Leaning Harder

notyet

It’s been an insanely busy few weeks, so much so that blog writing, or even writing for that matter, has kind of fallen by the wayside. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll forget how to write the way I usually do if I stop doing it long enough. Or whether I’ve lost the desire to blog for the sake of writing about my life.

Not only that, my system has been giving me massive problems — freezes, extremely slow (and frustrating) performance, weird errors — that even simple things like watching a video on YouTube or scrolling through the list of updates on Facebook are severe tests to the patience.

Ministry work has been increasing exponentially, and it’s been nothing short of an acceleration considering that I wasn’t serving at the beginning of the year. A short talk with Cheryl as we taxied home after Darrell’s birthday dinner made me see how it’s just going to get even more exciting with new responsibilities and opportunities to grow even more. God is just pulling me out of my comfort zone and putting me in situations where I’m constantly coming to this place of being absolutely certain of my inability. Learning how to lean harder.

Really, this life is not my own to live. Naturally speaking, it’s an irreconciliable concept to practical living; shouldn’t I be looking out for myself? Isn’t it my responsibility to my family and loved ones to put my interests first? Why should anyone put themselves out there or put their lot in with a seemingly archaic system for the sake of establishing a cultural identity or community-based support?

But the truth is, these aren’t the right questions.

The real issue, I reckon, is that even though in my circumstances I am brought low, seeing whirlwinds in what I thought was an iron-clad friendship and realising that ‘enough time’ is such an alien concept to me, I want to know this: am I still able to praise God and to walk each day with His joy and peace?

Maybe, some days will seem that everything is a little too much for me. But my prayer is that my response to that question will always be a ‘Yes’.

“They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

This is what the LORD says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them.  Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without men or animals, for it has been handed over to the Babylonians.’ Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes,  declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 32:38-44

Advertisements

Soul Rocket

storydetective

so you want to be a writer

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

– Charles Bukowski

Sometimes I wonder..

Hari Raya Cook Out!

Organised a cookout with the special people over the Hari Raya long weekend. Managed to get the house in habitable living conditions with help from the girl the night before and on Monday afternoon it was grocery shopping with the strange couple Darrell & Denise, as well as Hanyang and Shaw Ming!

We also celebrated Joseph’s birthday and a good time was had by all; didn’t have time to take photos of everything and most of the awesome ones in the evening were taken by Darrell. Missing here is the baked salmon on lemon and garlic (seasoned with shoyu or olive oil), the garlic butter on toasted focaccia and the potatoes au gratin!

Thank you everyone for blessing me by coming. I hope you had as much fun as I did!

IMG_0577Darrell slicing onions for the French onion soup while Denise chops up some focaccia

IMG_0580Managed not to slice his finger off

IMG_0581Jieyun peeling the onions

IMG_0582Yuyan taking over onion slicing duties

IMG_0592
HY peeling potatoes and Shaw Ming mincing garlic

IMG_0594
D&D preparing pasta

IMG_0597
Mabel arriving with donuts

IMG_0604
Sliced potatoes for the au gratin dish

IMG_0608
Shaw Ming butchering the poor garlic

IMG_0616
Yosh & Cheryl with the best seats in the house

IMG_0617
Denise’s awesome pasta

IMG_0621
Sautéed portobello & fresh button mushrooms with onions

IMG_0662
D&D, The Selby style

IMG_0623
Darrell grilling sausages

IMG_0622
Old English sausages (love this grill pan!)

IMG_0627
Caramelised onions (this is after 3 hours) for French onion soup

IMG_0636
Sausages over sautéed mushrooms & onions

IMG_0641
Salmon sashimi & avocado salad

IMG_0658
Yuyan & Yosh

IMG_0663
Yukie with tangible thought bubble

IMG_0676
Joseph

IMG_0685

IMG_0689
Sisters

IMG_0690
Yukie on my mom’s trampoline

IMG_0708
The big kid joins in

IMG_0696
Surpriiiiise

IMG_0697
HY & Shaw Ming use the force on Joseph

IMG_0698
He thought the cake was for someone else

IMG_0700
He was indeed surprised

IMG_0702
Making a wish

IMG_0713
For the memories

IMG_0720
Cutting cake time!

IMG_0725
Life-changing cake from Awfully Chocolate

IMG_0707
Cheryl impersonating Joni Mitchell

IMG_0718
Just love the composition of this shot

IMG_0730
Strange people in my room

IMG_0731
But lovely for helping out with all the cleaning up after!

The Future Pasts

habitation

I found this poster lying in one of my boxes when I was spending eight hours cleaning out my room for the cookout last Monday. To be completely honest, I actually nicked it off the back of a washroom cubicle door in the Acer Arena during last year’s Hillsong Conference.

It’s  a bit beat up, having lived in my haversack and travelled across the oceans from Sydney to Singapore. Creased and nicked in some places. Rebelled against the blu-tack because it was rolled up for so long. But there’s something I love about it; maybe it’s because it has a certain history about it. Maybe because it wasn’t bought in a store and was obtained through a bit of reckless daring, and thus more appealing. Maybe it’s because I love old things — even though I loathe hype and ‘vintage’ being all the rage still — because of the dozens of little stories contained in them. My eyes light up when I spot a used CD/DVD shop… maybe someone cried to that Tori Amos record, or kissed someone they loved when they were playing the Smiths, or watched the Texas sunset from their car windows to Explosions in the Sky.

