Monday, May 2, 2016

Today I am Thankful

Seoul Yummy


吴冠中 | 故乡之城

吴冠中 |玉龙雪山




吴冠中 |湘西渡口
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Ordinary Days

View from my favorite CLB corner seat

""Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?" (Ecclesiastes 1:2b-3, NIV)

As I was about to type how I woke up with this hollowed feeling, I remembered that this is not new. Old question recently surfaced: What am I doing? Like really, what am I achieving?

I don't want to create a system of redemption for myself by rushing to do stuff and making myself needed. Which I know I cannot without God anyway. This season is really one of humility (I sincerely hope it is) and praying. More observable is the focus on relationships- family and friends.

Yet there's this huge part. I am insecure. And when that happens, sometimes I don't know if I am meeting my own needs or others.

(Wow I didn't expect this to come out. I was just going to type about living ordinary days.)

But yes, that's part of an ordinary day. To daily ask for grace, joy, forgiveness, direction and to receive and then ask some more.

From today at Sunday School training
Another ordinary day today.

Usual grudge that Dad just doesn't reply when he doesn't like the question/topic. Same inertia yet obligation felt before going to visit Granny. Usual language barrier with Granny. Nodding off during training because I was unengaged. Reminded again of my discomfort among Christian strangers who are supposed to know each other?

Yet today is a beautiful day.

Thanked God for leading me to take the bus to Jurong Point because I wanted to get durian puffs for Granny- I saw a mother lashing out hurtful words at her daughter who also refused to bow down. I was reflecting, such is how we can hurt ourselves through this pride, want for control, unforgiveness. And as the bus unloaded mothers, children, aunties, I reaffirmed my desire to work with people. Which was important, because along the way I have become somewhat fearful of connecting with people- because I feel inadequate. I must remember, it is God who enables.

Had a good time with Granny and Aunt today. Aunt asked me why I became a Christian, and while my Chinese and gut feel didn't allow me to share more beyond how I felt Christianity described the state of the world better than Guan Yin or Buddhism, it was a good conversation. This is the first I had with her, like this, talking about deeper stuff beyond the usual perfunctory topics of my schoolwork, brother's schoolwork etc. We even discussed going to Hainan together with Granny (though Dad gave the usual non-response when I brought that up over dinner).

I did learn from Sunday School after all though I knew most of the stuff covered already. Learnt about a mother's faith and joy. And our attitude towards these children who make Sunday School class interesting (I really like how Uncle Hui Nee puts it haha)- do we see them as rightful students in our class?

Ordinary days. Great, meticulous God.平凡的日子,不平凡的神。

Sunday, April 3, 2016

privilege

A friend's post about how she had less than a dollar in her bank account and how she has to work for her university education reminded me of how privileged I am. In this Friday's seminar we did the Privilege Walk and I was ahead of so many of my friends. Standing there, I felt the social distance.

If I am guilty about privilege, it would be because I took so many of them for granted, they ceased to feel like privileges to me. Especially not having to work for your university education which can be such a pain in the ass sometimes- I can't imagine the double pain my friends feel, working for something that they don't like. Even being able to look for internships, and not caring whether they paid or not. As I mentally listed all the other privileges I have, I realised the extent of my privilege.

One of them is travelling | Hainan, 海瑞墓

This semester which is ending in exactly 2 weeks' time has been one of the best. Which is utterly surprising given that it started off with me feeling that I had just ruined my life. My heart was still in HK and I wasn't glad to be home as I should, I looked at my academic records and thought "Shit what was I doing by declaring 2 minors and then taking all those random modules", I didn't get any modules all the way until school started. To top it off, feelings of personal and professional incompetence plagued me, together with the sense of meaninglessness.

God has been very faithful. Today's sermon on Psalm 40:1-3 reminded me again of this, because they were the exact same verses given to me when I was working through all of the above:

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put in a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God, Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD."  (NIV)

Now as I look back, I can only see blessings. No joke. Even in the hard times when it was so trying to get out of bed at 5am to prepare for work, when I hug myself in the bathroom because I can't face the world just yet, when I feel overwhelmed because of how little I know and how little I am doing. When I feel so incompetent as a person, and yet so want to be accepted. These experiences have been blessings as well-

God teaching me about love, about Himself, about myself, about relationships, about trusting and waiting.
To care less about doing for but more about being with people. To speak more boldly about how I feel and showing appreciation/encouragement/concern where it is due, not caring that it can be awkward.

