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This June marked two years from my diagnosis of breast cancer. I believe I am already healed. So the full body PET-CT scan a few days back confirmed just that.

It was timely for me that Our Daily Bread Ministries’ Hear Me, O God! – 100 Prayers for Mothers to Pray was recently launched. On top of writing prayers for the book, I had also written an essay on my parenting journey through breast cancer, which I am reproducing here:

100 Prayers cover (edited)

Facing Breast Cancer with a Child’s Heart

When I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer on 1 June 2016, I was very concerned about how my five-year-old son Caleb would cope with the days ahead. I had to undergo a mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery within a week of diagnosis and would need several weeks to recuperate. That meant I would not be able to hug or carry him for some time. Following surgery, I would have to undergo five months of chemotherapy and cut back on my duties as his primary caregiver.

One key decision that my husband, Ben, and I made from the outset was to tell our five-year old the truth about my diagnosis. As Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” We wanted our relationship with our child to be built on truth so that he would always be truthful with us. We felt that Caleb should not be shielded simply because he was a young child. It was important for him to understand that life has its struggles and pain. We also felt that we needed to grow in faith as a family and trust God to see us through this episode. We shared with Caleb how the doctor had found bad cells in my body called cancer and needed to cut them out. We explained what the surgery involved and what to expect in the months ahead.

Through this decision, God used my child to strengthen me and show me that “… from the lips of children and infants, you, Lord, have called forth your praise” (Matthew 21:16).

We had an impromptu prayer party the night before my surgery, where over 20 people—family, friends and a few church elders—came to pray for me. My 15-year-old niece Annabel was the first to pray. “I don’t know what to say,” she blurted out as she grappled with finding the right words to say. Caleb immediately went to his older cousin and exclaimed, “Just say ‘God loves you!’”

Over my nine-day hospital stay, my parents brought Caleb to visit me daily. Ben bought him a 3,000-piece Lego Star Wars set which he worked on every day in my hospital room. One afternoon, midway through building his spaceship, Caleb took six rectangular Lego pieces and made three crosses. That image of Caleb presenting me those crosses is etched in my memory.

After I was discharged from hospital, I continued to ask the Lord to heal me. When Caleb saw me praying, he said, “I want to pray for you.” His gesture touched me, and I cried.

On my first night home from hospital, Caleb came to my bedside and sang me a worship song—the only time he did so during my recuperation period: “When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with you above the storm. Father, you are King over the flood. I will be still and know you are God.”

The next morning, a lady who had been praying for me messaged me. She said that she had just sung a worship song in church and the song was also meant for me. I clicked on the link she sent and was surprised to hear the same song that Caleb had sung to me the night before. I knew then, very clearly, that my child is sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The coincidence, or more appropriately, God-incidence, comforted me as I was waiting for the doctor’s lab report to confirm if I needed chemotherapy, which I dreaded.

Caleb’s many little actions throughout my breast cancer episode reminded me, time and again, not to underestimate how God can use our little ones to point to Him in amazing ways. Matthew 18:10 says: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in Heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

One of my most difficult episodes during this time was when my doctor confirmed that I had to undergo chemotherapy. Following my doctor’s advice, I went for a crew cut to lessen the sting of seeing all my hair fall out in clumps. Ben and Caleb accompanied me to the wig salon for my shave and wig-fitting, which cheered me up. When we reached home, Caleb said, “Mummy, you don’t need to wear your pretend hair at home.” His simple affirmation gave me the courage to leave my head uncovered at home. That the most comforting statement I needed to hear came from a child made an indelible mark on me.

In keeping with our decision to be truthful about my diagnosis, I notified Caleb’s kindergarten and requested the teachers’ help to watch him for any signs of emotional stress during this period. His teachers got his class to pray for me, which I appreciated.
Months later, I drove Caleb to kindergarten for the first time after my surgery. As Caleb got out of the car, he told the kindergarten staff, “My mummy is a botak head; she has no hair. But you cannot see because she covered it up.”

When I picked him up after kindergarten, I asked, “Caleb, how many people have you told that Mummy is a botak head?”

Without missing a beat, he quipped, “The auntie at the drop-off point … my teachers … oh, and my class.”

“That’s all?” I asked, amused.

“Yah, that’s all,” he said.

I was heartened that Caleb didn’t feel compelled to hide the truth about my situation. God is truth, so I want to root my child in the truth, and that starts with having a parent-child relationship that is built on truth.

