Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We Just Have to Trust in the Lord

We received some disturbing news from Pam today.

Some of the people at the event she attended last Saturday are down with HINI. In fact, many of those who attended the function, who are also her colleagues, are also not feeling well.

To make things worse, she's sitting next to a guy who was in close proximity to another guy who is now under suspect for HINI!

I want my babee by my side. We are here. She is there. What to do except pray.

Dear Lord, Pam dwells in Your secret place, under the shadow of your wings of protection, in true intimacy with you, embraced and sheltered by your power and your precious love. Because she has made you O Lord the most high God her abode, her dwelling place and her habitation, no evil shall be able to fall upon or even touch her and no sickness or disease can come upon her.

You will show her the salvation of the Lord by blessing her with a long, healthy, safe and prosperous life,and give unto her Your many wondrous blessings.

In the mighty and powerful name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Half-Way Through

30 June 2009

Today marks the end of the first half of 2009. Where did all the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes go?

According to the song, the answer is blowing in the wind.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mind or Body

Age is really catching up on us. Nowadays the body is not what it used to be, with the odd aches and pain here and there, and of course there are the frequent "forgettery" episodes to cope with.

In the comic, Earl was asked: "Which would you rather have go first, your mind or your body?" That's a tough question to answer.

It is terrible if the body goes first and dying becomes a prolonged process of being in poor health, maybe even bed-ridden, and worse still, being in constant pain. But with the help of medication, pain-killers and care-givers, invalids can still participate meaningfully in family life.

This is not the case if the mind goes first. I think it is very frightening for person to have no past. That's why people with amnesia feel so disoriented.

We are who we are because we are connected. Without our memories, we have no reference point for our relationships. We don't know where we belong or where we come from. In other words, we are lost. Our loved ones are lost to us and we are lost to them.

When the mind goes, all that remains is just a shell. You are no longer you. What could be sadder than being here and yet not here? At least in death there is closure.

If our life begins with our first memory, does it not also end when we lose our last one?

A Dead End at Perak Lane

It was Saturday night. We had just finished watching "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and were getting ready to retire for the night when the following conversation ensued.

Hubby: Can you remember where we went for dinner?

Me: You cannot remember meh?

(Actually I also cannot remember so have to stall for time).

Hubby: I remember we went to Ah Men's place for lunch, then we went to church for the meeting, then we went back to office, before going back to church again for worship practice, but I cannot remember where we went for dinner?

Me: It's the coffee-shop behind the Caltex station along Green Lane!

That is not the funny part yet. As I was getting into bed, I turned to hubby and asked...

Me: Didn't you retrace our route to find out where we were heading? By the time I "reached" Hamilton Road I already knew our destination.

Hubby: I did. I reached Perak Lane and hit a dead end!

For those who are not Penangites, the route will take you pass Perak Lane before you reach Hamilton Road.

We find this kind of conversation is getting more and more frequent. Susah la ini macam.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cell Durian Feast 2009

Last Friday our cell had our annual Durian Feast. With durians, mangosteens, cempedak and rambutans a-plenty it was more a fruit feast than a Durian Feast but the King of Fruits naturally had pride of place.

We started gorging the moment the fruits arrived. In my kiasu-ness to join in the feast I forgot to take pictures of the huge mound of fruits. So all the photos here were taken after I had had my fill and towards the end of the evening.

We had a lot of rambutans and cempedak left over. I think everyone avoided the rambutans because it's a heaty fruit like the durian. The mangosteens, however, were the perfect combination with durians.

Lovely durians. Some sweet and some the "bitter-and-sticky" type
-choice of durian connoisseurs

This is all that's left after the feast. When the evening started
there was no empty space on the mat.

3 big garbage bags of rubbish

Friday, June 26, 2009

Good Bye Farrah

Today is so dreary with so many deaths.

Not only did we say good bye to the King of Pop, today also marks the end of a long battle with cancer for Farrah Fawcett, one of the original three angels in the hit 1970s TV series "Charlie's Angels."

