Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The End of Days

Not sure how to sum up the last day of this year, but this song totally echoes my heart's cry...

You came to earth that You created
You walk beneath the stars You named
You came from Heaven holding freedom
Jesus Christ the Lord our God

Gonna sing until my voice won't let me
As thunders roar I'll shout Your praise

You authored life and write Yourself in
You dwelt in time that you designed
Creator lived in His creation
Completely man, Completely GOd

Gonna sing until my voice won't let me
As thunders roar I'll shout Your praise
You're the God of everlasting wonder
Your love outlasts the End of days

I'll lift Your name higher and higher
I'll sing Your praise louder and louder
Your love goes deeper and deeper
You reign forever and ever

Note: Despite the tragedies happening in Malaysia, the up's and down's of life, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and for that I put my faith in this constant.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Managing Expectations

Being in my 20's, I'm beginning to realize that not everything is a Fairy Tale and neither do we all have perfect "happy endings". The TV has formed very false representations of what life truly is and for that, I'm feeling like an onion. Peeling the layers off, one by one, erasing the unrealistic ideals yet holding to the hopes and dreams I want in my life (which by the way, changes every second). As you grow older, you realize that that dream house, job, partner or car isn't as ideal as what you thought it would be. I mean, who doesn't want a gorgeous looking partner, with a high paying salary and a bungalow, with a perfect garden, big enough for your five beautiful children to run about, yet protected by that perfect white picket fence you surround your house with. That's the dream for most of us.

However, I'm beginning to realize that all is not as it seems. The battle here is "aesthetic living vs. practicality". A big house means more floors to clean, more curtains to wash, more bed sheets to rinse and more backaches that comes with it. A bigger car means that it's harder to find a car park, a bigger risk of hitting other cars with yours, the amount of fuel mileage it consumes, leading it to the more petrol it swallows. And it's almost impossible to look gorgeous while doing housework because there's no point in having not so clean floors compared to looking pretty while doing it. (Screw desperate housewives for that, lol!) I mean, the prettier the light looks, the harder it is to change it's light bulbs if you know what I mean. I tried changing them in my house and have come down to a conclusion that pretty stuff takes more time, effort and sweat to manage. Rethinking of what I would want in my own future home when the time comes, because there are so many things to wonder about. All of sudden, my mom, dad and aunts look like superheroes. I mean, how did they manage? With their own jobs, bills to pay, children to care for, transportation they need to settle, I mean, managing a household seems like a whole art skill in itself. Yet, they never left me and my sister hungry. It's truly amazing.

And so, I'm starting to manage my expectations, I don't even know what my dream job is or if there's actually such a thing, because all those television series with high-flying lawyers and super smart forensic people are totally sensationalized to keep their audience-ship. Nothing I have ever thought or imagined actually turns out to be as it is in reality. We get a job because we need to survive. We get married because that's the social norm and we go through everyday of our lives struggling instead of triumphing. But the matter of the fact is that God never called us to be like that. He created life for pleasure and despite one man's fall, he redeemed the whole situation through another man's resurrection (Romans 5:19). And that is the amazing part.

Despite the global economic downfall, where it was easy for our grandparents to have five to ten kids, now, just having one already needs a lot of pre-thinking and pre-planning. Or like how it maybe even cheaper to eat out than to homecook because with RM50, there's only that much you can buy.

So as life dwindles and maneuvers and swerves in all it's different places, and things don't turn out the way I thought they'll be, I'll just keep the faith that God got's my back. For I know that across the decades, including the timeline of my parents, there was once when they were afraid too of the unknown, about the job they'll get and the family they'll come to nurture, But here I am and this is me, and things didn't turn out that bad. And in that I find my security. The knowing that God created us to be able to handle the setbacks. surprises and pleasant outcomes that comes with life.

