Reminiscing in time

On April 25, 2015, I wrote:

This morning, I was happy that after his nap and early lunch, my papa was alert and awake enough to talk with me. Really treasured memories of the chat:
Pa: 薇,我会替妳祷告。祷告有力量。(Bee, I will pray for you. Prayer is power.)
Pa: 薇,toh sia di lai khuah goa. (Bee, thank you for visiting me.)
whoa, i feel like crying..
Me: Pa, don’t thank me, it’s just right that I visit you.


Lessons for me:
1) Take every opportunity to make memories with ageing parents.
2) Time to talk and time to just be with them; even with so few words and not very long periods of time, so precious the moments.
3) When I get old, i need to remember to be appreciative of what my children do for me – even little moments of presence and attention mean a lot.
I have to stop now.. coz i’m being drama queen again.. sniffle sniffle..

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Today, papa is in another place where I cannot ‘yet’ be. I can no longer listen to him speaking words of love to me. But I can remember and treasure the words he spoke to me. I can still visualise how he was on his bed – curled up on his side with his hand inside his shirt. I can imagine his voice speaking to me – calling my name ‘薇‘ and asking ‘Kui tiam?’ What time is it?

Time – such a precious gift… time to be together, time to love, time to speak in love, time to experience love.

A Chinese proverb: 一寸光阴,一寸金,寸金难買寸光阴。An inch of time, an inch of gold. An inch of gold cannot buy an inch of time.

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The eternal God – the Alpha and the Omega (the beginning and the end), the timeless God created time when he breathed into man the gift of life. He gifted man with time to live and to love… a time to be born and a time to die…

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When life is hard…

No pain, no gain… No rain, no growth..

This journal was written August 22, 2016. I want to remember how it was when I was lame and could not walk, when my father was gravely ill and dying, when life was difficult but God so gracious n mercifully faithful ..

Some thoughts kept recurring in my mind for the past few months. So many things have happened: my mom passed, I fell, my dad became ill.. still is…so much pain, so much grief, so many tests.. As I look back, as I am still in the middle of it.. what’s the point of it all?

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A song comes to mind: Little flowers never worry, when the rain begins to fall… If it never never rains, then they’ll never never grow.

2nd song: Trust His heart
God is too wise to be mistaken. God is too good to be unkind. When you don’t understand, when you can’t trace His hands, trust His heart. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWk8DRwDYDc

Sufferings and challenges of life either draw people to God or turn them away from God. We, as children of God are not exempted from harsh realities of life: sickness, heartaches, evils of this world, and finally, death. What makes Christians different from the rest of the world is how they respond to sufferings and trials in life.

We are made aware of our dependence on God. We realise we are helpless needy souls who rely on God’s grace and mercy day by day, moment by moment. We seek comfort that we are not on this journey alone.

Through these past months, I experience steadfast love and mercies of God, they are new every morning. I am reminded that God’s ways are higher than my ways, His thoughts not mine. I learn that God does make a way when there seems to be no way. I confess that I’m such a fool to be anxious about petty things that God had to turn my focus from them to Him. I worry about domestic helpers. My cook got sick and went home. God provided a new one even before the old one left. I worry about food to put on the table. God taught me: Give us this ‘day’ our daily bread. I review and learn new dishes with the new helper one day at a time (on youtube). My sister and I pray for God’s mercy on my father. Many times I plead: Lord, take papa home to eternal rest or to his earthly home. After almost a month now, my father is still in the hospital. Marian and I wept on the phone. I cried alone, wept with friends.

What got us through.. what holds us together? Prayers… sufferings/trials get us on our knees. I know our family has many prayer warriors accompanying us in our difficult times. I learned and am learning how to pray like Jesus: Lord, have mercy.. Thy will be done. These two seem paradoxical… Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane sought God’s will even as He prayed for God to take the cup of suffering away from him. In prayer, God’s children get to experience together the amazing grace and mercy of God. Even as I pray with my friends in their need, I get to witness how God listens and answers to the calls of those who love him and are called for His purpose: to bring glory and honour to God – so that the world will know what an amazing God we have.