Her luxurious mane of tumbling, blond curls and that dazzling smile of hers made her a popular pin-up girl among the men and an icon of feminine beauty to a whole generation of women.

A friend remembers a Farrah Fawcett poster adorning the wall of her brothers' den and we recall all the hip and trendy girls at that time sporting a Farrah Fawcett hairstyle.

Yup, those were the days.

Michael Jackson Is Dead

I thought my friend at the Star was pulling my leg when I called up early this morning to check on some deadlines.

Val: Why are you calling? Because your boyfriend Michael Jackson die already is it?

Me: (still in the dark) No. lah. Not my boyfriend also.....

I only found out that she wasn't pulling my leg after I got off the phone. I couldn't believe it. He was only 50.

Despite all the controversy surrounding him and his bizarre behaviour, it is an indisputable fact that Michael Jackson is a musical genius and an amazing performer who singlehandedly revolutionized the music and dance scene.

The world will mourn his passing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Paw Paw Came to Visit

A former intern dropped by the office and brought along her dog. It's a chow-chow named Paw Paw.

She looks more like a baby bear than a dog and if you carry her it's like wearing a fur coat. Very hot! But so cute.

She allows anyone to carry her and will come and ask for some loving.

Her sleeping position makes her look like a roast pig!

It's the face that makes her look like a bear

I'm Famous!

My daughter just made me "famous" again on her blog. Two days in a row, I must either be doing something right...or wrong.

Her post ended with her analysis of my reply to her Good Morning message but the chat continued. Here's the rest of it before we went off to touch on more interesting topics.

Bantering with my babee

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Maid's Life

There is much talk about maid abuse in the news lately. For a change, the authorities should come and interview my maid to see what a good life some Indonesian maids have in Malaysia.

My maid basically works 3 days a week when she comes down to clean the office. The rest of the week she stays home.

When she is at home she normally finishes her chores by noon. There is not much for her to do because there are only the two of us and we stay in an apartment.

We are away at the office the whole day so she has the whole house to herself. We also eat out so there is no cooking to be done.

We allow her to go to the market to purchase whatever she requires for her daily meals which she cooks for herself. By 8.30pm she is already resting in her room.

She also carries a handphone which we gave her so she could keep in touch with her family back home.

She has so much free time that she has been buying books to read and has built up a small library. In that sense she has more leisure time than me and she could have studied for a diploma or certificate given the amount of free time she has.

I believe my maid has earned the freedom we give her. Freedom comes with responsibility. Much of the fears of employers stem from the horror stories they have heard.

We have had a maid run away while under the employment of my mother-in-law. This was the maid before this present one. Under normal circumstances most people would have come down hard and put the new maid on a short leash but that would be grossly unfair to make her pay for the sins of another.

We decided to keep this maid after my mother-in-law passed away because we found her responsible and dependable but we would not hire another once her contract expires because hiring a maid has now become a very expensive and high-risk venture.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I'm The Only One Counting Days

She sent her Dee a Father's Day greeting four hours early and promised to do right by her dad when she comes back in two weeks' time.

I immediately informed darling hubby that she'll only be back in THREE weeks' time. When he 'reminded' her, she knew I had to be around and reading the sms conversation.

The two of them same same wan, always blur about when the next family time is due. I am the only one counting days and trying to engineer family time.

I will never miss an opportunity to go down and see my babee and last weekend I had a splendid opportunity to hitch a ride down to KL with friends but application for 'visa' from hubby was rejected.

He said I've have used up my quota 'cos she was back one weekend and then I was down in KL the following weekend and then we were down in KL again two weeks' later. All in the month of May.

The Haze Is Bad

Today the mainland was swallowed up in the haze. There was no horizon; all we could see was the sea merging into the haze.

View from our balcony

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jewel Turns 18

We had a little belated celebration for Jewel who turned 18 last Saturday.

The countdown began with the following sms conversation.

Mother of Birthday Girl (1:10pm): Wear pink dress.

Me (1.13pm): Wearing yellow la. Will change if we have time to go home.

