Sharing stories – On Sunday, we had Pastor Charlie
and his wife over for dinner for the first time. He was the reason we kept returning to the church when we first visited. His friendliness and down to earth nature was so evident even in our first encounter with him. Dinner lasted three hours and it would have gone on longer if not for the fact that the next day was Monday. It is always refreshing to interact with the pastors outside their main “domain”, the church, and see the humanity that lies beneath.
Ministry at work – On Monday, I took a staff out for coffee when I sensed she wasn’t herself that morning. For an hour, in between sobs she shared her anger and pain from a relationship. I just held her hand and listened. I wished I was brave enough to pray with her there and then so she knew there is a God who cares…
Dinner with the boys – That night, we invited two young adults over for a roasted dinner. Good meals are always a great start! We chatted and caught up with one another. One is getting married in a year’s time; the other is still in uni. We shared about how we were travelling in life and some God-stuff. And I hoped the boys also got to know us better.
Church Connect group – On Wednesday, we had our fortnightly meeting again. The topic that night was the grace of God. And everyone shared about how their faith journey began. There were ten of us. I looked around the room and saw the most diverse bunch of people before me. Just in terms of age, we were ranging from 18 to 41 years old. Unsurprisingly, everyone was at different life stage – married couple, mother-to-be, students, working adults. Yet most of us have been meeting fortnightly for two years now since CS and I started the group. I felt blessed to be part of a group that God had brought together – a bunch of people who under normal circumstances, wouldn’t be hanging out together; yet here we are, fellow travel companions on a faith journey.
Heart-to-heart – On Thursday, I received an email from a young adult who shared openly about her disappointment and hurt from a friendship. I deliberated over what to write, stayed back after work and replied to her email. The same night, I chatted with another young adult about his struggle on how to handle a situation he was in. We disagreed at some point but there was no love lost. And I ended our hour-long chat by praying with him. In both instances, I made it a point to share from my own personal experiences. It is so easy to talk in cliches but what if it is me who is in the situation? Would I do likewise? I am learning to be authentic.
Is it any ‘coincidence’ that all these encounters happened at the time I’ve been thinking about relationships and community in our 21st century from one of the books I’ve been reading ‘Above the Line’ ? And attending Edmund Chan’s discipleship conference two weeks ago was a reiteration of what has been on my heart lately. Discipleship – the philosophy and its practical outworking in my life; I think I am slowly getting a glimpse of that…
“biblical Christianity assumes disciples of Jesus are being transformed by life changing encounters with God, a transformation that results in qualities such as gentleness, meekness, and humility being expressed deeply and regularly in the way Christians relate to one another.” Peter McHugh
This is our favourite spot in the house because so many good times have been shared with family and friends over the dining table. Truth be told, I used to bemoan about how we don’t have a separate dining and living area. Yet, almost every first-time visitor to our house often exclaimed how it exudes a ‘cosy and intimate’ feel. And I’ve learned in the grander scheme of things, contentment, is indeed, a great gain.
A girlfriend sent the above video to a few of us this week: “TED talks is one of those apps I have on my iPhone. It is a series of talks given by people sharing their ideas in less than 10 mins. So here’s one that makes me think about Ervina’s eclectic sense of dressing! Enjoy!”
For those who don’t have time to watch the video in full, below are some highlights and comments in parenthesis are mine:
“Secondhand shopping has allowed me to reduce my impact of my wardrobe has on the environment and on my wallet.” (Yes, another advocate of thrift-shopping!)
“It is almost physiologically impossible to be in a bad mood when you are wearing bright red pants.” (I am not so brave to own a pair of red pants although I do have red leggings…Does that count?)
“Fitting in is way overrated. Just be who you are. If you surround yourself with the right people, they will not only get it, they will appreciate it.” (Honestly, this is something I’ve only really learned entering into my thirties – choose a few people you will listen to and the rest is just ‘good advice’.)
