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Archive for the ‘Thank God Friday’ Category

This weekend is US-based NSDA’s Walk for Talk 2021. I participated remotely from Singapore. I walked around my neighbourhood alone, as my symbolic walk for Spasmodic Dysphonia, a rare neurological voice order that had brought me down many lonely paths which I had to walk alone. I’m grateful that one of those lonely roads led me to NSDA, the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association. Through NSDA’s website, I found a community of people struggling with SD who were positive, encouraging and good listening ears as we shared our experiences on the NSDA bulletin board. Many SD sufferers go through years of being misheard, misunderstood and misdiagnosed. NSDA has worked hard to address this, working with the medical community for treatments and increasing awareness of this strange voice condition.

As the NSDA contact person in Singapore, I’ve communicated with a few young ladies grappling with this disorder, and been reminded of how crippling it can be to not be heard. So, here’s a shout-out to NSDA’s good work and the volunteers keeping it going. And I should add that I found God on one of those paths and was gifted with a new voice in writing and many new precious friendships since!

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Okay, this is my corny attempt to pun on a well-known movie from a long time ago. But the past two weeks has truly seen several reasons for celebrations.

I thank God for:

  1. Celebration of a bestie’s birthday

Last Wednesday, I had a catch-up with besties Gail and Jing Siew from Uni when we celebrated Jing Siew’s birthday over breakfast. Can’t believe how time flies and that we have known each other for over 3 decades through every birth, passing and other highs and lows. Thank God for over 30 years of friendship and counting!

2. Celebration of bosom buddy’s birthday

Over the weekend, I celebrated another bosom buddy’s birthday. I’ve known these girls since Primary school (a few since Primary 1). I shan’t count how many years that is…gulp! I’m thankful for this year of #50 Wonderful Birthdays, even as we constantly pivot birthday plans back and forth with the changing Covid restrictions. This was a One-derful meal out.

3. Celebration of my dad’s 77th birthday

During 2020, I wanted to change the conversation away from everything Covid-related. So, I started interviewing my dad on his life stories, systematically from his childhood till my mum’s passing. After many rounds of drafts and editing, I was thrilled to wrap it up in time to publish My Life, My Stories in good time for my dad’s 77th birthday. He looked at the book and said that it is his best birthday present. (More on the stories in the next post.)

I thank God for publisher friends who kindly offered up help for the critical last mile of book design and layout, and the printing of this very small print run for family and family friends.

4. Celebrating Singapore’s 56th birthday

Our National Day Parade was postponed from 9th August to 21 August, in line with Singapore’s reopening to our ‘new normal’. Caleb and I watched the NDP hybrid show on TV. We sang our hearts out with the performers and cheered through the parade highlights. I felt uplifted watching the animated storytelling of true stories of overcomers from our pioneer generation. And I thank God for our collective unity through this crisis of our generation.

5. Sew Sow Good Start

This week, we had our kick-off (or should I say sew-off) for our new fundraising product line. Last year, when Covid happened, I found it hard to write-as-usual and formed a collaborative with a mum-and-daughter team of creatives. Together with more friends, we fundraised for Child at Street 11, a non-profit childcare centre for children from low-income families. With Covid still raging on this year, we decided to to do a round 2 of fundraising for Street 11.

I’m thankful for new friendships forged with these ladies whom I only got to know last year when we decided to proceed with our Sew Sow Good Stuff SG initiative! (The rest of them knew each other…haha).

And the numeral for me? Oneness.

“Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace” – Ephesians 4:3

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Today is Thank God Friday…on the other side of the world!

A day late but no less thankful for:

  1. Singapore’s 56th birthday

It was a quiet National Day on 9th August. Due to Covid19 restrictions, our annual big National Day parade has been postponed to 21st August, in step with the gradual loosening of measures.

Caleb and I did however have our little National Day songs sing-along, as we listened and sang National Day songs of past to present for over an hour. We agreed that this year’s National Day Parade 2021 song is definitely one of our favourites.

2. Poetic Friendship

Over a month back, I had scheduled brunch with my very dear friend Jamie for 10th August as she’s on leave this week. I was about to reschedule because dining-in was not then permitted as part of our Phase 2 Heightened Alert measures for a month or so. But as timing would have it, dining-in reopened on 10th August, the day after National Day.

I turned up in red and coincidentally and matchingly, my poetry-writing palliative doctor friend turned up in white. And our dining backdrop was red and white. So, we had our “We are Singapore” photo op. over our little National Day brunch.

I got to know Jamie two years ago, and only two weeks before my mum’s passing. She was the amazing palliative doctor who went over and beyond for our family. When she read me the poem that she wrote about her encounter with my parents in my mum’s last days, our faith-filled friendship was poetically sealed.

