Showing posts sorted by relevance for query new year. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query new year. Sort by date Show all posts

22 Dec 2016

How to get a really NEW year

First you have to be fed up. Yes, fed up with the old year, fed up enough to want things to be different.

What are you fed up with?

Have you had enough of worrying about what others think?
Are you done with spinning those wheels and not really sure if you are making progress?
Do you so dread the state of your relationships that you are wishing up ways to avoid the people?

Sometimes we think that being fed up is a sign of weakness or that we are being plain ungrateful. Well, we all have areas of weakness and we may well be ungrateful. It may be that your weaknesses (a lack of discipline or self-control) contribute to the state of things. Certainly being grateful cures us of many ills so we don't live in chronic discontentment. But being fed up is different. It is a sign.

The thing is when we feel fed up, we tend to blame it on others. This will only ensure we never get a New year because we have absolutely no power to change others.

So, the difficult and necessary thing to do is to ask:
a. How would I like things to be?b. What am I doing that is keeping things from being the way I want them to be?

The parent who wants the eighteen year old to grow up but continues to dole out pocket money, calls to ensure there is lunch, tidies the room for him, will stay fed up.

When we are fed up, we are also tired. Our resources have run out. We will begin to go through the motions. We will start to numb. We may even resort to forms of escapism. The length of time spent in gossip, playing online games, over-eating or under-eating. We may even do things we would not normally do, like visit a casino or seek out titillating experiences when prodded on by others.

As 2016 begins to fold over and a new page is waiting to be written, take some time to slow down and consider how things are in your life.

This is why Advent is such a powerful practice. It slows us down and turns us towards deeper concerns in life. It is inevitable that Christmas will get busy. But Advent observation has already primed us so that a few hours or a day given to reflect and prepare for the new year will really help usher in a year open and ready for newness.

Today, mark out a few time periods when you can sit and pray, think, and plan for the New Year.

These questions will help:

a. How would I like things to be? [list each area of your life]

b. What am I doing that is keeping things from being the way I want them to be? [is it fear that people won't respond? Do you want to at least have tried or give up on what you value?]

c. Where is my energy level now?

d. What saps me most and what refuels me?

These simple but powerful questions will surface what is deep within you. Your longings, your anxieties, your life management. When we are dissatisfied or struggle with ongoing issues, we will grow tired and that in turns reduces our resilience and perseverance. It's a downward spiral.

All of us live with some degree of illusion. We have this ideal we hold ourselves and others to. Even if they are godly ideals, they can end up holding us hostage if we learn how to mature from where we are to where we believe and want to be.  
All of us want to be more loving. But the journey of maturation into being a person who genuinely loves others is different for each of us. If we hold on to an illusory ideal where we congratulate ourselves one day and condemn ourselves the next, we won't actually grow. A swing moves alright, but it doesn't actually lead to a real change in location.

Philippe Malouin, Milan

Real change that comes through maturation is a gift of God, and God loves 'upcycling' - the process of using available material to craft new, beautiful and useful creations.

All you need for the New Year is within you.

The stronger marriage between your parents.
The lighter and more caring atmosphere at home.
The community of faithful friends.
The steadier, closer walk with God.
That organised kitchen/desk/wardrobe.
The commitment and joy of meaningful work.
The loosening of bonds that hold others in poverty and oppression.

Your dreams and longings. Your hopes and aspirations. Your wild ideas. They may be held back because you are not taking them seriously enough, allowing your fears to stall you. They may be held back because you have not rested, eaten, exercised well so that you are alert and energetic.

May you experience a New year my friends as you brave it and seek answers to the questions.

"Praise be to the LORD, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens'  ~ Psalm 68v19

28 Dec 2016

You are the best parents for your children: parent differently in the New year

"You know what dad said to me over Christmas lunch?"

The dh looked at me somewhat surprised.

"He said if Abi's results are good, ask her to study Medicine".
"Haha, he's still at it after all these years?"

"I think you should study Medicine"
just one of thousands of Asian parent stereotypes online... help!

With 2017 round the corner, will we be after our kids for the same things? 
same bad habits we cannot stand
same attitude that irks us
same worries about their motivations and results (and future)
same concerns about their spiritual vitality
same old way of conversing and relating

O, we have the scars to prove it!

The last few years, I have felt a few rounds of serious exhaustion. I mean, being nice to our kids can take a lot! They don't always get it or respond to it the way we hope. But each time, I ask myself what truly matters. I realize that my exhaustion arises a lot out of focusing too much on outcomes and allowing discouragement to set in.

I have learnt how to battle better. I have learnt that there is something fundamental that fuels change: desperation.

How to get a really NEW year deals with it. But here is the special parents edition. You will be surprised that your children are desperate for change too (I mean, who doesn't want a happy family life?).

Before the New Year arrives, while you are busy putting away Christmas stuff, checking up tuition agencies, sorting our finances, looking at school supplies.... plan to set aside a few pockets of quiet times to parent differently next year.

Here are some prompts that have helped me over the years:

1. Begin with appreciation

Write each child's name down. Take deep breaths and pray to see how the child has been a gift to you. Detail their spark, gift, and talent. It doesn't have to fit some existing category like Junior Chef...more like, 'what about this child makes your heart smile'?
Give thanks.

2. Bolster the relationship
I nearly forgot how brief moments of intimate, personal affirmations count. When I get stressed, my tone of voice and content of words change dramatically. I find that I tend to nag or then sit down and try to reason. But my children want to connect with me. They do want to please me and make me proud, but somehow the motivation dips when they feel distant from me. Nagging pushes them away.
Children these days feel the tension of our world's divisiveness. They are more alone than ever with smaller families and a hectic pace of life. All those child suicides make me really wonder about why these children have so much emotional pain they cannot process with anyone.
In the end, don't we all want our children around us, happy family moments, and the savouring of milestones traversed together?
So after giving thanks for each of our children, think of ways you connect best with each one and schedule that in!

Connecting frequently allows me to do the next thing: champion their uniqueness.

3. Boost their spark
Consider how resistant or open you are to their uniqueness.
I will admit to agreeing with my FIL that Medicine is a great choice! But it isn't looking that way folks, despite her great memory and steady hands!
In fact, I have met more than a few young adults who have done what their parents want, and at some point, decide to pursue what they want. Some with no small amount of hurt and bitterness. Some fall along the wayside because the climb was way too steep.
So together with you, I have to learn how to encourage my children to pursue their self-knowing and exploration of their abilities and gifts. I have to learn how to tell my son that while gaming is a valid vocational option, it is not the same as playing games all day! I have to be alright with the fact that my children may not show distinct definitions that I can shape at age 11 or even 16, and that is okay! Some people will be generalists and (like their mom) love doing a slew of things! (there's some bit of accepting ourselves in there too).

