I usually take a long break from work during the last week of every year but more often than not, I almost always have to come back to work for a day or half a day to cater to others' schedules and requirements.
The most memorable one was when I received a call from the firm's partner to go back to work on the last day of the year. I remember receiving the call when I was happily buying books in Pustaka Sufes. I readily agreed and ended up attending a meeting with a client on 31 December of that year.
This time, I came back to work midway through my break today for a meeting with a head of division. No one in my team is available to attend to it and so I had to. The amusing thing was that the meeting, albeit important, was only 15 minutes. But then again, that is what I call a good meeting - quick, effective and decisive.
My good friend Ee-Tan and I had a good time of catching up during lunch today. We were at Farm to Plate in Damansara Kim. Food there is excellent, but more importantly, the tête-à-tête with my good friend was great and timely.
I just started attending CDPC Puchong about 5 months ago, and I am beginning to get to know the people there. I took the opportunity to join in the small caroling team of 15. We went caroling today at Pangsapuri Enggang in Puchong to spread the good news and love of Christmas. It was wonderful to be able to bring the songs of the birth of Jesus, the message of the love of God and prayers for the people.
The Christmas message this morning by Rev Wong Fong Yang centers on the salvation that comes from Jesus.
Reading from Matthew 2:1-12 on the visit of the magi after the birth of Jesus, the magi had told Herod, the king of the Jews, of Him who has been born King of the Jews. Herod was troubled and wanted to know where this king will be so that he can get rid of him. He brought together all the chief priests and scribes and asked about him. These leaders were well versed in Scripture and were quoting from Micah 5:2 about a ruler who will come forth from Bethlehem. The magi then went searching for the king and found him in Bethlehem. They worshipped him and then departed away from Herod after being warned by God not to return.
An important lesson to learn this Christmas is this: are we indifferent about Christmas like the Jewish leaders, that even though they knew Scriptures, they were apathetic? If our hearts are not moved, if we don't look at Jesus to transform and change our lives, Christmas will just pass us by, not affecting any parts of us at all.
Or are we hostile, like Herod, afraid that this King will overtake our lives that we kill the message, letting it not affect us?
Or are we searching like the magi for the King of the world, to bow down and worship Him, with gold for the King of kings, frankincense for the Lord of lords and myrrh for the sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sin of the world?
I am not that very active in Facebook except to post my daily blog entry in there and once in awhile to check out on what my friends are up.
But this one thing became one of the most fun thing I did on Facebook: being a llama for one day.
Doug Joseph put up a challenge that anyone who gives a wrong answer will have to post a picture of a llama in their Facebook profile for a day. I took a look at the riddle and thought, hey I know this.
But too bad, it was not the correct answer and had to put up a llama profile picture. I used the same
llama picture Dous used, which looked kind of dorky. I didn't mind, because I should have thought a little bit more before answering.
A few of my other friends took the challenge and got caught as well, and accompanied me as a llama for a day. Just that these two good friends of mine, both sisters, Rose and Allie, used really awesome looking llamas.
Isn't this the coolest looking llama with an awesome hairstyle?
And Allie drew her own: a sweet and docile looking one:
It was definitely quite a fun day llama-ing along.
I inadvertently took part in a chain mail-like event, except that it has to do with books. It says:
"Wanted: Participants for a book-loving social experiment...Buy your favourite book and send it to a stranger. You will only send one book to one person. The number of books you will receive depends on how many participants there are."
What attracted me to it was "book-loving social experiment", note the word "experiment" and "favourite book".
So I signed on and wondered how this "experiment" would work and how the results will be tabulated and I thought that the sending of your favourite book adds a nice touch to it.
When I received the instructions, it did not first occur to me that this is nothing other than a book exchange chain mail. But it did dawn on me that this sounds very pyramidal - that it will only work for you if you are early in the game.
I thought more about it and felt that since it does not meet the initial reason why I would take part in it, I made up my mind that I would not be participating in this. And so I opted out.
My hubby played a tune this morning and asked me if Bach wrote it. I listened a little more intently and said no, Bach would have written a more complicated piece than that, and asked him who composed it instead.
An artificial intelligence, he said, which I am not at all surprised because my husband is really into that topic these days. He is a quiet man but if you get him to talk to you about this topic, you will never hear the end of it.
He then played me a series of 10 tunes, all with the same sound and almost the same tune, but with slight differences. He asked me one by one if the pieces were composed by Bach or the AI. I played along, I listened and gave my answers. In the end, I actually scored 8 out of 10 and my hubby was so impressed with me, which I must say is a rare thing. I am not sure how I did it. I just listened and somehow could tell which is Bach and which is the AI, except for two.