So yes, she read me new poetry over brunch and I shared my writing updates. And as with every conversation which we’ve had, we delved into issues of life and death. I’m thankful for this dearest, poetically spiritual sister.

3. Stepping out with my son

As it was a holiday for the primary school kids (except the P6 kids having exams), I spent half a day out yesterday out with Caleb, getting a few things done. It’s been a while since we have done that as mum and son. After a full week in school masked-up since the start of Covid19, he’s not been keen to follow me out on my errands-run. And I’ve also found it more practical to not bring him along as we flowed in and out of Heightened Alerts.

I’m thankful for our leisurely meal and conversation at Botanic Gardens, followed by a short walk around the park. It brought back memories of pre-Covid days. And a reminder that we need to be so much more deliberate, less hurried, and thankful about our daily living.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority—so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.…1 Timothy 2:1-2

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Today is Thank God Friday and I want to thank God for:

  1. Singapore

Singapore has tightened restrictions in our hospitals for this period. From today till the end of Phase 2 Heightened Alert on 18 August, visitors are not permitted in hospital wards, with exceptions for critically ill patients and those who need caregiver support. It’s a needed measure for the welfare of the patients and healthcare workers who are at the forefront of this prolonged Covid battle.

Today, Straits Times reported that our vaccination rate in Singapore has reached 74% (with 60% fully vaccinated with 2 shots). Most hearteningly, in Washington’s “fact-tank” Pew Research Centre’s survey of 17 advanced economies, Singapore ranked top, with 86% saying that our country is more united than before the Covid19 outbreak.

I thank God for the unity and community-mindedness that we share as a nation as we soldier through this pandemic.

2. Sew Sow Good Months

During Singapore’s Circuit Breaker (ie. semi-lockdown) last year, I found it hard to write as-usual and wanted to play a part for those in our midst who are having harder times in this climate.

Out of that came Sew Sow Good Stuff SG, a collaborative fundraising effort with a few creatives.

Yesterday, artisan and sewing pro Chiao Lin and I went to People’s Park to buy fabric for new stuff toys that we will be making for Round 2 of our fundraising this year. We will again support Child at Street 11, a non-profit childcare centre for children from low-income families.

I’m thankful for this opportunity and look forward to the weeks ahead of sewing and fellowshipping as we create new products for this year’s fundraiser sales. Chiao Lin’s daughter Daryl – our resident artist – will have to head back to UK to complete her university studies soon. But she’ll finish up our illustrations from there.

3. Walk in the Park

My routine has been largely split between childcare, supermarketing, writing and taking my dad for medical appointments. But I’ve also stepped up my morning walks to work off all this Covid carbo-overload.

I’m thankful that I can walk in the beautiful and uncrowded expanse of our Botanic Gardens. And I couldn’t help photographing these eye-catching signages that have recently popped up all over Botanics. Even our local animals have been roped in to extol Covid19 safety measures. It’s a sign of the times.

We have little control over as this Delta variant that is fast spreading virulently across our world. But I can find refuge in the One who has control over our very ill world.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.   Psalm 46:1

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Today is Thank God Friday.

It’s been quite two weeks for Singapore, with the sad tragedy at River Valley High School and Singapore returning to Phase 2 Heightened Alert due to the big Jurong Fishery Port Covid cluster.

Amidst this Heightened Alert climate, there is still much to be thankful for:

  1. Thank God for our Teachers and Educators

I’m grateful for our teachers and educators who have been holding fort in our schools for our children through these uncertain times.

Caleb’s school was one of several schools which had a student tested positive with Covid-19 in the past two weeks. As a result, the school switched to home-based learning for one day so they could do deep cleaning.

I can only imagine the stress levels of teachers who have had to switch from teaching in-person to preparing materials for teaching online at a day’s notice. With the recent tragedy at River Valley High School, it adds even more stressors on educators who also now need to do more to look out for students’ mental health.

I really hope that additional counsellors will be provided not only for students, but for our teachers navigating through this stressful ‘new-normal’ in school.

L: With Pauline in Dec 2019 at a Creatives’ event, R: With Hwee & Arlene today

2. Thank God for Girlfriends

I’ve reduced my social circles to a very teeny bubble through this Heightened Alert period, given Singapore’s current no-dining-out rule and two visitors per household per day limit.

But every girl needs her girlfriends through these safe-distancing times, be it ranting on WhatsApp chat groups or face-to-face.

This past week, I’m thankful for precious conversations with girlfriends. From catching up with writing buddy Pauline over breakfast last Friday to Hwee and I celebrating Arlene’s birthday today.

These girlfriend doses are such good boosters which pump me up for the next week of parenting, supermarketing and writing through this Stay-Home period.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour. If either of them falls, one can help the other up.Eccelesiastes 4:9-10

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Today is Thank God Friday (on the other side of the world…LOL).

