Wednesday, 5 June 2019

A Plea in the Silence

Dear Mother of mine,
Oh, I don't even know
will I ever live to say that,
will I? will I?

Will I ever feel the warmth
of your embrace?
Will I ever hear the tender
whispers of your love?
Will I ever live to say "Ma"
and you..."My Child"?

I don't know, for I am...
that tiny life growing
inside your womb

Fragile, helpless, that I am
for I depend on you,
A tiny life yes, but
am I not a life?

I can't make it on my own
I need you, Mother of mine,
I need you...

Am I an inconvenience?
Am I a reminder of shame?
Am I a reminder of pain?
Am I flawed?
Am I less than "perfect"?
Is that why you want to end
my life?

I don't know, for I am...
that tiny life growing
inside your womb
Fragile, helpless,
needing you to let me live...

Can you find it within your heart?

My conception,
how, when, why
I had no say in it
But please don't deny me life
for what is not my fault

Can you find it within your heart?

Ma, hear my cry
Please hear my plea
From me, your unborn child

Oh, that you may find it within your heart
To let me live!


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Orlando - a poem

2 shootings in Orlando, 
2 days in a row
first, Christina Grimmie,
then, those of the lbgt community
senseless, senseless, sad tragedies!

Does God know, does He care? 
That, we tend to ask or say...
Are we all alone on planet earth,
just chance existences
until our deaths? 

But of course, 
God does know, He does care...
Emmanuel is here, 
He is not far away

And no, oh no! 
We are not chance existence,
and not left on our own...
Created in God's image 
He wants to make us
His very own...

The question dear friends is not,
does God know and does He care,
For He does, without a doubt,
You see, for the mess of Sin 
we have put ourselves in
Jesus had already come
to save and to redeem...

The question dear friends is more rather; 
have you believed and received Him,
as Saviour and as Lord, 
living to love and to follow Him?

Jesus stands at the door of our lives,
He knocks and asks to enter in,
TODAY if you hear His voice,
open the door and let Him in,
for eternal security and life
are found only in Him


remembering the 50 victims of last weekend
Christina Grimmie
Pulse Club 49 victims

The thief (satan) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
(John 10:10)

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

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...
(Romans 3:23,24)

And this is eternal life, that they may know You,the only true God, 
and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 
(John 17:3)

Behold, I (Jesus) stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
(Revelation 3:20)

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
(Revelation 21:4)

Friday, 20 May 2016

so much, too much has changed

Frankly, there was a time in the past when I had refused and resisted  owning a hand phone. I did not see any need to be "disturbed" when I was out of the office or house. The desk telephone which I grew up with was sufficient for me (or so I thought). 

That was why it had seemed rather odd to me when one day someone who had wanted to reach me at the office got frustrated on being told by my staff "oh, she does not own a hand phone" when she had asked for my number. This exasperated person retorted to the effect of...someone like me should have one, what era was I in?! Well, what she had meant by "someone like me" is the work I do in a special education school. The lady had needed to see me about her child and I happened to be out of the office then.

Today it's rather amusing to recall that incident, but at the time it baffled me because honestly, I didn't get it... I had wondered "Does everyone have to have a hand phone?" Laugh if you must, but that was how I had regarded the "phone in the hand" then. It had happened perhaps close to over 10 years ago. It was at a time before smartphones and tablets and the like came onto the scene and became a huge part of most people's everyday lives. Yes, nowadays, one cannot go any place without bumping into someone holding one of those "gadgets" in their hands. It seems like almost everyone has one now, even young children!

Well... back to phone-less me.  One fine day, not long after that incident, I finally gave in when my husband gave me a good ole Nokia phone! I gradually appreciated the practicality of having a communication device I can take with me especially when driving on the road with a young son in the car. That's just being "sensible", isn't it? It finally dawned on me I must be reachable both ways in whatever situations that may occur when we were out. So that, dear friends, was my entry into the world of "mobile tech". I was a late comer...

Not that I wasn't using a desktop computer in my office for some years already back then, but that's all it was, on the desk, it was not a mobile.

Talking about the computer, technologically, we have come a long way and in a very short span of time this last decade or so.