Me (2.56pm): I'm now sort of pink.

Mother of Birthday Girl (3:09pm): Good Start from this morning's yellow! Maybe you'll get pinker as evening progresses.

That last comment is so ambigious. Sounds like I'm going to get tipsy when all we're having is chinese tea for beverage.

Jewel with her pink birthday cake, lovingly decorated by her mom
with a crown,
18 diamonds and 18 spindly candles.

Where did the little kiddo with a curly hair go to? She's grown to be a real beauty.

Look at mess of wax after all the photo-taking session

Birthday girl surrounded by mom, bro and god-parents.
Only the ladies bothered with the pink theme.

We burned a hole in the table cloth!
That's how successful the party was.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Fruits of the Season

Received some rambutans from a colleague. They're from her own tree and supposed to be the 'loot kang' type. That means they're good because the flesh does not stick to the seed.

Rambutans, my babee's favourite fruit

We had been enjoying mangosteens for the past two weeks and two nights ago we suddenly had the urge for durian rice. So on the way home from work, I stopped by one of the roadside stalls at Fettes Park to buy two fruits for RM24.00. One was sweet and the other 'bitter' to balance the flavours.

Then I swung by the supermart to buy fragrant rice. While I was wandering around the aisles looking for rice I found santan in tetra boxes. So I decided that we shall indulge in the luxury of using santan instead of just plain water to mix with our rice.

It turned out that the meal was too rich for us.

Fragrant rice + santan + durian = "jelak"

It would have been worse if I had used pulut instead of rice. That would have been over-indulgence.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cool Down or Warm Down?

Grace and I have never heard of the term 'warm down' before but both our husbands used the term 'warm down' to refer to the milder after-exercise activities sportsmen use to help the body transit from the high exertions during the game to its normal state.

From Grace's and my perspective, the term 'warm down' doesn't make sense. It's like saying that water runs uphill. Furthermore, in all our years as students and teachers, we've never ever heard the term 'warm down' being used after games and Physical Exercises. The term all our teachers used was 'cool down.'

I've also attended classes at Celebrity Fitness and all my instructors have consistently used the term 'cool down' and that included the personal trainers. They are qualified trainers so they shouldn't be making a simple mistake like that.

But the coach at the badminton court used the term 'warm down.' He is a state coach so he cannot be wrong either. So how?

Last night hubby looked up 'warm down' in the dictionaries and found the following:

Collins Dictionary
A warm-down is a series of special exercises that you do after a physical activity to help relax your muscles and joints.

MacMillan Dictionary
warm-down: gentle exercises that you do after playing a sport to help your body return to its usual temperature.

New Longman
warm-down: exercises that you do to relax your body after playing a sport or dancing

I have no choice but to concede defeat. If not, I would have added stubbornness to my sins. Anyway, I was too tired to bother with further research.

But this morning I woke up refreshed after a good night's rest. First thing I did was Google 'warm down + cool down + exercises.'

Where 'warm' is used, it is always used with reference to 'warm up.' Out of the top 50 search results, only one used the term 'warm down.' The rest used 'cool down' with reference to after exercise activities.

Hubby then typed in 'warm down exercises' and out of 50 results, 'warm down' is found in 10. The other 40 used the term 'cool down.'

I finally resorted to Wikipedia. I typed in 'Warm down' and the search result was 'Cooling Down'! It was only under 'Other Terms' that it was stated: "the term warming down is sometimes used to refer to the same process."

So it is not wrong to use 'warm down' but 'cool down' is the more commonly used and accepted term. It's a matter of preference but it's obvious more people prefer 'cool down' to 'warm down.'

I still think 'warm down' sounds odd so I'll still stick to 'cool down.'

Friday, June 12, 2009

Power of Prayer

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to pray for a friend who went for an operation to remove one of the lumps in her neck.

Initially she didn't know whether she should go for the operation or not. Finally she went for the surgery when the one lump, became two and then became three lumps.

She couldn't believe that such a thing could happen to her. Maybe to her brother who is a drinker, or another brother who is a smoker, or even an elder sister who is in her fifties but certainly not to her. After all she is still young and leads a healthy lifestyle.