According to the article, "to test if their AI composer could pass for Bach, researchers tested 1,272 people with varying expertise in classical music, giving them examples of Bach’s arrangements and the AI’s. More than 75% of the listeners taking the test were classical music enthusiasts or studied the type of music. The Sony team found that 50% of listeners couldn’t tell the two apart, and the more complex the music sounded, the more often people thought it was composed by Bach."
I have not had time to do any Christmas shopping lately with all the choir practices I need to go to and the Christmas events over the weekends and so I went with my son to Sunway Pyramid after work yesterday to get some stuff I needed.
And since I have not brought my son for dinner of his choice in quite awhile, I let him decide. We ended up in TGIF. I don't really like the food there but thought the Sizzling Chicken and Cheese would be nice.
After ordering it, I wanted to log it into my calorie-counting app and lo and behold, it says that the meal is a horrendous 1150 calories! I was like, are you kidding me. It is 50 calories shy of my daily quota.
I decided to just consume half and had the balance packed for takeaway.
I cannot imagine the times I was there in TGIF consuming all its high calorie content meals. Don't think I'm ever going to eat there again.
I am in total agreement with the article and the paper. We are so busy these days we forgot to take time to think and mull, or as the paper suggests, to do nothing. I love doing nothing and being lazy but I feel so guilty about it.
I want to just sit and stare into space and let my mind wander but I worry I will be labeled as useless, lazy and with nothing to do, and therefore I do not deserve to be where I am.
However, the article suggests that it pays to be lazy and bored, to do nothing and just be.
I really, really like what the writer says in the paper. Take a read and tell me what you think.
I was just commenting to my hubby that we Malaysians are quite blessed in the sense that we are exposed to different languages from young and most of us, if not all, are multilingual or at least bilingual.
This may not seem much to us but it is in fact something good. Most people I suppose are only familiar with one language, or two at most.
And I would say that the one good thing that came out from the British colonisation of our country is the wide usage of the English language, of what I see is one of the most coveted language to acquire for Asians in particular.
Just check out this story I read a few days ago where parents of South Korean children would vie for the 30 limited spots available to learn English from American soldiers and United Nations officials in a school located in "scariest place on earth", in the Korean peninsula's Demilitarized Zone.
I also happened upon this YouTube video which I find quite entertaining.
I have used this MyFitnessPal app as far back as 2011 but stopped after awhile. A few months ago, I commented to my hubby that I must reduce the portions of food I eat and he said it will better to count the calories I take per day. I was reminded of this app and started using it since Oct and have lost 4 kg or about 9 lb so far.
As such, I fully recommend this to anyone who would like to lose some pounds.
Here's a good review of the app from Apple, scoring a 4.8 out of 5. And I can see that from the last time I used it, it was since bought over by Under Armour.
I got interested in the word "amuse" today. It was mentioned in the sermon this morning.
The speaker wanted to highlight that one of the biggest distractions of our time is entertainment, that we all just want to be amused and be entertained, and as a result removing us from the more important things in life.
He then said that the word "amuse" consist of two parts: (1) the prefix a- meaning without and (2) muse meaning to think, in that when we amuse ourselves, we are not thinking.
However, the prefix a- meaning "without" originated from Greek, and muse, "to think" from Middle French, Middle English and Medieval Latin. And so there is no way that amuse would mean "without thinking" or "without thought" to take the speaker's point of not succumbing to amusement and entertainment.
The word amuse originated from Middle French with two parts to the word: (1) the prefix a- to expressing causal effect and (1) muser meaning to stare stupidly.
And this does point to the same message of the consequence of us spending too much time staring at the idiot box.
My Advent devotion today is still on the Magnificat, but Bryan Wilkerson's lesson was that the Magnificat is not only a praise chorus but a protest song--so apt for us today as we face uncertainties both politically and economically, wherever we are.
Just look at these verses here in Luke 1:51-53 (NIV) in Mary's Magnificat:
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
Wilkerson says Christmas isn't only about peace and joy. It's about justice. It's about the lowly being lifted up, the hungry fed and the oppressed set free. The verbs in the verses all hold the aorist tense, signifying something that has already happened. We need not wait for it for it is already done in Christ.
When Jesus was born, he is the King of kings and Lord of lords. His kingdom is now established on earth and his government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven's Armies will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:7, NLT).
I was reading today's Advent devotion on Mary's Magnificat and thought I'd also find one to listen to. It so happened a few days ago I was looking for the best choral music ever written and was working on compiling a playlist. I found this in my list:
Arvo Pärt - Magnificat (King's Choir)
It is an amazing piece, and in accapella. Not only the words of Mary rings beautifully but Arvo Pärt has put up a wonderful piece of music. And I learnt a new word - tintinnabulation. It means a ringing or tinkling sound, like the sound of bells.