IBM 5150 PC
I am of the generation that can still remember using a manual typewriter and later on, an electric one to do our office work. It was not long after, when that also gave way to the bulky desktop computer with its blinking cursor and green fonts on a plain dark screen. I can imagine some of you the reader chuckling at the very thought because I am smiling to myself as I write this. And quite soon after that came the more sophisticated ones enabling us to send emails to overseas friends. Oh, it was so fascinating to be able to do that! I can still remember the feeling... the surreal feeling of being in touch with faraway people at the click of the "send" button. No more need for a letter pad, neither envelopes nor licking and sticking of pretty stamps, nor the need for a trip to the post office, and no more the long anticipated wait for a reply to my letters!

So much has changed... the development, and the speed of it...  and it was fascinating then. Nostalgia for the old ways will only come later. But meanwhile for a time, it was novel.

And of course, the computer got smaller and lighter, from the heavy ones with their bulky "back side" to lighter flatter screens to laptops to... where we are now... relying heavily on our smartphones... a hand held multi-functional tool working for us in many ways. It is all at once a device for communication (in more ways than one!), for accessing the internet, for taking pictures, videos, for listening to music, to tell the time and days, a notepad, a diary, an alarm clock... oh my word, how did this happen?!

By now my good ole Nokia, which can only perform a minuscule percentage of the smartphone, has become a treasured relic in my drawer, a reminder of a very recent past and how far and fast we have advanced technologically.

Nowadays, the fascination has gone, the novelty has worn out, instead it is replaced by a deep concern for the way our self-worth and identity, our families and our everyday lives have been sadly affected by all this...
©Eric Pickersgill
He removes smartphones from images
to show how obsessed we are with them 
Indeed, so much; too much has changed!

My closing personal thought on this matter is; as in most things, is moderation of use, and to have some sense and sensibility in its use... always remembering that your family and you are important...on this journey we call life.

Thursday, 21 April 2016


It's quiet here at the beach...
save the sound of falling leaves,
of birds chirping, of a dog barking,
and the crackling underfoot
with each step I took
For several days now as I stood at the entrance to my office, I kept gazing at a few trees fronting the beach. Their colours had made it seemed like autumn here in the tropics.

I guess not many people can say they have the South China Sea for an office view and a horizon that gives me all at once, the sight of a popular beach boasting incredibly beautiful sunsets ranked among the best in the world; trees that grew wherever nature dictated each to take root, and many varieties of awesome looking birds that had made this place their home. I am, I think one of the more fortunate ones to be coming to such a place to work daily. And I'm grateful.

For nature and anything in their natural state is what I like and enjoy a lot. Wild trees that just simply grow into each other, one here, one there, everywhere, with no seeming reason or rhyme, and no human interference; is actually, beautiful... and early morning tiny  dew drops on blades of grass, puddles that form after the rain, undisturbed beaches that are shaped by the sea and oh, so much more... Nature is priceless. Indeed, it is a priceless gift from the Creator. And it is, I have discovered, for me, one of the best places to find solitude.

Contrary to common thinking, solitude is not being lonely or being in a state of loneliness. It is a place we all need to seek to be in often. It is a state of "purposeful getting away from..." whatever that is that drains you mentally and emotionally. A place of having quietness and peace in your soul. A place of refreshing before facing again the daily walk of your life.

Solitude in the midst of nature, to me as a Christian, is one of those times of close communion with my God, the One who created it all. Yes, I am conscious of His presence in my life each day, every hour and moment, and can talk with Him any time, in whatever place or circumstance I'm in, yet there is something really special when I choose to come away from the busy, demanding schedule of my life to just relax, taking time to appreciate the beauty around and converse with Him as I stroll along.
"Come away..." (Song of songs 2:10,13) is an invitation of old to each of us from the Ancient of days (Daniel 7:9,13,22) and the most well known Psalm, chapter 23 is a picture of rest and restoration for our souls in a place of green pastures and quiet waters in the presence of God, our good Shepherd. 

So at the close of yet another day of work, I decided to leave my office and headed towards the inviting colours of autumn outside the fence. The ground was already covered in a thick carpet of dried leaves of brown, rusty red, orange and yellow. The only green I saw were new grass peeking out from in between those leaves. If this was anyone's front yard, there would already be raking going on and piling up of these leaves to be thrown away. But here they are left naturally to eventually dissolve into the soil.
There were still many colourful leaves on those trees but every few moments, I could hear the sound of a twig breaking as a leaf broke loose and gently danced its way to the ground. It was quiet except for the soft sound of these falling leaves against the chirping of birds flying around the foliage.
Before long, perhaps by next week, these trees will be bare. But meanwhile on this late afternoon sunny day, standing underneath them, I let myself enjoy the sounds and sights around me. It was as it were, moments in time... hearing the crackling sound of dried leaves under my feet and the faint sound of the waves hitting the shore; seeing the rays of the sun streaming through the branches and the swaying of coconut trees in the gentle was a delight to be there.