It is important to recognise that contributing to the home is an important aspect of their spark! The home is the training ground for life, and the child who can tidy, serve and share is learning to bear responsibility, be considerate and exercise self-control. These are all wonderful qualities that are needed to be able to steward their unique gifting well.

4. Brag about them....haha, YES, but not on social media as much as to them.
Tell your children often what you notice about them, both their strengths and their weaknesses. Anchor it back to a solid theology of who they are in Christ, how they are Image-bearers.
I remember my son telling me he is lazy, stupid, slow... (you get the idea). I had to gently and persistently correct him that it is normal to struggle with temptations to be lazy. It happens in a diverse world that we will sometimes feel stupid. It is true what we are slow at some things. But the deeper truth is he is wonderfully and fearfully made, and a work in progress. I had to teach him that he can fight against the temptations and human tendencies. And I brag about his success to him!

Now go do the same exercise for yourself!
Affirm your own life, notice your uniqueness, plan to grow yourself and find those who can encourage you*

Have a NEW year fellow parents!

How about let's pray this (somewhat desperate) prayer together:

Dear God, 
it's us - parents, those you somehow feel we have what it takes to birth, raise and send out actual breathing, kicking, working animations of life. 
In 2017, help us do what we must do better. 
Help us be more rested in our hearts. 
Help us see our children the way you see them. 
Help us allow them to grow us. 
Help us grow a better relationship of mutual love, respect and support. 
Help us find You and worship You in our days and lives. 
Help us remember you are parenting us all. 
Thank you for your help!

Related reads:
What links resolutions to solutions
An arc of goodness: insights from Jeremiah

*if my posts encourage you, get them in your email Inbox! 
Simply type your email into the space on the right: 'get this in your email'. 

4 Feb 2014

{Running} with horses

The Chinese calendar uses a twelve year cycle, each marked by an animal. Those born in the year are then described as having certain traits similar to the animal. When a new year rolls around, apt proverbs and jokes are tossed about. 2014 is the year of the horse and I learnt a new favourite proverb:马到成功 (success is imminent once the horse arrives). You see, I was born in the year of the horse - and ain't it grand that my arrival at any scene would herald impending success!

But i got to thinking about all the horse-related experiences in my life, and to a passage of Scripture that really helped me.

horse experience 1
My first flight and my first mission trip. We flew into Thailand headed for the mountain tribes. Most of us had not trained for those mountains. There were supposed to be horses at the foot to help us carry stuff. But we were late, too late. So we had to trudge nearly five hours up the mountains with our puppets, guitar, bags and tired bodies as a gentle rain fell all about us. We slipped in the mud, we gave up many times even as the guide egged us on with her limited Chinese, saying repeatedly, "another few minutes". We city dwellers had no idea. But how I longed for those horses! We never saw them. We came back down bumping all the way on the back of a truck which at one point got stuck in a muddy ridge and we all had to get off and shove.

horse experience 2
The university had offered me a place to do Honours in Political Science & English Language. I was on board an international book ship when that information came out so I returned to school a month late. It was unnerving and I found my source of strength in this passage which I would type into my thesis introduction:

"If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,
then how can you compete with horses?
If you fall down in a land of peace,
how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? ~ jeremiah 12v5

I am not sure if my thesis supervisor picked up that I have referred to him as a footman; but my youthful zeal knew little bounds back then - upwards and onwards I was going to go!

horse experience 3
This time, i finally rode one; and nearly died! With two friends in New Zealand, we found our way to a hill where there was horse riding. The young Kiwi gal who ran the place sized us up and led us off to our horses. After a few brief introductory remarks, we found ourselves atop a horse each. Mine was a black stallion with a large bulgy stomach. Its name was Inky. We set off slowly and winded around the trail. Inky however had other ideas. It could undoubtedly pick up that I was a wimp (horse language for she doesn't know how to ride) and repeatedly veered off the trail to satisfy its love for far-out grasses growing at the edges. I was talking, coaxing, reining little avail. After a nerve-wrecking hour, I dismounted and fell to the ground, my legs all gone soft and my groin in pain from straddling that fat tummy.

horse experience 4
My love for this majestic creature wouldn't wane it seems. How many silly Inkys can there be anyway? This time, I am on a trip with my brand new husband. We decide to go ride horses. No more mountains though, this was a coastal beach situation. Yes, firmly on the ground hooves. The sand, the wind, and even the gentle gallop was great - until - the horse got in the mood for some horse-trot. My feet came off the sitrrups and I let go and fell onto the soft sand. A few moments later, the other horses came around since mine overtook them sans rider. I felt just fine.
Later, i developed a nausea and we went to the doctor where we found I was pregnant. I suppose my baby and I fell off a horse.

horse experience 5
This time, I confront the horse I referred to years earlier. The nameless horse in Jeremiah that represents the trepidation and trials of a life of faith. With Pastor Eugene Peterson's help, I dig even deeper for a full, abundant life of faith-full responding to God.

"If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,
then how can you compete with horses?
If you fall down in a land of peace,
how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? ~ Jeremiah 12v5

These words came as a rebuke to a prophet who felt all ready to give up. I wasn't at that point when I read Run with the Horses, but it came soon enough -- and God had prepared my soul for the onslaught by drawing me to long for what is deeper and more solid.

Latest horse experience {12 years later}
I had to go say it, "it's the year of the horse, let's do something with horses!". The now older hubs thought it a brilliant stroke and so we all went to The Riders Loft and pulled on some boots and helmets. My horse was a good fourteen hands tall. I cannot look over it at all. When I mounted Galvin, I wanted to get off even quicker. But my daughter and son were next in line to mount theirs so I breathed deep and psyched myself that my fear of heights cannot possibly apply to this. "Mind over matter - what you don't mind, won't matter"; I silenced my fears.We rode around the sand pit a few times each and the trainer applauded us all when we were done.

Associated by birth
Missed by timing
Challenged by its powers
Threatened by its will
Strengthened by its metaphor
Safeguarded from its whim

Nay, my horse encounters are not over yet.

9 Jan 2009

what a start!

on the 9th day of the new year and everything looks ... (complete the sentence for yourself!)
for the first time in a long while i went out for supper...early on new year's day. when we got back; we thought we would check in to see how the major cities are partying to welcome the new year (i still dont get why we do that?)...then we got the news: fire in Bangkok and soon enough... one of us has passed on..
i am sure parties are designed to take us out of the gloom and humdrum of life give us a lift, escape, sense of adventure and some kind of wishfulness...
within every heart and into every national psyche a fear has invaded us like never before.
i remember feeling nervous when i was 15 and people were talking about a nuclear holocaust.
15 years later, we have that possible threat and more.
*the invisible hand of price that the great economist promised would regulate things for us rational beings did not.
* it's not a few people in power that can press the wrong button and kill us; it's many of us killing each other today with compromise, corruption, hatred and vengeance

Naturally i shield these things from my kids or share it with them very carefully. No child needs to grow up feeling frightened and powerless.

