Good to Hear from You

All Things are Possible Through Him

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Pamela
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August 11th, 2014

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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'

July 29th, 2014

Surprise, surprise

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How do you manage to pull off a surprise party for the man who's long been asking for it?

On the occasion of Daddy's 60th birthday, we just go ahead and finally do it. Patty calls it a "team effort"--and thanks to hers and mom's determined leadership, they coordinated this international affair with four of us siblings abroad. So efficiently that all we had to do was fly in, show up and play our own little parts.

In the process of plotting to surprise dad, he still, thankfully, surprised us (maybe not-so-much) with his clueless ways and short attention span, helping this task along, despite the little slips we had here and there.

Or how--considering that he was behind the camera for most of this family's 32 years of togetherness--we still found ourselves with the tall order of having to whittle down to 6 minutes worth of memories, the past 60 years of pictures he's been in, with Bill Wither's "Lovely Day" looped in the background. I have no doubt where I got my camera-ready nature from.

Then again, it should no longer have been a shock to us just how much we could throw ourselves into Project Surprise Sixty. Our effort just reminded us of how dad has effortlessly surprised us over the years, that the time was ripe to put him on the receiving end of that S-factor.

I think back to how dad never fails to fool mom into believing he doesn't have anything for her on any given occasion. Yes, this happens every year that it almost seems a charade, but a charming one nonetheless. Or how in all spontaneity, we would embark on unexpected road trips at the oddest hours of the evening, all because dad's itching feet would take us there. Or how we became short-lived dachshund owners, very much against mom's wishes, because dad felt like adopting that unsuspecting, adorable puppy. Lagot kay mommy! ;)

On that birthday weekend, with each element of surprise (new gadgets, surprise arrivals) all leading up to that long-awaited moment--how satisfying it was to finally see his stunned face and render him speechless for once. Well, not for long as we would soon find out in his gratitude speech. Apparently, he could have talked all night.

We didn't get the chance to say too many words for you at the party, and so this little tribute, but we are no less thankful to God for all these years He has given you, thus far. And I truly meant every lyric sung. After all this time, we are lucky--no blessed--to be loved by you.

My prayers remain for great doses of good health (strong boy!), an overflow of wisdom as head of the household, and abounding joy as you keep our family connected, be it on Viber or in the real world.

You are proof of God's great love and sense of humor.

Here's to your next 60 blessed years and beyond--
Here's to planning Patty's surprise 60th at the Buckingham Palace (yes we are holding you and your 93 year-old self to that).
And here's to you being blessed with eventually playing with your grandchildren. Did I seriously just say that?
;)

Ah well, yes-- surprise, surprise indeed.

May 30th, 2014

That's one of mom's favorite lines. A piece of cautionary advice, a last word during late-night kitchen table conversations. In essence, full of motherly warning, but somehow still leaving you to your own devices.

I wonder then what she wished for, as a 21 year old standing at the beginning of a now 32-year marriage.

Could she have imagined herself bearing and raising six children?
Could she have foreseen the extreme tests her home-making skills would be subject to?
Could she have known those days when her patience would be stretched thin?
Could she have anticipated both the sorrow and the joy of motherhood and family life?


But no one is ever prepared for these things, even those armed with a very specific degree, or even the right character. And no one can truly appreciate or understand what it really takes, until they find themselves in that moment, playing the role.

As her daughter, I am wholly grateful that she went down the path she did, paving the way not just for this existence, but also shaping the person I've become. I can only pray that the fulfillment of her dreams was all she'd hoped for.

When I think of mom in her element, in the kitchen, it is not an image of her meticulously laboring with much love, or even holding the fort and managing the household with such aplomb. It is none of these things and perhaps all of these things I can only aspire to.

But when the last morsel is finished and all the dishes are washed, we remain seated around that table--and her stories go on.

I remember mom sharing animatedly, listening sincerely, being there completely.
I think she would say these things out of love, so we would know and not be left in the dark.

Now more than ever, living this independence that I'd wished for--without a proper kitchen table--I remember her daily wisdom in the little things.

And I could not imagine life and growing up any other way.

