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11 August 2024 @ 10:16 pm
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And the journal goes places.

The 9th of August marked not only Singapore's 49th National Day, but it was also on that day in 2004 when I wrote my first entry on this blog.

On and off in the past decade, this space has become the playground for my fascination with music and live acts (from jazz to the Idol franchise), stray travelogues, odes to romance and twentysomething musings on the myth and truth of "quarter-life". The life of jamypye as I knew it.

And all throughout, I held a sense of wonder at the rarity of my own updates (yes, narcissistic that way), with every post a major and sporadic effort to break the monotony of wordlessness. Yes, something akin to the recent UP men's basketball win and matching bonfire over the weekend.

For that was the tone I set from the beginning. "Good to hear from you: An attempt at the possible". An allusion to hearing a song not often played, or receiving word from an old friend. At the same time, holding the optimism that one will, in time, hear from them again.

I'm not sure if it was pretension or false humility that led me to refer to myself from a second person perspective. Well, it did sound better than saying the even more self-serving "Good to Hear from Me". Most of the time, this journal felt like me talking to myself, which is what writing in a journal tends to be about anyway.

But as life and the years would have it, a twentysomething's concerns eventually make way for a thirtysomething's realization that there is more to all of this, than vain attempts at making my voice heard.

What a difference ten years made.

With this life and blogging entering a new phase, I make one small, yet significant change from a lower to an upper case "Y"--"Good to hear from You: All things are possible through Him". And with that, the same title takes on fresh meaning, as with the thrust of my life and words to come.

That there is great comfort and blessing in silencing my own voice and all the internal and external noise, so that I may hear more clearly what God wills. And even as my own thoughts make their way to this blog, they can never be higher than His infinitely wiser thoughts and ways. And I pray this will serve to record His authorship of my life, as the story is revealed in the days, years and seasons to come. Truly, the writing, the living, everything happens through Him, in His perfect time.

"Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

May I neither become overwhelmed by the enormity of an eternity I am too small to fathom, nor too self-sufficient in whatever earthly knowledge or understanding I have within my grasp. For I would be deluded by such foolish wisdom. Instead, may I listen closely to His voice and trust entirely on His faithfulness that remains unchanged from season to season.

Watching that obstructed view of the National Day fireworks by the Kallang river, with spark and color peeking through silhouettes of trees and buildings, that word Majulah* rang through my head. And so it goes, that profound sense of gratitude for the decade past, and greater hope for what lies ahead.

Onward to new seasons, and here we go.

*Majulah, from Singapore's National anthem, "Majulah Singapura" meaning 'Onward'
06 April 2016 @ 02:07 pm
What is it about the crucial moments that make us decide to rise up and fight? Are we spurred on by the challenge? On the other hand, what makes us crumble and fall short? Do the weight of expectation and the real or imagined scrutiny of those who watch become too heavy to bear?

In the wake of the Easter weekend, there was one character, aside from Jesus, who jumped out at me from the pages of the Bible.

Who was Joseph of Arimathea? Who was this man who took Jesus’ lifeless body from the cross and laid it in his tomb?

Across the four gospels, we find a handful of descriptions—a rich man who followed Jesus (Matthew 27:57), an honored member of the Council, awaiting the coming of God’s kingdom (Mark 15:43), a good and righteous man, who was not in favor of the Sanhedrin’s actions against Jesus (Luke 23:50-51), and perhaps most aptly referred to as a “secret disciple”, dreading judgment from Jewish leaders (John 19:38).

On paper, here was a man who appeared to have it all together. He had the wealth and status, the connections and acceptance in society, even more so the faith and an upright life. Yet none of this human-defined goodness could get him that which he truly desired. Deep inside of him was a yearning for Christ, a hope yet to be revealed. At the same time, there must have been a fear in his heart, of what the consequences of going public with his faith might be, and the opposition that awaited him.

But in that moment when it counted, he summoned the courage to come forward. He went to Pilate—and as the NLT phrases it, “took a risk”, and asked for Christ’s body. And there it was, the disciple from afar, now up close and intimate with Jesus and the ravages and glory of His suffering. A dangerous move, but well worth whatever price would need to be paid.

I wonder how many of us can identify with this man, Joseph.

Could you be among those who have yet to come to Jesus? Those who may not even know what it is they seek in this chaotic world, but find a stirring in their hearts, an ache they cannot put their finger on.

Or are you already a “secret disciple”? Perhaps God has once revealed Himself to you, yet something holds you back from fully embracing Him. Perhaps you have felt God’s love in your life, but earthly trappings make it difficult to grow this relationship.
Then there are those of us following Jesus out in the open, but from time to time forget the reasons why we made a decision in the first place.

Oh, that we would all be willing to make a courageous step and come to Jesus in all humility.
Lord, what joy you bring to those whose heart’s longings are finally revealed and made one with Yours. May all of us who take this risk—who dare to ask the tough questions and be faced with the hard truths—may we truly find You, Lord.
And more than just doing these actions for others to see us—may we open our hearts, so that all may see Christ who lives in us.

