Bloganuary Day 17

As a teen, my constant day-dream as I rode the bus to or from school was: “What would it be like, to be at the right place, at the right time, saying the right thing and to the right people?” What I was wishing for was synchronicity.

At 31, I had an encounter with Jesus Christ. Subsequently, He sent the Holy Spirit [1 Corinthians 12: 7-11 (NIV)]:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit… All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

The Spirit prompts us to use our gifts “for the common good”. We are to give messages inspired by Him. Words, spoken or written, can be like a surgeon’s knife; used skillfully, it can cut out a tumor; used carelessly, it creates great damage. So I learned to use my words carefully, and in the right manner.

God sets it up so that I’m with people who desire to be set free. Often times, I can help through my prayers and intercession; sometimes, I can’t. There’s something blocking and both my client and I can’t discern it. But when one uses words carefully, there’s no damage done. She hasn’t improved, but she isn’t damaged further either. It leaves the door open for another time, another session, using a different tool, to get freedom.

One superpower that I wished for, and was given, was the “message of wisdom” — words spoken at the right time, in the right place, and the right manner, to the right person.

Wishes can come true.

Bloganuary Day 16

Get healing for your issues, and don’t give up until you find the right therapist.

You know what your issues are: that loss of love, that childhood trauma, that sense of abandonment, that low self-worth — the list of hurts and wounds that the human race encounters is a long one.

And don’t give up.

Don’t give up just because the first therapist you saw was insensitive and you didn’t feel heard; don’t give up because the subsequent counsellor was judgmental; don’t give up because the next inner healing practitioner was jealous when God came in a wondrous way to minister to you and you became more whole (Yes, that happened).

There’s one out there for you, keep searching until you find.

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

Bloganuary Day 15

Daily reflection has proved to be very beneficial. Over time, I have formed the habit of going over in my mind the day’s events. And I allow the feelings to bubble up.

  • If it’s joy, I re-enter the event in my imagination, and relive it again. I am reinforcing and strengthening my joy.
  • If it’s something negative like hurt or irritation, I would reflect on the cause. Is it my own unfulfilled expectations? Is it the other person’s lack of consideration? How can I do better next time?

For people who like a more deliberate structure and the authority of 400 years of tradition initiated by St Ignatius of Loyola, these five steps are very helpful.

The Pocket Examen is from Loyola University, Maryland

These daily reflections gets me unstuck from today and moves me on to tomorrow.

An unexamined life is not worth living


Bloganuary Day 14

As a child, I was brought up to instantly obey my elders, to never question them (at least outwardly) and to take whatever they dish out. This mentality set me up for victimization and it took me years to change.

But, change I must. I found I was attracting predators because I was tolerating bad behaviour. There’s nothing more attractive to a predator than someone who has been continually brainwashed to think that the interests of others always took precedence over hers.

So I got to work on establishing boundaries. The book on Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend was pivotal in my life; so was some coaching on confrontation by my counsellor friend, David Blakely. I would be tested on my boundaries, time and again, by young and old.

One day I was sitting across from a much older lady who had invited me for lunch. We chatted, but I noticed that whenever I glanced away from her to reflect on what is said and to formulate my response, she would immediately tap her hand on mine. After three or four times, my annoyance was rising. She was giving me no personal respite. Whether she was conscious of it or not, she was tugging at me emotionally like a puppet on a string. And no one likes to be controlled.

I took a deep breath and countering cultural expectations — we have been taught to never be “rude” to hosts, even more so, to an older person — I said, “Would you stop touching me, please?”

This was the litmus test for a friendship.

In my culture, if we rebuke someone, there’s a high probability the other person would take it as a put-down and find ways to take revenge, whether passively avoiding you or aggressively badmouthing you. The cultural “unforgivable sin” is to cause someone to “lose face” (i.e. be embarrassed), especially in front of others. So inappropriate behavior is rarely confronted.

That day, my friend was shocked and taken aback; I could see the emotions rolling across her face. Subsequently, she caught herself trying to tap my hand, and stopped.

To my relief, she didn’t take offence. We still have a good connection.

