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At the beginning of this year, I noticed a book on my shelf which a friend had gifted me. It was titled Attentive to God- Being Aware of God’s Presence in Daily Life by Tony Horsfall. Clearly, I had not been attentive since that book has been lying on my shelf for perhaps a year now?

I decided to read the book as I felt it would be a good way to start the New Year, given my severe attention deficit issues last year.

Last Monday morning, I reached Chapter 8, which was about Moses turning aside to encounter God when he stopped to take a look at a burning bush. In regard to this, the author said,

“I like to think of God as the great Attention Grabber. He loves to break into our self-contained little worlds and remind us that He is there, awakening us to his nearness and prodding us into the consciousness of His reality. He does this in a number of ways, often taking us by surprise and catching our attention with something unusual, that we didn’t expect, like the burning bush…Often these events happen as something unusual, perhaps a surprising coincidence or an incredibly timely meeting, and often with a touch of humour too.”

 

That afternoon, I picked Caleb from school and we headed to Clementi Mall to borrow books from the public library. After picking out the books, I herded him towards the Borrowing Station.  I checked-out 30 books, turned around to find that Caleb wasn’t with me.

I retraced my steps and found him peeking over the shoulder of a boy, seated on a chair, playing the Brawl Stars game on his iPad.

I walked right up to them and said, “Caleb, let’s go.”

The boy’s mother looked up, leapt up and stood in front of me. “Hi, it’s me.”

I was taken aback. “Didn’t we bump into each other this time last year in this same mall?”

Melissa was a mum who first emailed me three years ago after she bought my books for her son. She had connected with my stories and wrote to me to share her own story and encourage me. Shortly after, her family moved overseas.

Back in 2016, when I was undergoing chemotherapy, she emailed me a devotional which she felt was for me. When I read it that evening, I had goosebumps. It had the same two verses that I had read that morning, expounding on the exact issue that I was grappling with.

Last year, on the week before Chinese New Year, Caleb and I were at Fairprice Finest in Clementi Mall, picking up last minute goodies for the Chinese New Year. In that crowded supermarket, Melissa walked right up to me (for the first time we ever met) and asked, “Are you Emily, the author?”

She had heard Caleb and me talking, turned aside and recognized us from my blog posts. We time-marked that moment with a photo.

Melissa SJCK

Last week, we had our second divine appointment. It was again in Clementi Mall. One week before Chinese New Year. And she had turned and looked when she heard me and Caleb talking. Caleb had ‘led’ me to her in the crowded library. She told me that they were flying back to Australia the next day.

We time-marked this second divine appointment with another photo.

It was the most improbable of encounters. Two consecutive years in a row. In the same mall.

God, the great Attention Grabber had broken into my ordinary day, reminding me that He is there, awakening me to his nearness and prodding me into the consciousness of His reality.

I went home and journaled: God, you got my attention. What is the purpose of this surprising co-incidence, or God-incidence?

Over the next day, I was reminded of the things that God had impressed on my heart through my divine connection with Melissa three years ago, the bible verses I was pointed to and now reminded to ponder on.

Related Links:

God Knows Leh #27- A Pain in the Abdomen & 7 times of Psalms 23:6

God Knows Leh #29- Black Friday met Good through the shadow of Death

Oh my feathers! I’m delighted to see Little Godwit take off on a second wind! This March 2020, Little Godwit finds his wings at the ArtScience Museum as part of the Singapore Writer’s Festival’s Words Go Round! Programme.

WGR2020 Collage

Read more and sign up for this storytelling session and more at the Singapore Writer’s Festival’s link here!

Related Links:

Reader’s Favourite! Little Godwit finds his way to 5 shiny stars!

When God, in His Wit, made each of us with our individual strengths

 

I’ve waited 10 days for the right word for my first blogpost for this New Year and new decade.

The Word came into focus today.

Three years ago, in January 2018, there was an anomaly in my eye test results picked up in a health screening. My eye doctor told me that it could either be a sign of glaucoma or nothing.

The best way to tell was to put me through a series of eye tests and re-run the same tests three months later so he could compare the results.

For the Ocular Coherence Tomography test, I looked through an eye machine at a light in the shape of a green cross. The optometrist’s instructions were, “Look at the (green) cross, open your eyes wide and don’t blink.”

For the Humphrey Visual Field Eye Test, I had to look into the lens of another machine and focus on one orange light directly above a dotted cross. I was to press a clicker every time I saw other dots (whether faint or bright) that popped up randomly across different spots of that white screen. The critical instructions were, “Keep your eyes on the constant light (above the cross). Don’t let your eyes chase the other lights.”

As I was to discover, my eye tests over these three years have become a barometer of my spiritual sight.

 

The re-run of tests three months later happened right after my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My eye doctor was unable to get any meaningful results from the eye tests. He told me, “You lack focus. Get some rest and come back again another time.”

 

Last year, in February 2019, I had another eye check-up. My mum was terminally ill in hospital and I was undecided whether to keep the appointment. Having been in hospital daily for over a week, I decided that it could be a good time-out and went for it.