“Embrace your inner child.” (Something I am good at, I think! In fact, perhaps too well, much to the aghast of Ben sometimes…)
“If you believe you’re a beautiful person inside and out, there is no look you can’t pull off. We should be able to rock anything we want to rock.” (So, what are you waiting for?!)
“Gold sequins go with anything.” (Time to look for gold sequins in my next opshop trip!)
“Developing your own unique personal style is a really great way to tell the world something about you without having to say a word.” (Bravo!)
“…it’s okay to let go. I don’t need to get emotionally attached to these things, because around the corner, there is always going to be another crazy, colourful, shiny outfit just waiting for me…” (De-cluttering is my fashion motto ‘cos I’ve realized by now that anything I haven’t worn in the last one year is never going to be worn EVER so it might as well go to someone!)
Since this post is fashion-related, this is what I wore for a casual dinner date with the Mr. last night.
Details: sunglasses – $2 brand-new opshop find; cardigan – Singapore; heart-prints blouse – Dorothy Perkins, Singapore; shorts – Rivers, Australia; shoes – Far East Plaza, Singapore; Esprit tote bag – $5 opshop find
It had been awhile since I crafted so I decided to get my creative juices flowing and crafted away! The first project was easy – it was a mini album based on what I started on this blog since January- Personal project\two people twelve times\2011. All I did was to print out the photos from January to May so far and started scrapping.
Inside the album: The journal entry was lifted from the blog but edited slightly due to limited space. I like the fact that when the year comes to a close I will have something to remember us by for 2011 and since I’d started it on this blog, it really isn’t any hard work putting it together.
The other project which I am looking forward to doing is an album about our little nest. What I had done so far was to paint the chipboard album in burnt orange (‘cos that is the colour of our house’s facade) and completed the cover page. Now I just need to take photos of different spots around the house and journal about it!
I also popped into the bead shop the other day during my lunchtime and bought some of these gorgeous handcraft local wood and glass beads. I want to make a necklace out of these wooden beads interspersed with the white glass beads for an organic yet modern look..but somehow I haven’t been able to come up with a design that I really like, so I decided to walk away from the project and wait till inspiration struck again.
But what I did end up making with one of the wooden beads was to make a ring out of it from this pair of earrings Jaimee bought me for my birthday last year. I love the earrings but sadly I haven’t been able to wear it because the studs kept falling out, so they had been left aside waiting to be re-purposed again. I am glad I finally found a way to wear it again because I really like the whimsical feel!
Every now and then, I’d tell CS that if I could have our wedding all over again (Don’t get me wrong; no disaster happened at our wedding save for a crying child in the middle of our ceremony which was my fear but CS wouldn’t allow me to ‘ban’ people from bringing really young kids so there you go…), it wouldn’t be like the one we had. Or perhaps I could have two? One to meet the family obligations and the other one just for us. And it would be something in the spirit of the video above – nothing fancy but just a small gathering of folks dear to us in an informal and casual setting with a touch of handmade wherever possible. Simple. Heartfelt. Joy.
p/s: This is a real life wedding of Elsie who is a blogger and celebrity scrapbooker/crafter in her own rights.
(Photo taken at Belmont Park Racecourse)
It is autumn now. Gone are the warm summer nights and hello to snuggly socks evenings. This time of the year is always ‘iffy’ – wet and cold days interspersed with the occasional summery ones. In a way, I think that is how this month had been for us. There were good and challenging times. Times when we basked in the presence of each other and times when we could feel the unspoken ‘wall’ between us. Thankfully, the wall never stayed up for long. Life still IS. beautiful.
A recent exchange of emails with a girlfriend prompted this entry. With her permission, I am sharing this on my blog.
She’d found out recently that a Christian she’d looked up to is now a single mother of a baby – a result of her 10-year relationship with a married man. And the relationship is still going on with her hoping that someday, marriage will happen.
