Monday, June 29, 2009

Are You Resting?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

(Matthew 11:28, NIV)

Rest is essential.
Rest is a must.
Rest is a luxury to some.

Last week, I was prescribed rest in bed for a few days due to sciatica pain which is a recurrence from my last pregnancy. My orthopaedic surgeon said to me, "You need to rest. I know it's hard with four kids. But that's the main thing." I asked in return, "Entire day?" He responded, "Not entire day only but few days!"

Lying down on my bed, I discovered rest is a discipline. It takes more effort to purposely get a good rest. And I mean good rest for the body - it's like fasting from work.

Rest is holy. It is ordained by God and it is a command. Man is restless. Despite the divine strong call and Jesus' invitation to rest, we are still running around attempting to accomplish so much in a day. In this busy world, we are victims of restlessness. We have to intentionally respond to His call to rest in Him.

Won't you respond to his invitation to rest?
As you can see, this is a very short post as I am stealing a wee bit of time to talk to you and then resume my rest.

Dear Heavenly Father, Tame my restless spirit and cause me to rest. I leave my cares into Your hands and trust You with all my needs. In Jesus' name I come...Amen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Laugh it out!

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22, NIV)

After cleaning our feet, we gathered around the pool of water and dipped into the habitat of a swarming school of hungry fishes. The Garru Rufa. Oh dear, I had not expected it to be so ticklish. Instantly laughter broke out in our midst as we wriggled our toes trying to keep our feet below the surface of water for the fish to feed on the dirt. Fish spa has been popularized much these days for health purpose. In contradiction, some also fear it will be a source of spread of skin disease. Anyway, I am not giving free advertisement on it nor stating any dispute. The Arts and Science Carnival at the museum in University Science of Malaysia presented the theme, “Transformation” – featuring the development of humankind from stone age to space connection. Fish spa was amongst the stations in between the array of presentation.

We decided to give it a go since it was offered at a minimal fee compared to commercialized centres. The mental energy focused on absorbing all the educational information was given a good break in that brief experience. The children were excited – water and fish always attract them. Even my parents who tagged along for the trip were so thrilled.

Endless giggles and laughter…
Funny facial expressions…
Whole body squirming…

It was a moment of family intimacy as we shared the fun. We continued looking around the stations and booths as the children wanted to do so much more before we hit lunch time. I had another meeting to rush to following this visit to the carnival. The sun was hot and I was drenched in sweat (thanks to my active sweat glands). But somehow, a certain rush of joy and cheer filled my being the entire day. As I sang to the Lord while I drove off to the next meeting after settling my children with my parents who graciously agreed to babysit them, I thought what a therapeutic laugh I had earlier. The whole process of laughing it out while the fish nibbled on my feet brought such a sense of wellness in me.

The words of King Solomon in Proverbs are so full of wisdom. A heart which is cheerful is liken to medicine. The common saying of laughter is a good medicine makes so much sense and not to be taken lightly. Scientific findings proved that when we laughed, there’s a boost in the blood flow. A good sense of humour is a good therapy and promotes good health. Many illnesses are stress-related. Medical care these days include “laughing therapy” to help patients’ healing process.

Our society is so stressed out. Every generation is affected – from the youngest to the oldest. There’s endless worries and anxiety in life as we strive for self-actualization. In the race, many forget how to laugh. Seems the most natural thing but joy is lost in the rush.

I’ve always been a serious girl. As the eldest in the family, I grew up watching how difficult life is for my parents to earn a living. I watched the community I lived in fought for survival and striving for the best in life. Being a melancholy, I was a serious student. No nonsense girl. Self-discipline is good but I must confess I only learned to REALLY play and laugh it out in later years. From a serious little girl, I now enjoy the most silly and funny stuff my kids do and say. They make me laugh and brighten my days. Of course, they say mum is funny and silly too. I must say it has been a good lift for the soul and spirit.

Is something eating up your joy?
Is your heart troubled?
Any medical problems which are stress-related?
Perhaps you are thinking that we all have different personality. Some are more serious than others. Yes, that’s true. But we all ought to learn to laugh it out – at ourselves, and our mistakes (and learn from them).

Heavenly Father, Thank You for one of the simplest gift in life – laughter. What a wonder it does to the spirit, soul and body! When it is hard to laugh, cause my eyes to see You and Your purpose. Grant me Your joy as I live for You daily. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tears to triumph

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.