And apparently, tintinnabulation is the most important aspect of Pärt's Magnificat. According to Pärt's biographer and friend Paul Hillier, the Magnificat "displays the tintinnabuli technique at its most supple and refined."
Just listen to the voices ringing. Isn't is so lovely the way the voices are put together? Do you hear those clashing semitones? How does it make you feel?
Ever since I subscribed to Apple Music only 2 weeks ago, I am in musical bliss. It's so wonderful to be able to listen to anything I want to listen to. But the funny thing is, I had that when I was with Spotify Premium but I wasn't into it. I suppose I like the Apple Music interface better, and I'm having a better experience searching and listening to music I love.
Anyway, I found myself suddenly singing this one and only Cantonese song I know how to sing. A very sad song, but very lyrical and melodious. I went and search for it and found it in Apple Music. Now it's nicely sitting in my favourite songs playlist.
I attended William Chan's wake service this evening. He has gone home to the Lord on Saturday after a difficult fight with a rare form of cancer. I don't know him that well but from the eulogies and testimonies shared this evening, he had indeed fought a good fight and stayed faithful to the calling of the Lord till the end.
He was the Captain of the Boy's Brigade 18th Petaling Jaya Company and at the end of the service, the Last Post was performed. In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call that signifies the end of the day's activities. It is also sounded at military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his final rest. I never knew about it before and when it was played, I was so moved and touched by this very emotional and special moment of sending home a loved one to the Lord.
I am thankful to my God for today. For whatever reason, I found so much joy in him, so much so that I think I am getting a glimpse of what it would be like when I am with him, when I am home in heaven.
It is no coincident that today's sermon is from 1 Thess 4:13-18, the hope of resurrection. We have hope in the living God. "We will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words." (v. 17-18)
I know I am still addicted to Korean dramas however much I tell myself they are a waste of time. But I saw the Korean pop music playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. I was avoiding them but I nonchalantly went and checked them out today, and that was it -- I am hooked to it now.
I knew some of the drama male leads in my favourite dramas are singers as well, and I am surprised they are actually good. On the contrary, I have yet to find a drama female lead who sings well. The few that I tried listening to have quite poor vocal quality.
Here are three of my favourites:
Joo Won - If I Were (Good Doctor)
I fell in love with this song when I heard it in the Good Doctor, and that was an awesome scene. Joo Won plays an autistic savant who becomes a pediatric surgeon. Too bad this song is not available in Apple Music though it is in Spotify.
Kim Bum - I'm Going to Meet You Now (Boys Over Flowers)
I just could not stop listening to this one. I'm quite impressed with his vocals. The romanization and translation of the lyrics into English is found here.
Hyun Bin - That Man (Secret Garden)
The lyrics do not appeal that much to me, but it is after all my favourite drama and he really emotes the song very well.
I am doing a revision for the final module in our manager's development programme and I'm trying to get back into reading this book Games at Work, How to Recognise and Reduce Office Politics by Mauricio Goldstein and Philip Read.
Games at Work, How to Recognise and Reduce Office Politics
by Mauricio Goldstein and Philip Read
I have started reading it when I last bought it March this year but stopped halfway. Like when I was reading Eric Berne's Games People Play back in 2009, I found it hard to follow the descriptions of the games. You can see I am not a very structured person, and I need more effort to work structures out, to unpack them.
I wanted to also check out on this avoidance game that people play but I don't seem to find it in Berne's or Goldstein's book. I found this article useful though: Being Ignored as a Bullying Tactic.
Games are played in at different intensities and levels in our lives, be it personal, in a team, or in an organisation at large. Goldstein said that game playing is often a subconscious activity and it does the damage beneath the surface. We all need to reduce our games and become more authentic. A team that reduces games becomes more trusting and connected. An organization that reduces games becomes more believable, meaningful, attractive, creative, and productive.
But it is not easy. A lack of awareness of games played and the presence of an unhealthy culture would encourage people to play them consciously or unconsciously and this will certainly thwart the success of the business. It is worse still when it is played from the top.
But it starts with us, where we are: to be a leader who journeys from self to service...coping to character...from games to giving (Goldstein).
Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding with Love and Truth to Questions about Homosexuality
by Michael L. Brown, PhD
I had wanted to know more about the LGBT subject for awhile now. I missed a conference on it once before and so when I noticed this book, I quickly got a copy and dived in.