I want to thank God for:

1. Father’s Day

Our family was able to gather at home to celebrate Father’s Day last weekend with Singapore entering Phase 3 Heightened Alert from 14 June, allowing up to 5 household visitors. We celebrated three fathers – my dad, my brother and Ben – over a simple meal of Yong Tao Fu, ngor hiang and chicken wings.

2. Munia Family ends Stay-Home-Notice

I got to see the two Munia chicks on 13 June. They had grown and clearly passed flight school. I sat with them for quite long and I’m glad I did. Because, right on timing, when Singapore entered Phase 3 the next day, the Munia family flew the coop!

3. Wholly Fellowship

We have been permitted to have two household visitors per day for the past month up until 13 June. Since it’s about observing the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law, I kept my entire month socials-free except for two occasions – a friend’s 50th birthday and another friend who needed a listening ear.

This week, Singapore opened up outdoor dining for two persons per table. I’ve been in no rush to eat out but I realised that I did miss seeing friends.

So, it’s been wholly a week of fellowships with school friends and college friends. And I took Caleb out for one meal (yes, it was Din Tai Fung) before school reopens next week.

In this pandemic period, as Covid-19 continues to rage and mutate around the world, I want to remember and give thanks to the One who is in control of all things in our world.

Ps 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

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Today is Thank God Friday and there is much to give thanks for:

  1. Singapore’s exit from Phase 2 into Phase 3 (Covid Heightened Alert)

After one month of Phase 2 Heightened Alert measures, Singapore is gradually loosening some measures as we move into Phase 3 this weekend. With our community cooperating on Covid-19 measures through the past month, the virus spread has slowed.

I’m thankful for our leadership’s Covid-19 measures and our healthcare workers and front-liners who are working really hard to keep our country safe.

2. Munia Family’s Stay-Home Notice

During Circuit Breaker last year (Singapore’s version of a lockdown), a pair of bulbuls set up nest in our potted plant. Caleb and I spent many mornings and afternoons following the birth of baby bird. We had empty nest syndrome when baby bird took flight with its parents and never returned.

This Phase 2 Heightened Measures stay-home period saw another feathered family set up nest in our potted plants again. This time, it’s the tiny white-headed Munia.  Typically found in our nature reserves, this pair decided to take up residence with us.

They have a closed-up nest construction so I’ve not been able to see the eggs or the birth of baby bird. But this week, I was fortunate enough to see the Munias take baby bird on flight orientation class. They flew one round and then baby bird landed on the ground, looking winded and flat out. After 30 minutes or so, it disappeared, presumably back into their nest nearby.

Watching them chirping in my verandah daily has been such a delight to see in the mornings and evenings as they go through their own Stay-Home-Notice period till baby bird graduates from flight school.

3) Sew Sow Good Stuff SG…again!

Last year after Circuit Breaker, I started a collaboration with Chiao Lin and her daughter Daryl with our Sew Sow Good Stuff SG fundraising initiative for Child at Street 11.

Things seem to be taking a parallel track to last year. As timing would have it, Sew Sow Good Stuff SG’s next fundraising work will kick off as Singapore moves out of Phase 2 into Phase 3. We’re just set up to start development of a new giftset!

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Today is Thank God Friday.

Everything Covid-related in the newspapers is depressing to read.

So, I look closer to home for things to be thankful for:

  1. Stay-Home Carbo-Overload

I’m thankful that we have supermarkets and hawker centres/coffeeshops all nearby for buying essentials and satisfying food cravings.

I’m an introverted homebody, so personally I quite enjoy staying at home. My only ‘complaint’ (which has to do with my own lack of self-control) is that my past week has seen a repeat of my carbo-overload from last year’s Circuit-Breaker, where the whole of Singapore had to stay home, except for trips out to buy essentials.

This week alone, I piled on a whole load of carbo-meals:

Laksa. Chicken Curry. Macaroni Bolognaise (one of Caleb’s favourites, so I ate with him…or so I say.) Nasi Lemak. Ba Chor Mee. Mee Siam (today).

I hope to exercise more food discipline next week. That said, I had a delicious food week.

Me could not siam Mee Siam today when I went out for my supermarket run

2. Home-based Learning

I’m thankful for all the hard work that our educators have put in to pivot classes online since last week.

I know home-based learning has been a pain to families where both parents work from home and have multiple kids to juggle with this on-line learning.

I personally quite liked it.

Yes, it was laggy (since the whole of Singapore was logging in).

Yes, I had to remind Caleb repeatedly to get back to school work (because with every lag, he went off to read comics or watch TV).

But it’s the last week before school holidays and we all got to sleep in since I didn’t need to send him to school.

3. Our Healthcare Workers & Frontliners

Ben and I got our 2nd vaccine jab last week as Singapore’s Vacci-Nation continues.