And then yesterday's papers tell of grievous things that happen when our hearts are troubled: an abused child, a beat up youth ....right here in safe, sensible, practical Singapore!

we can hope these things do not hit us, that we wont be at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people..we can pretend we are not afraid and chase a wild time..we can rant and rave...

or we can grief for our kind.
look inside out hearts
look for help

and then we can party, truly party - for time is short; and life is worth living fully, freely and well.

29 Dec 2017

My 2017 best-thoughts about life, parenting, church...

It's Monsoon season in the tropics, with plenty of rainfall. This means a pretty low season for getting out to the beach. So we headed did that for two reasons. One, it's always more restful to avoid the crowds, and secondly, the son had written in his list of post-exam delights, a visit to a beach. I know Singapore is an island, but our beaches aren't very pleasant. The sand is coarse, it's really humid, and when you look at the horizon, all you see are cargo ships which isn't a pretty sight. So, we drove the nearly two hours towards the East Coast of Malaysia to Desaru and checked ourselves into a space that was (I found out later) recently renovated. God mercifully gave us a good bit of sunshine and held the rain back so we could be at the beach. The kids read on swings hung from large tree branches or on the deck chairs.

But after a while, we simply could not resist the call of the wind and the waves. We aren't exactly sun and surf beings, but the waves' insistent pounding on the beach with its roar, beckoned us to venture towards the bit of South China Sea right at our feet.

First, we gingerly walked around the edges where the water reached the shore. Then we jumped into the waves. Then we sat on the beach and waited for the waves to come and crash us over! A slow submission to the forces of created order.

O my, what fun!

Will it be a large, strong wave that will knock us over?
How far out should we try to walk out?
Is it a good idea to perch on this rock and wait to be awashed with sea water?

There is something thrilling about being in nature and having a sport with it. Some of the most luminous pictures and writing have come to us from men and women who did not see nature as resource or entertainment, but as a world to enter in, investigate, relish and respond to.

There was something primal, basic, and simple to our joy at wave-play.

Now as I am contemplating my year soon ending, the year ahead and what to write, the memory of the waves returns to me and I smile.

This image though is of a gentler wave.

The kind that grows with the wind and momentum and then slows as it approaches shore, landing as a gentle crest on the sand. This kind of wave will not catch or knock anyone over who had their backs turned. It will not threaten to drag anyone who was playing idly by the shore out to sea. It comes in and softly caresses the shore, leaving it smoother and cleaner.

This is what I hope to do in this post. Be a gentle wave.

There is so much on my heart and in my head as the year draws to a close. Most years past, I have written about the Hope of  New in a New Year. But somehow, this year, that's not forthcoming.  Instead, I want to offer some of my thoughts this year about several subjects that always occupy me, and perhaps they occupy you too.

So this blog is about the wind and forces of God this year - in my thoughts. As a person with an active mind, I always have some new and unfinished thinking going on. I confess that they aren't always what I call 'high, holy or happy' - the ditty I used to help my son apply Philippians 4v8:

"... brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things"

We like to think that our thoughts are private, shy or secretive affairs. But they aren't. Although no one can read our minds or really tell our thoughts, they become public eventually because thoughts are the words and actions that are waiting to emerge. Indeed, the world is constantly shaped by thoughts that are being communicated, often without the actual articulation of the thought.

A relationship isn't going anywhere because the thoughts about it aren't.
That problematic situation doesn't improve because the thoughts about it are unchanged.
A dream doesn't transpire because the thoughts have not moved from ideal to action.

We are able to think ourselves into traps, corners and caves. I have enough thought experience by now that I can rather quickly tell of I am following a thought down a trail that is dark and disabling. Some lead to familiar trails that seem comfortable but are really discouraging and lead to a miry bog. When these happen, it usually ends up that I speak and act and serve muddy pies rather that life-giving delights.

Humans are presumably the only creatures in Kingdom Animaliae that can examine our thoughts.

So I want to learn to think my thoughts in God's grand presence. This means taking my thoughts to the Light and letting what is really happening be revealed. At times I have to question a thought that comes and then decide if I will bother with it. At other times, the synapses fire away so quickly, I have to check it against His Word and allow his forces of truth and grace to chisel away so that the edifices they become are more noble than otherwise.

So here are some of my hopefully, Light-infused thoughts on several subjects close to my heart.

I am writing this for myself. As you read it, I hope it works like a gentle wave that comes upon you and leaves your heart and mind feeling better. You are welcome to share it, highlighting the bits you found useful or meaningful.

A] 'Perfect' Parenting

A young adult who teaches Secondary School was talking with me about parenting. She concedes that it is really hard in a society like Singapore where we have been raised on a narrative of "win or lose it all". For the longest time, the older generation of politicians have been telling us how vulnerable we are, the need to plug into the world and be open to the gales of change, how we need to keep paddling to stay afloat. Socially, this has spurned the famous kiasu culture, where there is a fear of losing out. In a largely consumer world, this tallies nicely with another set of value: "get the most for whatever you pay". Successful bargains and great deals are a point of pride.... "Only forty dollars!"

No wonder parenting is so tough.

We need to capture and maximise our child's potential. We must not lose out, but have to grab all those opportunities. We have to get to that mega sale. Did that article say 'prebiotic'?

All of it requires energy, time, and money. The last one itself, money, requires substantial time and energy to generate! It will be great if we can decide that one enrichment class, a birthday party and a new outfit during Chinese New Year were enough. But we don't know where the finishing line is. New products and classes are always been advertised.

Yet deep in our souls, we still feel like we owe our children something. We simply cannot ensure their happiness or their success. Many women also struggle with mom-guilt at being away from home due to work.

We are driven by fear.

The funny thing is, children are happy when life has a structure and the parents are happy. It's really quite simple. But we have buried this simple thing under layers and layers of needs, demands, expectations and discontent. Our fears and worries do not a happy home or child make!

Things tend to atrophy when not actively tended to (fires die down, interest wanes, muscles weaken), then someone must take charge to build up the children and that includes building a home that has structure and peace.

That aside, 'perfect' parenting can happen if we stick to one other simple rule: respond to the child you have, not the one you wished you have. We are called to raise our children, not our dreams.

At some point, our kids will challenge our proud parent moments and make them feel like so much empty froth. They don't like to read, struggle to sit still, soil their pants at five, are awkward and shy, aren't athletic, have a fear of the water, gag on their vegetables. This is before they are a bundle of angst, question your authority and integrity, sulk and talk back!