Things are different from here on forward. Husbands may not earn enough to maintain households while wives may have to take up jobs and not be able to become the "perfect" homemakers they once intended to be. Needless to say, time spent with their own children maybe inevitably decreasing, but I know that the human mind has the capacity to manage and it just boils down to the managing of our expectations.... (Of course it's not that simple, but you know what I mean.)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

You can have mine

Sitting under the Venice night sky
Cold breeze brushing my hair
Chills on my skin
And dress slowly flowing

I ponder on how blessed  I am
And the goodness of my Creator
He created me
He created this

Never have I thought I could spend the night here
Let alone come to Venice
Maybe in my dreams or during my honeymoon
As if the honeymoon isn't a dream too

I look up into the night sky
Down at the dark sea
Only a thin line of lights from St Marco Square
Stretched gently dividing the two

Naturally pondered about life
Although at crossroads I still have pleasure
To leave footprints across Europe
To see historical sights making today, today

Then thoughts of a friend come
Took his own life on a swing
Diagnosed a schizo
Still taken aback by what happened though

We're not too different in age
But why that decision he made?
I wonder and ponder
"This isn't the way" I utter

Questions formed as soon as I got to know
They still linger after answers are given
Why him, why now
People cared but it's still mysterious somehow

Maybe it's Venice that Shakespeare's on my mind
Life's brief candle
Out way too early
Wrong candle wrong move

I ask God in a questioning manner
Not waiting for the answer
Other thoughts seep in
Mystifying what is conveyed

Then I remember when I overheard a young boy
Ever so clearly in his childlike boyish tone
"You can have mine"
He genuinely offers through stretched out hands

They were all playing this elastic night lights
You catapult into the night sky
Better than fireflies because of their longevity
I remember my own and when I used to play it in hostel

All except this one boy
Because his father would not pay
He naturally whined
And that's when his friend offered

"You can have mine"
This four words stuck
Lingered in my mind
Bringing new meaning and not drifting aside

Sitting in this cold Venice wind
I soon began to realize
That God gave me His life
Cos He knew I wouldn't be satisfied with mine

The world's greatest story
The most significant mark in history
A beautiful exchange

And to just know that I'm in that story
A protagonist in this epic love story
The ever-knowing almighty being
Trade His life for mine

So don't be discouraged or angry or dismayed
With life, its flaws and the faults it brings
For someone far greater, pure and lovely
Traded his blessings for you and me

And don't be jealous that you're not here in Venice
You'll have your chance
Believe me you'll see
That dreams do come true cos He's a dream maker

But for now just envision anything you think Venice to be
For I heard Shakespeare did not go to every place he wrote about
It was knowledge and a whole world of imagination
Nothing we don't have, you and me....

And if you think that ain't enough
Think of what powers our Father in Heaven behold
You're His precious
So hear Him say

"You can have mine"...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Difficult Goodbyes

I don't remember any "goodbye" being this hard
Can't even reflect to when was my last goodbye
Packing has never been this hard
Parting this intolerable

The last was when I had to leave my friends in Alor Star
A small little town in Malaysia
That because I knew there was no more going back
And precious friendships formed will become tangible no more

But packing everything today
And sitting on my chair in an almost empty room
It dawned on me that this "really is it"
A whole chapter of my uni life coming to an end

And before me a broad horizon unseen vividly
Not knowing what my future holds
But knowing who holds my future
But ironically still having  anticipation, excitement and anxiety mixed altogether

But what amazes me is my attachment to this place
Like time here is not up yet
A lingering effect no one can tell
But your heart strives in seeking understanding

I know I've fallen in love with the people, culture and places here
The weather not so but the rest does more than just compensate
But what is it?
Why this emotion?

Maybe it's the not-so-typical extra long hugs
The whisper in my ear of gratitude for knowing me
"I'm glad to have known people with joy like you
I'm not there yet, but I'll be in understanding His love for us"

The not so appropriate messages of thankfulness for real random prayers
Because they do it right before you're leaving
Making it harder to leave
And all the more easier to break down and cry

It's soo hard.
It really is.
And this morning on my last day in Liverpool
I laid myself down at His feet not metaphorically but literally

Not being able to gauge my emotions
Or taken by surprise of what I'm feeling
My mind can't seem to digest the discourse of heart and soul
But this definitely is one of the most difficult goodbyes...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Can I Please Stay Awake for just another Moment

Life is just too good to be taken for granted
Feeling zombie-like cos it's 2 am
Doesn't stop me from penning this down
Though tired my spirit  leaps
Can I please stay awake for another moment?

