Salvation - Accepting Christ

Here's a testimony on God's grace and salvation ...

I believe that God exists, that He is my Creator and that He loves me. I believe that He knew me when I was secretly wrought in my mother's womb. I believe that He knows my future and is keen on minding my welfare and guiding me through life. Therefore I turned to Him and accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour.

And I believe that He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life too if you would turn to Him. I believe that He longs for you to know Him so that He can help you, no matter how stained your life has been before.

My Saviour has proven Himself to be a faithful God to me. He has led me through many difficult situations in my life and has been very patient with my shortcomings and failures.

I was born into a dysfunctional family and was immediately fostered out to two different families within my first year of infancy. The last family I stayed with was yet another troubled family. I grew up with many a tear-stained pillow. It was God's grace that'd preserved my sanity during those growing up years. And it was God's love that'd restrained me from many a foolish act of rebellion.

I am truly thankful to God and without any intention to offend you, I would like to bless you by inviting you to receive Christ too.

New American Standard Bible:
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He has died on the cross for your sins and you are forgiven if you'll receive Him as your Saviour. If you have the desire to live a more fulfilling life and to taste the goodness of God, may I encourage you to invite Christ into your life by saying a simple salvation prayer now?

God knows your heart and is not concerned with how you phrase your prayer. Just pray like you're talking to someone. As long as you confess with your lips and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be able to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour.

The following is a suggested prayer (that I'd modified from the Four Spiritual Laws booklet):

"Dear Lord Jesus,
I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.I open the door of my life to You and receive You as my personal Saviour and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. From now on, please take control of the throne of my life and make me the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You for your salvation. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."

If you have said this prayer meaningfully, you have become a child of God! Praise God!

The next thing to do is to get in touch with a local Church and let them know that you are a new Christian, and in need of further guidance to know God better.

Thank you for taking this step of faith. May the Lord bless you and keep you.


Hokkien Worship Song

Hear this song from Kelvin Soh, a former drug addict. Even if you don't understand Hokkien (a Chinese dialect), you will be touched by his sincerity and earnestness. His, is a life totally transformed by God ...

Here are the lyrics in English and Chinese:

Hold my hand, Lord Jesus
Protect and watch over me I pray
Guard my heart and direct my steps
To follow you faithfully

Hold my hand, Lord Jesus
Open a way for me I pray
Step by step, following your footprints
Untroubled by the tough road ahead

Lord Jesus, oh, Lord Jesus
I want to be Your disciple
Lord Jesus, oh, Lord Jesus
I want to be Your disciple

And for those who think you're hopelessly trapped in some forms of addiction, do surf the net for Kelvin Soh's testimony. He was a hard core drug addict, and if God can help him, God can certainly help you.


Communication, Mis-Communication

She walked in, head held high and instructed impassively without a smile, "I've ordered pizza, when it comes, call me!"

I was busy completing an assignment for my reporting officer when I looked at up this staff from another department. I reacted instinctively in an annoying way, "Who are you?!" (Well, I was rather displeased, you didn't greet me, didn't bother to find out my name, you'd obviously made a request, but didn't say 'please', and you expected me to know who you are like you are some big shot, and goodness, you ordered me like I'm your subordinate!)

She was a little taken aback by my frankness and told me her name and phone extension number. I simply responded that I wouldn't be around to wait for her pizza after 12.30 pm. She took note and left.

As I continued my work, I couldn't help but simmered inside, "Why should I be bothered with your lunch? Shouldn't you just wait here for your pizza? I've better things to do then to attend to your pizza! At least have the courtesy to order an extra one for me then may be I won't be so angry, sheesh, what attitude is this ..." My mind wouldn't shut up!

Ah, I discovered later that the pizza was ordered for an official function and not for personal consumption, and she wasn't too happy to be mistakened, yet these bad vibes could have been avoided if she has had the common sense to be polite in her initial request.

IF she had said something like this, "Hi, you are new here, may I know your name? Oh, hi Jane, I'm so-and-so, hey Jane, I've ordered pizza for an event, when the pizza arrives, could you please give me a tinkle? (smile, smile) Well, thanks". IF she had requested thus, I wouldn't have been so worked up.