I think the perfect parent is the one who will take a step back and look realistically at the situation, find strength in God, say "this too is a gift", and courageously head on to deal with it patiently and sacrificially.

Being child-centric is not creating a world that revolves around the child's whims and tantrums. It is a commitment to get to know your child and build a world that supports his humanity and his growth as a person first, then some possible talent or occupation. Being child-centric actually requires us to be family-centric too, for a child by design, is born into a system and thrives when the system is functional and healthy.

B] 'Perfect' church

Phil and I are very privileged to be friends with, and work with so many churches in Singapore and a few in the region. It gives us insights and a bird's eye view of things.

The church in Singapore has seen growth in the last few decades but now confront some serious challenges. We are seeing a generational divide as the millennials grow up in a vastly different world than us. Some are disenfranchised with the church. New churches have sprung up. We have serious cultural and theological conundrums, from gender issues to family discipleship.

They used to say that if you do the same things, you get the same results. I suspect that if we do the same things, we may not get any results.

It is time to consider our ways, examine our philosophy and broaden our understanding.

The church is in need of renewal.

We need to find a way for people to encounter God, to dig the Word, to be embedded in community, to be exercised in meaningful engagement with society. We need to create a way for leadership development and succession and mission expressions that are more organic. We need champions for each of this. Yet, we need a way that won't see us running all over the place, with loyalties and commitment stretched too thin to really matter.

We need brave men and women and institutions who will confront the tough stuff, and thankfully we do have them!

Online realities have emboldened many to share emotional wounds, and we  need a way for those who are seeking and are hurt to find healing. It's hard to start over in a new community, yet this is exactly what is needed. We need to help our people be more resilient and accepting of the tough stuff of community, including embracing those who need a great deal of care and patience before they turn a corner and mature.

We are being challenged to stop turning to programs, and to start being the people of God.

Seeking our definition as as people will be an ongoing journey. Our identity is lived out in context. We are loving, pure, gracious, Christlike as we respond to our situations. Our calling and impact too is worked out in context. Hence the tendency we have to hark back to a time where the church was pristine is a rather immature approach. We can and must certainly examine Scripture to see the qualities that the first disciples had. Their radical faith, courage, commitment and witness must be our compass. We need to ask how these qualities of the faith-life are to be nurtured and lived out today in our settings.

The people of God is a fascinating mix of maturity, talents, convictions and expressions. Our unity and one-ness is found in the deeper regions of the mystery of our faith: that Christ has saved us and lives in us. It is this one Christ that is our unity. Today, there is much to divide the people of God. The LGBTQ issue, Israel, Trump, and I hear of old wars regarding hymns and choruses being revisited! Let's face it, centrifugal forces are always at work. The faster we spin, the easier we fly outwards, away from centre and each other.

We need to stop being slaves to efficiency, quick answers and fast solutions.

If a plant has a sore, is a little shaky or has suffered, we do not drown it with more water, overwhelm it with fertilizer or simply re-pot it. It is needing some tender, loving care. That is exactly what the head of the church wants to do. He needs many husbandman who are willing to be his eyes, mouth, hands and feet.

C] 'Perfect' Peace

Soul, are you well?

This question can feel like an invitation, an interrogation or a threat. It all depends on how you hear it.

The person who must measure up feels a threat, suggesting he does not.
The person who has been dodgy feels like he is being searched.
The person who knows that he is welcome and his soul is a treasure hears tenderness.

The shape and texture of our Christianity matters.

Some are habitually thankful, some are constantly worrying, some are like yo-yo's. But of course we only see what's apparent. I am mostly thankful, but I do worry, and emotionally I have my yo-yo moments for sure.

During a personal retreat, I decided to do a little artwork. The first thing that I wanted on the paper was a thick red line. Not usually one given to invoke the blood of Christ, I found myself somehow relating that line to the blood that was shed for my salvation. Along and around the line, I drew trails and paths I had taken. Some seem pretty straightforward, some meandered and plunged and one or two thinned out because I had no idea where they led. It seemed the thick red line flowed right through it all and in a way called it all back and held it all.

This is peace - that He holds the pieces.

Since I keep forgetting this truth, I need to remind my soul often of it. But it's not a mind-over-matter exercise, because in the end, our minds really do matter because they have several tendencies that can undermine us. We like to think the same thoughts, it's comforting for us. So worries begat worries. We seek out information that confirms what we think, again it's comforting for us. So doubts and suspicion are easily reinforced.

So simply to tell ourselves to quit worrying is like trying to speak gently into a swell. There's an entire chorus going on in our heads that will drown out our good intentions and earnest declarations.

In my upcoming book, I will share how silence is the key to disrupt our minds and lay out new tracks for our thought-trains. But because we awake with thoughts and basically never really stop thinking, the Bible has called us to be intentional about what we think on. With that, I end this piece on my thoughts, about thoughts:

In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. (Good News Bible)

Consider the fruit of this over time, for your family life, your church, and the state of your soul. May we be more perfect* in 2018!

*perfection is a Wesleyan theological idea, of being made more like Christ. 

1 Jan 2014

Why Home-sickness is a good place to begin your 2014

Happy New Year!

How will you be travelling this year? There are four modes of moving along:

a/ well-planned to the hilt
you already have your goals and plans, a list of things to do by the end of January. Some more seasoned travelers by this mode would even have included safety precautions and back-up plans.

b/ tumbling or drifting
you basically dislike to plan. after all, things don't necessarily go your way (before or ever); so going with the flow is just easier: no fuss, no fight, no fire (to put out).

c/ pushed onward
there are strong forces within you that propel you or there are expectations you know you need to live up to.

d/ hanging on to a string of reactions
you may have goals and aspirations; but in reality, your travel style is to wait-and-see how things turn. You can get red-hot mad or walk away, depending on how you feel you are being treated.

Most of us will be using some combination of these four. But there is a fifth way. It is the way of God's Grace. This way sits at the bottom of all other ways, it also holds and weaves through the other modes of travel. For most of us, most of the time though, we are only vaguely aware of this ever-present Grace.
Why not live aware and upon this Grace so that each time we sing 'Amazing Grace', it is a distinct sense of awe with specific recollections and not vague ideas about how Amazing Grace truly is!

The way of God's Grace is to live tethered to God and His homeward call to us. It is living with a sense of homesickness.

I am rather a person on the move, relishing new experiences and challenges. But whether I am out for the day or away for weeks, a special feeling surges up in my soul as i turn homeward. It feels like a homesickness. I have missed home and hearth. I have missed the safe, familiar, comfortable, 'my place' sense.

It is the well-rooted tree that can spread its branches wide out and continue to bear fruit without over-stretching or toppling over.

Where is home for you? A small spot of ground or a huge house isn't what matters. It is where your heart rests that is home.