It's not that you're feeling sentimental
Because the summer program is coming to a final
But with deadlines met and more time on hand
You feel so great and free like you can achieve anything
Can I please stay awake for another moment?

Looking around in amazement and wonder
The new friendships formed and the crazy laughter
The late nights in town in search for cheap delicious food
The wee hours of the morning spent in the park stargazing
Can I please stay awake for another moment?

The catching up on time spent apart from each other
When old friends meet and connect
"The story of my life" here it goes
What actually happened and what not
Can I please stay awake for another moment?

And then you begin to cast a foreshadow
If life right now is already filled with wonder
Then how many more in the future there'll be
The journey of life and all of its perks
Can I please stay awake for another moment?

The excitement of getting through a job interview
The first confession, first love, first kiss
The first attempt of cooking a full meal
The curiosity of what the future unfolds
Can I please stay awake for another moment?

For understanding a deeper revelation of His word
The indescribable God encounters ahead
His magnificent power exemplified in ways no man has seen
New miracles never heard or written in all of history
Can I please stay awake for another moment?

The young ones first word
Or maybe their first steps
The lingering in the lovers arms for "just a bit longer"
The way your gaze is fixated on the way they sleep
Can I please stay awake for another moment.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ain't That Easy...

Just like how the leaves on the tree outside
Brushes and rustles in all their green glory
Are not confused of what they are
It ain't that easy to lose your identity

Just like how the flowers grow
Bees and butterflies dance in their beauty
Exuding a naturally sweet distinct fragrance
It ain't that easy to lose your identity

Just like how an egg is an egg
Whether it came from a chicken, duck or dinosaur
The living creature inside knows full well of their own
It ain't that easy to lose your identity

Just like how a banana tree
Is not confused of what it breeds
Knowing it won't be producing apples or oranges
It ain't that easy to lose your identity

Just like how a hedgehog goes back to its hole
Unashamed neither confused by its spikes
Never comparing it with those of smooth exteriors
It aint't that easy to lose your identity

Just like a dolphin basking in the ocean
Mischievous, carefree, adventurous and playful
Yet not sharing our fear of great white sharks
It ain't that easy to lose your identity

Just like the four seasons
Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter
Neither are threatened but the either
It ain't that easy to lose your identity

Or how when a baby cries for mommy
At the sound of no one else but mom's voice
Assurance comes back safer than a security blanket
It ain't that easy to lose your identity

If babies, nature and prickly creatures
Are not worried of losing themselves
Amidst the seasons and weathering the storms
Than why must I?
Considering my Creator
When results, trouble, people and situations
Strip you of your worth, degrading you off value
Take a moment to look around
At all of creation and at the Creator
They're in no journey of finding their "identity"
They know who or what they really are
So just be rest assured and reminded by things that surround
And the One who made it all
It just ain't that easy to lose yourself....

Photo credit: Elanne Lim

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Overlooked Wonders

Amanda Cook from Bethel Church sang a spontaneous song- Wonder, and every time I find myself unsatisfied, tired or bored with life, I sing that song over myself, reminding my "knowing" that there is really wonder out there, His wonder. Reminiscing into free worship she sings...

"May we never lose our wonder,
May we never lose our wonder,
Wide eyes and mystified,
Let me be just like a child,
Staring at the beauty of my King."

And lately in Liverpool, I've been more aware of the "overlooked wonders" surrounding me. Minute details of everyday life, natural science evolving around me, creating wonders curtaining the scientific involvement of different matter, evolving through time and space, exemplified into the most simple outcomes most of this world has forgotten...

Like how the flip side of our pillow is always cold despite the many hours we lay our heads on it.
Or how head bands stay tight along your hairline for the whole day despite the size of your head.
How eggs can be cooked in so many incredible ways and still taste so good despite varying in matter.
Or even how fabric is formed with really tiny lines crisscrossing each other in becoming that t-shirt you're wearing.