 

Hear Me, O God! -100 Prayers for Mothers to Pray is published by Daily Bread Ministries. The book is not sold but given out, and you can contribute a love gift of any amount to Daily Bread Ministries. Email Joel at joel.li@odb.org .

 

I’m thrilled to be part of a team of 7 writers who collectively wrote 100 Prayers for Mothers to Pray – a prayer book published by Our Daily Bread Ministries to coincide with Mother’s Day tomorrow. I was also asked to write an essay sharing my parenting journey while coping with breast cancer.

I’ve written children’s books and personal essays but this is the first time that I am writing prayers. It was doubly meaningful because the editor matched the prayer writing to the age group of our children and hence, allocated us writers topics close to our hearts.

 

Prayer-Thankfulness

1 of 11 prayers that I wrote 

 

This is also my first time writing for Daily Bread Ministries and I am privileged to be in the company of writers who are all mothers serving in different mums’ and children’s ministries.

Thank you to super-editor Ruth Wan-Lau for inviting me on board this meaningful and heartfelt project.

Daily Bread Ministries (DBM) is not funded or endowed by any group or denomination. They do not put a price on their books as it is a ministry. But you can bless DBM Ministries with a love gift when you requests copies of books and other devotional resources from them. Check out www.ourdailybread.org/singapore for more information.

 

I was delighted to attend the opening weekend of my Bunny Finds The Right Stuff show, to find out that the shows have sold out!

I was doubly happy to have watched the theatre show with one of my favourite people Arlene, and her family. Arlene was my biggest cheerleader when I went through chemotherapy in 2016, sending all sorts of creative videos and messages to cheer me up. She’s also been an amazing supporter of my books and writing and a super-dear friend.

Bunny found the right stuff in knowing that he was deeply loved by his Maker and his floppiness wasn’t from lack, but from love and countless hugs. He also realized that the right stuff was the stuff of friendship.

Likewise, I rest in the knowledge that I am loved by my Maker and built up by the stuff of precious friendships.

BunnyShow2018 with Arlene

With the fabulous cast of Bunny Finds the Right Stuff theatre show

 

The book-to-stage adaptation of Bunny Finds the Right Stuff starts its show season from 4th May 2018! Previously staged in 2016, Esplanade is re-staging this show by popular demand.

Bunnyshow (edited)

Little Day Out is giving away 2 free tickets to the show (deadline for contest entry is this Sunday 15 April). Read Little Day Out’s review of the show and my book as well as details of the contest here.

Thank you Little Day Out for your lovely review! I was a ‘hoppy’ happy camper reading it :).

 

Salt quote p3 edited

Salt & Light recently asked me the question, “What does the finished work of the Cross mean to you?”

This question gave me pause to reflect on my personal response in the lead up to Easter week.

Read the full article here.

 

 

 

 

On this Good Friday, I want to pause to thank God for:

— the small voice that prompted me to do a breast self-examination two years ago, leading me to discover a pebble in my left breast

— the review with my breast surgeon this Good Friday week where the scan showed that my reconstructed left breast is all clean, my right breast is also now free of cysts and lumps, and I have cleared the 2-year critical window where recurrence is highest

— family and friends who prayed for me through this time

— Jesus, my Saviour and Healer, who died on the Cross for my sins and sickness so I am made right before God

The diseased left breast that clouded my heart has been cut out and made new. A strengthened breastplate of righteousness covers my heart. My right breast has also been wiped clean.

On this Good Friday, I thank God that the old is gone and the new has come. I am a new creation. My Saviour died so that I can live, scrubbed clean, with a clean breast and a lighter heart.

 

good-friday-images-017

source: techavy.com

 

 

 

 

For 5 Saturdays over January and early February this year, I ran a memoir essay writing workshop at Central Library, organised by National Library Board. After Finding My Voice with my own memoir and several recent personal narrative essays, I was happy to guide aspiring writers to write that burning story in their hearts.

I took 17 participants through the process of developing the one-important story that they wanted to craft, and then guided them in shaping their personal essays. As many wrote their stories of their personal journeys for the first time, I was privileged to have been privy to very deep sharing by participants over the weeks of the workshops. Many wrote about their families and others about significant life-changing moments.

It’s been an intensive few weeks for me as I discovered that I am an OCD editor who nudges willing newbie writers repeatedly in courting the write relationship with their readers. We wrapped up the final workshop session with everyone reaching the finish line this last Saturday, just in time to switch gears for Chinese New Year celebrations!

MemoirWorkshoppic2