On the other hand, I concede, I should have been more proactive to avoid a misunderstanding. I should have found out more details from her instead of allowing myself to react instantly. It takes two hands to clap, be it creating a problem or avoiding one.

Ya, 'tis a lesson I'm still learning - be slow to anger. Sigh ...


Do You Lie?

"Say they're not in" someone advised me.

"I shall not lie" I responded.

"Well I'd said it already" she replied.

"But I won't lie" I insisted.

"A white lie is ok" To this, I simply smiled and continued my reading.

This brief conversation kept me thinking. I was like, "Oh dear, was I too blunt in my response ...? Did I unwittingly hurt her feelings?" I didn't mean to judge anyone, but I just made my choice, NOT to do something I was not convinced of.

Do I lie? Have I ever lied?

Well ... I'm a saint. Ahem. ;)

Clarification - it's God who calls me a saint, I didn't call myself one, bleah, but was a sinner saved by grace! I'm fallible, of course I've ever lied, sometimes, to save my chiny chin chin. I'm not holy holy that I won't ever succumb to wrong-doing when things happen so fast that I can't think straight. Yes, this happens, as much as I'm also trying to do the right things. But I won't pre-determine to lie.

If in a moment of weakness, I do or say things I shouldn't have, then I've indeed slipped and sinned. But I'm not going to consciously accomodate lies in my daily life.

Ah, blogging is therapeutic, the load's off my chest now, I shall go to bed, good night.


Work Like A Pro

Been thinking ... how often have we, in the course of our work, grumbled about the things we have to do or about the people (supervisors, colleagues or clients) we have to serve?

Phillipians 2:14-15a (TNIV)
"Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault ... "

When pressures mount and fatigue sets in, I have grumbled and mumbled about the work I have to do. Sometimes, I am also tempted to think that others should have made my work easier!

"If only they're more considerate and arrange these forms sequentially before passing the mess to me, then I will be able to work faster!"

"If only they would read the given instructions first, then they would'nt need to clarify with me thus wasting my time!"

If only, if only ... if only everyone does what he/she is supposed to do, then there will be peace on earth and mankind shall dwell in unity, amen. But life is never so easy eh?

Have you ever wondered why you are paid to do your job?

You are paid to provide SOLUTIONS, not to create more PROBLEMS.

Think about it, if you allow yourself to react to problems all the time instead of being proactive, you'll soon develop a destructive work attitude and pattern that will affect your performance. Your job will seem harder and you won't enjoy it. However, if you try to understand the perspectives of others and try to solve their problems, then you'll truly be contributing and will feel a sense of accomplishment.

I've been thinking, the onus to be positive or negative at work lies with me. For example, if I loose my temper, the TRUTH is that I've chosen to do so. The other party doesn't have the power to make me loose my temper if I don't want to.

Since the choice is mine, I am bent on handling myself more professionally at work. I shall not let annoying people get the better of me and unconsciously degenerate into a disgruntled inept. Yes, be slow to anger, take things in my strides, plan, organize and pre-empt so that I can discharge my duties more efficiently.

Solve problems. It is for this purpose that you and I are employed. :)


I Don't Care What You Know Till I Know You Care!

If you are a teacher, how do you get ‘attention deficit’ (that is, IF they are really ADD) children or teenagers to listen to you? They simply don't care!

The most challenging classes to teach in Singapore would be the Normal Stream (Technical) classes. When I did relief teaching some years back, I was often asked to relieve teachers of NT classes who seemed to be frequently away on sick leave. What (or WHO) were they 'sicked of '?

Faced with about 30 boisterous and uninterested students bent on nothing but annoying you, how do you get their attention?

Ah, my present work somehow brings back memories of the time when I was doing relief teaching. Good and bad memories, successes and failures. Allow me to share some meaningful moments with you eh?

Hm ... this happened many years back, I remember staring at them and groaning inside, “Who are your parents? Why are you so angry? Why come to school, wasting time and resources if you don't want to study?”