I can’t help but wonder if they ever imagined the future when these old things were new to them… what would they have thought or felt when they could see then, whatever is happening around us in the world now? Would they be amazed or baffled at the world we live in today? What will my sons or daughters think when they look at a first-generation iPhone or a Moleskine journal? What kind of world would I have left them, twenty or thirty years on?

It’s a funny time to be this introspective, especially when this season of my life is seeing exponential increase in ministry. I’ve come to realise that all of is beyond me — that it is all so completely beyond my own abilities that only God can make it work. The truth is that I am really only a vessel. A vessel that carries His spirit and walks in His will and desires to see the destiny placed in me be fulfilled in the measure of fullness that only God can encompass.

Wisdom and favour. Romans 8:28. Stretching. Being a ready vessel. These are the hallmarks of this season. And He is always faithful.

Decrease For Increase

chromo

I was telling a brother last night that it is that moment when we realise that in and of ourselves we are wholly unable that God steps in. It becomes all God and none of self. Decreasing so that He can increase. So that everything that has put into our hands — however small and seemingly insignificant — will bear fruit. Anything and everything apart from Jesus will wither away and be burnt.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

Little did that brother know that those words I spoke to him became food for myself. I above all others need to hear it. So many things have been placed in my hands in these past couple of months that it has become increasingly clear to me that I… cannot. I am unable. I have no ability or skill or good success apart from Him.

But I am strengthened in the grace of God, filled with a peace and joy that surpasses understanding, blessed with wisdom and favour, and walk in His will, all by no merit of my own; the reason for all of it is contained in the cross of Calvary.

I am witnessing the dektos year for me, and I am nothing, if anything, but grateful (it’s a two out of three, already).

Take away(E) the dross from the silver,
and(F) the smith has material for a vessel;
5take away(G) the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his(H) throne will be established in righteousness.

“Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel;
take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his throne will be established in righteousness.”
Proverbs 25:4-5

Be Wonderful

wonderful

I never thought I’d be able to fit in with my new CG — there was always this sense of awkwardness (maybe it’s just me), all too long stills in the conversation and all too many faces without names — ones I’d heard and forgotten too quickly. I’m used to this. At some point in the last twenty-seven years I’ve come to realise that there’ll always be this part of me that still feels a little out of place in new social situations, when it comes to making new friends or meeting new people; yet there’s a small part of me — a tiny one — that feels a little sad when I understand that some of these once-strangers will become strangers once again, and that all those wonderful worlds and experiences and imaginations contained in them will never be known to me.

Don’t you think it is such a terrible waste then, when we meet people and we dismiss them in our heads by some illusionary flaw they possess, when I believe each and every one of us has some modicum of brilliance within, a sort of light that can enchant or captivate, like stories about how they have lived and loved or about that  singular moment they felt so fiercely and so passionate that it opened a whole new world or planet or universe?

If I could, I want to sit with you with good coffee or even the diluted bandung I ordered to quell the spices burning my tongue or the teh-o ice limau I steal from my girlfriend, and I want to listen to you tell me your stories. All of them. Whether they are your triumphs or your losses or your careless dreams or your fistfights or your sad face at midnight; if I could, I want to hear about all of them, all these stories that belong to you, because that would mean you let me into your world and lead me through it.

I think something happened tonight. What exactly, I don’t know.

Maybe it was Paul, who towers over all of us like a great big bear, who sang out of tune but at that precise moment made me wish I was as brave as him. The same Paul who couldn’t help tearing when he shared about his mission trip, the things he saw and the things he felt, and how it had changed his life forever. Or maybe it was Alex who shared about his dream about playing the guitar in a previous meeting and when he picked it up at the end of today’s I realised I was looking at someone who looked so perfectly happy and so perfectly in his element that I rejoiced in my heart for him, honoured to see a prayer answered. Maybe it was speaking with Jon at supper and how his eyes came alive like fire when he spoke about joining the music ministry again. Or maybe it was hearing a beautiful voice during praise and worship from somewhere behind me and realising it was Merrini who later said her hobby was singing. Maybe it was watching Yosh speaking to a few girls and seeing how they were listening intently to her, simply glad to be in her presence.

Maybe all of that, and more.

I think one of the greatest privileges to be in a caregroup and be surrounded by your brothers and sisters is seeing how all these broken lives have come together and been united through the perfect Love of a perfect Saviour. I can see your heart written across your eyes — that deep yearning, that intense joy — and I wish, oh how I wish, that I could write down all of it; write about the glory that has been set upon your life and the greatness that your life shines because of Him.

Day of the Geek

geekswin

We geeks will have our day.

Things have been so crazily-insane busy that everything is a mix of work and ministry. So much so that I haven’t even opened up all my birthday presents (!) or even read all the awesome letters those precious people wrote for me (!!) or wrote a proper entry about it (!!!).

You know what — I’ll just go ahead and say it — I have the best girlfriend in the world.

Advertisements