Particularly one privilege that I have been using better has been prayer. Because when you are simply unable to bring yourself out of bed, you speak to God while lying there in half-awakened anguish. When you know you are going to be late for work if you don't snap out of it, you have simply have to pray. When the hollow in your heart cannot go away.
 When you want to go back in time but there is nothing you can do. When you feel like everything you have believed in yourself in has fallen apart- and when I prayed I realised that it is good that it has fallen apart, because there is a greater Rock to place my trust in.

Indeed, I was very defined by social work. It was my source of affirmation, my sense of significance and competency, my meaning in life. Social work was also the place where I have many meaningful friendships, not just my batchmates but through the activities I took part in because of who I am as a social work major. So when the doubt that I will be a good worker sank in, I was flailing in anxiety. The thought of leaving social work was scary, like I have somehow failed as a person. The thought of staying and languishing in work was scary too. I guess I tried to make up for that by reading up on the different therapies and theories, working hard to keep up with readings and placing a high expectation of myself for my placement.

But ultimately what got me out of this was not so much the resolving of this doubt. It was the realisation that it did not matter where I worked (of course, I am bonded to social work for 3 years but that is beside the point). Social work is not my identity. It might not even be a vocation given by God, as much as I want it to be. I want to be that person that changes someone's life, and then I realised that it was a source of pride, to boast that I have impacted lives.


I began to see that being a social worker is also a privilege. To minister God's goodness in the broken world. Mr Teo was emphatic at how blessed he is when talking about his work for others. So blessed does he see himself that he overflows with blessings for others. Yet he is not overwhelmed that his efforts pale in comparison to the needs out there, nor is he cynical about it. "The poor you will always have with you"- this is the reality of our broken world. And God will ultimately come and make a new heaven and a new earth. Till then, in a sense heaven has come on earth. We experience heaven, and we want others to get a taste too. The theology of social work. Thank you God for this wonderful mentor, and this beautiful privilege.



Sunday, March 27, 2016

From Friday to Sunday

Friday

I start with my childhood best friend, because she defined most of my life. From primary school till even JC when my childhood best friend was in a different school, I have always felt defined by her. She had such a big personality which you either loved or hated, and I kinda faded beside her. I really wanted to be accepted and liked then, especially by her and the few friends that we hung out with.I wouldn't deny those were fun times. From disturbing guys we had crushes on and cracking jokes about sexuality in primary school, to taking so many neoprints at JEC and lying about having projects in school when I came home late, and jointly venting our anti-elitist judgements on the people in NJC and HCI over fries at KAP (That was mainly in my first year of JC).

But you know the feeling when a party has ended and you are going home alone in the quiet night? Often, I would so desperately want to be known and make myself known. And yet I couldn't, because I didn't quite know myself and it felt like no one cared to find out who this 'real' Kang Li is. There was no place for this in the party.

And so, I was on the dark side for some time even though I (add: thought that I) have accepted Christ Jesus into my life- i.e. that I am living an okay life with the fact that He is my Saviour and well although I did some wrong things, everything is fine because He has died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins right?

"When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals-one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."" (Luke 23:33-34a, NIV)


 Saturday
"When he had received the drink, Jesus said,"It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (John 19:30a, NIV)
Jesus' work is done- He has made for those who believe in Him, a way to God the Father. And God called me to have a relationship with Him as His child, although I was fearful like Jesus' disciples for awhile. On Saturday when Jesus' body was still in the tomb, the disciples feared for they did not believe that Jesus has power.

In the same way, I feared. That I will not be accepted if I committed myself wholeheartedly to God. That I will lose things that are precious to me. That I will be dull and uninteresting being a Christian. That I will lose myself. That God is scamming me and is not who I expect.

Sunday

Indeed God is not who I expect, He is far greater- in love, wisdom and power. In love, because God has always walked with me even though I hate to be reminded of Him when I want to stay on the dark side. In wisdom, because He knows me and leads me to places I never thought I will go, and through this to draw me closer to Himself. In power, simply by how the Lord has changed me.

Who am I? This was a question I constantly asked myself. This was a question that made me feel like I was adrift in the wide sea alone. I realised I didn't quite know, because my identity and security was built around my friends. This was also the reason behind those fears that I had. 
"He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him." (Mark 16:6b, NIV)
When I sincerely told God that I will commit my life to Him, there was no sudden epiphany. Instead, Jesus who is living today gradually silenced my fears as I allowed myself to be guided by God in life. The 'Who am I?' question now has an answer grounded in nothing less than the Creator Himself- a child of God. 