I tried to be tough, it was tiring. Then an idea hit me and I decided to experiment with it.

One day I said to them, “I want you to write an essay."

They were like, "Gasp, you must be joking."

"The title of your essay is, “I, Me and Myself”. They got interested.

"You see, I was a Probation Officer, and you people reminded me of the defendants whose cases I’d to process. Most of them came from very complicated family backgrounds. Speaking of broken homes, I myself didn’t grow up happily." Silence fell.

"I’m curious to know more about you. Share with me about your family, yourself, what makes you happy, what makes you sad and what’s your ambition? Write anything you want about yourself. While I may not be able to provide solutions to your problems, I will at least be able to listen to you, and perhaps offer some suggestions and advice which you are free to accept or reject. Your story is safe with me, I will not tell others about your problems.”

Guess what happened next?

Cautiously, some began to pull out their A4 notepads and started writing. Then, those without papers didn't want to be left out and started begging, borrowing or snatching pieces of paper from their neighbours! Soon, the whole class was engrossed in writing! The transformation was striking! They wanted so much to tell their stories!

Then, I was quite amused when the Principal passed by and was amazed at this unbelievable sight of NT students resolutely scribbling away! Heh heh heh ... This class had never been quieter.

Occasionally someone would raise his hand and asked, “Teacher, how do you spell ‘angry’?” I spelt it out on the board for all to see and use if required. Another called out, “Teacher, how to spell ‘family’?” I wrote on the board again. Before the two sessions were over, the board was filled with words from left to right. “Hmm, not a bad way to teach English” I thought.

I spent the next 5 days (at least) marking their essays, not stumped by their poor standard of English, but floored by the problems they revealed!

... One girl wrote a 4 page essay on her family problems, highlighting her misconceived guilt that she had accidentally caused the death of her granny when she was, but a little girl.

... Another girl lamented her parents’ divorce and feared that she would eventually forget how her natural father looks like one day.
... One boy penned down his hatred against his dad and how he would rather spend the nights hanging out with friends than staying home with him.
... Another boy wrote of his experiments with different kinds of drugs, and another of his bisexual inclinations
... etc…

Their stories overwhelmed me. I replied each one in detail, giving encouragement when encouragement was due, and advice when advice was due. Some of my painstaking replies were longer than their essays.

All eyes were fixed on me the next time I entered the same class. I returned their essays with my type-written responses. Thus, they spent another session quietly with me, as they carefully poured over my replies. Then (surpirse, surprise, I was quite amused) they started exchanging and reading each other’s essay/reply. "Hey, that's confidential" I thought, but I didn't stop them 'cos it was their prerogative to share their stories.

Then in the days that followed, our relationship improved. When I requested them to keep quiet in class, they obeyed. When I attempted to teach them, they listened. A few even came to me individually to discuss personal troubles and sought advice.

I'll never forget this girl ...

She ran away from home after hearing her mother's damaging insults. When her friend brought her to me, I'd only 10 minutes to talk to her! I really didn’t know what to say and how to comfort her. I prayed silently and urgently in my heart as I fumbled around for a word in season.

Then God’s wisdom guided me as I earnestly spoke from my heart on how I had always felt positively about her, and thank God, what I’d said in those 10 minutes redressed what her mom had said earlier. It was like magic! Her countenance shone and her eyes sparkled! She smiled appreciatively. I perceived that she'd regained her confidence that moment!

The next time I met her, one of her eyes was bloodshot after a hard slap from her mom! I was shocked! How could anyone do this to her own flesh and blood? I listened to her story for an hour, not because she'd asked for it, but because I knew she needed the support. She assured me that she'd managed to stay calm this time and didn’t run away from home. She had learnt resilience.

Well, well, well, what else can I say?

Sometimes, what we need is someone to come alongside us once in a while, to tell us that we are worthy. Being loved and cared for is the greatest motivation to succeed in anything we do.

Teaching is an emotionally draining job. I salute all teachers out there who are committed to their teaching profession. My best wishes to you teachers, and oh, make sure you have sufficient insurance coverage for all types of illnesses.