God is our home - for those of us who are His children because we believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and want to live for Him. We go home to God often and dare not run wild and distracted that we cannot find our way home to rest and be restored.

Kingdom is our home - for those of us who are God's new people, called to build a different way of living; we find home when we are among those who share this same dream of a peaceable Kingdom in our broken-up world.

I get homesick a lot like when -
I've been waddling in shallows making waves when I can say 'see ya later' to everything and everyone and go out to the deep and float free.

I am fussing over the stuff that doesn't really count or last and then a ray of Kingdom light and eternity shines across my shoulder and I need to turn my eyes to see.

I am busy counting my small pile of gold coins of 'have', 'need', 'want more of', and forget that's just pavement where I am headed - it's the wrong currency to trade in

I see a picture of grim need, an old wrinkled face, a broken-hearted parent whose child was here a moment before that shrapnel came whizzing past

I need to feel this homesickness. You do too. For in the end, we are pilgrims, travelers, aliens, a-passing-through. And it is this homesickness - our desperate need for God, our deep convictions of a different world, that will help us travel by the mode of Grace.

As we beat our own path to God-home and soak in Grace, our hearts and minds expanding with Him.
As we work out our salvation by living as saved ones, building a different world, and know it will never happen apart from Grace-miracles where our pockets, priorities and perspectives shifting from sand to rock.

So yes, Home-sickness is a good place to begin your 2014.

Happy NEW year friends!

2 Jan 2018

Why letting go is so hard, and what your soul needs in 2018

It's hard to let go. Even with events that we anticipate and desire, we can struggle too with the changes as they happen:

Child starting school
Daughter seeing someone
A new job assignment, even location
An emptying nest
Getting married

No matter what we envision it to be and how detailed we are in our preparations, there are often still surprises. Some of these good things come with a sense of loss. Sometimes, they turn out quite differently from what we expected (cue 'happily ever after' music).

We are creatures that plan, work and build, and we are told to succeed. This makes it really hard to let go.

It's even harder to let go and move on when new experiences and scenarios occur, sometimes suddenly and it feels random:

Finding out that someone has betrayed you
Being attacked online
Sudden loss of a loved one

We are thrust into a situation we neither desire, plan or welcome. It is hard to let go of the security, safety and familiarity when we suddenly have to grapple with this new development. We will long for things to be as before, fight the changes, go through denials, and even find ourselves in a valley with depressive moods lingering nearby to overtake us. We want answers, justice, a 'darn good reason' for why this is happening to me at this time.

I am particularly concerned for the young lady who went to the US on a family trip and will now have to travel home all alone as the rest all perished in a tragic accident on the highway. Her entire world has fallen apart. So much loss. (Do pause and lift a prayer for her).

It's now the second day of a new year.

If you are feeling afraid, unprepared, or nervous, your soul is crying out for attention. You are unable to let 2017 go.

The soul is a shy and vulnerable part of us that needs security and protection in order to flourish and so energize us. 

On the last day of 2017, I set down with my journal and three questions emerged:

What do I care most about?
How am I doing?
Where am I headed?

My soul seems nervous and in need of some answers. 2017 had been a frenzied year that needed a frame and a sense of closure if I were to be able to let it go and welcome the new year.

I know full well that I cannot fool my soul or myself with a pick-me-up line, "it's all fine". I needed to listen to my soul and take care of it. An unsettled and restless soul translates into a tense body, a defensive mindset and a lack of reciprocity with God. It's hard to receive and to bless when the soul is clenched.

Sometimes, we get tired that the soul seems to be asking us the same stuff. This reminds me of how God asked Adam and later his son Cain, "what's up?". Surely God knows. But the question is not to seek information, it is to offer transformation.

Transformation happens when we brave it and dive down deeper and not stay at the surface. It involves making the right connections, observing our emotional state, and rehearsing the truth we embrace.

The right connections
The easiest and quickest connection is superficial. The first man looked at his situation and blamed the only other person around. That was not the right connection. He needed to look within and admit that he lacked the conviction, faith and muscle to stand on God's word and choose obedience.

He needed repentance, not a rebuttal. But alas he chose the latter.

We are more prone to sin, blame and dodging than we admit. If we will not see this clearly for what it is, we can at best improve our behaviour, and that may fall apart when times get really hard.

What do you need to own up to?

Our emotional state
Feeling a lot and feeling just a little are both emotional states that are indicators of what is going on deeper within. Sometimes, feeling a little can really be a way to self-protect from the fear of disappointment and failure. It takes courage to admit that we want some thing really badly.

If Adam had gone to God and said that he really wants to try that fruit, and then, yields that desire to God, he story will be totally different. After all, desires are a part of the way God made us. Unlike Buddhism that teaches that desires are illusory, Christianity charges us to lay hold of our desires, cleanse them of the bits that are merely self-serving and turn them into ways that love and serve others.

What are the top 1-2 desires that are always floating around in your heart?

Rehearse the truth
The soul can distinguish between the truth and a pep talk. As I sat and reviewed my journal, my soul was informed of the events I had journeyed through and the emotions and convictions I had formed along the way. My mind had forgotten so much of it (thank God for the journal!), but the soul was smiling along as I read.

I anchored on some Scripture I had recorded in my journal and read them slowly again. A deep satisfaction and peace came over me. The questions I began with did not feel as urgent anymore. I had answers to them, although not in the form of a plan or a strategy.

That's when I realized afresh what my soul was doing. The questions it posed set me in the right direction and primed me to reflect in a particular way.

In the end, I was not asked to prove or establish that my achievements or my foresight. Rather, I needed to remember that my journey, though filled with surprises and at times pain, is a meaningful one and the purpose of God for me is ripening in my long obedience. Above all, the soul wants me to be secure and brave in knowing that I do not walk by myself, ever.

On the final few days of 2017, I cleaned out my desk and set up a new calendar. That's the desk. Real life however is much more a continuation. But we can continue in our fear, restlessness, resentment or weariness, or we can pay attention to our soul and continue stronger and clearer.

Take time to listen to your soul, make the right connections, find your emotions more rested and anchor your mind on truths you know.

Related reads:
From 'other' to 'another', spotting God's wide mercies
Don't lose your 'ask-ability' and don't lose sight of God
The power of a soul's shape
A small soul shift can be seismic

23 Jan 2008

happy NEW? year ?