A candid sensitivity

What kind of friend do u find most likeable on FB? Mine… a friend comes into mind for her candour.. I like her posts because she can be candidly funny.

What kind of inspirational speaker do u find most inspiring? Mine.. two friends come to mind: one speaks of all her achievements and how she achieve them; the other shares her success stories and candidly tells of her not-so-successful ones. Of these two, i prefer the latter.

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And so I want to talk about candour. What does it mean to be candid? To be candid is to be honest, frank and speaking the truth without a facade. For me, the word seems to carry a sense of happiness and brightness. I searched for its origin. In latin, it is whiteness. Words associated with candour are integrity, sincerity, fairness, guilelessness and naiveté,

To be guileless and naive is to be childlike – without deceit. How does a child do that? At times, to the point of being rude, right? But we know that behind his truthfulness, he did not mean to hurt. Let me illustrate an example: I was embarrassed when my young daughter candidly told a friend that her gift was too small to fit her. She answered in reply to the friend’s asking. She was too young to be tactful about it.

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Tact is sensitivity, understanding and thoughtfulness in dealing with difficult situations. Its Latin origin is to touch, or sense of touch.

I appreciate the candour of my adult friends and I observed that my child needs tact in her candour. What is the difference of their candour? The candour of my friends is illustrated when they shared truths about themselves – even their own weaknesses or the not-so-good stuffs in their lives in order to share lessons they learned. On the other hand, I teach my child that she needs to be tactful even as she is honest.

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The Bible sums it up nicely: Speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15) Paul taught the Ephesians to grow in Christ. To be mature in Christ is about integrity and about love. How? We need to be honest with each other and we need to be sensitive to one another. Candour with tact – speak in truth with a sense of touch.

We all need friends with whom we can speak of our deepest concerns, and who do not fear to speak the truth in love to us

Getting up from the mud…

What do you do when things do not go the way you want them to? How do you react when people are rude and inconsiderate? How do you feel when your actions were misunderstood, criticised and taken negatively in spite of the good intentions you have?

What do you do in the face of all negativity that surrounds you? Do you complain about it? Talk to a friend? Do you retaliate in kind? Give the people who offended you a piece of your mind? Defend yourself? Do you passively ignore them? Do you pray to God to vindicate you? Do you even pray for God to avenge you? So after doing any one of these things, what next?

I have at one time or another experienced one of the scenarios above. At one time or another, I might have responded in similar ways to one of the above. What did I learn from all these negative, unpleasant situations that life brings? I learn resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, to be elastic and stretchable. It is being adaptable and adaptive to circumstances that life brings to us. It is refusal to stay in the mud and mire. It is picking myself up from the mud, washing off the dirt and start walking again.

How do I do that? First, I stop complaining about it. Let me illustrate. When my driver/chauffeur of 10 years resigned suddenly without advanced notice, I was taken by surprise and mad. I was angry at his disrespectful behaviour. I was insulted he sent me a resignation letter delivered by his brother-in-law addressed “To whom it may concern.” I suspect it was written by his new employer. I complained about it to his brother-in-law (who is employed with me) and my friends. Then my husband told me: I guess he’s embarrassed to come personally to us to give his notice of resignation. I realise that putting myself in his shoes helped me to be less angry. It made me stop complaining. I learn to be happy for him – if he is in a better job, then good for him.

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I then turn to the positive aspects of the situation. One driver less is less expense for us. My daughter can drive herself to work, get parking reimbursement from her employer, and we save on gasoline. The driver does not need to take her to work and go back for her after work. She gets to manage her own time. There are 4 of us in the family who can drive. One driver can serve our needs. If necessary, I can drive for my children or my children can drive for me. We get to have more bonding moments in our rides. My driver gets to earn more. We increased his salary for his added load and to encourage him to do better.