I did not know much about it, not about what their arguments were and how they justified and explained their lives in light of Scripture. The book presented it very well with every chapter beginning with a "gay Christian" argument followed by a biblical answer. Brown was fair in his treatment of the subject with grace and compassion.
He explained the biblical position of homosexuality through context and word study. And as much as the LGBT scholars try to read it positively into God's word, Brown has shown that "every single reference to homosexual practice in the ancient Jewish world is 100 percent negative—sometimes in the strongest of terms—and there is not a single positive reference to be found."
And I like the way he explained the creation of man and woman. I have never looked at it this way before: "The author of Genesis is explaining to us that because the woman was taken out of the man, the two are now joined back together as one in marital union, each one uniquely complementing the other." Then he quotes A.B. Simpson saying, "Man was created male and female. This does not mean, as it would seem at first from the language, that he created the male and the female at the same time, but He created male and female in one person. The woman was included in the man physically and psychically, and afterwards was taken out of the man and constituted in her own individuality," concluding that "only a man and a woman can be joined (rejoined!) together in this way."
This is a must-read book. You may or may not agree with him, but at least he presents both sides and faithfully explains the Bible as it is intended by the original writers as inspired by God. And most of all, he is firm in his stand that we are all broken people before God and we are all in need of God, as heterosexuals or homosexuals, in need of his grace, mercy, love and redemption.
Rediscovering Advent, A 30-Day Guide for Family and Individual Reflection
by Christianity Today
I was searching for some Advent devotional material to use for this season but I didn't really find anything good until I found this one yesterday. I read some excerpts from its preview here and decided to get a copy and spend time daily meditating on God's word in the following four weeks.
Today's reading was from Psalm 130:5-6 and Isaiah 9:6-7 with the perspective of viewing Isaiah's prophecy through Psalm's lens of longing and waiting.
Psalm 130:5-6 NIV
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Isaiah 9:6-7 NLT
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
This is one thing we have always been doing all our lives. We have always been waiting, whether in anticipation or in fear or in apathy, we have been waiting. As I have noted in yesterday's devotion that it is a gift to be thirsty, I think it is also a gift to be in waiting.
It is in waiting that we depend on God as we cling to him in weakness and trust. It is in waiting that we learn profound spiritual lessons which will be lost if we ever had the privilege of hindsight. It is in the experience of longing that we value what we will receive when it comes. It is in the longing that we know when to rejoice when it becomes a reality.
My whole being waits! The emphasis is seen in Psalm 130:6 where "more than watchmen wait for the morning" is mentioned twice. The Psalmist says it and then he says it again, hence we better pay attention. But why would the watchman watch for the morning? Isn't he suppose to watch over whatever he is watching, rather than the morning? The NIV Zondervan Study Bible states that the "watchmen know that the morning will come and provide relief from their burdensome task, but they still must wait for that relief. Likewise, the sinner can be confident that the Lord’s forgiveness will eventually come, but in God’s own timing."
My whole being waits. And it waits in anticipation for the fulfillment of the kingdom of God, and it will happen! We will see justice and goodness and fairness and peace. The Lord Almighty will surely make it happen.
It is the first day of Advent today. It is a season lasting four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord, both to celebrate his coming as Immanuel 2000 years ago but more so, the eager anticipation of the second coming of the Lord in glory, his parousia. It symbolizes the present situation of the church in these last days as we await his return to take his place in the eternal kingdom.1
With this, I meditate on Psalm 42:1-2 and 63:1-8 on this first day of Advent this year:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
How do I cultivate and dwell in this longing for God? We need to become the patient, expectant, thirsty people of God. We must, for longer than a moment, see the daily distress of living. Only in view of suffering will we learn to watch for the dawn—and thirst for its merciful rain. To be thirsty for God is in itself a gift.2
In times of contentment, I rarely feel that thirst. What I see as "blessings" of God can ironically be that which draws me away from him. I pray that I will thirst for him like a parched deer that pants for water. And in seeking him, I will be filled with that living water, and only in him will I find life in all I do, in all I am, in all that I find myself in.
I had a good day today. I spent the morning and afternoon with my hubby, song and mother-in-law and it was lovely. And then in the evening, though I had tired out, I attended my good friend, Ee-Tan's vocal recital debut. It was a small cost setup and it was nice. The repertoire chosen by both the singers were really good ones. And they did very well.
Ee-Tan and Alphonsus started the recital with a duet.
Ee-Tan told me that she has taken singing lesson for nine years. I wish I had the time and resources to do that too. She inspired me to reconsider going back to singing classes. The challenge though would be to get a good teacher.
She emotes well in all the songs she sang, both sad and even one playful one, which is most important in relaying the message and heart of the songs.