You Are Special

Are you discouraged by your flaws and wonder whether you are of any good to anyone?

I want to tell you that your Creator knows your flaws and love you all the same. In fact, He has a meaningful plan for your life!

Jeremiah 29:11 (TNIV)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was perfectly made and never leaked. The other pot had a crack in it and by the time the water bearer reached his master's house it had leaked much of it's water and was only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, God will use our flaws to grace his table. In God's great economy, nothing goes to waste. Don't be afraid of your flaws. Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness we find our strength.

Author Unknown


We All Need A Little Encouragement Once In A While!

A few days' back, I posted the following message in Blogger Discussion Group; The Coffee Shop:
"Hi, I'm blogging for the first time. Here's my blog www.daysofourlives-jane.blogspot.com . Would like to make friends with like-minded people. Do drop me a note. Thanks. :) "

... and was pleasantly surprised to see responses from fellow bloggers from different parts of the world!

AV from http://netherregionoftheearthii.blogspot.com/ and http://tomusarcanum.blogspot.com/ wrote: "Well written blog, enjoyed the stories about making money."

Michael from http://doyouhateittoo.blogspot.com/ wrote: "Days of our Lives is a good, good soap. Nice blog. =D"

Croutons from http://croutonsblog.blogspot.com/ wrote: "Greetings blogger with the artistry to compose such a harmonious blog pleasing to the eye and worth a read. Reading it was deep and provocative and made me reflect on my own situations with the topics you wrote about, like motivations and having people want to listen to you. The look of the blog itself is professionally put together even just for a hobby, it looks better than most websites. Nice, I will be looking forward to reading more new posts."

Jessa from http://jessicalikestoexist.blogspot.com wrote: "Welcome jane. I checked out your blog, and left a comment. I can't wait to read more of your posts."

I replied to all: "Thank you AV, Michael, Croutons and Jessah! I've had a hard time finding this thread after I first posted here, thus the late reply. Thanks for the encouragement."

To return the favour, I visited all their blogs. Interesting read. They came from such diverse backgrounds! We connected, but for a moment due to our common interest - blogging. Hm, such is the power of the internet, connecting people who have never met, and perhaps, will never meet.

Dear fellow bloggers, your simple act of kindness and encouragement is acknowledged and received with gratitude. Thank you very much. :)


Seasoned Speech - Get The Response You Want

One well-meaning lady was trying to advise her colleague to improve on something. She criticized her loudly at the office without trying to listen first. The results? Tension and bad vibes.

Have you ever been frustrated with conversations that seemed to get nowhere? Or ever wondered how to get people to listen to and accept your ideas, advice or suggestions?

How do you get the response you want and get people to do your biddings?

By knowing exactly what motivates them, and phrase your speech in such a way that they WANT to listen to you! {This, incidentally, is what marketing is all about too. ;) }

But different folks, different strokes. You'll have to speak differently to different people in order to get the same response you want. Ok, story time ...

When the Titantic was sinking and there were few lifeboats available, the captain had to think of ingenious ways to get able-bodied men to volunteer to jump overboard. Quickly, he scanned the ship and saw men from different countries.

Being a man of seasoned speech and great wisdom, he persuaded, "Guys, we have limited number of lifeboats and I suggest that we reserve them for the ladies, the old and the frail. Will good and gracious gentlemen volunteer to jump overboard, please?" What happened next? All the dignified British gentlemen jumped into the sea.

Then shifting his focus to the rest, the captain said, "We need heroes to jump too!" And all the hot-blooded American men jumped off courageously.

The captain continued, "No, this won't do, we need MORE to jump. I'll need to enforce a new rule in the ship for the good of all. Ok, obey the rule, I want you to jump!" All the German men responded dutifully.

Then, looking at the Japanese men, the captain appealed, "I'll leave you to determine by consensus, to jump or not to jump for your family's sake..." The Japanese discussed animatedly among themselves and by a majority vote, jumped off the ship in unity.