What about when I quarrelled with my husband? It is always stressful to argue, to shout and vent our anger on each other. It is not pleasant to keep myself from defending my rights, and not get what I deserve. There is a need to have the last say. It is difficult to shut up and fume inside. It takes lots of energy and self-control to bite my tongue so the argument will stop. What do I do? I rationalise. I think how right I am. I get angry and say to myself – how wrong he was. Or I think how wronged I was. I cry. I sob. I indulge in self-pity. I learn both these responses do me no good. I dry my tears. I get up from the couch of self-pity and anger. I drove myself to watch a movie. It doesn’t matter what the movie is about – a drama, a comedy or a thriller – so long as I like it. One time I watched Phantom of the Opera. It was cathartic to continue crying in the movie – for something not my own sadness. Another time I watched King Arthur – the legend of the sword. The plot and action scenes in the movie made me forget my own angry tales. Then I bought myself my comfort food to bring home to eat. I ignored my husband the rest of the night. I went into the bathroom the next morning and hugged him to say I’m sorry. And he said ‘I’m sorry too.’ That’s the end of sad story… until the next one.

158411-Dolly-Parton-Quote-I-ll-be-wearing-my-high-heels-even-if-I-m-up-to.jpgReality of life is that there will always be difficult circumstances in our life – unavoidable or not, things within our control or not. Our mortal body (diseases, death) – with our sinful nature … in an evil world (war, prostitution, terrorism, oppression, etc.), in the natural world under the forces of nature – famine, typhoon, tsunami, earthquake, etc.; all these are often beyond our solutions to solve, beyond our abilities to handle to avoid or run away from. We have no choice but to face them as they come. But we do have a choice how we face them – how we respond to them with our attitude and perspective.

It is natural to feel sad when hurt, to feel angry when wronged, to feel anxious when sick. Grief is part of the emotions that God created in man – what are tears for? Today I still grieve for my parents. They died within 5 months of each other last year. How do I cope with grief. I think of our happy times. I look at old photos of us together. I remember my childhood days. I treasure the legacies they left behind. I honour their memory when I live out these legacies – the legacy to be diligent and responsible, the legacy to be prayerful, to be positive and encouraging, to be resilient when times are hard.

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Yes, it is easier said than done. Practice makes perfect. Everyday is a choice. If there’s a will, there’s a way. For Christians, we have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, our counsellor and guide. He guides us and enables us to get up from the mire and to continue walking.

Thirsting for water

 

Psalm 42
For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42 is a song of praise and a song of lament. I love this song. It is a love song. It speaks of the deep love the psalmist has for God. vv.1-2

It is also a lament. A lament is a psalm expressing deep sorrow and asking for God’s blessing or intervention. How sad it is to have tears for food day and night! How does it feel to be mocked – where is your God? Why are you crying? v.3

What to do when it seems that I am thirsting for water – and the solution to my thirst seems to be out reach? What helps me in my sadness? vv. 4-6 show us the secret to crying out our sorrows to God by praise. How to do that? I remember as I pour out my tears. Remember what? Remember the good times – the good old days when I used to sing with joy at the grace and mercy of God. v.4 Then I say to myself, why are you down and out? Be hopeful and praise. v.5
v. 6 puts it quite neatly together: I am sad but I will remember the good times.

vv. 7-12 is a passage of interplay between joy and sadness, praise and lament, remembering and hoping. It is being realistic and optimistic. It is remembering the past with gratitude, acknowledging the present with candour and looking with hope to the future.

Are you down and out, my friend? Read the Psalms and learn from the psalmist, to sing your way out of the gloom, to hope that things are going to get better because things were good in the past.

 

I don’t understand your mind…

“I don’t understand your mind.”

“Yes, whatever you wish.”

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These are two difficult sentences for me. The first one is difficult to accept. Why? Because it implies that my mind is complicated. The person who said it, cannot understand me.

The second sentence is difficult to give. Why? Because it means that I am saying yes to a wish that might not be the same as mine.Am I being difficult to understand? 😀

I will make it clearer. The first sentence is difficult for me to hear because hubby said it to me.

The second sentence is what I said so we will not get further into another argument. And I do mean it. It is not easy. It takes lots of practice… 30 years and I’m still trying to perfect it. Not by a long shot!