Or how as a young adult I still see that same three stars aligned in a straight line as when I was a little girl.
How two people connect with intangible chemistry yet feelings so strong it moves them to take action.
How mathematical questions were formed with solutions, ending up in everyday education being solved by everyday students.
And how six strings on a guitar tuned right become harmonious with wooden keys on a piano.

How a dog connects with its master and friend, knowing when things are not right
How simple words from a loved one can make the hair on your neck tingle
Or even how unstable people can ride a two wheel bicycle stably
Or how the color of leaves can change with the season

How babies grow up to be six feet tall, changing in emotions, mindsets and physicality
How music heals the soul
How we cannot see God but know with all our hearts that He is there
And how we can hear Him in the most mysterious ways, through objects, movies and strangers

All these are but wonderful overlooked wonders... They're everywhere and anywhere. Sometimes we need to take a step back to see. While we're waiting at the traffic light, before we pen down our hearts in a journal, before taking that picture with a camera, we may never get the answers and solutions to all of them, scientifically proven but not scientifically understood by the laymen, giving us even more of the chance to marvel at creation.

No matter how old I grow or how long this journey takes, one thing I know, I'd never want to lose my wonder, of the wonderful things that surrounds. 

Photo: "Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day."- Shira Tamir #liverpool #leaf
"Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day."- Shira Tamir. (Now that's another wonder.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Deadlines are not Dead Ends

Going through this intense period of a summer semester programme jam packed with syllabus and curriculums usually carried over a year, I'm beginning to see reality at its harshest. How students, falter, crumble and breakdown under the weight of these assignments and weekly deadlines. It's crazy, to see them first-hand and to  hear stories of how students are sinking deeper into this myriad of "to-do's", gasping for air, in desperate need for help and attention they do not seek. Not unlike the two suicide cases of what happened earlier this year in my college. It just brings back so much unwanted memories, and coming from the similar background of fighting depression, I despise the familiarity.

It's only hours ago that I was standing face to face with another relentless deadline, hands frozen due to the lack of blood flowing  in, mind numb due to the intense focus of submitting it on time, body tired due to the lack of sleep, eyes red and swollen due to constant straining between the laptop screen and the mountain of books... who said student life was easy? Even desperate times of rushing to the toilet carried guilt along with it.

This however, did not stop me from thinking about the rest of students, similarly working through the night hoping that something will come out of their effort. Yet there are those who gives themselves too high an expectation without the room for a breather or improvement, escalating the anxiety within themselves, making the fall even harder if or when they do fall. It's never a nice thought or feeling.

You see, I actually missed my deadline this morning (it's bad and I apologized) due to a technical malfunction in the computer system while I was submitting it. Everything within me froze, it was like life was blown out of me and all I could think was "what next" or "what now". This 'zombie effect' takes over and before you can say "it's gonna be ok", guilt, fear, anxiety and every other noun that goes along with that. You pray and pray harder, think and think harder, to come up with the best reasons or excuse to tell your tutor of why the late submission. I immediately sent my tutor (who happens to be the most coolest tutor I've ever known, she's a biker/rocker chick with a whole wardrobe of black leather and red clothes with bleached hair who happens to be half Spanish, half Japanese with a 'Dr.' title due to her research on 'Music and Sexuality' while gaining awards for it, I told you she was cool!) an email to apologize, but either the internet or my blackboard was down that even sending an email took ages.

You don't know what to think or do. I walked all the way to class even though it was a classless day for me just to apologize in person, praying and debating on what the outcome may be. The best scenario, she shows grace and gives me a chance, the worst scenario, she fails me and my whole degree would be doomed, along with the money, time and mental capacity that came along with me to UK.

The former happened, and for that I'm eternally grateful. I guess we give grace because we've received it and that was what she showed me. Her respect to her students is something I've never seen before, and her honour towards people just reflects her heart of gold. It's really hard to describe. I pray that she'll continue to be who she is, because she's definitely more 'Kingdom' than most people I know.

So here I am reflecting on this day of colourful events and it's not even evening yet. I guess though my mind can wander into a whole new dangerous dimension, when fronted with a kind act, can immediately come back to rationality. That life is not just about deadlines and setbacks, but about freedom, joy and as many 'second-chances' as you need. Isn't that what grace is all about? I got to witness a glimpse of it in the most unlikely person, kicking me off guard to see that God is and will always be present in every situation...