After a short while, it was time to return to my office... when suddenly, as if on cue, a lone white dog appeared out of nowhere and started barking at me! Perhaps because I was an unfamiliar intrusion into its usual space. But it's barking did not bother me... I already had my little solitude that day, and ready to close the beach gate, pack up my stuff and head for home. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

spring rain

This year's dry season had dragged on quite a bit since January. The rain had not come except for a few hours in a day, and far between days. The grass have all but turned brown and bush fires were rampant everywhere. The heat wave which had caused a few deaths; coupled with the equinox at one time, was almost unbearable. It culminated with the worst haze we ever had in 20 years. The South China sea became almost invisible, covered by white smog. The skies as well. The airport had to be closed at one time as visibility was so low. The air we breathed in smelled burnt and tickled our throats and chests. People were falling sick.

It was March but they predicted rainfall would come only in June. That's when the church prayed. Asking, believing, trusting in the goodness of the Almighty Creator. Then it came; the first showers was on Good Friday, but then it stopped. We continued asking... it started pouring again last Friday and eversince then, rain that was just enough each day with also just enough sunshine. It is so pleasant now.

Today, as I drive home from work in the late afternoon, I was full of gratitude with God's kindness and overwhelmed by the beauty I was seeing. Then this poem flowed out, I just had to write it.

What a glorious day,
indoors, I can't stay!

The dry weather is gone,
the spring rain has come,
the parched land is no more

The haze is gone,
the sky is clear blue,
the clouds, brilliant white

Still indoors?
No, not me!

Do you see the green grass,
take over the carpet of brown?
Do you see the blossoms,
of red, of yellow,
of pink, of purple & of white?

Tall trees, low bushes,
trimmed hedges, wild plants,
it's everywhere,
just look around

Such beauty,
so much to behold
Look around,
it's everywhere
Take time, enjoy it,
it is here, it is now

Seasons come,
seasons go,
so go outdoors,
soon it would be no more
soon it would be all gone

(©jennypipi 12/4/2016)

Monday, 11 April 2016

old age

Today at the old folks home, we had the most incredible encounter with an old man on a wheelchair. He could walk but he said he used it to move about. Easier for aging legs, I guess.

We had just left the management office when we saw him heading towards us. He extended his hand and jovially said, "thank you for visiting us".

Under the hot sun, I noticed his eyes seemed to fill up when he said that. This was the first time we had met him. Seeing what I'd perceived were tears, I'd thought he must be sad. Then he told us, he and his wife are living here together. "Oh, you are the couple I was told had chosen to live here!" I exclaimed. "Yes, and there's another couple here too" he replied.

Then, the stories started to pour out from him. We were still standing in the open, squinting our eyes and in vain, using our hands to shield ourselves from the glaring sun, until I invited him to move into the shade and nearer the office door. Thinking also that would remind him to be doing what he came to the office for and also so we can get to quickly complete our reason for going there today.

But in spite of the inappropriate timing and place, the stories continued.

Our responses to his stories began with childlike belief. Wide eyed "wow!" as he spoke, was part of it. Then as he went on, I started to have silent question marks in my head.

At the most he looked mid 70 to me. But he said, "No, I'm 97! That brought on our first "wow!" and our loudest too. Then followed by his advice on eating chilli leaves which he said he started at age 9, to maintain good eyesight, good skin. Lots of vegetables too and less meat. Alright, that's good to keep.

Then we began to hear other stuff. He's an English professor, had worked in China, Uganda, Nigeria; I can't remember where else! Studied in Colombia University, USA. He loved the East Coast, New Jersey, Seattle etc.

Then it got rather strange. He knows Tom Jones, Clint Eastwood, Dolly Parton, Olivia Newton John as friends. He had even advised Olivia on taking chilli leaves for her cancer. He said "Over the phone I'd told her, Olivia, it's chilli leaves..."

