26 December 2007

A new addition to the family

We got ourselves a mini schnauzer! On 26th, we went to the pets wholesalers at Pasir Ris Farmway with my mum. There were an amazing number of Pet kennels there selling all kinds of interesting dogs - we even saw a Saint Bernard!

After enquiring a few schnauzers, the prices range from $700 to $3500, we finally settled for one Salt-n-Pepper (black & gray) little male puppy, 2 months old, at $650, after some bargaining. It's an all-in price plus one bag of dog food.

We were a bit apprehensive at how our 13 month Jack Russell will respond to this new boy. But after some loud "welcome" barkings, they are beginning to settle down well. The new boy, whom we named Elfie, whined the 1st night for a while. He also woke up early at 5 plus to cry for food. And of course, when the small boy whined, Ernie joined in and barked (at the unearthly hour of 5 something).

We let Elfie wonder around at home, and he pee-ed quite a bit everywhere. Yes, we need to toilet train him soon. He also refused to eat the food without milk and must be 'rocked' to sleep. A real baby indeed!

Elfie is biting all our fingers whenever we put in our hands to carry him. He is teething and is biting everything in sight. But he's cute.

Very cute.

21 December 2007

1st week of Holidays

The long awaited school holidays are finally here for me. After 2 weeks of winding down and settling my timetabling matters, I finally got to start my 3 week long school holidays. Great! Well, ok, after a blinking of the eye, it's one week gone and two weeks left.

Day one was spent on fetching kid to Kumon Maths class and then an unplanned trip to bring father-in-law down for a hospital appointment. Bought 3 weekend car coupons too.

Accompanied my wife for her pap smear test on day 2 and then to the hair stylist for my 3 women to have their hair cut. Not bad, $5 per person, for a home-cut. We went down to Marine Parade Hans for lunch and went back home after that.

For day 3, my older girl accompanied me to office and we scanned about 280 photos into digital format and saved them into a thumb drive. That took a day of work!

Day 4, we went for our CG Christmas party. It was a wet day. Originally, we were supposed to have 15 guests, but it turned out to be only 2 in the end. By the time of the program, the guests disappeared, and we just had our normal food, carols and gift exchanges. That's what usually happened when there is no real push - we tend to be spiritually lazy. Well, for myself I got the vitamins C as present. My girls got to know Dino - a 6 year old Schnauzer well.

Day 5 was spent at Wild Wild Wet @ Downtown East. It costs us $42 for four of us but it was really fun. It also came with $12 rebate which we used for our KFC lunch. We were there from 11:30am till 4pm. The water slides were great! The sun was very hot and we are went back with a tan.

Day 6? Tomorrow we'll know... hopefully it doesn't rain..

So far, it has been fun, fun and more fun. Not much time for personal reflections though. However there was ample time for family which is good. I'm also quite regular in my QT, thankfully. Let's see what the next 2 weeks brings.

17 December 2007

Zechariah or John – what will his name be? Lk.1.57-66

The neighbours pressed Zechariah for an answer after Elizabeth had bravely spoken up against their initiative for choosing the name Zechariah. “It has always been like this. We take a traditional family name. How can you now choose a name not in your family line of names?” Zechariah was insistent. No, “His name is John” In his many months in silence, he has much time to think and has already thought through it all. He is not to go away from God’s words anymore. He saw and knew first hand, that God exists and can be trusted. His name will be John. His name is John. Then his tongue was loosened and he began to speak again. And of course, he praise God! The others watched in fear. Now they are slowly beginning to realize that God is at work. They are not to press their ways. A new start has been made. It is a new start to fear and follow God.

There are times in my life where I followed others. I went with the flow, the path of least resistance. But it is not good for me. I stopped thinking and just followed along. There was no courage and no direction and no purpose in life. I need to re-orientate. I need to seek His will and follow it, especially in 2008.

Zechariah has also shown great wisdom. He did not sulked against God, or show any negative emotions for the silence during those past months. He accepted his punishments. He was able to rejoice again and give thanks. Why? He knew he was wrong and He was right. God was not only right, but was good and blessed him so much more than he could imagined.

Am I still harbouring unnecessary hurts against God and others? Why do I remain angry and down? Why can’t I move on? What is there to be unhappy about? Sometimes, even though I knew I am wrong and had no answers for my own emotions – I still find it difficult to move on. What I know and what I’m actually not doing does not match. I need the push – a BIG push to carry on.

May the push, or maybe a scolding, come soon.

16 December 2007

God speaks

This morning I have a hard time waking up 3 ladies, 2 gals and wife for the 8am service. Last nite, we went out late to Little India and reached home at 11.30pm. They could hardly wake up and after a few tries, I gave up and went to church on my own.

Not a great start for Sunday service and my school holidays. I was embarrassed when Paul, at the door, asked, "Eh, Today only one person?" I mentioned that they were still in bed and quickly walked in, not lifting my head to see them.

The song, "So You would come" ministered to me greatly. I was reminded of the great love of God afresh, who did everything, so that I would come to Him. He had taken my broken dreams and lives. He has sent His Son to die for me. He has accepted me unconditionally. So that I would come to Him again. I was touched.

Suddenly a picture of the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son came to me. For many months now, I was behaving like the elder brother, now sulking because of the church, and refusing to go into the Father's house again. This song ministered to me in reminding me of the Father's love and deeds. What more do I want from Him so that I would go in? Do I need Him to say sorry? Was He wrong in the 1st place? No. How foolish of me!

Lord, forgive me. I have sinned and am too proud and cold to come into your house. Help me to do so again. Amen.