Hands up, those who feel like 2008 has been more of 2007. Today, i just felt somewhat disappointed at the continuity of life. Yesterday is somehow still around. So, I took a deep breath and considered the reasons:
1. some things go on
i guess this is something we must accept and embrace. Some things wont be new just because we plastered up a really swanky or inspirational screen saver on our computers. Such as my daughter's tendency to forgetfulness as she yaks away...i blistered and blustered at how she could misplace and totally not recall...but, she is still her! Perhaps somewhere, with all my grand ideas of change and renewal, i forget that!
2. some things will fade off
perhaps there are still lingering things from 07 that need to be cleared..eventually, the newer things will arrive....
3. some things call for deliberate make-overs
well, if we want 08 to be different from 07; we need to get specific. some things will clearly call for decisive and disciplined effort (such as that exercise plan).
4. some things will catch us by surprise
ah, life is more than happenstance; but there are times things simply -- happen! For me, it was meeting a divorcee whom i somehow care for; and somehow, that took a good deal of my emotional energy. So i had to review my energy management and consider my options..perhaps i am seeking to be more than i am called to be.

Silly me, I am in a new year, after all. There is much to accept afresh, anticipate, celebrate and expect.

2 Jan 2015

Newness: new friends and a soul story

{2015 NewNess Series}

2014 has been quite a year. I came to know many new people, a lot in the creative community.These folks amaze me with their talents, gifts, and commitment to craft and Christ. I feel so enlivened by them. I am so grateful for their lives and the difference they want to make to the soul-scape of Singapore.

But a problem surfaced as it does with new stuff; such as new, talented people. You wish you were like them. I did! I am sure I will continue to! Look at what will be called A-Listers: a lawyer who is a poet. A lecturer with his own ukulele band, a young writer who gets featured at the Singapore Writer's festival, a young mother and musician who provides amazing leadership, a young man who can play the old pipe organ!  Yes, Wow! I wished to have opportunities, training, pedigree...they do. I wished I had their gumption, discipline, energy.

My wishing is not mere fancy. There is something about creativity and craftsmanship that really draws me and feeds my soul. This group has a homecoming feel to it. It reminds me of the time I switched from a being Science student (a semi one really as my grades weren't sterling) to the Humanities. I began to enjoy and thrive; in fact I shone. I came home!

But - sometimes you can come home and find that you're a lil old for everyone and everything. You can come home and feel like it's humming so well along, you cannot bring anything more to it.

When a damsel is in distress, she calls for her prince. But an old dame had better have it together and not be in distress! I will be told by popular wisdom not to be so silly, to whip up my self-confidence, remind myself of how far I have come and assume somewhat cocksure that I am a gift to these folks! Other smart options would be to get inspired and take up the painting, photography and drumming I never did earlier.

Interestingly a setback in architecture means : a steplike recession in the profile of a high-rise building, usually dictated by building codes to allow sunlight to reach streets and lower floors...

Looks like some light is trying to get to the lower floors.

The giving bit. Aren't gifts offered and presented by a Giver? And isn't the value of a gift a matter of the depth of relationship? (which is why my son's art means so much to me). I may or may not be a gift; that is for others to tell me, which is nice if they do; but may peace remain if they don't.

The gung-ho bit? Yes, there are things I'd like to do, like learning to draw birds. But on a scale of importance, that may have to wait for now. Also, the past few years as I see my life more as an unfolding of Life, I know that the artist of my life is not me and my clumsy brushstrokes rarely make up the defining lines.

But, there is one thing that I need to . really . watch.

The feeling of not quite fitting in or making a difference can and does at times cause my soul to pull back. When it starts to do so, the heart gets somewhat crumpled and things get lost among the folds and layers: like generosity, authenticity, and love. A protective layer can form that encrusts the heart so its tenderness is no longer accessible.

A good thing can turn out quite differently, even wrong.

We are familiar when this happens with sad, traumatic events. But mere carelessness, over time, can also change a heart.

So Kindness sat with me and bid me look at this heart trying to fold and hide its beat.

In our days of self-fulfillment, we devour every bit of suggestion, colour, excitement possible for daily life is too humdrum and reality too dreary. We reach for the unreachable: our actualized selves, our perfect spouses, our brilliant children, our incredible portfolios....every one of them increasing the contrast between life-as-is with life-as-it-should-be that is showcased on facebook, soundcloud, youtube, instagram et al.

I confess to Kindness that I have been party to this and I am reminded that this is not the air that I am meant to breathe. Indeed while intoxicating, it  is actually toxic in the end. The highs it promises will not last and I will come crashing down when my views and followers decline! Kindness points me to the Great  One who in wisdom set me in time and place. I wasn't born too late or in the wrong hemisphere.

Our capacity to love and appreciate more than what we know or have experienced before, like when one visits a foreign land and feels at home, is a gift of expansion. It is the toxic grasping of modern culture that turns the wondrous discovery into a pouting and whining.

Goodness comes quietly by and I am warmed by her as I think how surprising this journey of new friends has been. It hasn't the been stuff of school-girl angst about liking and being liked, but a slow gathering of hearts and minds, like finding more seashells along the shore!

I recognised that the sins of Envy are Discontent could have been the fruit I eat if I had not watched what I am sowing in my heart. I see too that the enemy's favourite weapon of Deception with its armada of Accusation, Confusion, Exaggeration were set for my heart's co-ordinates. So I moved my heart from its spot to a place it is always safe: under the Light.

Don't let the toxic fumes of this world's values and the shadows the enemy casts distort and destroy God's good gifts!

"Don't be deceived... Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." ~ James 1v16f

Here's to a new year and more fun with more friends who are always so good for the soul.

25 Feb 2015

The strangest coffee-shop talk ever: is this man in love...with himself or what?

I just got back from lunch. It was my usual fish soup and rice meal, simple, tasty, I'd like to believe health-full too.
Singapore's fish soup version 1 

The routine is pretty usual, I walk up to the stall, smile widely at the Chinese gal who by now recognises me, makes some small talk and repeat my order.

The coffee shop was crowded today with lunch-goers, some seated around those roll wooden table tops tossing their lo-hei on this day of humanity 人日。Maybe after all that zodiac calibration, we figure humanity should have a little affirmation even if the Chinese love to compare ourselves to animals, with sayings such as, slogging like a horse/bull.

So I sit at this table fairly close to the stall, half of it occupied by containers of nearly-finished New Year cookies. I had just begun gingerly stamping the seeds out of the chilli padi with the end of my chopsticks when a baldy skinny man with a cup of tea in his hand asked to occupy the empty chair. I nodded and smiled a little. He began to move the cookie containers to one side giving himself a decent berth; I gathered my bowls closer to myself too, in case he needs that much space!

His food arrived and he asked the server. "where is the dong gua?" The server stared blankly. So being the busybody I am, I said, it's "huang gua" (冬瓜 would be winter melon while 黄瓜 is the cucumber). And this is when he began.

"I eat here all the time. She is not here anymore. She always knows I need cucumber. If it was not ready, she would prepare it for me. She left... July 11th 2014....She's really good..."