She was very anxious over the result, knowing that a negative report would change her life forever. Sensing her anxiety, we offered to pray for her and she accepted our offer.

Yesterday, the results from the biopsy came back. Thank God, the lump was not malignant and today we received this email from her:

Thanks Melinda. It is great to see what the power of prayers can do!
Thanks for all your prayers and well-wishes for my health.

God is good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crazy, Hazy Days

Hazy days coupled with the craziness of super busy days leaves me drained, totally drained before the end of the day.

I just wanna go home, have a good shower and crawl into bed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

God Did Something Different

We invited Pastor Ann Low from the Malaysia National Prayer Network to minister at our Prayer Rally last Saturday.

Unlike the other prayer rallies we have had in the past, this prayer rally was relatively relaxing and definietly more enjoyable. There wasn't all the non-stop praying and shouting that leaves you hoarse at the end of the four hours. I didn't feel "wearied" at all because the flow of the Spirit was so natural and effortless that we just flowed along.

First of all we learned to be still and to listen to the Lord. Isn't that THE most part of prayer? Our usual approach in prayer is come before the presence of the Lord with a To Do List and, after some preliminary praise and worship, begin to issue commands and tell God what to do instead of listening to Him. That is so wrong. As if we are smarter than God.

We also learned to share and to listen to one another. As Pastor Ann said, how can we pray well for one another if we do not spend time to listen to one another. Listening to one another also means listening to what God is speaking to the other person. Very often we subconsciously think that God can only speak to us and disregard what God is saying to others.

She encouraged us to journal so we can track what God's leading and guidance in our lives. I am not much into journaling so the closest I will ever come to keeping a journal is to turn this blog into a sort-of-journal. So bear with me if, from now on, the contents of this blog get kinda weird.

And she issued a challenge for us to memorize scripture - the whole book of James in 5 months! For me, a passage here and there is manageable but not 5 chapters of 108 verses. By the time I reach Chapter Five I would have probably have forgotten Chapter One 'cos my forgettery is better than my memory.

Then on Sunday I received another nugget from Pastor Ann. She taught us to pray 1 Cor. 2:9 in reverse. Where the verse says "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him," we can pray and ask God to give us eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind that is able to conceive what God has prepared for us because we love him. Isn't that wonderful?

I am glad this prayer rally is different. I have been so blessed and it is indeed the most enjoyable prayer rally I've ever attended. If prayer rallies are run this way more people might be encouraged to join us.

Ken's 50th Birthday

My darling hubby is turning 50 this year. Four months to go and we haven't decided on the venue yet so the following conversation ensued.

Me: Which is more important? The place or the food?

Birthday Boy: The people.

Isn't he the best? It always amazes me how he always manages to have the right priorities in the things that matter.

Is There Life After Death?

Haha. Such an effective warning! Makes you think twice before trespassing.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hot Weather And Siesta

Nowadays, the weather is so hot that the government should...

I can't vouch for increased productivity but it's been found that people in countries which adopt the siesta habit are generally more creative. How can we be creative when the heat is draining us of our creative juice?

We need the forty winks every afternoon to recharge what the heat has sapped out of us. At least, I do.

Friday, June 5, 2009

De-clutter Bug Hits Penang

Josh came back from the US on 26 May for the summer holidays. In view of the H1N1 flu outbreak my sis told him to keep himself in tip top health and not show any flu symptoms 'cos that would either mean a delay boarding the flight in US or a quarantine when he arrives in Malaysia.

He arrived safely. No flu bug but he came back with a de-clutter bug which he caught in the US. Now the guy is into de-cluttering, not only his life but his mom's as well.

In fact, he is so much into de-cluttering that he trashed all his assignments for the last semester. Now he has no portfolio to show the person who has offered him a writing position. No hard copy. Not even soft copy.

I think trashing things in the computer is carrying the de-clutter obsession a bit too far. After all, soft copies don't take up physical space at all.