But I took a 50-50 risk. It could have gone either way.

Bloganuary Day 13

A good breakfast is necessary. Now, I am fixing bagels — bagels toasted in the oven, oozing with hot cut sausage, pan-fried tomato, fresh veggies and if I’m feeling really hungry, a sunny-side-up topped with melted cheese. Biting into the crunch of bagels mingled with spicy chorizos and the mildness of lettuce and tomato — it’s a symphony of goodness. I pair my bagel with chamomile, honey and vanilla tea and enjoy its sweet and mellow flavor.

Then, it’s time to focus on the music: My singers for today are Don Moen and Lenny LeBlanc. The big band leader-organiser vs the sweet balladist play off each other. They are in their winter years but have aged like good wine, as they say. Men who’ve made difficult choices but good ones have a gentle, mellow wisdom about them — although they are not devoid of some sharp edges. They call themselves the “two grumpy old men”, and with reason. Some of the grumpiness slipped out when spontaneous Lenny spotted Don’s carefully prepared song list and said, “What’s this? You don’t need this.” And sent it sailing to the floor! Long-suffering Don is taken aback, but recovers, and all goes smoothly.

Next, to check the Bloganuary prompt. If I’m inspired, I write straight away. If not, I may skip writing. Today is a good day. I’m inspired.

Then, to listen to cutting-edge Christian teacher Arthur Burk. Through using his principles, I’ve helped many get free of spiritual hindrances — not all, though. Some people are stuck in such murky stuff I can’t get them out. At least not yet. The world, as the hymn says, has “many dangers, toils and snares” and some desperately desire to be freed from the traps.

After hearing Arthur, I check through what he says. As usual, no issues with his interpretation. And next, I make a mental note to see if I can help one of my struggling clients with this new tool.

Then I meditate on passages in the Bible or pray quietly. These practices ground me. When I ground myself in Eternity, the irritations, annoyances and disappointments of the day slide off. There’s nothing like being intimately connected with the life-giving flow of the One “who was, and is, and is to come.” This makes my day perfect.

Bloganuary Day 11

There’s a difference between being bold and being offensive. In my Krazy Karismatic days in the late 80s, I was church-hopping. We were a pretty reticent crowd and were constantly encouraged by our preachers to be as “bold as a lion”. After one such meeting I met with a small group where a Krazy Karismatic said she used to be shy, timid and reticent, but now “I AM BOLD AS A LION”! she screamed into my ear. Today, I have ringing in my ears… I wonder if she was one of the reasons.

Being bold means being willing to stand up for your beliefs when the situation calls for it — even if it risks losing a lot of “Likes”. When the situation doesn’t call for it, it’s downright offensive.

As a teen, I decided to try basketball; to my chagrin, the ball kept slipping from my hands… Sigh. Anyway, there were two girl leaders there, one whom the boys called the Sherman Tank because she was taller, bigger and fitter than some of them. After a game, they cornered me in the basketball court and forced me to hear about Jesus. No one likes to be force-fed. When I told them I wasn’t interested, one of them — I think it was the Sherman Tank — told me I was going to Hell. As I walked away from them feeling harassed, intimidated and offended, my one thought was, “I don’t think God is like that.”

And I was right. He’s a lot bigger than that, and the world that He showed me after my encounter with Him was way beyond anything I had ever imagined. But I digress…

After a few months of church-hopping, I returned to my conservative Methodist church. I joined the Adult Fellowship, a group of about 50 people. We had a couple of good worship leaders and as they sang and played, I felt really excited and was drawn to sing and lead. Now I had not sung since my teens, when I was Alto in the Combined Schools Choir. Nevertheless, the situation called for me to be “bold as a lion” although in truth I was shy as a mouse. So I valiantly volunteered to lead worship, while the two leaders looked at me dubiously and tried to train me.

After some practice, I took the mike to lead the people… and found I could hardly sing. Something was hindering my voice. But even as I struggled in my singing, the presence of God slowly filled the room… one by one, people were being overcome by His power and my leader, seeing what was happening, invited everyone to the front for prayer.

It took me some time to overcome my singing issue — with training, practice and prayer, I managed to sing adequately.