* * *


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Mom and I in our kitchen finery, circa 2010, Ang Mo Kio 312

This is for you, mommy, a prayer with this (belated) birthday tribute.
I don't need to make any carefully crafted wishes, only to be floated into the ether without a chance of being heard. For in you, He has answered and fulfilled many a yearning, from that of a helpless child's to a grown woman's.

I thank the Lord for another year in your life. I thank Him for the life and love you have generously shared. I pray that God keep you in His care always, with more joyful years ahead for you and dad. As that song goes, I wish you love--His love and from all who surround you.

And should I one day find myself blessed with the same gift and charge of motherhood--I do wish and pray for the same grace, wisdom, strength and humor with which you have illumined our lives.

Happy Happy Birthday, Mommy! I love you!

May 23rd, 2014

13 on the 13th

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I've always been enamored by word play, but there is something to be said for number play. In place of the classic 12 for 12 year-ender I used to do some four-odd years ago, stolen off Patty's LJ, here's something from one of my favorite days of the year.

It's been a while since I let the the numbers and images shine. You know I can't resist my tendency for verbosity, but I will try to keep my commentary brief.

So here are thirteen (or so) pictures from the 13th of March when I turned 31Collapse )

But more than just luck, I would call it a blessed 13. With this third decade in full swing, I can truly say that life has never been this complete and joyful. My attempt at thanksgiving with these mere numbers and memories will never be enough.

The abundance of God's love is the gift that never ceases. And it is more than any cornucopia can bear.

May 5th, 2014

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Let the joy rise.


Up at the crack of dawn on Easter morning. After lingering a moment in that state between sleep and wakefulness, I compelled myself to get out of bed and cycle down to the park. The thought of the sunrise, and all the attendant meaning of this day, excited me.

It was a different salubong*, but in that exhilarating ride, catching the first light of this greatest of Sundays, I experienced a rush of giddiness and a calm contentment all at once. I found that perfect spot, by the sculpture on a hill, sunlight peeking through the trees, and a clear view was laid out before me.

For this felt like another kind of Easter, with a new story to tell--where the overriding emotion of the concluded Lenten season, was not so much the arduous suffering, but the LOVE. Jesus' love. A love so great and incomprehensible, but in the grand plan made sense of all that suffering and sacrifice. Indeed, the past weeks were a time of greater realization and a heightened awareness of His real, utmost, unconditional, selfless, beautiful and outrageous love.

After the hemming and hawing, the going back and forth, clarity found its way, as light rays growing ever brighter with the day. Through the glass, and not quite as darkly as before. There it was, a refocus on the first truth of my life, that He lived and died out of a love for me, breaking the barriers for me to come to Him and love in all freedom.

To hold on to this eternal gift, how can I not rejoice?

And from here on, no matter the circumstances, this JOY cannot be taken away. Suddenly, the title of that old standard "They Can't Take That Away from Me" brims with new meaning.

And perhaps there is a reason why I write this only now (aside from procrastination). For when the high of scaling a summit dies down and routines go back to normal, it becomes all the more precious to have this joy and believe this love down to my core. Beyond the loud praise, the invigorating intonation of "Oh Happy Day", the inspirational messages, or even the simple beauty of sunrise--when reality sets in, how do you and I proceed and respond?

Coming face-to-face with little skirmishes at the airport or even in the midst of a critical time for the family, I see God's hand at work. We do not hinge our hopes on just one happy day, but a promise of a joyful eternity to come.


“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you...
Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

(John 16:22,24)



And this is true joy. To know that whatever it is we ask, the answer will always find its way back to Him and His Love. In His Name, we press on not in futility, but in faith, being witnesses and living in the grace of His glorious conquering of death.

Let me go back to that spot on the hill, and send out this love letter to God:

On that beautiful Easter morning, I knew then, as I know now and always will--that You love me, Lord. And that You are all I need above all. With this Love, undeserving as I remain, You ultimately saved me from my broken self.

In You, Lord, my joy is complete and unending.




*Literally "meeting", from that age-old ritual performed before the Easter Dawn mass, where in a reenactment/procession, Jesus meets his grieving Mother.