(This post is also on From thur heART, a group tumblr created by my CG in university to share our stories)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Joy

I never really liked Joy from Inside Out, as perky as she was all the time. Maybe precisely because she is perky no matter what. Having to do a programme with Inside Out as the theme, I had analyse and rewatch the movie scenes. The identification sometimes hit too close. The part where Riley finds that things between Meg and her have changed, where Goofy Island crumbled, where Friendship Island crumbled.

It was quite ironic, because a main part of the programme was teaching the siblings of special needs children to think positively. Thoughts,feelings and behaviours are interconnected and affect each other. I can choose to think positive thoughts which can change the way I feel about a situation. And there I was, like Riley.

Where is the joy? It was a daily question I had to consciously answer when I woke up in the morning. An almost-bitter chew but left a sweet aftertaste that lasted. This (short, now that I reflect on hindsight) period of wretchedness is good for me. I don't know whether it will be the new normal but frankly it doesn't really matter. I know how to fight for joy better.

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction,out of the miry bog,and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord."
Psalm 40:1-3







It was such a joy working in this way for the gospel today, Lord. Those surprised smiles, shared son/daughter/grandchildren pride, the pomelo from Ipoh (LOL), learning who my neighbours are, drawing boldness from each other.








Lyrics from an old hymn on replay: 
I Asked the Lord

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

“‘Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

John Newton

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goodbyes

The goodbyes were in order. 

First WY and Hilda, then church, followed by ICM (oh gosh I really miss those life-ly bunch), then KH and NY (missing them already). 

Was kinda sad-confused when I woke up in the cold just now after coming back from Tap Mun. This feeling called 失落 in Mandarin. Guess I was expecting to meet the peeps from ICM for one last time, then Evelyn or the guys. Was still processing what was said last night too. Dragged my feet to Streams of Praise conference alone while trying not to feel lonely. 

Okay so this is the back story.

Today's message is a very simple one which everyone needs to hear but probably finds it trite. Father loves you. Our Father God loves us. Such a wave of goodness and love washed over me just now, even as I knew that my heart was wavering. His love is so so great, I can't even :')

The conference was in Chinese/Cantonese and somehow these verses in Chinese spoke so deeply to me. 

"神 啊 , 你 的 意 念 向 我 何 等 宝 贵 ! 其 数 何 等 众 多 !我 若 数 点 , 比 海 沙 更 多 ; 我 睡 醒 的 时 候 , 仍 和 你 同 在 。" 诗篇139:17-18


"耶 和 华 ─ 你 的 神 是 施 行 拯 救 、 大 有 能 力 的 主 。 他 在 你 中 间 必 因 你 欢 欣 喜 乐 , 默 然 爱 你 , 且 因 你 喜 乐 而 欢 呼 。" 西番雅书3:17

Think I really needed this in this time of the year filled with transitions- back to Singapore with all its commitments and the end of my adventures in Hong Kong, navigating relationships back at home and those made here with my return/distance apart, coming to terms that some relationships are meant just for that season also.

Goodbye, goodbye, it is well. Through it all, it is well.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Merry Christmas



The transformation was complete when I added the green sash to my Nepalese outfit. I was ready to be open and friendly like my friends were. 

It was an awesome awesome night. Singing Angels We Have Heard on High, dancing freestyle mimicking the other two's graceful movements, laughing with Adarsh. Just basking in the joy of Christmas, singing Gloria in excelsis Deo and meaning every single line. There is just so much to give thanks and praise to God for. Thank You once again for this Christmas which reminds us of how Your great salvation was in the form of a baby. Jesus, Son of God deigns to step down from His heavenly throne to dwell among sinful man. For this reason, my soul shouts: Alleluia! 

I felt so free just dancing like that, enjoying my body, enjoying my movements, enjoying the attention, and the flow between those dancing. Never felt like this before. This must be a bit of what Heaven feels like, no barriers and no strangers. Praise God for the glorious inheritance that we have above.

If you are reading this and still do not have Jesus Christ as Your Saviour, I appeal to you: Come, the gift of salvation is free. Jesus says that He is the bread of life, apart from Him you will perish. He alone gives joy and peace for this world and eternal life for the next. Will you make a decision to trust Him as Lord and Saviour today? Do talk to me or any Christian friend about the faith to find out more, I will be glad to talk :)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you." Isaiah 60:1-2


Christmas. This year's will be special in my heart.