Pulling ourselves through this myriad of deadlines
We find ourselves sinking faster than we can say 'help'
Negative thoughts subtly invades
Taking over LIFE's joy, peace and rationale

Thinking we're not good enough
Comparing ourselves to the likes of others
We push ourselves into the walls corner
Helpless with hands in surrender

Only to realize that situations are not as perceived
That the power of what negative thoughts can bring
Is the control of power unlike any other
Permitting the 'killer' called depression to come and take over

If only we looked to our Higher Power
And to Him surrender
Our doubts, fear and negative thoughts
His presence taking over our inner demons

Being dead is not the solution
Was never was and never will be
Being alive we can bring resolution
To the many questions in this world lingering

So whether it's a deadline or a failure
A lost or the lack of satisfaction
Know that time can redeem
An eternal road and not a dead end

When you pull through and keep walking
Looking back you'll see
That that moment where it seemed insurmountable
Is just but a speck in your life's timeline

There's more to life
And there's more to you
You are who you are
And not what you do

So kick back, relax and chill
Take that moment of silence
Or go shopping and have fun
Life is what you make out of it

This I learned through the grace given
Broadening my perspectives and changing my worldview
I see that deadlines are not dead ends
And my worries are just but a tiny speck in His Kingdom of liberty

PS: Not saying that we should miss deadlines, but things would never go your way 100%, do your work, be on time (something I myself need to learn), but don't forget that there's so much more in this world when you turn away from your pen, books and laptop, and bask in the glory of natural creation, just like how it was meant to be in the Garden of Eden.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Most Perfect 'Mistake'

Turning 23 and coming halfway across the earth to study (well, I'd rather put it as an exploration or adventurous escapade but the technical and boring fact was basically for that 'normal' route we take to 'improve' ourselves career wise) made me realize, reflect and respond to my circumstance differently. Whether it's this 'aging' phase I'm in, stepping out of my shelter/comfort zone or being more attune to what God is saying or doing, I am actually beginning to see the clarity of where He is leading me through this journey we call LIFE.

I can't quite put my finger on when this 'thought' process started, but something about how God wrote my life's story is increasingly, intriguingly mind boggling to me.  You see, I didn't arrive on earth as scheduled with my parents calendric desires.  Instead, I was only due seven years later (this I reconfirmed with my mom) to naturally aging parents. In other words, I was way waaay overdue. I would like to think that my mom prayed, cried and fought for my arrival earnestly everyday but that would be putting words in her mouth, but nevertheless, my arrival was much waited for. A prophecy was given to her one night in a special church service about God wanting to bless her with a baby. The prophecy was fulfilled. And now, here I am, 23 years later, reflecting on the origin, historical context and God's finger prints all over my life.

It was just days ago when I caught myself thinking, if I really were to arrive as intended by my parents timing, I would be 30 by now! That's crazy! I won't even try to go there. To think what 'could have been' just makes me shiver in a ridiculously amusing way. Would I be settled down with three kids by now? What would I be doing as my career? Did I walk into God's intended destiny for me or faltered away from it along my way? Did I marry the man He knew was right for me? Or would I even ever get married? How would things have turn out if I did come out sooner?

Standing amazed, in awe and captivated by the beauty of my life process, I'd come to realize that there is nothing I need to do to make myself feel anymore valuable and worthy than I already am. I've grown to love myself and appreciate the precious 'moments' in which God has blessed me with. As in the beautifully scripted words of John Green, "The definition of humanness is the opportunity to marvel at the majesty of creation", it is only right now that I realized that I am part of creation and therefore I can and should well marvel at myself  too. The possibilities for this insight goes beyond the universe! (If only someone was hipster or cool enough to invent a new word which embodies "indescribable", "unthinkable", "unimaginable", "crazy" and "out of this world" all mashed up in one because) It's just so hard to put it in words. I was made for this! My ligaments, tendons, bones, flesh, muscles and atoms were fearfully put together to create wonderful me! It's so complex yet so simple, making it really hard to understand.