March 24th, 2014

Momentum*

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Photo credit:Patty Lazatin, taken during our Batanes trip earlier this year. The wind blows on the cliffs of Chavayan, where Jeannie and I sit.

momentum /məˈmɛntəm/
noun. def. the impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events.
music. From Jamie Cullum’s latest album, that one song which speaks to me the most.


“Will you confess
When it lived inside all of your progress
Used to help you keep going and think less
Used to keep you from slowing to stop”


It will be difficult to put into exacting words how or why it has come to be, this point in my life of 31 years. Saturday morning on my bike—it all comes so naturally now, but it took a lot to get here. And by no achievement of my own, but all God's doing. As I ask my questions on sharp turns and slowly get some answers as the scenery unfolds, there remain the unmistakable peace and joy. No longer just platitudes that exist to fuel a pseudo-inspirational high, but a reality like I’ve never experience before.


“Like a warm breeze
All the power you had in your twenties
And you gave everything that you’ve got”


I look forward to more days filled with the hum of joyful busy-ness. From realizing childhood dreams, writing in my journal, reviving a blog, singing more regularly, to getting into a more active lifestyle. That simple act of rising to early mornings, satisfying a craving for the outdoors, and now stepping into a boat, getting out in the water and taking hold of a dragonboat paddle—all a far cry from yester-years.


"And underneath the engine starts to turn
I feel it coming now
I feel it coming now
It’s a familiar sound"


If I had been asked before about sustenance and motivation, I would credit human will, determination, and oh yes of course, God. But now I’d like to believe it’s all about Him and His Love. It is all that matters. And the Spirit moves in wondrous ways. It is all too familiar, the feeling of something new, something beautiful coming, but altogether different.


"So as our new creation learns to walk
Beautiful cycles blowing back and forth"


Bishan Park, I find, is no easy ride for a beginner. One navigates obstacles in joggers, dog-walkers, children, not to mention winding turns and cobbled pavements. Kallang River is another story, but suffice to say, a newbie keeping up with a boat of more seasoned paddlers is a thrilling, if not painful challenge. This is precisely how He leads us on new and narrow paths, where it doesn’t get any easier by the world’s standards, but by His Spirit and Grace we walk onward anyway.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)


I know that I will still have my questions, as I remain His work-in-progress. I will neither claim to find, nor do I aspire to have all the answers, but when His Spirit works, there is no questioning its effects.

As John Piper** most eloquently expands on this verse, let me just quote from him directly—

“The main effect of the wind—the Spirit—is that we are made alive spiritually, and now our wills move. They move to receive Christ and believe on Christ. But our wills move because the wind is blowing, not the other way around. We don’t move first. Our wills are awakened and moved toward Christ because the Spirit blows where he wills and gives life to whom he wills.”

He ends by saying: (When you hear Jesus say) “The Spirit blows where it wills,” don’t hear Him taking from you the will that you treasure, but hear Him giving you eyes to see Christ as your treasure.


Yes, God has already made that first move. Do you and I keep the momentum going? Or do we halt and reject Him in timid fear of the unknown, or perhaps in pride that refuses to lose control?


"I think about it everywhere I go
Feel more acutely things I used to know
I feel it coming now
I feel it coming now
It’s a familiar sound
Can you feel, can you feel, can you feel
The momentum"


Lord, I have many times relied on human ways and head knowledge of You, rather than letting Your wind wake my spirit where it wills. May my faith then continue to grow in the passing seasons.

For You are everywhere to me, in all times, in all things. You are in the air rushing past me as I speed down Bishan’s lanes. You are in the water that carries our boat afloat Kallang River.

You are in all the motions. The river flows, the wind blows.

You are God in the biggest to the smallest details.

This momentum is no force on an earthly realm. The momentum, the drive, the wind that blows—It is You, Lord.