I started with the first eye test of looking towards the cross. Except as hard I looked, I could not find the cross. After much back and forth with the optometrist, it turned out that I was not properly positioned for the test. After I was rightly postured, the cross came into focus.

I had taken my eyes off the Cross during those few months as I grappled to make sense of Mum’s speedy relapse within one month of results of her remission on Christmas Eve.

“Focus on the Cross” appeared to be God’s word to me. That reminder gave me strength to take care of my mum’s medical needs, final instructions, last wishes and closure issues in the weeks that followed.

 

This week, I had my annual eye tests check-up.

The optometrist who ran the eye tests told me, “So much better than the last time.”

My doctor said, “All looking very good. So, we’ll just see you in one year’s time.”

 

20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. Having 20/20 vision does not necessarily mean you have perfect vision. 20/20 vision only indicates the sharpness or clarity of vision at a distance.

As I enter 2020, I do so with clearer vision, renewed sight and look with expectancy to the new year and decade ahead. And I do so, thanking God and my eye doctor friend who reminded me to focus on the cross and its light.

Flowers and cross

Flowers our family donated in memory of Mum, backlit by the light through the stain glass Cross

“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.” – Psalm 119:18

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthian 4:18

Related Link:

God Knows Leh #33: Oil of Gladness, Garment of Praise & Song of Thanks

2019: A Mourned Chapter, Poured Pages, New Prose & God’s Word

I’m ending 2019 counting my blessings as it is the best way to enter into a new year and new decade:

Thank God for Providing Family

  • For Mum, who devoted her life to our family up till her final days
  • For seeing Dad through a difficult year with Mum’s passing
  • For Ben, who supported me through it all, from arranging Mum’s homecoming and wake in our home to taking time out to be with Caleb and me for a stretch this year

 

Thank God for Providing Friends & Fellowship

  • For amazing doctor friends who journeyed with my family this past year
  • For several people whom God provided to guide me on closure issues for Mum in her last weeks
  • For even deeper friendships with old and new friends who strengthened me through this year

 

Thank God for Providing

  • For many signs, miracles and assurances in Mum’s final weeks
  • For restoration of family relationships
  • For giving me the oil of gladness, garment of praise and song of thanks.

 

One key takeaway for 2019?

You never walk alone.

YNWA.jpg

 

Related Links:

2019: A Mourned Chapter, Poured Pages, New Prose & God’s Word

God Knows Leh #29- Black Friday met Good through the shadow of Death

God Knows Leh #28: Parting with an Old Spice Alabaster Jar Miracle

2019 was a year of family crises, challenges and setbacks. The lead-up to my mum’s passing and after has been a mournful chapter which coloured the year and accounted for most of my writing as I journaled for an audience of One.

Nonetheless, I just decided to have my traditional look-back of my writing year and found write stuff to be grateful for.

  1. Pouring out in My Mother’s Journal

Unlike the rest of my family who free-flowed with their words, I was totally constipated writing my eulogy for Mum’s wake. I spent several days drafting and redrafting. And I’m supposed to be the writer in the family.

The words did finally come to me on paper. And for the next three months, I filled up an entire journal on Mum’s last three weeks. God impressed so many things upon my heart during that time that I poured them out in over 30 essays’ worth of writings. A book’s worth for an audience of One.

During that time, I also collated Mum’s and our family photos into a memorial album for Dad as their wedding anniversary came seven weeks after Mum’s passing. It ended up as a 20-hour job because I designed every page, edited and formatted all the condolence messages into the end pages of the album. Thanks to Shutterfly’s fully customizable template, I could feed my OCD book-production trait of wanting to determine the number of photos per page, their layout, embellishments, text boxes, paper finish etc. It gave me something tangible to work with through Mum’s passing and a printed keepsake at the end of it.

Mum album-journal

  1. Little Godwit finds himself in print

My Little Godwit Finds His Wings manuscript, still-born in my laptop since first quarter of 2016, was finally birthed when the book was launched in end February this year. Little Godwit had a most eventful journey through the year, in spite of my mixed feelings about doing book promotion this year. Read more about Godwit’s backstory here.

Godwit Flight

  1. Mum-Mum’s The Word on Asian Family Blogs

I started Mum-Mum’s the Word inspired by Caleb’s quips. Along the way, it grew into a blog on books and parenting. It was a nice surprise to for my little blog to have been nominated and a finalist for the Asian Family Blogs Award this May, alongside top blogs like The Asian Parent and A Happy Mum.

 

  1. Just Teddy and Kueh Tutu’s tour of dance duty across libraries

Dance Collective Kueh Tutu had a successful 10-show run of Just Teddy across several public libraries in the middle of the year, with the closing show seeing a 70-audience strong crowd in the library. It was heartwarming to see the little ones rush forward to help Just Teddy in this interactive dance theatre show for preschoolers. Read more about the show here.

 

  1. Mustard Seed for the Sower & Daily Bread for the Eater

Our Daily Bread Ministries launched their edition of Just Teddy in collaboration with my Mustard Seed Books. My book was tweaked to incorporate the bible verse Psalm 139 right into the heart of the story. For me, the collaboration personalised the verse Isaiah 55:10 “…seed for the sower and bread for the eater”. Read more about the backstory here.