Now by this time, you the reader must be thinking, why are we still standing there listening to him? Believe it or not, that whole encounter probably took a little over 10 minutes at the most. That's how fast the stories gushed out. Besides, he seemed believable and deserving the benefit of a doubt. And anyway, what's a few minutes of our time?

I needed to find out, so I asked for his name but for reasons of privacy will not mention it here. Along with his name, he provided "information" that he writes articles for the Star, on the internet. I silently thought, I will look it up. Although the silent question marks in my head had lingered, yet what if his stories are real?

Even if his stories are not real, at least he found 3 pairs of listening ears and that's what he needed. I'm certain there will be part 2 to this encounter and hopefully we will then gradually know for sure and we will be able to separate the reality from the imagination.

Oh, and yes I did an immediate Google search at home, found a name, the one he gave and the writer is age 97! But I'm still incredulous because it still does not tally. So I'm in a position of wait and see. He deserves it.

One final thought, my own understanding of what people in their twilight years go through (especially without work to occupy time and families around to love and be loved) is now increasing little by little. It is helping me envision the time I will be that age, yes, we all will be that age, if not yet and if we are not "called home" earlier.The question is, if we are blessed to reach old age; how will we fare, whatever our lot then?

As for me, I'm already assured by God's words "Even to your old age I am the same, and to your grey hairs I will carry you: I have made you, and I will bear: I will carry and will save." (Isaiah 46:4)

Sunday, 8 November 2015

I am homeless

Summer 1989 in Paris; a city which captures the imagination of many as a city of romance, high fashion, exquisite cuisine, good looking people, beautiful architecture... A city where I had my first encounter with homelessness.

It was late at night. My friends and I were walking back to the church, a short distance away. What I saw that night is imprinted in my mind to this day.

We came across a man lying on top of a hot air vent on the pavement. He was curled up, his arms folded close to his chest, his legs bent towards his body; in an effort to keep warm. It was summer but nights can be cold and specially so for this man without a roof over his head. He was not the only one there. There were others like him in that place I had walked by with my friends that night, so many years ago.

It was my sudden introduction to the unfamiliar, and ironically, it was in a city which is known for its fashion, culture, and beauty. It was a social phenomenon altogether foreign to my young world then. I was shaken, to say the least, by the thought that this person had perhaps no family and no house to go back to, that the streets under the open skies was his home. I was saddened and found it hard to grasp the reality of what I was seeing, because none of this had existed in my world and home city at that time.

For Asians, family is important. Family includes grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins... the blood-that-is-thicker-than- water family extending beyond the nuclear unit. We take care of our old, we help one another in our struggles. No matter how bad life turns out, we know there is always at least a place to stay while we get back on our feet.

Homelessness was foreign to us. But then something started to change, something must have gone wrong with our values. It must be, because homelessness had crept into our comfortable,  secure world. I do not know exactly when  it happened but it is definitely here.
Recently I joined my son with our church youth group for their "box project". The idea is simple; fill up boxes with basic supplies and go seek out the needy in the streets of the city. It is not a novel idea, people in other places are doing it too. For us and our youths, it was a small act motivated by the amazing love of God for all peoples. He cares and He wants us to express that love in simple practical ways.

Meeting and talking with an old man sleeping on a park bench that night brought back those feelings I first had in Paris but with the perspective of someone who is older now. 
Later that night, my comfortable bed had felt uncomfortable knowing he was sleeping on a piece of cardboard. And it also just wasn't right that a man in his twilight years is missing out on what should be the joys of being a grandfather, and being able to rest from the struggles and labour of youth... What does one do with such feelings but to translate them into action? But that's another story.

For the next few days ever since we met him and others, including one who slept next to a dumpster; I found myself dwelling on what could possibly land a person in that kind of dire straits. And it dawned on me that homelessness could happen to any one of us. Even the wealthy, the educated... any one.

To me, homelessness is a state of not having a home; and not necessary of not having a house. A person may have a house where family members live but it is not his home if he is not welcomed there, for whatever reason. It is also a state of having no physical dwelling at all to go back to. 

Each of these persons on the streets have their own stories and reasons for being there; and whatever it is, as I see it, may be simply reduced to the "C or C" reasons; choice or circumstance or both. While personal choices and in this case, the wrong misguided ones, are often times avoidable; circumstances are not within the individual's control.
The sobering thought is that any one of us can easily end up sleeping on that bench, sidewalk or dumpster. 