* * *



*Ever since I heard Jesse/Ethan Hawke (from the film “Before Sunset”) mull on this idea for a novel that happens within the space of I song, I’ve always wanted to try and juxtapose my writing into someone’s lyrics. What better way to do this than to capitalize on my lingering Jamie Cullum high from Java Jazz and yet another serendipitous verse from a recent sharing we had at Life Group just before my birthday, which then promptly re-appeared as the 13th of March devotional. Right that moment, I knew this was the song, and this was the story.

**For further reading on the verse, here’s something from John Piper, a beautiful and profound read when you have the time to set aside and digest in its entirety.

February 7th, 2014

The Fearless Forecast

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If you knew me from earlier years, you may remember me as a timid, even fearful child on many fronts.

--One who would shy away from active outdoor play after one ugly scrape.
--One who would think twice to re-audition for school choir after not making the cut once before.
--One who would take all the time in the world to make even the simplest decision—from choosing a book at the store to thinking of what to wear that day.

Fast forward to age 30, I'd like to think I've shed a good deal of these hang-ups growing up, but every now and then, this hesitation wells within me, and only a good dose of prayer, an internal pep talk and deep breaths, set me straight on my path.

And so in our first life group this year, we all cast our personal "visions"—naming them with short, punchy phrases, and encapsulating them in those ubiquitous "hashtags", for easy ownership, even accountability.

It was perhaps no coincidence that everyone spoke about some desire for reaching higher ground, doing and experiencing new things, all which could only be attained by letting go (yes, “Frozen” reference there) of all those nagging doubts. #Fearless, so we said.

For my part, the confirmation came in three’s; it left no doubt as to what 2014 would be about—

First, a surprise Lego Gingerbread man from Jeannie, raising its cup with an encouraging “Dunk Me” sign, and urging me to just dive in.
Next, my aunt’s diagnosis of “fear” as the only negative energy she could sense in me after an acupuncture session.
But most importantly, a recurring verse that has presented itself countless times, toward the end of last year, to the first weeks of this year and all the way to last night’s devo huddle.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)


I’d like to share a personal prayer, reflecting on this verse I’ve claimed as a compass for the year.

“Lord, in the moments that I am gripped and paralyzed by fear, may I be reminded of Your saving and selfless Love. Take away all my anxiety, and may I allow you God, to be my God. Help me let go of these small, earthly comforts, these unnecessary attachments. For in cowering in a supposed safety zone, there is no safe haven, but only fear. Break down this wall that separates me from truly embracing and receiving all that You wish to bless me with, and in turn allowing me to bless and love others.

Lord, lead me down Your path, strengthen my faith—make me fearless in the assurance of Your Love.”





As I mused in my previous post, I knew there would be more to this story of “diving in”. And it excites and amazes me that in just the first month, circumstances placed me squarely in front of long-standing sources of “distress”.

Prompted by a recently concluded trip to Batanes, I mustered the will to learn to ride an honest-to-goodness bicycle—a serious feat for someone who isn’t the most balanced or coordinated person to hit the bicycle lanes of East Coast Park. Two weeks after picking it up, those “skills” were put to the test on the uphill roads of Batan Island. It was a thrill to traverse the town, ride around the Basco airport tarmac, and just be one with the wind.

Then, in the so-called adult “real world” there were investment opportunities cropping up. I was faced with that daunting of making grown-up financial decisions that have never been my cup of tea, but with the help of His wisdom and advice from money-savvy friends, I made up my mind with full peace.

Now, every step of the way, I trust in God’s grace to get over the fear, the self-judgment — the idea of not being good enough, or not being cut out to do something out of my perceived nature. The girl who once shunned the outdoors, now looks forward to mornings in the park.

All things are possible, precisely because I am not the one in-charge.
As in finding my way with a bicycle, I have to let God be God and surrender completely to His will. Looking straight at the road He has laid out, a relaxed hold on the handlebars, eyes on the horizon, fearless.


***



I urge you then to think of the things that prevent you from making that step into the path He lays down before you. What are you fearful of?

In this next month, offer these all up to Him. I daresay it will erase the fear and bring complete rest and peace to your heart, far better than any horoscope forecast can conjure.



*The push to write this down finally came as a result of commemorating a year since that paradigm-shifting retreat and joining my beloved Life Group. Well, technically, that was toward the end of January 2013. Yes, it has been one year—and what a beautiful year.