Even my domestic helper has also gotten her 1st vaccine shot.

I’m grateful for how our leadership and everyone involved in this mammoth exercise, from the healthcare providers to front-liners have provided such a seamless vaccination process.

We went with Moderna because that was the vaccine offered at the community centre nearest to our home. The medical team was polite, efficient and I had a young chatty nurse who was intrigued by my Spasmodic Dysphonia voice. I told her that the botox injections that I used to have to my neck were administered with a needle easily 4-5 times larger than the vaccine needle that she was jabbing me with. So no, it didn’t hurt one bit.

And we left with door gifts of a bottle of sanitiser and a box of masks. Singapore-style.

And I continue to pray for our nation and our neighbours through this Covid season.

I urge, then, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them. Pray in this way for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives, marked by godliness and dignity. -1 Timothy 2:1-5

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Today is Thank God Friday.

Singapore goes from Phase 3 back to Phase 2 in a tightening of pandemic safety measures this weekend, a result of a growing cluster of Covid19 infections at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). This is a cautious step back, but not like the two-month Circuit-Breaker measures last year which saw schools and workplaces shut.

Directly and indirectly due to this, I’ve cancelled four out of five socials over these two weeks:

  • We cancelled last Saturday’s dinner because the host had been to TTSH specialist clinic (not the infected ward). As the other dinner guest is a doctor at another public hospital, we decided to minimise co-mingling at this stage.
  • We cancelled this coming Saturday’s dinner because this 2nd friend cum host is on home quarantine. She had been to one of the TTSH wards to visit a dying relative. Now, she and her clan of 20 are all in quarantine.
  • We also decided to cancel our fellowship gathering this week and fellowship girls’ night out next week. A 3rd  friend, was also at TTSH last week. Though not under quarantine, she has decided to put herself on voluntary Stay Home Notice for two weeks. Another friend’s team of social workers were at TTSH for work, so she’s all hands on deck at work and can’t make this dinner.
  • The only social that I’ve kept is for a friend’s upcoming birthday celebration. That has now gone from 8 guests down to 5 guests, in keeping with the rule of 5 under tightened safety measures.

Yet, in the midst of this, there is a lot to be thankful for even as we scale back on our socials:

  1. Singapore

We have been very blessed to be able to stay relatively safe. I hope we will continue to keep our guard up and each other safe by staying vigilant with our masking, handwashing and safe-distancing, as well as keeping to smaller social bubbles at this time.

Caleb is going through exams these couple of weeks. He asked me if Covid19 would still be around when he reaches the major primary school leaving exam (PSLE) in two years’ time.  

I told him I don’t know… and we’ll know when we get there.

2. Our Leadership and Healthcare workers

I thank God that our leaders have moved quickly to contain this new wave of infections through tightened measures and for our healthcare workers, who have been working hard at the forefront of keeping Singapore safe for over a year now.

3. Friends

I’ve been able to catch up with a couple of friends here and there in the past few weeks. Such fellowship is strengthening and brings us closer even as we live through this season with a whole new vocabulary which reminds us to safe-distance.

Marky Polo travelled for food fellowship a few weeks back

And as I thank God this Friday, I remind myself to pray for our city and our neighbouring cities.

Seek peace and well-being for the city…, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace.’ – Jeremiah 29:7

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It’s been full-on the past two months, but I have to pause to thank God this Friday, for many reasons:

  1. Thank God for our Healthcare Workers & Clean Breast

I’ve been in and out of hospital the past two months, accompanying a loved one for medical appointments and all. I thank God for all the amazing doctors and nurses who have rendered much assistance and assurances along the way.

Amidst all this, I forgot my own medical review with my cancer surgeon, which I went for today. My beautiful surgeon told me that she’s pleased that I have a very clean breast, and did I realise that I’ve just crossed the 5-year window on remission?

I told dearest Esther we had a take a photo today to mark the crossing of this 5-year window.

I also had to take a photo with dearest Jamie three weeks back to mark the moment when she dropped by the hospital waiting area to pray with me and keep me company when I was accompanying a loved one to hospital.

2.  Thank God for Bosom Buddies

I’ve been gradually catching up with friends over the past few months, from birthday celebrations to small catch-ups with friends I’ve known for over 30 years and more. With the pandemic going on and fewer catch-ups the past year, each gathering has been precious and a reminder that relationships are best strengthened when you can see each other.

3. Thank God for Book Buddies

I’ve had the joy of seeing two books launched over the past two months. Given the current climate, the launches have all been done through social media. But the meet-ups with dear, dear friends and book buddies, and with my publisher and illustrator still works best face-to-face.

Had laughter therapy this morning with Hwee and Arlene, the biggest cheerleaders for my books.

And last week, I went to my new publisher’s office for the first time since we started working together 3rd quarter of last year!

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 9:1

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