With most men overboard, the captain finally worked his way down to the last group of men, his ultimate challenge - Singaporeans! "Oh boy ..." Stumped and scratching his head, he wondered what would motivate them? Then struck by sudden brillance, he announced, "Ooi, free life-jackets for those who jump!" Guess what? They clamoured to form a queue, and jumped happily as they put on their free gift!

See? Know who you're speaking to, what motivates them, and speak to them accordingly.

Having said all these, of course, I'm assuming that you'll want to help others out, and not try to manipulate others into doing your biddings huh? :)

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29 TNIV)



Throughout my entire life, I've never borrowed without returning, owe people money, or anything of this sort. But now I feel so much in debt to folks who had put their trust in me ...

Last July (2007), I joined a marketing agency as a Sales Consultant. It was promoting an investment programme that was to deliver a monthly passive income based on a legal main stream business. Before this, I had rejected other investment schemes deemed too good to be true.

But this one was different, so I thought. It wasn't a get-rich-quick plan 'cos it would take 5 years to recover my capital, and only thereafter, would I be expecting a monthly income through production revenue. I loved the concept so much and eventually joined their sales force. I believed this programme would give many families some form of financial security.

I'd held different jobs in the past, but non excited me as much as this sales consultancy job did. For the first time in my life, I actually DESIRED to go to work in the morning! In the months that followed, I gave my best and diligently worked hard to morph myself into a professional marketing agent. Heaven knows the amount of effort and hours I'd put into this job ...

Then ... CALAMITY struck! The American Principal Company that we were marketing the programme for, defaulted on its contractual obligations to our investors for the first time in 5 years! What followed was a torrent of frantic legal investigation, counsel and action.

As the story unfolded, and as our management caught up with what actually went wrong with our American Principal, we consultants were all shell-shocked.

I was dazed for 4 whole days. I was physically there but was oblivious to the world around me. My mind was consumed with imaginations. What would happen to my clients, most of whom were family and friends of many many years?

In the months that followed, we had a hard time explaining to clients that we did not set out to scam them because we ourselves had invested heavily into the programme.

Many consultants jumped ship very quickly as they were holding multiple portfolios elsewhere. Only a handful stayed back to serve their clients, including me. How could I just walk away and leave them in a lurch? I was prepared for life-firing from my clients, but thank God, all were understanding and were prepared to wait patiently for further news.

Desperate times call for desperate actions. One fellow consultant went straight into another money-making scheme, trying to help his clients recovered some investment lost. I was offered to take part in it but I turned it down. Yes, I would very much like to help my clients recover money from somewhere, but this scheme is questionable and illegal, I can't operate like this in God's sight.

It has been 5 months since our company undertook the law suit on behalf of our clients. However, the prospect of recovering our money seems dim.

My company's CEO is trying very hard to resolve the issue, at his own expense. I salute him for his accountability, though he should have been more careful earlier ... but what has happened, has happened, so let's just move on. He's paying heftily for his over-sight.

So, what'll happen next? Only God knows. Sometimes in life, unexpected events happen. You never plan it, you never wish it, but it happens. Yet all things will somehow work together for good, I hope I will be able to understand all these someday ...


Internet Marketing

Ah, the 'good old days' when I tried my hands on internet marketing ...

I'd spent months exploring the various ways to earn an income through the internet, and finally settled on the infopreneur business model from SiteSell.com .

I studied the SBI! online manual diligently, spending hours daily at the computer, building a site from scratch, trying to convert what I already know from my daily life experiences, (i.e. from work experience, hobbies, passions or past-times) into a genuine, thriving enterprise, one step at a time. The trouble then was, alas, I didn't really have any idea what theme to base my site on as non of my interests seem profitable!

After a while, I finally decided to share my story on my difficulty to conceive with other women in the same plight, and started a site on infertility - http://www.getting-pregnant-tips.com/ . I must tell you, the whole experience was FULFILLING, not exactly a breeze, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes exasperating, but nevertheless, truly fulfilling.