Thank you, Lord. You never give up on this sporadic, errant and hesitant writer. :)

January 2nd, 2014

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It was the first of September when I finally took the Singapore River cruise, after living in the city for well over three years. That spontaneous evening exploration, post-service, with Nelli and Berto, happened on the first decreed day of thanksgiving season at Church.

What a shift of perspective, seeing the riverside view and the office vicinity at week’s end, the Fullerton, Clifford Pier and Marina Bay lights, and the skyscrapers standing in solemn silence, out on the water.
And perhaps by no coincidence, at the end of the 21 days of thanksgiving, I found myself back at the river—this time, strolling the after-hours of the F1 weekend with Juni, Jen and Benjie. By then, so much had happened not just in those three weeks, but in the year that had passed thus far.

So much, in great part, by way of the Lord’s blessings. That if I were to write everything here in full detail, this would no longer be an easy read, and my words would probably not be enough. Still, there is none more fitting (or more cliché!) a time than year-end to finally pen this down.

There were so many moments, events, changes, opportunities and people in 2013, that all deserved their own pieces, and I’d like to think one can neither be too grateful, nor should there be an expiration date from receipt to thanksgiving. And in taking this time to give thanks, I realize all the more how immeasurably blessed I am.

By the time Christmas—my favorite season of giving—rolled in, I could not even dare to think of what I would receive, having already been so generously gifted throughout the year.

The gift of knowing God more—more intimately as His child, and in ways I would not have imagined I could. The gift of seeing His Word come to life, and experiencing the Hope and Joy that comes with that Truth in every day.

The gift of prayer, for a line of communication and communion, for being free to come before Him, be in His presence and speak to Him in all comfort and confidence. And that privilege to intercede for others and share both their sorrows and triumphs.

The gift of starting anew. For the life changes in career, relationships, and that journey inward, all with an extraordinary period of rest, as the slate was wiped clean.

The gift of marking 30 years, and in such momentous fashion. That peace in turning a new decade, having a little more confidence in who I am, where I am, in things I’d like to pursue, and yet still have so much open to possibility and the unknown.

The gift of a new way to live and make a living. For new challenges in the workplace and being trusted enough to do things I had not done before. But even more so the life I’ve built outside of my job—pursuits in faith, health, music and travel among many others—and the home I’ve finally come to know in Singapore.

And most of all, 2013 was about the gift of strengthened relationships. I am blessed by the people around me, the tangible, human manifestations of God’s love and provision in my life. For the constancy of family, for fierce friendship and soulmates, for the bond in my life group, for a welcoming faith community, for inspiring colleagues, and for all personal encounters that enriched my life in the past year.

These people have taught me about love and have shown me how it is possible to be loved exactly for who I am, and not for an ideal I strive to be. Any of my small gestures, endless love letters, paeans and odes to them are but a pittance in comparison to the richness they fill my days with.

I’ve lived most of my life thinking of myself and relying on myself, but at a time when I had ‘nothing’ to my name, I have come to truly receive His saving grace. In ceding that control to Him, and letting others into my life, I know that nothing I do on my own can prosper. And even in these times of abundance, my prayer is to hold on to that spirit of total dependence and trust in His plans.

In this downpour of blessings and outpouring of gratefulness, it is now time to get my feet wet, nay, immerse myself completely as this river bends into the beginning of another year. As Michael has rightly sensed my excitement for 2014, and the happiest gingerbread (wo)man has boldly declared, I am ready to dive in. But that is another story.

I now look back at that cruise in September, remembering the feeling of experiencing something that had always been there, but finally seen with a different point-of-view. In the same manner that I had not fully appreciated the environs before, I have only truly realized and joyfully received His blessings when I opened myself up to Him.

For what is gratitude but opening our eyes afresh, and opening our hearts in all humility, taking it all in and pouring our love out?

I thank You, Lord for Your unmatched and all-encompassing love, for this precious life, and for each new day that never ceases to run out of reasons for my gratitude to flow.