(Ps 30:11, NIV)

Life is busy for everyone these days. I’ve hardly met a person who is free except those retired seniors. Even that, many of them fills their days with endless activities. That’s a choice, I guess. As for most people, we all wish we have more hours each day to accomplish our tasks. Days surrounded by children all the time take a different scenario – they are not just busy but tremendously demanding from all aspects. It’s amazing how these little ones can drain you off. No doubt every day is an interesting day living with children. They are so full of life; ready to receive each day with enthusiasm, soaking in life’s lessons every moment and still have more than enough energy till bedtime. Bedtime – oh, that’s a taboo word for them. They have not finish their last play, read their last story, speak their final words, and share their concluding thought for the night. I am not sure about other mums, but I look forward to bedtime where I tuck them in after a long hard day, kissed them goodnight after prayers, and watched them slip into dreamland and savour the moments of looking at their sweet faces as they lie in bed. Oh, not to mention the quietness of the atmosphere after noise pollution the entire day.

Getting through the night routine itself is a great effort. Cleaning and changing, bedtime stories, bible reading and prayers...before I get to sit down to enjoy some quiet moments to keep my sanity. Many times I slipped into dreamland with them too. Then, to awaken the next morning to go through the whole cycle again. My plan didn't work out one night (in fact, too many nights to count) and threw me off balance for a moment. The cheerful atmosphere took a turn. Nothing seemed to work out the way I had anticipated. Screaming and yelling weren’t the answers as we all know. Yet my composure was lost for that moment. Desperately I looked to heaven for help and quickly shot a prayer to God. Very few words but definitely with great intensity. He heard my cry and turned my tears into triumph. The night ended with a sweet note.

Chaos changed into calmness as we wrapped up the night with me spending some moments alone with each child. Nothing beats the beautiful intimacy of being able to snuggle up with each of them and whispered words of love and affirmation as we said goodnight. Finally, the last in turn took up an hour plus as she needed to talk more. It was beautiful and triumphant as I tucked them all in. Joy filled my heart. God responded to my tears of desperation and caused my heart to dance with joy as I retired for the night.

Perhaps this experience isn't about life and death to cause wailing and mourning. Nevertheless, it was suffice to cause a deep desperation in me at that moment.
Are you hurting? Are you in a pressing need? Do not bottle up your tears.
Cry to God and watch Him deliver you. His deliverance may not be according to our timing but He will surely give you a reason to dance and be joyful again.

Heavenly Father, hear my cry and answer me quickly. I need Your help. Grant me victory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lord, Teach Me

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law….
Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

(Psalm 119:18, 97)

One of my favourite things as a homeschool mum is to snuggle up with my children with a good book, or should I say a pile of them. I am not talking about textbooks but living books. Books which are cleverly and interestingly written out of love for the subject (and not merely to pass exams). We were nestled behind the last book shelf in the Children’s Public Library, surrounded by stacks of books to appease us of the “lost time” with baby Ashton constantly demanding my attention. That was the most private spot in the library in this school holiday season. Every section of the library was in a mess as it undergo some upgrading and reorganization. Books, books and books everywhere.

Never in any generation is knowledge so easily accessible. The computer age opens up the world to us right at our own home – at the convenience of our space and time. With just one click, we can access any information we need. Kids of this generation talk intelligently on the internet world, which the baby boomers struggle to understand.

Education is no longer restricted within the classrooms and conventional textbooks. Recently, Chrisa, being a tomato lover, craved to know more about this fruit. So we googled and found interesting facts and colourful images of the variety of tomatoes. Currently, my girls are busy with virtual classes on learning Basic Spanish and a book club project. They just completed a free science project on Water; and had enjoyed this new trend of learning thoroughly. I am amazed at the efficiency and effectiveness of their learning in a short time. Virtual education has made its mark in our world today.

Being the school holiday now, the children’s library is busier than usual. Some came to read for pleasure while many came to fill in their reading list/reports for their school records. People are pursuing knowledge intensely. It used to be school-aged kids were facing insurmountable pressure of work overload. Now the preschoolers and babies are victims as well to the so called headstart in education. Whatever you name it, the education market has it.