My two-cents thought on midlife crisis revolves around these two sentences. It is not one way street though. I too often do not understand his mind. I just do not say it as often. When menopause and andropause meet, that is about the perfect formula for a midlife crisis. For those who do not know what andropause mean or do not believe in it, I assure you that it exists. Don’t take me wrong. I am not saying hubby has it. Do not tell him I did. I will deny it. I am saying that I was/am menopausal. I often wonder if I am still in it or already out of it.

Bottom line.. regardless of menopause or andropause,
“I do not understand your mind” is not only a probability. It is a reality in human relationships.

“Yes, whatever you wish.” is the antidote to crisis. It is based on the principle of pleasing my neighbor. Take note that it is not about being people-pleaser, it is not about being afraid to say ‘No.’ It is not said for fear of rejection. It is not uttered because of fear of failure – that i do not meet the expectations of others. I say “yes, whatever you wish.’ to hubby because I submit to his authority. I submit to him because the Bible teaches me to do so. I submit to him because I love him and respect him.

Respect… that is the most wanted and needed ingredient in a marriage – the one thing a wife must give her husband and the one thing hubby values most.

The Favourite

In the Bible, Isaac and Rebecca played favourites. Isaac favoured Esau while Rebecca loved Jacob more.

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I once heard a father (our church elder) being asked about favouritism. Does he have a favourite?

He said: When you look at your fingers, are they all the same size? Do they all look the same? I cannot remember his exact words but I think the gist of his answer was: it is possible that you “like” one child’s trait better than the others (perhaps he/she is more like you or more like your spouse) but you “love” them equally.

I remember another father (my seminary professor) speaking on the same subject. He illustrated with his story: He has a child with special needs. For this reason, he gives more attention to this child. It is the same with our heavenly Father. God gives special care to his children with special needs. He loves everyone all the same. He gave Jesus to the world because he loves the world – all people whether they love him back or not.

As I think about my 3 children, I like Hannah’s sharp mind, her decisiveness and leadership being the eldest of her siblings. I like Abigail’s compassionate heart, her kindness and patience with her grandma, her EQ (she gave me a tissue when she saw me crying when she was just a young child.) I thank God for Mimi’s quiet mature ways; often surprised by the things she says, for the wisdom God gives to one so young.

It is often taught that parents do not compare their children. I do not and must not say (to our friends and/or much less to our children, and definitely not to both together) Abi is more compassionate than Hannah or that Mimi is the most hardworking of the 3. (even ‘if’ it is true.)

I remember once when I was with Abigail in the church elevator, a church member told me “Your daughter, Hannah yah gaw ah o?” (Again I can’t remember her exact words but she was comparing Hannah with Abigail – implying that Hannah is more capable than Abigail.) I told her outright: Abigail is just as ‘gaw.’

I thank God that Abigail stands on her own personality without being intimidated or pressured or whatever it is that one is supposed to feel – when your sibling is more popular than you are. I guess perhaps she knows that in her own way, she has her strengths. She is assured that her parents love her for who she is. God loves her and creates her the way she is.

It is the same with me. When we were young, my sister was the popular one – perhaps even to this day, she still is. People often asked me: Di si hee geh leh puah kiok eh bah? (Are you the one involved in plays?) Di si Marian ba? (You Marian?) Some even call me Marian. Marian is the more popular child of Po Tin. In spite of all these, I never feel insecure or jealous of all the attention my sister has (alright, a little… 🙂 ) Perhaps it is my personality of ‘noh’ lethargically phlegmatic… walang ambition.. ok ok lang. But I think it has much to do with how my parents raise us. They loved us both. Papa and mama did not play favourites – they might have liked one of us better than the other. I’m more like papa and Marian more like mama. Marian and I know that mom and dad are proud of us both. They love us each in his/her own way according to how we need their love.

So my two-cents thought on favouritism … it is alright to have a favourite … keep it to yourself. Love them all the same – short or tall, fat or thin, naughty or nice. For the ‘better’ ones, praise God. For the ‘special’ ones (those with special needs), pray to God. I’m sure in my children’s minds, I am more likeable than their dad or vice versa – at one time or another.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses – parent or child. Yet God loves us all equally. So should we… love one another without favouritism.

God has no fave