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Archive for the ‘God Knows Leh’ Category

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

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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

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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

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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

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This week, Mum would have turned 71 years old. When we had reunion dinner on the Chinese New Year’s Eve earlier this year, I did not know then that would be the last meal we would have as a family. She was warded into hospital on Chinese New Year and her homecoming three weeks later was in a casket.

It’s been six months since she passed on and left for a better home in Heaven.

For those of us still on earth, we have found our individual ways to face grief. For me, keeping mum is not the word.

Mum’s poetry-writing palliative doctor sent my family a very helpful book Caring for Yourselves and Others After Death which is published by the Singapore Hospice Council and I quote:

“Grief is a natural response to a loss we experience. The loss of a loved one can feel intensely painful for some. It is not something we try to get over, but rather, something we learn to manage and get through…”

What not to say?

“Messages such as “You need to be strong” and “It’s all in the past, let’s move on”, may lead to feelings of isolation and leave a family stuck between repeating old patterns and trying to do things differently.”

 

For me, I found a different rhythm in the past 6 months:

  1. Slowing things down

I did not make appointments with friends for about 3 months after Mum’s passing. I found it too tiring to socialize. Then I realized why.

In the three days of Mum’s wake services, I had at least 20 substantive conversations with friends who came by, not counting the short pleasantries with numerous friends and relatives who came to pay their last respects.

 

  1. Finding New Routines

Mum was the Marketing and Super-marketing Queen. After she passed on, Dad and I went to the wet market together at 6 am every Saturday. I did try to bargain for a later start so I could sleep in. But Dad said, “That’s the time your mum goes to the market.” So…that was the end of that conversation.

Just before Mum’s relapse, she and Dad walked at Botanic Gardens every day for about 3 months. Dad and I started walking there together several times a week.

 

  1. Creating Keepsakes

Since publishing is in my blood, I spent over 10 hours creating a photo book of Mum and Dad, and also incorporated pages of condolence notes from friends and relatives as well. I gave that to Dad for their wedding anniversary which came two months after Mum’s passing. He’s now asking me for an updated edition to commemorate the one-year anniversary of her passing early next year.

  1. Shaving Clean to move ahead

Dad shaved his hair for Children Cancer Foundation’s signature fundraiser Hair for Hope to support cancer patients and also remember Mum who passed on from cancer. God knows Mum takes pride in her appearance. She was blessed to be on the right side of the 50% probability of hardly any hair-loss from chemotherapy and had a full head of hair on passing. And she had her hair, nails and eyebrows done just before Chinese New Year, during which time she was warded. She looked her best even in her final days.

 

SingaporeHospicebookjpg

“It is important we see grief as a changing process over time and not a one-time event. Because it is an individualised journey, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of grieving.”

You can download E-book copies of Caring for Yourself and Others After a Death and When a Death Occurs — A Guide to Practical Matters.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalms 23:76

 

Related Posts:

God Knows Leh #30- In Sickness & in Health; In Bubbles & in Poem

God Knows Leh #31 – Cruising Memory Lanes, Making Bald Statements

 

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This weekend (past) marked exactly five months since my mum passed away from cancer. It was also Children’s Cancer Foundation’s signature fundraising event Hair for Hope, held at Vivocity.

HFH2019 pic2

Dad & Christopher queueing for the shave

Yesterday, Dad shaved his hair in memory of Mum.

Our godson Christopher shaved for his 4th consecutive year. Christopher shaved for the first time in 2016, together with the rest of my Botak Brigade, in support of me when I was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Since then, he has been convicted to shave annually to raise funds for children with cancer.

HFH2019 pic1

With my family and God-family

It was a trip down two memory lanes as we remembered Mum and my own botak phase in 2016. And it was a meaningful way to support other families facing cancer. To borrow the well-worn phase, it’s best when “you never walk alone.”

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”

                                                                                         Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

If you would like to support our bald statements for Children’s Cancer Foundation, click on these links:

Dad’s Shave for Hair for Hope 2019

Christopher’s Shave for Hair for Hope

HFH2019 pic3

With bestie Gail at the end of the queue

Related Links:

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

God Knows Leh #7: 8 Bald Statements make Hope Building Headlines

God Knows Leh #6 – My Botak Brigade’s raised over $32,000 for CCF!

 

 

Related Links:

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This weekend marks my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Two months ago, death parted them…temporarily. One day, we will be reunited with our loved ones again because Christ has paved the way for our eternity in Heaven.

Engagement Photo

When my parents were 50 years younger

I thought I knew my parents well. But it took Mum’s palliative doctor to show me the poem-inspiring depth of their devotion to each other, and with that, an updated blueprint for my own marriage.

When Dr Jamie Zhou first visited Mum in her hospital room (Mum was in her final two weeks of her life), she walked in and noticed that Dad and Mum were both cocooned in two separate sadness bubbles. Both were trying to put on a brave front and kept their deepest thoughts private to protect the other from what was to come.

Jamie sat next to Mum and shared with her that there are three kinds of tears:

  • ‘Onion’ tears – the type you cry as a bodily reaction to an outside irritant like onions
  • Basal tears – the type that lubricate and protect your eyes
  • Emotional tears – the only type of tears that help the body get rid of chemicals that raise cortisol, the stress hormone (ie. these tears detox the body)

Jamie hugged Mum and encouraged her to cry it out. And for the first time, Mum wept in front of Dad. Dad walked to the window and turned away to cry quietly to himself.  Jamie’s palliative team was moved to tears and cried too. And everyone stayed that way for some time.

Finally, Jamie called Dad over to Mum’s hospital bed. She got him to put his arm around Mum, in the same way that she had done. When Jamie stepped back, she saw that the silhouette of my parents’ embrace was in the outline of a heart.

The two sadness bubbles had merged into a heart-shaped bubble.

Dad and Mum wept together openly for the first time. And they finally verbalized their sorrow and fears with each other.

That scene was etched in Jamie’s memory as one of the most poignant moments that she’s experienced with her patients. Jamie, who has now become a dear friend, shared with me that she wished that she had photographed that moment. She didn’t have the chance. But she was moved to write a poem about that day.

 

I am looking at

her invisible tears.

I know that face.

The face that hides

fear and sadness:

The fear of burden,

the sadness of

separation. 

 

I am looking at

his back.

I can see the jerky movement

of his shoulders.

The silent sob

reverberating in his own bubble.

As if the immense pain,

desperation and helplessness

Is not shared between them.

 

I encourage her to cry it out.

I know she needs it.

I encourage him to turn around,

and take over the embrace.

I know she needs it.

 

And as I witness

the shared suffering,

and how the suffering

turns to support,

I wonder if I too

am her,

keeping fear and sadness inside,

for there is a sense of security 

in dealing with it,

without burdening another.

 

They exchange vows of love,

I gently fade away…

 

Poem by Dr Jamie Zhou

 

Related Links:

Cry it Out! 6 surprising benefits of tears

Why Do We Cry 3 Different Types of Tears and Their Physiology

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