ODB Just Teddy cover

  1. More Daily Bread 

I contributed a devotional to Our Daily Bread for Kids pilot edition this year with a eulogy of sorts to my mum, seen through the eyes of my child. I was delighted that ODB liked my writing and invited me to continue writing devotionals for Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread for Families and Kids for the next one year.  Read more about Our Daily Bread for Kids here.

GUTDcover

  1. Scholastic Flavour for My Grandfather’s Rojak

I wrote my My Grandfather’s Rojak manuscript late last year for submission to the Scholastic Picture Book Award competition in collaboration with a new illustrator friend. I hoped but dared not expect to win since this was my 4th try over the years. We found favour with the judges and tasted Scholastic flavour when we placed Top 3 for the Award. Read more about Scholastic’s Award here.

SPBA pic 1

  1. Don’t play-play with Python in the Playground

My latest book for Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Python in My Playground, was launched in October this year. This is the 3rd in this local wildlife series, following Why Did the Pangolin Cross the Road? and Little Otter, Litter Trouble. Read more about the books here.

Python Book photo

  1. Creative Gifts, Calling and Musing

I wrote my An Author’s Muse two years ago for Irrevocable Gifts, a collection of essays from six Christian creatives. Then, several of us went through life events along the way – one had a baby, my mum passed on, another lost his job and so on. Irrevocable Gifts was launched this December. It was the right timing as we were in respite mode after the various life bumps along the way. Read more about the book here.

Irrevocable post 2

I thank God for seeing me through this year and for His Word which gives me strength through the seasons of life.

“My heart brings forth good accounts and tells the deeds of The King; my tongue is the pen of a ready scribe” – Psalm 45:1

Related Links:

2018: A Year of Writing Wilderness, New Frontiers & Fresh Manna

2017: Write Reflections- Closing the chapter on my 10th Writing Year

 

In this troubled world sorely in need of peace, hope and joy, we remember the holy night of over 2,000 years ago, when a young couple could find no room for the birth of a child.

The only venue was a manger.

The guests were not known to the couple. Three wise men. Shepherds. Possibly a barn of animals.

A choir of angels announced his birth.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”   – Isaiah 9:6

New life begets new life. In 2010, after I wrote and published my 4-book Toy Series and was mid-way through writing my memoir Finding My Voice, I discovered I was pregnant.

In the second trimester of my pregnancy, I saw a scan of my unborn child at my gynaecologist’s office. He was lying flat in my womb, face up, with one leg raised straight up. Then, he stretched out his tiny fingers and grabbed his toes. That image stayed so vividly with me that I commissioned an illustration of that moment to commemorate his birth. My four Toy titles testify of God’s hand in my life; they bear the mark of my Creator. It follows that all the four books’ characters would come together, around the crib, to welcome the best character that I ever conceived.

EL Illo 5

On 31 January 2011, Caleb made a dramatic entrance into my world. I had reached full term of pregnancy but he showed no signs of wanting to come out. He did not budge an inch despite the two rounds of induction medicine pumped into me and my entire day of hard labour. Finally, my gynaecologist forcibly calipered Caleb out of my womb and he came out with a near ceiling-shattering wail. My highly experienced and usually unflappable gynecologist (who never punctuated his sentences with any exclamations or inflexions in my nine months of clinic visits) exclaimed, “Wah, he’s SO loud!”

God, the Author of Life, had bestowed me a child in the 13th year of my marriage and he came with a big voice. Caleb’s birth began a brand new story in my life. Like the character in the renowned children’s book The Little Prince, my little prince bear would surprise me with words of wisdom beyond his years.

At around four years old, Caleb asked me, out of the blue, “Mummy, how come your voice is so nice?”

“Really?” I replied in disbelief. In more than ten years since my voice affliction, no one had ever told me that I had a nice voice. Instead, the comments ranged from “How come you sound like that?” to “You sound terrible! Keep quiet, don’t talk.”

“Yes, your voice is so nice,” Caleb said. And he repeated this several times over the next few months.

If I had shrugged this off as childish talk, it was promptly laid to rest when he rummaged through my cupboard and found an old cassette tape.

“Mummy, what’s this?” Caleb asked. He examined the cassette and pulled out a bit of the reel.

“No!” I yelled. I had made only one recording of my voice sounding at its worse 15 years back. Then I thought. Why would I want this as a keepsake?

“Go ahead,” I told Caleb. “You can pull it all out.”

As Caleb gleefully unraveled the reel of my entire cassette, the remains of what I had held onto of my broken voice were reduced to child’s play. My God-sent child’s words also erased the years of hurtful comments about me having an awful-sounding voice.

From thereon, my little cub would grow into an even stronger supporting character in a dark chapter of my life.

– Extract from ‘An Author’s Muse’, Irrevocable Gifts

 

Irrevocable Gifts is now retailing at Gracework’s online store! Get your copy now!

Related Links:

Clean Breast, Child’s Heart & Wise Quips of The Little Prince (Bear)

About a Songwriter, a Publisher, a Poet, an Artist, a Musician & Me

Blog collage (trimmed)