Consider this example. Many of us have taken for granted living our comfortable lives in houses that are on loan from the banks, serviced by the salaries we earn from our regular jobs or businesses we own, made partly possible because we are still physically able and healthy. Take the latter away through an unfortunate circumstance such as a car accident, a serious sickness; and the equation may just fall apart. Coupled with depression and rejection; that homeless man or woman on that bench can be any one of us.  
A homeless man or woman, where life is merely living day to day, hoping for the next meal, wondering if it's going to come or its going to be another night of going to sleep hungry. Each passing day, waiting, hoping, for someone to finally take notice. With nothing much left to call one's own, yet holding on to the barest shred of dignity left and silently asking not to be judged, not to be condemned, not to be ostracized but to be helped.

Sharing my reflections with my son, his reply was "we are homeless".  Those 3 simple words were profound if not puzzling. But I knew what he meant. He was responding from an eternal perspective. Making it personal, it is true when I say "I am homeless". But what does it mean? I have a house, I have a home yet... I am homeless.

From an eternal perspective, it simply means... I am homeless here; in the here and now, in this temporal life on earth. Simply because this is not my permanent home, "I am just a passing through" like the old hymn says. My permanent home is an eternal one. 

I am homeless here even though I have a physical dwelling,  but my Lord Jesus was without one when He came as a man, living among people for a short 33 years to show us what God is like and what He came to do, that is, to seek and save the lost. One time He had said, "foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to  lay His head" (Luke 9:58)
What is home? It is a place of rest, refuge, refreshing and all that is good; where there is love, forgiveness, acceptance. The homes here where we experience that to a certain measure is really only a little glimpse of that other Home that is indescribably better, real, permanent, eternal.

For Jesus has promised "In My Father's house are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you...I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 12:2,3) That is the Home I mean and that is the one I am looking forward to.

Meanwhile, for as long as we live on the earth, there is a job to do, a responsibility. The two greatest commandments to obey are simple, really. To love God with all of our hearts, souls, strength and to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37,38)

Meanwhile, for as long as I have breath, I do well to heed my Saviour's words to care for the least among us. I do well not to look down on anyone regardless of his or her state in life; or reasons for living on the streets; but instead to extend a helping hand in whatever capacity and ability I have.

For it is Him I am doing it to and it is Him that I am doing it for... for therein is joy in the doing... 
Matthew 25:34-40

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A Special 19th birthday Poem

A birthday poem

19 years ago today, son
I became a mom, your mom, 
that Sunday morn’
the day you were born
your dad stood watching,
eagerly awaiting...  
his face, he said,
the first, you must see
he was proud of you
as any father could be

19 years ago today, son
your dad and I, 
we became parents
to you our dear child,
a tiny babe, helpless
and totally dependent, 
a gift you are,
from God above
to us His children
whom He loves

19 years have passed
since that special day,
that one significant day
which was
your actual BIRTH-DAY…
The many “birthdays” since
were celebrations,
and thanksgiving
to God our Father, 
For the day you came
made a difference…
a beautiful difference
to our lives!

I love you my child,
my son



25th Aug 2015

My prayer for you is that you will grow more deeper in intimacy with Jesus; know him, love him, hear him and obey him all the days of your life, there is nothing better than this….

“Your ears shall hear a word
behind you, saying,
“This is the way, walk in it,”
Whenever you turn to the right hand
Or whenever you turn to the left.”
(Isaiah 30:21)


Monday, 15 June 2015

my tribute to Papa

A legacy of a good name

My first memory of my dad was when I was perhaps knee high.

picture credit
The image etched in my mind to this day is Papa holding my hand as we walked on a cattle guard crossing leading to our small town's shops. My short arm was held straight up as we walked on that parallel row of round metal rods. My vivid memory was through the eyes of a child who remembered her father in his trademark white shirt and dark long parts, towering besides her; clasping her tiny hand while looking straight ahead.
a cattle guard crossing which I saw recently,
it brought back warm memories of my papa
The last memory I have of my dear Papa was our taxi ride together from one of my sisters' home in a small town to another sister's home in the city. By then, I was already in my early twenties and working; but at that time, living for a little while with a group of church friends.

The taxi dropped me off at where I was staying and that was the final time I saw my father alive, as the taxi continued on its way to my sister's place. It was a Friday.