According to my girlfriend, “she still has faith in God and reads her Bible everyday but just doesn’t have the courage to attend a church because of the stigma. Her previous church would never accept her. So, I invited her to xx (my church) and my cell-group. At least my cell-group has two single moms among us so she wouldn’t feel so judged. I told her that church ought to be a place for people who don’t have their life together. On the one hand, this is adultery but on the other hand, she is in need of acceptance. I guess my limited life experience and world view really could not prepare me for this. A person I admired so much as a faith giant has chosen to compromise after so many years of singlehood. She’s a mature adult and I have to trust that she knows what she is doing.
The consequence of this is that she now looks after her son fulltime and is dependent on the man’s limited provision. Her dire living condition forces me to think about visiting and doing something for her once every couple of months.”
“…I guess that is the best you can do for her at the moment – being supportive. As I grow older in life, I am beginning to realize that life is not all black and white. In fact, I wonder if God’s ever intended it to be that way. Perhaps, it is us who like life in black and white so it’s easier for us to respond accordingly. But life is not meant to be easy.
For instance, I shared a link on FB lately about ‘The Online Citizen’ (TOC- an alternative political platform on SG politics) and received a message from a friend afterward who visited that website and asked if I realized that they are supportive of gays cos they had a gay group banners on their website? I was like “so what?” Does that make them any less human? Or for that matter, does that make TOC a less credible source? To me, those are 2 separate issues here. But I guess that response could be typical of many Christians out there – “they are gays or associated with gays so let’s not hear them out at all”. To me, when I shared that link on FB, raising political awareness was what I wanted to do. It didn’t matter to me that they had a gay group banner on their website (yes, I was aware of that before my friend pointed that out). Yet interestingly, that was what my friend chose to focus on. And that is why the church will always find it difficult to handle the gay issue. How to when we put up our fists or cringe whenever we encounter them?
I think you did the right thing, xx. Jesus didn’t lecture the Samaritan woman (she with her ‘promiscuous’ history) at the well (John 4) – he’d simply pointed out to her who he was. And she drew her own conclusion. We were never told what happened to her in the end. Did she make right her existing relationship with the man who wasn’t even her husband then? Perhaps the ending wasn’t as important as the lesson Jesus wanted us to learn here. I will be saying a prayer for her tonight. Continue the great ministry you have with her.”
(Photo credits to Joey Asher Tan)
I love this photo (taken when we brought Joey and Huiyi to the beach when they were on holiday here in Perth) because it has two things I never tire of – sunset and kissing you. I recalled Joey teasing us while taking this photo – ‘you guys are always kissing!’ I love sunsets because it reminds me of God and his beautiful creation. I love kissing you because it reminds me of when I first fell in love with you when I look into your eyes. And I fall in love all over again…
April has been a whirlwind of a month. Is it because I’d turned thirty-six that I am feeling the urgency of time all the more? And there were many reflective moments.
We were back in Singapore for our annual visit. Not surprisingly, it was never long enough. ‘What, you are only here for 10 days?’ was the common refrain we received from family and friends when we met.It was, however, the best ‘homecoming trip’ we have had in all our previous visits. This time round, we deliberately scaled down our to-do list. Our last appointment of the day would be dinnertime so if it went longer than that, there wasn’t any stress about us being late for our next appointment.
We even managed to squeeze in time to do some touristy thing like visit Marina Bay Sands and Universal Studios. And I am happy to say that we were eating local food all the time. Almost. Because I still didn’t get to eat my bbq stingray and oyster omelette.
But the best part of our Singapore trip is always about people. Countless sharing was done over meals and drinks. And I am often comforted by the fact that distance hasn’t pulled us apart from the many relationships we have left behind. Thank you, dear ones, for your love and friendship. We are blessed indeed.
Interlude – Kuala Lumpur trip
Before coming to Singapore, we had actually spent the weekend in Kuala Lumpur so I could visit my best friend since secondary school days, SF. It was a good trip because I’d also invited my best friend since university days Liz to come along. So the trip had allowed me to spend quality time with 2 of these girlfriends who played an important role in my growing up years.