That experience however, taught me that being “bold as a lion” pays off. Just do your best with what you have, and He will do the rest.

Bloganuary Day 10

The first thing I’m most grateful for is my life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. As a child, I have always been aware of a living, peaceful presence in the words of the Gospel, but “something” dissuaded me from reading further. Then life intervened; I was swept on to college and career and then at 31, in the course of a journalistic assignment, I met someone immersed in the occult. I knew because he told me. After that interview (which had nothing to do with the occult), I felt heavily oppressed. Something was trying to gain control. In desperation, I cried out with all my heart, mind and soul: “Jesus, cleanse me!” Light flashed into my brain, something fled and from that time on, the presence of God never left me.

Gradually, He changed me. He developed me from someone who was very confused about life, very oppressed from the destructive values in the culture that was being imposed on me, to someone who’s very sure that knowing and practicing His Word will lead to fulfillment and satisfaction.

Second, I am very grateful for a loving grandmother. It was from her that I learned to have a generous spirit, always willing to reconcile, and to receive unconditional love and attachment. When I left her care at six years old, I found to my dismay that very few people knew how to connect heart-to-heart. When I was 31, God made up for that deficit.

Third, I am grateful for my friends. With friends, life’s journey is made easier and happier. Their love, laughter, advice and sometimes helping hand has made a positive difference in my life.

Fourth, I am grateful for my health. I have a few things to watch out for, but on the whole, I thankful for a fairly fit body and a strong pair of legs.

Fifth, I am grateful to be in the uber-efficient city of Singapore. It’s small, sweaty, crowded, but things work here. As I was telling a Gen Z relative, the nice thing about retiring is that with my train card, I can go almost anywhere and explore the city at leisure. And this is one of my goals when leaving the country is out of the question.

Bloganuary Day 9

I laughed when I saw the prompt. Because I’m an Asian communicating in a Western environment, the assumptions about me can be quite comical.

First, I did not bomb Pearl Harbour. I wasn’t even born then; in fact, I’m not even Japanese. I’m Chinese, my birthplace is Singapore, a British colony then. Now Singapore is an independent country, 4000 km away from China (look up Google maps). In other words, it’s not in China.

And yes, I speak English fluently. I know many Chinese people don’t, but I do. In fact, many Singaporeans speak English fluently because it’s the country’s working language.

No, I don’t speak Chinese, unfortunately. In school, I had an option to choose Chinese or Malay, I chose Malay as it was anglicised and much easier to learn. In later years, it was made compulsory for students to study a second language in their mother tongue, and it is to their advantage as many Singaporeans have found it easy to get around in China and even work there.

And yes, I do speak up. There are many decent people out there, and I won’t know who they are unless I stand up and speak out — or in this case, write a blog. I know many Chinese people don’t, especially those of the older generation because of centuries of oppression. But I am different because I am walking in the freedom that Jesus Christ has bought for me.

Bloganuary Day 8

At the risk of sounding immodest, I want to say that when I write, I want to convey hope — that there’s meaning, there’s purpose to life. There’s fun too!

When I write, I would either be sticking a hand out to those that are floundering or affirming those that are already on firm ground. My message is, “Yes, we’re all in this together. Let’s make the best of this”.

There’s power in words — power to lift up, power to cast down. I want to use my writing to lift up. That’s what I aim to do in every piece and I hope to achieve it each time so that my readers will have strength for the journey.

Bloganuary Day 7

Daily Prompt: January 7, 2022 — Bloganuary

Hanging out with friends when the setting is just perfect, makes me laugh.

Last October, when Covid made things quite dreary, Min and I randomly decided to go to Jewel Changi Airport. We couldn’t go places — but to our surprise, we could “go places”, as you can see in the pictures. We went to —

  1. Australia (I’m the one behind):

2. Made friends with a komodo dragon in Indonesia:

3. Here’s a close-up of the beast:

4. Enjoyed “sushi” and hung out with the Blackpink girl group

5. And finally ended our trip on “Jeju Island”:

Taking pictures and clowning around with friends makes me laugh — a lot.