*The image above is a result of some amateur afternoon dabbling with vintage Marabu Deckfarbkasten paints, inspired by Paola’s watercolor prowess.

**Hello Pats woodycakes, this is also for you, for never giving up on this sporadic blogger, and resisting that urge to de-friend me on LJ ;)

***Pardon me if some words were abused in writing this piece, there are only so many synonyms for gratitude and blessing. Be assured that I meant every line, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

July 29th, 2013

And so it comes to pass that Ang Mo Kio 644 is no more. The ‘Balerkey’, one of the many names for this beloved unit, are now scattered across this tiny island, each finding a corner from North, East, Central and beyond.

The last keys have been turned over, the last tenants have moved out, and oh yes, the last ‘check-in’ has been made. It is Facebook official.

And I--the honorary housemate, who happened to live in another unit a bus away--now feel the need to pour out in cathartic fashion and indulge the sentimentality of this occasion.

That apartment witnessed so many insanely happy times, heard our raucous, uninhibited laughter, set the tone for lightly buzzed to drunken nights, and was ‘home’ for just a year-and-a-half, but made me feel like I’d known these folks for a lifetime.

There was the door that I’d enter on the premise of an evening visit, which more often than not turned into an all-nighter, ending with me seeing the morning after.

There was the couch that became a familiar bed away from my own, when occupancy in any of the four rooms was not possible.

There was the dining table where carefully mixed drinks flowed freely, where corned beef was served controversially, and where conversation, from the inane to the meaningful, turned magically.

And then there was the auditorium (aka Berto’s pad), which hosted all kinds of events, from our eclectic movie nights to DIY videoke nights to slumber parties (complete with facial masks), and was hands-down the coziest corner of Singapore for Life Group Thursdays, casual Devo huddles and beyond.

More than reminiscing these rooms and objects, this is really a love letter to the people who made the place what it was and what will always be.

To Berto, my partner in the art of getting lost--literally, but who has also been with me in that journey of being found completely.

To Jen, my trusted confidante in the truest sense, who understands the sensitivities and sensibilities of a fellow Piscean.

To Juni, my sister (and you do remind me of my own sister), telling me like it is and looking out for me with fierce love and protection.

To Michael, my appointed ‘soulmate’, a fabulous companion who continues to amaze me with the things we share in common, from the mundane to the profound.

You all opened your home to me and welcomed me as I was—in my darkest hours and moments of despair. For every happy moment, there was some heartbreak; for every laugh, there were some tears, unabashed. More than any alcohol-induced high, God reassured me with your love and encouragement that saw me through.

I am certain it is no coincidence that during my time of rest and waiting, the Lord sent you all to me, and provided AMK as the “safe haven” (insert that long-and-winding story) from this weary world. It is only further testimony to how wonderfully He attends to these details, bringing together old and new friends under one roof (a shout-out to Timothy 1—but that is another story).

As I once heard it so wisely said by my spiritual guide, “For as long as you know where home is, you can go anywhere”* That ephemeral physical space has served its purpose and exceedingly well, and it is time to move on, knowing we have a lasting home in each other.

You four, Berto, Jen, Juni and Michael—you whom I have considered my favorite people in the world on more occasions than I can count on one hand—you are a special, crazy, beautiful part of the grand design of our One True North.

The season of Ang Mo Kio North has ended, but the True North lives on.

June 7th, 2013

Singing in the Rain*

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When I think of this song entitled above, I remember that graduation picture (better known as the 'creative shot') from eight years ago.

I'm not quite sure what got into me that rainy Wednesday afternoon, but with all whimsical determination I thought I'd dig up the old light trench coat and strap on some boot-like footwear.

There I was, a little late to my original plans for the day, and the sudden downpour dictated another change in my course. Yes, there was still time to turn back, suit-up for the situation, I thought. Why get soaked?

Maybe channeling the attire of that foggy city was an act of claiming and declaring that trip mine. Never mind that I'd look a little strange in the tropics.

Then again, not everything makes complete sense in the moment-as-experienced, and there are many divine acts that defy conventional human logic.