On Sunday, I received news that Papa had passed away due to heart failure. It was a sudden and devastating loss for me and for all of us. He was 81 years old.

That final ride with him would not have taken place if I had left my sister's house on Thursday as planned. Papa was sitting on a chair on sister's house verandah when he saw me with my overnight bag. He asked, "Are you going back today? Why not with me tomorrow?". On hindsight, my response as most young people would, could have been... "oh no I can't, I have stuff to do..." But I did not, and to this day I am thankful I am not living with the regret of denying my dad's last request which now seems to me rather odd. There is no regret because I simply replied that yes, I will go back with him the next day. That request was unlike his usual self and my non-hesitant response was also unlike the young me.

I have wondered since, did my dad know his health was deteriorating? Was that extra night at my sister's and about forty minutes taxi ride together with me meant a lot for Papa? Was it urgent for him to spend time with his children in nearby places before he went back to the small town where Mom and our family home were and where he had passed away (in the small hospital)? I do not know but I think it was, because his children were important to him. 

Papa became father for the twelfth time when I was born and by then, he was already almost sixty. He was a widower with four children when he married Mom with whom he had eight more children.

Growing up, my siblings and I could not comprehend our dad's paranoia with us being anywhere near the sea or river and going swimming, boating, fishing....he did not allow anyone of us near such, no matter how old we were. I must confess now that we had still gone ahead to do these without either of our parents' permission and knowledge; for we were too young to grasp their pain when Mom's first born and Dad's fifth child drowned at age 8 or so.

It was a part of our family history; we grew up hearing about the tragedy which happened when most of us were not even born yet. All we knew from Mom was, Papa went through a period of what I understand now to be utter sadness and perhaps depression too. He did nothing for a while, maybe for a month; did not shave, hardly moved from his bed, nothing...his little girl had died and he could not come to terms with it. 

We did not understand then but we do now.

Thank God, he did get out of that emotional pit although, when the rest of us came along, I believe he was already scarred and unable to bear the thought of loosing another child to a watery death, and so the restrictions. 

Papa was a good father. He had a stern look but was loving and caring. It was Mom who sometimes gave me a caning when it was required; not him, never him, in spite of his stern face.

One of the things I liked doing for him was to boil water to prepare his warm bath using a large basin in the bathroom. I would then called out to him in simple Chinese that it was ready. Mom and us siblings communicated in Malay with each other but with our dad, we spoke more Chinese Hakka (and mine was barely enough to get by then!)

He and Mom worked hard to bring us up. He was a businessman doing different things at different times; and Mom partnered with him in all these. There were times when both of them were away on outstation business trips and I was looked after by my older siblings. Our house was on open land with a little stream and fruit trees around, so there was much to occupy my days besides school, but I remember missing them much each time.
Papa was also Kapitan Cina (the Chinese Association leader or something like a village head) of our small town for as long as I could remember until the day he passed away. There were always people coming in and out of our family home as I was growing up. People who had disputes (marital or otherwise) or whatever that needed to be settled by him. He had been awarded several medals, notably from the British Empire and especially the Justice of Peace (JP) award which gave him the authority to do that.

One of Papa's strong traits was his punctuality. In fact, he was way better than just being punctual. He was up and ready, fully dressed, at least a couple of hours before anything (!) and just waited until the time of the appointment. To him, it was rude to let others wait. He would rather be the one waiting. A few of his older children are similarly like him in this.

My Papa was also a man of integrity, an honest man. It had been said of him; he would not cheat or take advantage of anyone or use his connections for favours. In fact, he had himself been taken advantage of by others. In spite of his position and business, we were not wealthy but thankfully, had enough, although there had been some pretty lean times too. Young as I was then, I had to help out as well when we went through those rough patches... experiences that have been definitely good for me.

I am proud of my dad for being who he was and what he did in his lifetime. There is a street in our home town that was named after him. To me, this is a gesture of recognition of his contributions towards that community. At his funeral, many of the town folks came to our family home to pay their last respects to my father, as well as the Chinese school's children and the then principal with whom he was close to.
If our Mom had left behind for her family, a legacy of love (click link here), our Papa had left for us a legacy of a good name, and that I know is far better than all the money in the world...