It's like two days ago when I went to get my name printed on a personalized special edition coke bottle. When the bottle with my name and surname came up from the machine, I was too in awe that I didn't want to 'pollute' it with my unworthy finger prints until I almost lost my chance because the machine started going back down, taking my bottled name along with it! The coke personnel and I were like "yikes! Quickly, just grab that thing out of its nozzle!". A good firm yank was all it took and there in my hands was a coke bottle, creatively and specifically personalized, unlike any other coke bottle in the entire world. That, and my finger prints all over it. I guess when I see myself with such infinite value, knowing that my life is worth someone else's and that God's finger prints are all over it, I find myself thinking,

"What better place to be than safe and secured in the hands of the One who made me?"

I look around and look intently. At my family, friends, situation and circumstance in which led me to where and who I am today and I cannot be more grateful. What seemed to look like an honestly 'late' mistake in my book is equated into the most perfect thing ever. He made me in His own timing and logic and with that I will continue singing my praises to Him in to all of eternity. My soul will bless His name for even more than a thousand years. All that has been written in different chapters of my life's book amazes me. The highlights, down sides, exuberating joy and merciless depression, the first day of kindergarten or when our little play slide got caught on fire, to moving to another far away state for five years and then coming back. The relationships established, friendships created, experiences documented and lessons mastered. WOW. To continue, the years back home and then going back to the land across the South China Sea to further studies, the titles won and the opportunity to speak to thousands. DOUBLE WOW. Taking leadership roles, leading nightly prayer meeting and hearing how you changed the lives of others. TRIPLE WOW. And then to go to a church which opened a whole new dimension of the supernatural and how I viewed spirituality with the desperate need of mind renewal. QUADRAPLE WOW. And here and now where I stand on the land of the United Kingdom. What can I say? Enough of 'wows', this is just CRAZY!!! How did I have the ability, capacity or financial stability to end up here?!?

This just goes to show that it's not just me, but God having a huge role as the great Author of my story. Allowing me to arrive seven years late is something that I would be eternally grateful for. Of course, it would also have been a blast but I was just telling this to my friend and she said "you might as well have been my sister's friend" whose wells settled with a beautiful child now. The thoughts could be as wild as they can get!

So here I want to thank God for creating me and this beautiful life and the 'bonuses' that comes with it. Thank YOU (yes, you the reader) for being part of this amazing adventure, because something, somewhere, somehow have led you to this site, thus proving that we've somehow crossed paths in a mysterious way. To all my friends and family, you don't know how much your presence in my life means to me. Words will fail miserably in comparison to how my heart soars right now while writing this.

Gone are the days where I wished I was born in the Bible times or earlier where things were easier without mediated technology. I have come to appreciate my present moment and existence in the here and now. Go read Esther 4:14 and Psalm 139:14. You were made in perfect timing through marvellous workmanship, what more could you ask for?! And it gets better..

If you feel more like a 'dirtbag' or 'crap' more than 'gold', just know that dirt is the only one component in the  whole world (besides cotton but that's just for primary school bean sprouts) where seeds can be planted. Put seeds in gold and what do you get? Come back days later and see the same seed infested gold you placed! Nothing more, nothing less. But God made us through dirt and there must be more of a metaphorical explanation to that or He'd be an awful designer. I mean, heavenly streets were made of gold but 'us' His most valuable creation-dirt? It does not equate! So go ponder on your value in which perfect seeds were invested upon.

I can go on and on and on and on and on about His goodness and greatness! From attending Hillsong Conference to having well known people taking notice of me, I realize this is just part of the perks He's giving to me. And I bet there's way more where that came from! And same goes to you!
So live life, loving it! Continue to marvel at creation (including yourself) and the beauty of everyday simplicity. Hold on tight until your knuckles turn red because He is just gonna blow you away!!!!!!

For now, I'm just glad that God made the most perfect 'mistake' ever in presenting me to this world later than my parents desires. COS THIS IS THE LIFE!!! And I cannot imagine it any other way... So look around and spot these wonderfully 'disguised' blessings that are about to come your way! Tirrah!