On the bright side

Here I am, nearly 29 metres through the pipe of life,

with perhaps 50 or more obscure metres to go.

Where?

That end, where everything gushes – evaporate

into thin, fresh, air, and…

make shapes with the clouds.

But it’s still 50 or more claustrophobic metres away.

If I’m lucky, would I seep through a hole

into the light that guides me home?

It’s still 50 or more metres away,

the natural forces will get me to the end,

It’s slow, but it’s sure.

The bright side is… near?

 

 

 

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Tired. So, so, tired.

Can I throw in the towel?

Lord, help me.

Are You A Worry Wart?

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The more I read Peanuts, the more I relate with Linus. We both have a baby blanket that we can’t detach ourselves from and we are both worrywarts.

Going into 2019 was a rather nerve-wracking experience, and it’s probably the first time I enter a new year this anxious. I worried about my new classes, my new workload, my ability to juggle work with serving in church, and with planning the wedding. And the way I dealt with all the issues was to compare my worries, envy others, complain more, work and juggle more unhappily, and try to come out with my own remedies. It was just like that time when I realised that my soup was too salty and panicked. Instead of asking for professional help, I added more water.. and for some stupid reason, more sugar. Needless to say, the soup was a disaster. And I am, at the current moment, am bathing in that hot soup.

Professional help. We all need professional help. Thankfully, God reminded me today that He has given us the best professional help we can ever ask for – the Holy Spirit – and that He will be with us and He will give us peace.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:26-27

It’s not easy to be contented in times of difficulties or anxieties. In fact, the human heart itself is a worrywart, especially in a world of troubles. But I’ve really got to remember, we’ve got to remember, that this world is temporary.  Our worries and troubles of the temporary should not blind us from the eternal. Jesus has died on the cross and He has overcome the world. He will come again, and all earthly worries will disappear.

So, have peace and joy. Instead of dealing with all my struggles and anxieties on my own, instead of working mindlessly, always come back to God first. Trust in Him and take a step at a time. He is making me, making us, a fearless and peaceful person today.

New Academic Year

So, work starts tomorrow.

It’s always sad when good things, the holidays, specifically, come to an end. I wasn’t ready for work, and the new responsibilities starting next year. I wish I could box work away (it’s boxing day after all), but I’m reminded that Emmanuel, God with us, and He has a great purpose for the work he has given us, one that prospers and not harm, one that gives a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

When God revealed of the plan He has for Joseph and Mary, the plan was not easy. It was hard for Joseph and Mary to accept the concept of the virgin birth. What if Joseph would not take Mary as wife? What if Mary was left alone, a disgrace, in the public’s eye? What if they do not have the ability to raise the Son of God? And if things did not seem bad enough, Joseph and Mary had to journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census near the delivery date.

But, when God has a plan, He also delivers a way.  God sent angels to guide Joseph and Mary. He also provided a manger when the inns were full. All Joseph and Mary had to do was to trust and obey.

What we are facing now is part of God’s plan. Nothing is coincidental and everything is for the advancement of the gospel. This plan he has may not be the easiest to execute. But, God is in control. He is with us, and he will carry us through. All we need to do is to sit back, relax, and trust and obey.

And so… even though one good thing may have ended, there is hope, for God will still put many more new and better blessings in the way. And, of all the greatest blessings, God has given us Christ, and his love for us on the cross that overcame death.

With this, I shall march on, more hopeful, and joyful and less of a control freak. Let Jesus take the wheel.

Merry Christmas (:

One more month

31 more days to 2019.

This year flew by so quickly and I am so glad that December is here. There’s always more time in this month to truly enjoy the beauty of life – a short run in the morning, having breakfast and tea at the table (instead of while running for the morning train), listening to Christmas carols while reading my book, and then time to do whatever I want till a good meal in the evening with my friends.