God in pursuit of us

I was in my school gym the other day when someone whom I have never met before walked up to me and asked if I'm from this evangelistic church. I was surprised and said "Yes, I'm from there but how did you know?" He mentioned that his colleague in his dept mentioned me to him since the 2 of them were attending the same church as me. And suddenly now, I know of 4 other person in my workplace that attends the same church as me! How did the 2 of them know me? Am I that popular? He mentioned that his other colleague knew me as I was involved in a significant way in the church previously. Hmm, very interesting.

This 2 of them, plus the other 2 whom I saw and recognised in church brings the total number to 4 - for now. The most interesting part of it, is that, this stranger friend actually stays in the same area as me! It becomes very eerie all of a sudden.

On the other hand, it reminds me that God's people are everywhere. No matter where i go to, it seems that His people are always there. And one fine day, they may just walk up to me and introduce themselves to me. It brings me comfort to know that help is around. He will always be here for me through His people.

Praise God!

13 December 2007

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

This is a familiar and yet powerful story about the tree that gives her apples, branches and finally trunk to a boy, just to make him happy. To me it speaks of an altruistic love that few can really practice. Most if not all, give for a purpose, and that purpose is not to just make someone happy. Here the tree is different. In a sense it reminds me of the Heavenly Father who gives.

I have listed for myself some questions to prod me into further actions:
As a Tree -
Will I give off my trunk, branches and apples to make someone happy? If not, why? What is holding me back?
Who is like this tree to me? What would I tell him when I meet him/her?
Am I seeing myself like an “old stump” with nothing left to give, or a young tree with apples aplenty?
Do I need to ensure that I still have sufficient to give?

As a Boy –
Who is my boy (that I’m giving wholeheartedly to?)
Am I over-taking (receiving) and under-giving?
Do I appreciate the “trees” in my life? Note – boy did not say a word of thanks.

In giving, there is happiness. In taking, there is tiredness.

In a way, I see myself as an old stump (okay, mid-life stump), with nothing else to give in ministry and life to others. Maybe it’s time to re-discover that even old stumps have got good uses!

7 December 2007

Conference Inspirations

It was a dull conference by an uninspiring speaker until she started to tell a story about an underachieving kid, who when asked to do a dance item, suddenly became alive and in that process discovered himself. Here in my workplace, I see bored students everyday. While it is expected that we do not let ourselves be tainted by their lack of zeal, we sometimes failed to do that and are reacting to their responses and we become de-motivated, Hence, it is with a whiff of fresh air as I hear this speaker’s story of the student finding himself (or as Covey would put it – finding his voice).

This inspired me to live out this purpose here in my otherwise blurred and uninspiring environment. How would I do it? I’m not very sure. But I know I need to be more involved with the students, to engage them and push them beyond what they are currently doing. Going further. Not satisfied with the status quo. Good clich├ęs to turn into real practice.
Let’s see if I will and can do it.

6 December 2007

Annual Appraisal Exercise

It was supposed to be at 9am, but it got pushed off until 3 plus in the afternoon. Hmm, do they really take it seriously nowadays? Long before that, I had to wade through the pile of circulars trying to find out which is the latest form to be used. Then, I had to try not to be too humble in recollecting what I have done for the past 6 months. It took me about half an hour to think, "smoke a bit", and type it out. In the end, it was all over in less than 30 minutes.

My lady boss went through the usual questions, trying to be listening to me. Surprising now, we are encouraged to be working more cross-functionally. I mentioned that I am keen to be open to more projects, and was quickly asked if I would consider student leadership things, EQ classes, and the like. In the end, we talked a bit more, without saying yes or no, being open may be a better move. I expressed my keenness for mentoring related things - hopefully she would take note of it.

In the past, I have to write my responses to her comments. Now, it seemed unnecessary. She also mentioned that it would be difficult to have a B grade now that the bar has been raised. Ok, that means lesser bonus, though she did mentioned that my work performance was above average.

Does what i wrote really count? My efforts put in for the year? Well, we'll see in March next year when the performance bonus are given out. Nonetheless, my esteem is not based on their comments and rewards. I do my best for my Master. And that is reward enough.

2 December 2007

My "Mini-marathon"

It was a slightly more crowded stroll in the end (The Singapore Marathon 2008). And all in good time: 59:44 for 10km, though a bit away from my personal gym bests of 56:36. Still it was a great run.

A few months ago, I was still trying to escape the sign up for this run. After the umpteen time my boss ask, I finally said yes. That time I was 6-7km fit and 10km seemed like a mount Everest task for me. But today looking back, I perhaps should have signed up for the half marathon instead.

And that's what I will do for next year, culminating in the year end 2008 full marathon. It will be a great opportunity to capitalise on my current fitness levels, to do what I tried to do in 1996 but failed. Then I managed to run for about 19 km and then walked till the three quarter mark and gave up. Next year, I will return to try again. And to close up this chapter of my "half-past-six" attempt.

Besides it being a great running experience, I received some freebies too, like 2 dri-fit running singlets, a pack of carbo-rice, and some other promotional packets. It also introduced me to the school gym and lifting weights again.

On the run, it was quite a smooth run, albeit very crowded throughout. At a few points, after the half way mark, I sped up and tired myself unnecessary. Towards the end, there was not much reserves to speed up for the final dash. Still it was a good time. The runspirators along the route did a great job in cheering us on. Great for them! Ahh, the importance of cheerers in our lives. They just give you that extra oomph in your run.

Well I'll be looking at the Singapore race calendar and signing up for the runs..

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