The site was pretty successful as my keyword landed within the first few pages of Google Search! It was visited by about 1,500 unique visitors monthly from over 40 countries and I'd women writing to me, pouring out their woes, and to whom I attempted to comfort.

I made some money too from an affiliate merchant and google ads. The money wasn't much, but I'd just started then, I believe that if I'd continue with it, I would have expanded my income. However, after one and a half year into internet marketing, I sold off the site to somebody else (who did minimal changes to it) because of other concerns. But I really, truly, cherish the experience and am grateful that I have learnt and gained SO MUCH. :)

SiteSell offers a solid online business model and even makes it easy for newbies with zero technical skills to build a site. They also provides 100% professional technical support. I've good memories working with them; they answered all my queries courteously and resolved all my online problems promptly. If you are curious enough, click on one of these links to find out more; Video SBI! Tour , SBI! Slide Show .

There are of course other ways to earn an online income, through ebay, marketing ebooks etc (be careful of internet scams though). My friend, Angie, a former teacher and mother of three, makes beautiful cards which she sells through her blog. Those of you who would love to send a prototype card to your friends, please order one from her!

Well, this blog I've started? Nah, it's not exactly for income (though I definitely won't mind if you click on my ads, heehee), because I don't want to sweat it. So much more effort would be required to make it profitable. It's just a good channel to ventilate my thoughts, and to give thanks to my Creator for His blessings in life.

Heh, I enjoy blogging too. Yeah :)


God's Love

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

Please watch this video entitled: Sacrifice


Good Times, Bad Times

Perhaps the title of this post should be 'Fat Years, Lean Years'. Remember Joseph's dream of the 7 fat years followed by the 7 lean years?

Prior to this present economic dislocation, investors were earning good returns on their investment. Now, many people are worrying not only about their jobs and mortgages, but agonizing over the devaluation of their overall investment.

A few hours back, a friend called to unload her burden; the worry over a substantial drop in their stock value. I told her that we too incur loss. In fact, EVERYONE I know who has have some kind of investment is loosing money. One colleague's AIG shares dropped from $63 to $3. A relative lost $200k in Lehman minibonds. I can go on and on.

There are days when I am hopeful that the current downturn, like past economic cycles, will not last forever. Then, there are days when I feel battered, almost overwhelmed by the bad news out there.

No one wants to outlive their money. By God's grace, we had been managing our finances well all this while and we were doing fine until the sub-prime crisis which stumped even the experts. We still want to be in control of the situation, yet this economic crisis is just too humongous and complex to handle, even for the US and British governments.

Technical charts aren't so reliable nowadays and there are so many voices out there. Shall we cut losses or what? Experts are still singing the same tune:

- Stay invested and do not succumb to fear and panic selling.
- Invest in for the long term.
- Diversify.
- Buy Low Sell High.
- Rebalance your portfolio regularly to minimize risk.
- Remember that economy moves in cycles, alternating with upturns and downturns.

Well, well, well, the principles sound simple, but they are really hard to follow, and not always true.

I have absolutely no idea what to do next, but am remaining thankful to God for His providence still. He had seen us through a prior downturn before, and if it pleases Him, He will see us through this one again.

We must continue to honour God in all our actions, not succumbing to dubious ways to make money so as to recover loss. There are people doing this, driven by panic and desperation, but we shouldn't participate in anything that's wrong.

Hard times are here, but still, interesting times. I told my elder son; this is such a good experience for him to go through although his portfolio drops about 30%, because he'll recover his loss in due course as he has a longer time horizon to wait out the crisis. This kind of lesson, you'll have to go through it to learn.

Well, regardless of difficult times and seasons, regardless of how we feel, one unchanging truth remains ; GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME! Amen.


Life's A Journey, Education's A Marathon

Years ago, my neighbour asked me while looking at my 5 year-old elder boy playing with chalks in front of our house, "Can he spell 'Apple'?"

"No" I replied, hesitating in my heart, heh, I thought I should let him play at this age?

"Well, my daughter could spell it for some time already!" she mocked in amazement. Her daughter was 6.