SF and Liz – I love you girls to bits. Thank you for loving and accepting me, just as I am.
Quality time with special couple – Joey & Huiyi
They are the third couple we have hosted and the couple we have the most intense quality time with. Perhaps because Joey and I have similar personalities, and we both could only do small talk for so looong; it wasn’t surprising that quality conversations were happening all the time. CS and I felt privileged to have had shared moments with this couple as they embarked on a new chapter in their couplehood journey.
However, what stood out most for me was talking to Huiyi over breakfast at Moore’s. It was a deliberate decision to ask Huiyi out. I’d wanted to know her better and hear what’s on her heart and vice versa. And what a beautiful morning that turned out to be. We shared openly as only sister to sister could.
Interlude – Rachael’s text
Thank you, dear, for the unexpected text message on Tuesday. It brought smiles and most of all, warmth to my heart. I am still bummed that we didn’t get to meet up when we were in Singapore. Next year, I promise. We would have long chats over drinks at Starbucks.
Singapore election fever
Even though we have been away for four years now, I still follow Singapore news to keep myself abreast of what’s happening. And with all the postings on Facebook about election news, it is hard not getting caught up in the electoral fever. So I find myself trawling through videos, blogs, political commentaries on the internet. For the first time, many people are sharing their political opinions openly. Who says Singaporeans are politically apathetic?
I think the proliferation of social media since the last election has played a big part in this. Previously, any political coverage was disseminated by state-controlled mass media like the television and the newspapers so any alternate voices are often drowned out or obliterated altogether. Now, everyone can make themselves heard through self-posted videos or public domains like Facebook and Twitter. And what a plethora of voices are we hearing so far! If anything, I think it augers well for the future of Singapore. So I am quietly optimistic about this election and will be following the live coverage come next Saturday.
Aging – can water be my answer?
Two days ago, I had a sudden panic attack – I am getting old! And then I started having mental pictures of
my face losing elasticity, due to loss of collagen.
For the first time in my life, I felt fearful of aging. So I turned to what any 21st century person would turn to for help – internet. I googled about what to do about sagging face and its prevention. And the best advice I got out of? Drink lots of water because it keeps your skin hydrated and thus, prevents loss of collagen. I am sticking to this advice since it is cheap and do-able. However, I also do not want to be someone who is obsessed about what is inevitable. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest; sagging face or not.
I turned thirty-six today. But hey, who’s counting really? I liked what a young adult posted on FB when it was her birthday recently and she declared this birthday is not about her; rather it is about her mum who endured through labor pains to bring her up to who she is today. And so I thought of my mum who has always been the strong silent type yet so full of tenderness for her children.
Besides the birthday greetings from family and friends, I am also blessed by some people who went out of their way to make today a special one for me:
- Flowers from CS never fail to make me smile. And he ‘surprised’ me with a remote control timer release for my DSLR because I saw a church mate using it and exclaimed that I wanted one myself. It was a ‘surprise’ cos I found out what the gift was when I overheard a phone conversation between CS and the said-church mate where CS was asking him to get one for me on E-bay!
- Having had 2 birthday cakes baked by my boss. ‘All from scratch, Erv; not from those pre-mixed boxes!’ he proudly declared. And his lovely wife chipped in with her contribution of walnut and date slice cake.
- Receiving a phone call from the big boss after work apologizing that she couldn’t make it down to office to wish me happy birthday personally today.
- A text message from a friend who had moved back to Melbourne. Thanks for remembering, Rob!
- Mish who dropped by the office to wish me happy birthday and reminded me that we should catch up soon. Yes, we should, babe.
- The neighbour who brought over a cupcake in the evening and had intended to sing me a ‘happy birthday’ song with it; alas I was in the shower. And so CS had to sing it on his behalf instead when I came out of the bathroom!
- Two girlfriends who popped by the office today separately with their presents.