Eight years ago, I was the picture of a girl who carried an umbrella, a song and a smile, come rain or come shine. And somehow over time, without my understanding, that song fell to a faint hum and the smile sagged to a stretched limit. My umbrella protested against the torrential beating, and soon it was no longer enough to grin through gritted teeth.

As I wore a part of that storied ensemble once again, this time with renewed purpose, I realized the rain was much reduced, but with still enough precipitation to justify my seemingly frivolous garb.

There truly is wisdom in waiting for God's perfect timing, in knowing when to retreat and rest in Him, until such time one is called to rise again, equipped to face a new season.

Once accustomed to the rhythms of the blessed rain, I trust enough to follow wherever His clouds may roll.

And so I went, onward with my walk, my feet safe and dry, pattering through the remaining puddles; my coat allowing just enough cool air to permeate and touch my skin.

Then washing over me, this unfolding story of the past year--all the events that took place, all the people who came my way, whether it made sense to me or not--how beautiful it all appeared to me now. He has brought me to this moment, to this mundane but all-important errand--photocopying a stack of documents. A stroll down to Block 202 has never been this enlightening.

As one of my favorite songs** goes, "every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven, don't you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven?". But you see, this isn't just spare change I'm singing about, the Lord is far too generous for that.

And I'm just slightly ashamed to trot out this apt cliche-- but when it rains, it most certainly pours.

My heart, it bursts. My soul, He stirs.

For here I am, a thousand blessings deep and overflowing.





*May I sing forever of Your love, O Lord. This is hopefully the start of chronicling with increased faithfulness the wonder of finding You in every moment of every day.

**"Pennies from Heaven" (music by Arthur Johnston, words by Johnny Burke)

February 2nd, 2013

Untitled reflection #1

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Light.

Not just a faint flicker at the end of the proverbial tunnel,

Not only a spot of promise waiting after the treacherous night,

But beauty and brilliance in itself.

Life-giving sustenance--

Rejoice in the Light.

January 5th, 2013

I didn't take the time to do a year-ender for 2012; then again, I didn't write a single LJ entry last year. (Not that those twelve months were lacking for any moments worth looking back on).

But there it was, in part an unexpected, but also wholly inevitable turn at the last hour, before the Mayans could declare their calendar's end. That designated time of reflection and reminiscing, instead turned into a disruptive and disconcerting period.

And in the aftermath--truth be told I still reel from it, in snatches of random triggered memories here and there--I found myself some form of relief and release.

Deciding once and for all to leave a long-standing job, then end a long-term relationship, one forceful blow after the other. Both being 'firsts and only's' that my foolish sentimentality had to be shoved away in place of some real conviction.

Perhaps it was in that moment, seated on a dentist's chair, that I could not have asked for a clearer epiphany. A bad tooth, I was told, that should have been taken out long ago. You may not feel its rot now, it may not really hurt you, she said, but in time it will wreak its ugly havoc (so I may have paraphrased).

Not to besmirch the job or the person--they were far from being cavity-ridden molars--but like an oddly-positioned wisdom tooth, the fit could have been better.


So in a strange, painful way the world ended and began anew all at once.


In this so-called brave new world, I have to remind myself that those actions only pave the way for that uncharted road. Someone's got to walk on it, head held high.

And I owe it to myself to make this detour worthwhile, so that this old world I'd long known and mapped-out would not have ended in vain.

January 8th, 2011

The Outtakes of 2010

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And the pictures and memories remain from the dizzying blur that was 2010. You could say this is just a rehash of my 2009: 12 for 12, but in a lean blogging year, it's still an effort. Maybe there was a lot more to do, leaving less time to simply muse about it. Pardon the excuses of the lazy.

Still, here are some odds and ends from a year that saw actual major movement in ways I had only previously imagined.Collapse )

You know how you have favorite photographs? Those you love revisiting, and would consider framing and displaying for all the world to see (or okay, at least posting on Facebook)? Sometimes, there are other overlooked shots that can also bring you back to a happy place and time.

In a year that was grand in scale, I welcomed the quieter, smaller moments. And like I read on some sagely restaurant menu, "The extremities in life keep me balanced."
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