Meanwhile, there are those whose courage shines brightly and in full view. I cannot let this week pass without mentioning Courageous Caitie (Caitlin Soleil Lucas), a brave little girl from the Philippines who battled a rare form of leukemia, whose life and death have impacted many, including myself, in spite of not having known her personally.

Much has been said about her, but let me share what I will remember—how in the most crucial moments, she rose up, carried by Christ’s strength and love. How she held on even more tightly and did not allow the dark night of suffering to snuff out God’s light in her life.

No “secret disciples” here. Instead of retreating in their anguish, her parents Jay Jay and Feliz Lucas took the risk of letting people into their pain and sharing their hope in Christ. As the events unfolded before our eyes, the hearts of this family in full display, God was glorified and made known in both Caitie’s life and death, for all to see.

“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.” - Colossians 3:3-4

In Caitie’s short, but nevertheless courageous and joyful life on earth, she stayed close to Jesus, and God kept her faithful to the end, so that others would also be emboldened to come forward, to know Him and embrace Him.
21 March 2016 @ 02:35 pm

It took me awhile to be absolutely sure of what I would do on that Sunday, the thirteenth of March. For many reasons—aborted plans, physical limitations, work schedules, among other things—I waited until the day before to map out my activities. Planning and preparation are key, but there is also wisdom in leaving room for a change in course, and joy in welcoming the unexpected.

My 13 year-old self would never have envisioned this kind of a life at 33. Flashback to summers with cousins, “making” our wedding invitations (sorry girls, I’m outing us all here), fantasizing future fairy tales that would come true circa 2010 or thereabouts. Yes, we would be married in our mid-twenties, because that only seemed natural. In my youth and naiveté, it never crossed my mind that I would be very much single well into my thirties.

I find that I struggle when writing about love and relationships, especially the quest for a life partner. I don’t want to sound obsessed or desperate, as if all life depended on it. Yet by the very personal and significant nature of the topic, I would be a hypocrite to pretend to be immune to the yearnings and pleasures of love’s fulfilment.

I had been meaning to pen this down, until that moment I took a detour to exploreanother aspect of love. So here goes.
Last February, I made a statement to myself on Valentine’s Day—

I have never been happier in my singlehood.

That on a day when my Facebook feed was flooded with pictures of lovestruck couples, I could be genuinely happy and rejoice for them. To see the beauty of love in all its forms, and experience the joy of one who gives and receives it.

For the first time in a long time, an unrivalled peace held this hopeful romantic’s heart. Not because of a promise of a future partner to come, but the very real present, the true gift that comes on this 33rd year.

Down on my knees on the eve of my birthday, all my bursting heart could hold and utter forth—

Lord, you love me.
You really really really love me.

And it may have taken awhile to get here, but that 20 year-old “curse” of desperately seeking my one true love, of moving from one object of affection (or obsession) to the next, has been lifted. I have awaken from that intoxicating delusion. To borrow from Leonardo Di Caprio’s long-awaited Oscars acceptance speech, I do not take this for granted.

That all the love in the world could never compare to what Christ has done on the cross, to just one drop of His precious blood. It was that which freed me, that which fills me.

And a love this great must be shared. This March, on Women’s month, I pray for all women, most especially those nearest and dearest to me.

That all women, single or attached, may come to an awakening of God’s eternal and complete love. We all know of women who despair and struggle, who attach their worth and purpose to their relationships and perfecting their roles as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters. Of women who constantly fear loneliness, barrenness, abandonment, rejection—festering lies that the devil has deviously planted in their hearts. And to varying degrees, we are those women who have experienced the sadness, emptiness, and heartache that come with this longing.

Beyond this sense of worth, I pray that we would truly delight in God, live each day in His loving presence, and desire something more than just a man.

That we will live our days, planning not only for dream weddings, rising in our careers, charting exotic travel destinations, chasing after noble pursuits, or even building a life with our partners or ensuring our children’s futures—but also readying our hearts and souls for the eternity ahead.

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act." (Psalm 37:4-5)

In the end, I woke up last Sunday, racing to greet the Punggol sunrise in solitude. I looked forward to attending service on my actual birthday, sans the company of the connect group who had gone the day before, then maybe spend some time at the museum or even try to get this entry finished before dinner (clearly that didn’t happen until today).

Instead, my sister Patty joined me around mid-day at the park, Chloe sat with me during service and greeted me with flowers and gifts from the rest of the girls, friends messaged me throughout the day, my parents and scattered siblings Google hung out in the afternoon, until I finally had dinner with my Singapore family. I hadn’t planned most of that, but God always has a beautiful way with surprises.

Sisters, we are never alone. We have our families. We have friends. We have each other. We also have the men God places in our lives in different roles, purposes and seasons. For God knows we are not meant to live in isolation, but are made for relationships with others and with Him.

Ultimately, we have a God who has promised that He will never forsake us, who will be with us until the end of the ages, who prepares for us an eternal union with Him, and who will never ever leave us alone.

Sometimes I wonder how it would be if I had come to this place sooner, but I brush aside the thought, knowing this is exactly how He wanted it to unfold. Thirty-three, single and free.

May you too find true freedom, overwhelming peace, great comfort and delight in our Lord always.