"A good name is more desirable than great riches, to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." (Proverbs 22:1)

I am thankful to God to be the daughter of this man I had called Papa and thankful for his legacy. I miss him still. This is my simple tribute and gratitude as a lasting one for posterity.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

in quietness and in trust

Recently, I came across an article on "God's Great Questions" which drew out remembrance of the toughest and lowest point of my life.

Perhaps a lot of us tend to ask "why" questions of our Creator when we go through deep and dark valleys, don't we? Be it loss of a job, loss of a loved one, unjust treatment, accusations, or just about any of the whole of life's difficulties. Our whys could stem from either confusion or despair or anger at whatever undesirables we are facing and...we want answers. From our viewpoint, we can't see beyond the spot we are in; visibility is almost near zero. It's like driving on a foggy mountain road with no end in sight.
Somehow, there is something in the helplessness of the human soul that requires answers to or reasons for our painful situations. Perhaps also, we think it is our right to know and God owes us the explanation. But, does He? Does He owe us an explanation or in fact, does He owe us anything at all?

We all have desires although varying, and we all are vulnerable to heartaches. We dream, we plan, we work hard, at what we hope to see. Perhaps... a successful career? a happy family? having good friends? Oh, it could be anything! But then things don't turn out as we had hoped...and we are devastated, perplexed, hurt...

What's our response when we encounter these hard knocks? Someone had said that a person comes out through them either a bitter or a better person. The choice is ours, really. We can't avoid the often bumpy road of life we all travel on, but we can choose whether we want to go down or rise up when we hit the potholes, especially the deep jagged ones.

Some years ago, I went through as I was saying, the lowest point of my life, not before and since have I endured such a dark and deep valley. I know mine is little in comparison to the nightmarish experiences of some others, like that of a lady I read about who was born out of incestuous rape and then she herself enduring a cycle of sexual abuse for years. I can't even begin to imagine a life like that! But I am not comparing; either mine with hers or hers with anyone else, for to each of us, whatever we go through, it is a "nightmare" to the one going through it.

Yes, many of us ask questions of the Almighty when life throws us sharp arrows of disappointments, losses, betrayals... Why? Why? Why, God? Why me? Why now? Why this? But have we ever considered that God asks us questions too? And you know what, He has the absolute right to do so. And He has lots to ask! Yet it's not because He doesn't know the answers...

Long before I walked through my valley, I was teaching from the book of Job to the Bible study group I was attending. It was a study which had been to me, at that time one that we "learnt about". It was head knowledge, not personally experienced by anyone (as far as I know) who were in the group.

We learnt what Job, this God fearing wealthy man of old, went through; losses and sufferings that you and I can only begin to imagine! Everything that he had was gone, including the death of all his children, his property and his own health. Indeed, he was sorely afflicted. But at the end of it he came out triumphant (Job 42:10,12,17). Job knew his God and even through his grief and lamenting, he had declared these great truths - that whatever he had, came from the Almighty (Job 1:21), his realization of the need for a mediator between sinful man and a holy God (Job 9:33) and his confidence that this mediator is his Redeemer who will come to the earth (Job 19:25).
an image of suffering Job
picture credit
Some time later after that Bible study, I faced being in a place where the darkness had seemed to be closing in on me...and I remember how I was not asking any why questions but just holding on to my knowledge and past experiences of who God is, of His goodness and faithfulness in spite of what I was going through. If you were to ask me, was it easy? I will say no, it was very difficult but it drew me closer to my God.

One night when I had felt desperately down, I purposely turned the pages of the Bible to Job chapters 38-42 and began to read. Strangely, as I read every single one of God's questions to Job, it comforted me although it was just question upon question, not answers! His questions to Job (and I took as to me too) were a lot of "Can you...?" Can you do this, can you do that, and also who has done this, who has done that...? as God described His awesome creation - the size of the earth, the vastness and depth of the seas, the rain and snow, the constellations in the universe, the lightning, the land animals, the birds of the air...and the list goes on.

I felt strangely comforted by these questions because I was encountering the "bigness" of my God. My eyes saw how great God is, and because of that I knew He had a hold on my problems, was able to and would see me through. At the end of it, like Job, I was confessing the same thing

"My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you" (Job 42:5). 

That night I had written this simple short prayer in my diary and since then it is a reminder to me of the comforting touch of God in the form of His questions in the midst of what was a trying time.

"Lord, I know you are God. You are awesome. You are so big and I am just a dot. Yet You are my Father and You love me. I can't understand and know all things but I know You love me."