While Chrisa was enjoying the books she picked for the day, I heard a mum trying to force her uninterested child to learn to read. Perhaps he wasn’t quite ready. Someone once said "for the heart of education is the education of the heart" and Aristotle quoted, "Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all". I looked around at the vast spread of knowledge available in the room and the immeasurable contents available through the little neat box – the computer. Mind-boggling thought!

Yet with all these availabilities, I still have to pray, “Lord, teach me.”

True knowledge comes with wisdom and the ability to perceive and understand the truths. Some versions of the bible use the word, “behold” – to take hold on it and look carefully…the spiritual beauty, wonder and profound mysteries hidden in His teachings. This can only be done by divine illumination as we cry out earnestly for his teachings. In the age of great pursuit of knowledge, our desires for God must be deep. We know that what we long and love for, we will think of it all the time. If we long and love God and His teachings, we will pursue with our all. We will echo the psalmist prayers – to uncover our eyes to perceive great and mighty things in his laws and meditate on it all day long. Enlightened hearts will give direction and purpose in life instead of empty chase in the rat race.

What knowledge are we pursuing in life? Where do we begin?

King Solomon stated “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7)… and “if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:3-6).

My Wise Father, give me knowledge and wisdom to apply it in my life. Teach me every moment…In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Marvellously Made

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

(Psalm 139:14, NIV)

The long awaited sms friend just received his firstborn. What a joy as we watched him entered into fatherhood. There's always a thrill to hear a birth being announced. Yesterday...oh wasn't it just yesterday when I penned down this account...

Today I watch a capable young girl adorned with an apron fully occupied in the kitchen. She has made herself available for service as a "kitchen police" this month helping Ah Ma to prepare meals as mum rest in her postnatal month. Every morning she awoke at the break of dawn, cleansed and changed waiting for her marketing date with Kong Kong. She crept into my room, collected the soiled nappies and clothes for laundry. It saved Ah Ma a trip of the tiring staircase.

She sneaked in a corner for her quiet moments with the Lord before she quickly completed her daily academic assignments. In between the day, she grabbed a book for a good read, made a dance with her sisters, played a board game, taught her 4 year-old sister reading, writing and math, practised her times-table with an incredible creative idea - cha-cha moves! She urged her sister to dance along. They had a swell time dancing gracefully while doing math. Times-table was a dreadful feat before this!

The newborn cried...she jumped at the opportunity to carry him. How well she handled him - so much more confident than most adults! She sang her own composition to soothe him and he calmed down at the sound of the melody as he snuggled in her arms. She is a big sister for the third time.She helped Ee Ee with the Sunday school preparation before she pulled out all that she needed to bake her own birthday cake. She has always been a leader. I watched her gave orders to her sisters who eagerly wanted to help with the baking. They baked a chocolate cake which was later coated with Betty Crocker's rich and creamy chocolate topping. She carefully sprinkled the silver beads to create a figure of 10 and lots of almond nuts around it. I could see a satisfied look on her face.

It has been a decade since she was born, making me a very proud mum! It seems like a wink of an eye. The day I held her for the first time, I cried the tears of joy and then a gush of anxiety flooded me. Suddenly such a big responsibility was entrusted into my hands. I've been enrolled into the School of Motherhood - an enormous volume of life training modules with no certificates nor graduation; but blessed with a life-time of divine exchanges.

I held in my hands a precious gift from heaven. I have every reason to be thankful as I watch her grow from a tiny tot to a terrific ten. Ashlynn - the strong and beautiful is 10 today!

These words seem so fresh. The year just went by - the terrific ten is extraordinary eleven now!! She has marvellously grown. Life is such a beautiful gift of God. The Maker carefully plan and knitted together this little being from the very beginning and purposed her to be released into her God-driven destiny. His work is wonderful as careful thoughts, wisdom and creativity had been put in to bring forth this life.

How many of us can look into the mirror and boldly profess, "I am marvellously made"?
Do we know it full well that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made"?
The Maker never makes mistakes - what you see is indeed his perfect creation. What He deposited in our core is His invaluable gift to shape us and thrust us into our destiny in Him. Know our identity in Christ and marvel at the gift of life.

What are we going to do with this gift?

Beautiful God, Thank You for making me in Your image. Thank You for life. Today I proclaim Your beauty and goodness in my life. Here I am...use me as You will. In Jesus' name. Amen.