Goodness gracious! That prompted me to look for all kinds of ways to teach my boy to read. Heaven knows I'd tried ALL ways, I made him memorized the letters in the alphabet, pasted labels naming everything in the house, we sang nursery rhymes together etc. He just couldn't catch it! And the very expensive nursery/kindergarten we'd put him in didn't help much either.

Finally, I found a phonic programme and personally coached him and his younger brother for a year each. Thank God by the age of 7, both could read The Straits Times.

Then came the agony of Primary School. Goodness gracious again! The bulk of school work he had to cope with was unthinkable! It didn't help much when he fell ill frequently; often with headache and tummyache, signs of stress.

Through the years, we'd pumped in so much money, giving both our boys tuition in Chinese and Mathematics. My elder son pulled through his PSLE with an average score that managed to put him in the Express Stream in Secondary School.

My mom has a stroke when he was in Sec. 2. I couldn't at all concentrate on his studies anymore. He was frustrated with his Maths. He didn't like Science very much either. The only delight that motivated him through the drudgery of secondary school years was his NPCC.

Seeing his struggle with studies, I'd often wondered whether he would ever do better in school.

Then in Sec 3, he started bringing home distinctions in 'unimportant' subjects such as ethics, and the likes, you know? Not the important subjects that count in GCE 'O' level aggregate calculation. And being the practical mother that I was, I said, "I'm not impressed, do well in the other subjects instead!"

It was a good thing my son retorted, "You are always like that! You always say this!" Goodness gracious! What did I always say?

I realized I'd only placed emphasis on his academic subjects and didn't give him praise for other things that he did well. Seeing his hurt expression, I quickly apologized, "Sorry, sorry, you have done well in these, I do hope you can also do well in the rest, but you have indeed done well in these too, son. I'm sorry, I shall not be like this again."

Then, things happened. He started coming home with distinctions in English, then History, then Geography, and gaining new found confidence daily. Praise God.

Fast forward to today. He is in SMU second year, pursuing a course in Political Science, perhaps taking up another major in the course of time. He came back last night with a crystal plaque inscribed with these words, "The School of Social Sciences, certifies that (name) has been placed on the Dean's list for meritorious performance in Academic Year 2007-2008". That means he belongs to the top ten in his faculty!

And he has that sweet smile on his face, just like the one he always had years back whenever he came back with good news that he did well in this and that.

THIS is the same boy I'd fret and worried over all these years, since he was 5. My elder son.

Phew! :)

Pss ... tell you about my younger son on another occasion. :)


Growing Old, Growing Up

What is the average life span? Three score and ten? People seem to live longer than that nowadays, unless life is cut short by unforseen circumstances.

I don't want to live too long. Just long enough to see my sons grow up, settle down, perhaps get the chance to tickle my grandchildren a little bit, that's enough.

One of the reasons I'm tired of living sometimes, is ... I'm tired of repeating the same mistakes. There are mistakes that I'll make over and over again, no matter how I've been reminding myself NOT to repeat them.

Creature of habits eh? It is often said, "When you want to get rid of a bad habit, starve it!"

So easy meh?

Well, I must say that by God's grace, I've progressed or matured quite a bit over the years, yet, not at the rate I would love to grow. My former pastor once said, "Some people grow old but never grow up!"

How very true. Gasp! I hope I'm not one of them!

Aaaargh! I wish to practise more self-control, keep my disagreements to myself in the company of others. Cos' very soon, I'll be doing something different again. I pray that this time, I'll do better than to repeat the usual mistakes.

Must remember to keep my disagreements to myself, because most of the time, my opinions don't matter and are inconsequential to the development of events, which usually are beyond my control anyway.

Better grow up.


Life is a Gift

My mind darts back and forth this whole week. I can't rest till I've made sense of what'd happened.

Within two months, I'd lost two friends.

Esther, mother of my elder son’s best friend, died about 2 months’ back. She died from cancer “of an unknown source” at the age of 52.

She didn’t want to die.