And you know what's the problem with de-cluttering? It sets into motion the Law of De-cluttering which states that: You will not need an item, which will only become important, after you have disposed of it.

I'm serious. A classic example is the boss suddenly asking for some relatively unimportant document, which had been gathering dust on your desk for the past few months, which you have thrown away the day before when you suddenly decided to clear your desk.

Or you throw away a receipt only to find out later that you can use it for tax exemption.

Does that happen to you? It always happens to me.

That's why my desk is so messy. It may take me some time to find what I want to find, and what I want to find may not be where I think it is, but I'll eventually be able to find it because it is still somewhere around.

So I end up with a lot of junk. Help! Does that make me a junkie? : (

His Strength

It is another funeral season for TOP and I was scheduled to share at the funeral wake service last night. Throughout the day my throat was scratchy and my eyes were sandy. It felt as though I was coming down with a bug but when I went for the service everything just cleared up like the mist disappearing when the sun rises.

This is not the first time I've experienced such miracles from the Lord. There have been times when I was coughing and God just stopped the cough when I had to worship lead. In fact I sang better than normal. No kidding.

Once, when I was leading the Eagles (Young Adult) cell, I went for the meeting with a terrible headache. It was the type that makes you nauseous and, for me, the only way to relieve it is to puke but I have never been able to bring myself to push my finger down my throat to induce anti-peristalsis so I prolonged the suffering.

I was ready to chop off my head and transplant it with a cabbage but duty called. I had no choice because I was sent to resuscitate the cell and I had not yet raised up a cell assistant. I just had to show up.

As usual we started with the ice-breaker and I was still feeling awful. Then came the worship and God performed a miracle.

I had asked God to help me through the meeting and not let me puke halfway through but as we worshiped, my headache began to clear and by the time the session was handed to me I had completely recovered. It was really that phenomenal.

Through countless similar encounters I have learned that we always minister out of our weakness "for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:10). That is not an excuse for inadequate preparation or slipshod work but God is faithful to to show Himself strong and empower us when we come to Him in humility to exchange our weakness for His strength. If not, the glory would be ours and not His.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Do You Know... (4)

...that in order for a culture to maintain itself for more than 25 years, the required fertility rate is 2.11 children per family? Anything less and the culture will decline.

(That's just a nice way to say the culture is on its way to extinction.)

I found that piece of info here and the video goes on to warn that:
  • No culture ever reversed itself when fertility rate fell to 1.9
  • It is impossible to reverse (i.e. extinction is guaranteed) when fertility rate drops to 1.3. This is because it'll take 80-100 years for the culture to correct itself and there is no economic model which is able to sustain that culture during that time.
  • As population shrink so does a culture
Based on that bit of info, the trend among Chinese married couples to have only one child or max two does not bode well for the Chinese culture. Of course China made the biggest boo boo of all with its one child policy.

I have always believed that there should be a minimum of three children in each family: two to replace the parents and one extra to replace one of the unmarried people out there. Unfortunately I have failed miserably on this mission because we only managed, by the grace of God, to have one child. A most wonderful daughter, if I may say so, who made up in quality what we lacked in quantity.

As if lower fertility rates are not bad enough, the problem is compounded by a rise in homosexuality that is pushing fertility rate even lower and driving the whole human race to extinction! That, I think, is even more reason for normal couples to have more children.

Ok, maybe I'm over reacting but, for the sake of our culture I would strongly encourage young married couples to have more children. Four per family would be just nice: two to replace the parents, one to replace someone unmarried and another to replace someone homosexual (but don't end up homosexual la).

So easy to say, not so easy to do but last night I was encouraged to see a Singaporean couple in their late twenties or early thirties with three kids and another on the way.

Ah! There is still hope for us.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nice Way to Start the Day

Good morning and Peace be with you.

I wrote an email to the Catholic Church and the reply came with this greeting. Isn't that a nice way to start the day?

"Peace be with you." Simple words that warm my heart and colour my day a beautiful peachy pink.

So to everyone out there, "Good morning and Peace be with you today."