Naturally, I smiled and said, wow. Which meant he continued.

"I used to buy her stuff. I come for lunch, I buy her mango. Sometimes I go to Paragon and get her Tiramisu from Gastronomia, I buy the good stuff you know, I think I spend maybe five, six hundred dollars..."

"Why didn't you propose to her since you are fond of her?"
"No la, I just live here, I eat here all the time. I bought her Hagen Daz, those small tubs in a box. She shares it with the others. She knows exactly what I eat and prepares it nicely for me...I will buy her..From Nov when I got to know her, I come nearly everyday. Sometimes more than once..."
 "Sounds like you found a mission"
 "Ya now so boring, don't know what to do... I wanted to give her money but she won't take it. You know she said 'O, my father is sick' or this kind of things...So only during New Year I can give her angpow, she won't take it. See? This kind of person you know. Then I knew she liked chocolates. I know her schedule each day.... "
lone man are often lonely 

So yes, in fifteen or so minutes, I found out enough and, I needed an exit strategy --  because he is pining for someone but he is unaware. He is in need of love but cannot identify it when it comes. He is retired and purposeless but he is not ready to hear any inputs. When I left, he was kinda mid-sentence!

Would you pray for this retired 50+ man who is obviously lonely, lives with his mom and sister, is financially stable, has a father in the aged home, AND really needs a life purpose plus a true friend !

"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it..."~ Genesis 2v15
"The LORD God said, 'it is not good for the man to be alone...'.." ~ Genesis 2v18

30 Dec 2013

How did God see your 2013?

What is the first emotion that comes as you think of 2013?

If you could draw a picture to represent the year, what would you draw?

Some of us hitch onto some happy moment, grin and tumble into the new year. Some of us wince at certain memories and maybe even fight to fend off the sense that we blew it again. Doubtless for most of us in mostly sunny Singapore, our days were a busy mix of getting around, chasing deals and forging goals. It can be hard to tease our jam-packed days apart to see what they were truly about.

- The unexamined life is not worth living - Socrates

But how do we examine our lives? What do we use to map our days against? What grid, or guide do we have? Our ever-present tendency is to compare ourselves with... some ideal, and often feel like we have been given the short end of the stick again.

Recently, i thought that even being on Facebook can do enormous harm: we may be sick, jobless, lost...and it seems the whole world is having a great time without us - all the pictures of balmy scenes, happy faces, wise words, great times... people are going places and doing stuff. Life is happening without us.

Facebook tries to help with a review of your year by stitching together all your posts and updates that received the highest 'likes'. Ah, all is not lost, i was heard; someone laughed at my joke, someone noticed my melancholy, someone liked my pictures.

As I was preparing to lead my church tomorrow for a time of reflection; I think of Jesus' words that sets up that contrast between life and death. He offers us life abundant - and warns us of the living reality that we have an enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy.

Perhaps if we recognise that this dynamic presents itself to us each day - that within each day, we are posed a question: would you have life or not? I think of how our feelings, thoughts and circumstances may well be God's invitation and offer to live more fully and free.

I imagine looking at my life from the outside - and seeing it through God's eyes. What then of my 2013? How does God feel about my year nearly gone? What picture would he draw?


Psalm 139 & more {enjoy}

Why not have some face-time with God and just remember - He is the God who made you, loves you and constantly, and faithfully invites you to go deeper. To live.

24 Dec 2012

You know...Almost, Nearly, Always!

With the New Year coming, I’d like to introduce you to three familiar friends. This is because they have a knack for taking the ‘new’out of any year. Meet them and find out for yourelf! They will tell you about themselves:

My name is Almost. I have two buddies, Nearly and Always. We are pretty different; but as with all friends, we found a way to hang out, laugh, and not take each other too seriously. In fact, I think we look pretty good as a lot: Almost Nearly Always. I told you.

Well, those two can wait. First, let me tell you about myself.

I have great ideas-
-Better distribution of resources to end world poverty
-Roundtable talks to negotiate water resources so that nobody dies of thirst
-Cross-fertilisation of think tanks to deal with those intractable issues like democratizing nations, Aids, and mother-in-laws. Yes, I am also funny.

Ah…and in case you think I live in the higher realms, I also cover more pedestrian concerns like
-Losing weight
-Proper exercise
-Wardrobe makeovers
-Tidying my room (really)

And I come really close to actually doing something about these stuff I think about and talk about. In fact, my sterling quality is precisely this: everyone holds me in pretty high regard because I am so close to what everyone is trying to deal with. My admirers range from the neighbourhood coffeshop assistant to that smart professor of Philosophy who sometimes I see running in the park! I don’t exchange mere pleasantries when I meet folks: we talk for quite a bit. I always nod knowingly and with the sincerest empathy for whatever whoever is going through; and I am proud to say some of me rubs off on them afterward.

O, here comes Nearly.

This is a real chum. In fact, when I am with him, we seem to have a doubly effective effect! Just a few weeks ago, we spoke with young and old and everyone single one of them benefitted from the clarifying chat. I still remember some of what we talked about:

Bringing a gift for a friend’s birthday
Calling up her mother (she has not spoken to her in years)
Trying out a new way of talking to the kids
Changing job
Buying a new brand of (o dear I forgot what this one was about… My name is Almost remember?)

It is amazing how relieved people feel when they just know that these things at least crossed their minds.

Always is strongest of the three of us. She has this knack of sneaking up on conversations – whether the person is talking to himself or to others – and simply stabilizing everything. No change, no shift, no move. Nada. That is power I say. Just keeps everything the way it is! Just consider how she slips in and maintains the status quo:

I am always so slow/worried/blur (works with any adjective – amazing right?)
He’s always so selfish
It always rains when we have plans

See? She’s amazing!

Well, the Mayans were wrong. Or should we say right: after all, from the looks of things, we are almost, nearly about to end in a big bang (the way we began presumably)! Always.

21 Jan 2014

What will be NEW for you this year?

As the first day of January washed up the shores of my soul, I wrote on the board in my home, "What will be NEW for you?". Those words are still there. They remind me not to go back to the same, the old, the habitual, the knee-jerk -- not when Vision, Imagination and Longing are drawing me towards growth, difference, fresh, and possibility.

 I talked to my family - I remind us about Christmas just past; that it was Good News because Jesus had come to make all things new. We knew in our hearts the ways that hurt, that drained joy, that robbed peace from our home. We must reject old ways that have hurt us and look forward in faith, and act in accordance to the newness Jesus wants to give us.

We don't want to talk, think, or act the same. I dream of peaceable words, tender attention, patient bearing with each other...that in our daily life of believing in the New, we are being changed to bring the New to our world.

What about you?