“What'll happen to my son? I’ve pampered him since young, is he mature enough to take care of himself?” she asked me. (Her son is 22)

“What'll happen to my mom? I’ve cared for her to the best of my abilities. I gave her a good life, the best food ... Non others care for her as much as I did, who'll take care of her when I'm gone?"

She didn’t want to die.

She wanted to fulfill her filial piety, and watch her two children grow, get married etc… She couldn't let go of life.

But, she died eventually.

Esther had been a person with quite a temper (I heard). Yet in her last days, I was privileged to witness her courage and love.

Despite her great discomfort, she was kind to the nurses and enquired about the well-beings of all her visitors. In fact when I visited her at the hospital, she expressed her concern over something that had happened to me recently. I was really touched.

It is not easy to be cheerful and considerate when you are sick, much less if you are dying from a terminal illness. And if you are not a calm person by nature, it’ll take much more effort.

I appreciated Esther’s testimony. When her pain intensified, she asked the nurse for a morphine injection. She didn't want to distress those around her. She said in pain, “I don’t want to show my ugly side.” I admired her, this sister whom I hardly know. If I ever have to go through such a trial, may God give me the strength to be a blessing to the end. Every minute counts.

PC, my former colleague, died 5 days’ ago. She jumped from a building. She died from unknown reasons.

She didn’t want to live.

PC, a gem of a friend, forever kind and forgiving, she was the first to extend her friendship to me when I was new at my job.

She had troubles of her own which she refused to divulge. She suffered from depression and no one knew. She had been planning her suicide, and in the midst of it, still paused to do me a favour which I’d asked for without letting me know. She left a note at her work place, listing all the unfinished errands. She left a note to her friends and police, indicating that her death was by suicide and no one was to be implicated. She left a note to her family, listing all the repairs that need to be done in the house, a semi-detached, saying that the mortgage had been paid and they are free to sell it or continue to live in it. She also apologized that she didn’t do enough to maintain the condition of the house. She reminded them to switch off the fans every night. She left another note to apologize to someone for choosing that particular day to die, which coincided with that someone's birthday.

Can you grasp the essence of her character?

But she didn’t want to live!

Life held nothing desirable for her to hang on to. She simply gave up . She'd quitted life.

When one is suicidal, one is not trying to escape from life, but from pain. But no one picked up her distress signals, she covered them well. She only told me she was worried about many things. She asked me to meet her (to bid farewell), but I was worried about things in my own life and declined!

Among all forms of death (from sickness, accident and suicide), suicide pains the bereaved family the most as they can’t seek closure to the death.

The delusion that plagued a depressed person is that he/she will never recover from the depression. This is not true! A depressed person will eventually recover if he/she seeks help.

Is a cup half full or empty? Perspectives affect choices. Our perspectives are affected by our physical and mental well being. I believe that if PC would seek help, she would eventually recover from her depression, see her problems in perspectives and handle them wisely.

When we are physically sick, we can't do our work. When we are mentally sick, we can't think straight. PC made the wrong choice.

I attended PC’s funeral yesterday morning at Bright Hill. We waited for about half an hour, the hearse finally came. Someone exclaimed, “They are here!” I turned around, and momentarily misconstrued the statement to “PC is here!”

PC’s photo hung in front of the hearse, her smile that always warmed my heart… It really looked like she was coming towards us. I almost responded in my heart, “Hi PC!” Then I saw it was her hearse. Her body inside, how mangled could it be?

She is now ashes ...

We lost her.

I drew many lessons here, like, make time for your friends, count your blessings, life is short etc. But the main lesson is this: LIFE IS A GIFT, TREASURE IT!

I couldn’t react much when I was with all the other ex-colleagues at the funeral. Everything happened so fast! Now that I'm alone, I can think. I didn't realize PC had made such an impact on me. I cherish her friendship. When I pause to recall her supportive smile, tears well up. I'm beginning to feel a sense of lost. I know I will never encounter another fine soul like her.

Things that are seen are transient; things that are unseen are eternal.

After loosing two friends within two months, I’d met up with two other friends on two different days, and spent time with them. It WAS good catching up.

Life is a gift, treasure it!