapp.com
This has replaced SMS and even calls for many Singaporeans. Cost-effective global communication!
Also see http://www.wechat.com and http://line.naver.jp/en/

Global Currencies
+ http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter
My go-to site when drafting contracts with foreign service providers. It remembers my last used currencies.

Music
+ http://www.ultimate-guitar.com
Look under Guitar Tabs at the top for chords and lyrics – Transpose Tab is a real time saver!
Look under Lessons at the top for great guitar tips

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A TREASURE TROVE OF WISDOM & KNOWLEDGE – these feed my spirit and soul 🙂

Bible Keyword Search, Multiple Translations & Versions
+ http://www.biblegateway.com
I like to check out Amplified Bible for more details and the Message for contemporary paraphrase

Excellent Dramatised Audio Bibles
+ http://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com
Makes God’s Word come alive!

Enriching Christian Broadcasts & Daily Devotions
+ http://www.ucb.co.uk

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RANKED AMONG THE BEST BIBLE TEACHERS & MINISTERS
I’m always blessed by them. They are truly Father God’s gifts to His Family worldwide.

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David Pawson
+ http://www.davidpawson.org
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John Piper + http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/by-topic
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Brian Bailey
Books by Zion Ministerial Institute teachers
+ http://www.mediaforchrist.org.nz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=84&Itemid=188
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Derek Prince
+ http://www.dpmuk.org/Groups/27870/DPM/Resources/Teaching_Letters/Teaching_Letters.aspx
+ http://www.mediaforchrist.org.nz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=60&Itemid=80
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Peter Horrobin
+ http://www.peterhorrobin.com
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David Wilkerson
+ http://sermons.worldchallenge.org/en/view/devotions?filter0=david+wilkerson&filter1=**ALL**&filter2=**ALL**
+ http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=27
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All-time Favourites
+ http://www.sermonindex.net
Do pray for discernment as you choose and listen
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Ravi Zacharias
+ http://www.rzim.org
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Bill Johnson + http://archive.org/details/BillJohnson-DreamingWithGod
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Tamara Winslow
+ http://www.truththatworks.blogspot.com
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Arlin Epperson
+ http://healingofthespirit.org/ministry.html

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MORE SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT

Cornerstone Community Church Sermon Library + http://www.cscc.org.sg/index.php?option=com_restaurante&Itemid=80
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Ellel Ministries – NETS Sermons from Pierrepont + http://www.nevereverthesame.com/fridaysermons/index.html
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Scriptures in Pictures
http://images.search.yahoo.com/ – type Bible Verses into the search box and enjoy!
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Praise & Worship
+ http://www.worshiptogether.com

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Have a lovely August!

Newsflash!
Hailed as one of the finest international bible expositors, David Pawson revisited Singapore after an absence of 30 years. The 83-year-old Briton taught at a series of conferences held at Changi Cove and also spoke at Cornerstone Community Church on Sun 11th August and Wed 14th August. All present were truly blessed. 🙂

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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. 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!

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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.

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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!

One Day This Island Will Sink

“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.

Masks gettyimages

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.

4f1832b5-2b4a-4271-b3f8-6a0be8aeb8f5_nasa_satellitepicmorning1 (2) NASA image

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!

1044643_10151500151195949_138258186_n (2) EMMANUEL Photography & TV Production image

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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filter 3

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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!

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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.

2013-06-19 18.28.24 How thoughtful! Take a closer look.
The printed days of the week are a very helpful reminder!

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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.

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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)

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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!

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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!
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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

Blessings of Love, Joy & Peace!

Of Needles & Such

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

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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
Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter

The use of a wire hook to close the umbrella-like filter
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A closed filter that can be safely removed
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Happy News!
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.

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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?

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Stuff I Find Funny

Doc Lost

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2635811 Quinn Miller Photo’s creative Wedding Entourage is a huge internet hit!

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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.

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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

Joy Juxtaposed

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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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/)

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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

Jesus Culture

Newsboys

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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

Kristian Stanfill

Jesus Culture

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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

*Burial
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.

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“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)
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Live in Christ, live in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death.
John Knox (Leader, Scottish Protestant Reformation)
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Our God is the God from whom cometh salvation: God is the Lord by whom we escape death.
Martin Luther (Initiator, Protestant Reformation)

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All Things Weird & Wonderful

Skinny Pig
Breed: Guinea Pig (Practically hairless)
Price: S$150 (USD120) for one, S$200 (USD160) for a pair
My neighbourhood pet shop is promoting the Skinny Pig and I like stopping by to check them out. To me, this critter fits the traditional definition of cute—ugly but adorable!

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My Favourite Bird
Pelicans always look adorably goofy to me. That large throat pouch never fails to make me smile 🙂

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My Favourite Dog
Chow Chow resembles a miniature bear with a lion’s mane. Its unique tongue comes in one of my favourite colours—purple! Origin: China, where it’s known as 松狮犬 (Songshi Quan)

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My Favourite Cat
Don’t know what breed Harry Cat is, but I really like this picture from a children’s book called “The Cricket in Times Square” written by George Selden and illustrated by Garth Williams. I’ve added one of my Guiding Principles and made it the cover of files containing songs that I use to lead group worship. The words in Chinese 敬 拜 耶 和 华 (prono: jìng bài yē hé huá) mean Worship Yahweh/Jehovah.

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The picture reminds me of Isaiah 11:6 in the Bible, “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatted domestic animal together; and a little child shall lead them.” …..World Peace!

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A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever

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“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray”
-Joyce Kilmer

architect
Glass Finery – Skylight of Raffles City as seen from Out Of The Pan restaurant
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Apple Delight
I call this the Fruit Fly—what imagination! -(Artist unknown)
Love the way the stalk was split to make butterfly antennae!

blood
Red Blood Cells seen under a scanning electron microscope that detects incredible details of 1-5 nanometre in size. They’re the most common type of blood cells and they have the tall task of carrying oxygen to our entire body. Women have some 4-5 million RBCs per cubic millimetre of blood and in men, it’s 5-6 million.

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Eagle Paw
Sheer artistry! -(Artist unknown)
“Those who wait for and hope in the Lord shall renew their strength & power; they shall soar on wings like eagles and mount up close to God; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired”
-Isaiah 40:31

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Perspective
“Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done”
-Johnson Oatman, Jr.

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Fun Occupation: Regurgitator
(Thanks to rYo for sharing this)

Fun On The Job
TW

🙂