But before I kickstart the last month of 2018, here’s five things I’m grateful for for the last few months:

  1. I have finally completed one academic year in Pathlight!!! There were so many experiences gained throughout this year, and I am thankful for the friendships forged. More important, I am thankful for the HOLIDAYS! Time to recharge (:
  2. Wesley@Cathay is growing (: There are two new addition to the Sound team and this means a little more break from the weekends, a little more Sundays snoozing in rather than waking at 5am. More hands make work light (:
  3. What would I do without my parents and siblings and their unconditional love for me? Dad chauffeurs me around nearly every morning and brightens my day with his classic jokes and embarrassing actions. Mom nags really lovingly, though a little too much at times, and does her best to ensure that my welfare, and love for enoki mushroom and yakult, is attended to. Sissy, the fashionable one, always lends me her clothes and makeup because I can be a rather horrible fashion disaster. Timo accompanies me for all the extreme meals – early breakfast and late night supper – and keeps me up with the trend with his “coolness”. Last, Chaosu ensures that the house is homely and clean for a good rest. Family: Father and Mother (and siblings), I Love You (:
  4. Hew got into the top 8 for the SQS tournament (: We’ve grown so much over the past 10 years, and I am so grateful that we are always so supportive and close-knitted. Above all, I give thanks for Bin Wei, who pours his heart out to coach the team, for free! He attends most training sessions, travels to games that are at insanely inconvenient location, and never once asks for renumeration. Who does that?! Thank you for teaching me about being a team player (:
  5. Jeremy and I are 42 months old today (: And I really thank God for letting me find such a JEM, one who sings lullaby for me, assists me with my work, cheers me when I am stressed and down, tolerates my pranks and puns, keeps me accountable in my walk with God, cares for my parents as his own, travels everywhere with me and loves me so very much. Thank you, God, for Jeremy. I’ll love and cherish him. Though… I still prefer the hashtag #AliCaughtTheJerm instead of #AliFoundAJem.

One more month before the end of 2018. I’m gonna savour every bit of this beautiful year that God has made.

Term 4 Week 6

So much work to be done, but my body is now in the “I refuse to do anything mode”. I am dead tired and how I wish that last-minute work would stop sauntering into my life. Last-minute work… they are probably the root cause of heart attacks and stress. It’s all for the greater good, I am sure. But, I need more time to convince myself of that.

 

A song that has been speaking to my heart in this period of fatigue. God has set me free, from all of the tiredness and all the other stresses of the world. I am a child of God, I am who He says I am. Through Christ, I am capable of completing all my work. Through Christ, I am capable of being a better colleague. Through Christ, I can manage both work and life and wedding preparations. Like how Christ has overcome death, I am sure I will be able to overcome both the sleepy and workaholic monster in me. Indeed, through Christ, everything is possible.

Fight on.

Lessons from Ondeh-Ondeh

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Inspired by the ondeh-ondeh my students made during our Melaka trip, mom and I decided to make our own too! And here’s three things we learnt while prepping, kneading, rolling and cooking the ondeh-ondeh.

  1. It is a dish that requires practice and precision.Too little pandan extract will cause the dough to break easily. Too much pandan extract softens the dough, causing it to be unable to contain the palm sugar (gula melaka) in it. Precision and experience is needed to knead the perfect ‘al dente’ dough.

    Laziness cannot be tolerated when making an ondeh-ondeh. Take the time and effort to chop the gula melaka into cubes rather than pound them into mini bits. The pounded gula melaka seemed to melt and leak out of the firmest dough before it enters the boiling water.

    Last, ondeh-ondeh should not be too big. It’s harder to melt the gula melaka in big ondeh-ondeh than small ondeh-ondeh.

  2. Plain glutinous rice balls are far easier to make than ondeh-ondeh.Steps to making an ondeh-ondeh are far more tedious. Extract pandan juice from pandan leaves, steam the desiccated coconut shavings, mix the sugar, glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour batter with enough pandan extract, stuff the dough with gula melaka cubes, boil the raw ondeh-ondeh and coat it with coconut shavings….

    Cut the pandan juices, coconut shavings, tapioca flour and gula melaka and you get plain glutinous rice balls. Equally delicious and much less labour involved. Perhaps, I shall make glutinous rice balls in future.

  3. Home-made ondeh-ondeh is far cheaper than those in commercial stores.Home-made ondeh ondeh may not taste anywhere near those made by ‘world-class’ bakers such as Bengawan Solo. But, it is definitely much cheaper than the 6 for $2.70 ondeh-ondeh in a Nyonya confectionery. For $10 is enough to get all the ingredients needed to make 75 ondeh-ondeh. That’s $0.15 for one, $0.90 for 6. Home-made ondeh-ondeh is way cheaper, and though it may not taste as nice as what the experts make, it guarantees fun throughout the preparation and cooking process.