I know it can be scary to dream. I know what disappointment tastes like. I know what defeat feels like and how it loves to linger around and turn everything stale and colourless. But, your heart and mine - are hearts held by God and fashioned by Him, are hearts meant to beat with hope, are hearts that can be be set aflame. Indeed, we need to have confidence that as God loves us and gives us His Spirit, many of what we desire are good things and ought to be in our lives, even if they are not yet! {see Psalm 37v4}

Often, God uses one of his many promises to trigger a sense of possibility. Such as ~

And he will be the stability of your times,
a wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is his treasure. {Isaiah 33v6}

I long for stability! This verse draws me. It turns within my belly and I see the truth of it: i need to treasure, value, prioritise, honour God in my moments & movements.

Which of the many promises of God is tugging at your heart these days? {please do share with us in the comments!}

God's Word is always an invitation to an adventure of trust. 

I am learning again to take His Word - first, seriously, totally -

I have found that --
when you give the Word the place its rightful place, it anchors down and I can distinguish better; and swat away the lesser words, and, the lies.

the Word is milk and meat and when I am fed, I am less susceptible to feed myself cheap substitutes.

the Word is God-breathed; and each time I read, savour, meditate, fresh life-giving breath enters my being.

I am sure God will pepper 2014 with many specific promises and remind me of many I need to recall. But in His goodness, he began me with a familiar Psalm {yes, i have read it as part of my Psalm trek }, but it was so sweet to read it slow, write it and ask for eyes to notice what I must !

Go seek your promise(s)! There will be NEW this year!

28 Dec 2015

What I need to start a new year

What's the first thing you feel about 2016?

Or perhaps like me, you haven't even wrapped your head around 2015!

If you are kinda hazy about 2015; it's totally understandable.

We had the worst haze ever which made us wonder how our neighbourly relations will be in the days ahead. Our ruling party swept back into power and we wonder if it will be more of the same. To our North, while some are cashing in on the Ringgit's falling value, we know that an unstable situation will hurt us for we have trade ties for water, chicken and vegetables! Moving outwards, the larger world was on fire with violence, earthquakes and mass migrations. A news commentary says the more than million refugees flooding into Europe will redefine her forever. The USA Supreme court legalised gay marriages introducing obsolescence to our standard notion of 'family'.

The Straits Times calls it Epic Change & Upheaval.

It is clear that our world will never be the same again. What has changed still waits to unfold.

On the home lawns, I was deeply saddened to hear a young woman tell me about a divorce lawyer sweeping her arm across the vast shelves behind her to point out how many divorce cases she handles. Friends tell me they are struggling to find work. Parents raising children are wondering what 21st century-skills they need.

The word 'hurtling' keeps coming back to me.

:  to move rapidly or forcefullytransitive verb

What does one do when things seem to be moving inexorably, whizzing by and you are barely clutching on for dear life?

I reach for something that will hold on to me in case my holding on isn't strong enough.

"do not let your hearts be in God..." ~ John 14

Jesus tells us to trust because -

"I am going to prepare a place for you" ~v2

" I will come back and take you to be with me" ~ v3

"I am the way, the truth and the life.." ~v6

"You may ask for anything in my name, and I will do it" ~v14

"..the Father will give you.. to be with your forever - the Spirit of truth" ~v16

The comfort, assurance and strength we have lies in:
* a promise of a certain future
* a way to get there
* provision along the way
*help we need for the journey; to know the truth and live in it.


in any language, we need it

Jesus reminds us, 

"Peace I leave with you...Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" ~v27

Notice that last bit: do not be afraid.

O yes, we are so easily frightened. Will prices go up? Will their grades drop? Will my work be received? Can we maintain our lifestyle? Will terrorists make it to our shores? Will Singapore continue to prosper? Will my heart give up?

my fear of heights holds me back from one of these!

Don't; don't be afraid.

For fear holds us hostage and makes us less than who we are. Instead, let us drink deep of the peace and comfort given; so like the Psalmist we can say,

"I will have no fear of bad news; my heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." ~ 112v7

This is what I need for 2016. What about you?

Friends, an old song to start your new year off on the right note?

My Peace I Give To You - Jesus  {click to enjoy}

1 Jan 2013

Birthday (B)log!

 A strenuous dream stirred me the wee hours of 31st December. Thankfully, I was tired enough to fall back asleep. I next opened my eyes to a brightened room and my mind began to fill fast with thoughts of things undone, tasks to do, and ideas loving to consider. But soon, a sense of weariness crept in. ‘Happy birth-day’ should be about my being, not my do-ing!

Forty-six years ago, Love ushered me into this world...why?

For years it has been my habit to spend some part of my birthday looking back to trace Grace-prints, mark the pits and my folly that helped me stumble into them...and then to listen for the Wind's blowing for the new year.

I was sick last year after a busy Christmas season, and trundled clumsily into January...feeling totally awful and unprepared for 2012. But I felt a relief ...a reminding; that even my good habits must not overtake God and His Grace. I sensed the Wind late; it wasn't until January 14th that my new journal was ready. Epiphany.

After settling the kids’ breakfast, I sat to write in my journal. A plain recording of the moments up to that point...I had no appetite for breakfast, ideas or I wrote the last line: "today I shall drift". I  texted a few girlfriends. One of them replied, " sounds like a good 'plan'!".

Well, even drifting was challenging since I had to co-ordinate with hubby about kids...some one as always lays a way. How does one negotiate drifting?

The time came for me to hop on the train into town. Two of my older sisters are meeting me for tea. We went to a small shop filled with ornamental angels, chests, and posters, and clusters of chairs around tables. We sit in a corner and begin to examine the menu. I love trying stuff, but we settle for two pre-designed tea sets of bruschetta, cakes and scones.

 Being intentional and pastoral, I often ponder about our conversations. But today my mind gets to rest- I am drifting! The conversation was true and fast...hearts were bared through long diatribes about stubborn daughters and 'individuating' sons. Life is. Sisters are special- we can keep up the talking since most of the drama of our lives revolve around people we all know. My sisters agree at the end it maybe a good idea to invite my nieces and nephew to a new series on Love. The sister with the persistent cough may go off chicken on my suggestion...stuff of life.

The kids were excited dad got the Two Towers (I keep calling the them the Twin Towers) DVD. I slipped out to share some cake with a neighbor then came back to finish the movie and settle them for bed - a whole  hour later than I had instructed! My plan to be at a Watchnight service weakened. I showered and put on my flannel pjs, the rain has been falling lightly most of the night so it is now very cool for the tropics....

And I hope to drift off to sleep soon....

Every day is in itself un-repeatable; filled with details oft unplanned and perhaps even unwanted. Life has always been about this paradoxical tension of and/or: you plan, you also cannot plan. But on my birthday, planning was really low – which is a rest when you live in a busy city filled with expectations, longings and fears.