My Father, my God, my Lord. I feel so far away from you even though I know you are near. You are here. Your presence is with me. Yet I long for more closeness. I long to seek you every moment of my life and yet I know I don't all time. I desire to come near, to center my life in you, from you, through you. I need to put you first and seek you. You have told me that when I seek you I will find you when I search for you with all my heart. So here I am, Lord, coming to you, believing in you—despite my fears, doubts, and failures. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayer inspired by Jackie M. Johnson, Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times
I accidentally added this song into my playlist and I can't seem to undo it. (I'm still getting used to Apple Music.) So I just let it stay. I know I can click edit in the list to remove it but I didn't bother to.
Which was a good thing because I heard it on my commute back from work today and I loved it! I just found out that he released it only a month ago, on 21 October 2016.
A really good find.
I might as well add his entire Never Lose Sight album into my Apple Music and see if it's any good.
The Ringgit is weakening by the day and I still have a whole list of books from the Kindle holiday deals that I want to get. And so I thought I might as well just get these few before it gets worse.
Money, Greed and God, Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem
by Jay W. Richards
I have not read any books that looks at the economy, capitalism and the Christian faith before, and so I thought this will be a good start.
The Bible Tells Me So...Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It
by Peter Enns
I found out from Hank Hanegraaff's book The Creation Answer Book that Peter Enns is a theistic evolutionist, and so I thought since this book is on sale anyway, it would be good to hear what he has to say.
Parables, The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told
by John MacArthur
I have not read John MacArthur before and this would be a good book to find out more.
I have been using Spotify Premium to listen to music for a year now and it's great to have access to whatever music you feel like listening to at any time of the day.
However, the free premium service has come to an end after one year. I have just stopped the premium account and I was about to sign on to their family package when I realized that I should try out Apple Music first.
I have read some comparison reviews between the two and Spotify was recommended for a higher quality of sound and Apple Music if you use Siri a lot.
I don't think the sound quality would bother me much because I'm not that much of an audiophile. I'm good with it as long as I have access to the kind of music I want to listen to.
I feel that Siri might be a plus for me, since I usually listen when I'm driving and it would be safer to just tell Siri what to play.
Apple Music also offers a free three-month trial and I've just signed in. But I find that in terms of the user interface, Spotify is much better. It's easier to find music and create playlists in Spotify compared to Apple Music. I wanted to delete an album that Apple made me put into the iCloud, but even though I'm quite sure I just deleted the album, all the playlists I have created went missing as well. And I had to start all over again. What a bummer.
I'm giving Apple Music three months. If I can get used to it and if I can get a good experience out of it, I might continue with a paid subscription. If not, I'm going back to Spotify.
How do you know when you need to change your car battery? For me, it has always died on me, or exploded on me the last time I got it changed.
It happened again today and I was stuck outside a restaurant near my house. Oh no, it didn't explode this time. It just died. My son and I had dropped into the restaurant for a quick meal and when we were ready to leave, my car will not start.
I have shared here before that I did have problems starting my car, and I am now not sure if it is a starter or battery problem. On top of that, my hubby just informed me a week ago that AAM, the auto assist services that we have subscribed to, has wound up and we no longer have their services.
And there I was in the car, not sure of what to do. My hubby was with some foreign clients and was not able to attend to me at that time.
I then remembered that when I changed my car insurance provider, the agent did mention something about an auto assistance services that I can use. I quickly called him, got the number and arranged for a technician to come check the car.
Alas, it is the battery after all, which only lasted one year! I hope this new one will last longer.
But the next question is this: was the problem of getting my car started a battery problem in the first place and not the key lock cylinder?
I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;
These have always been my favourite verses, since school days. I still remember those late nights studying and being so tired. I would recite these verses and feel at peace with God knowing that His grace is sufficient for me.
I still love these words - they bring me peace to know that I can be alone with God and be safe.
That was me 10 years ago. I still feel the same today, 10 years later.
I have started reading this book and I like it. It is indeed an answer book. It poses multiple questions about creation and provides brief but succinct answers to them, complete with a book reference for each question if you need more.
There are too many questions to be included here but they fall under these main themes:
- Creation and First Things
- Creation and the Garden of Eden
- Creation and the Flood
- Creation and the Age Question
- Creation and the Problem of Evil
- Creation and Dinosaurs
- Creation and Evolution
- Creation and Re-creation
It is a recommended read and at the moment on sale at $4.99 in Amazon Kindle.
God is Red, The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China
by Liao Yiwu
I started reading this book a week ago and I finished it today.
Like I was saying, the book was translated by Wenguang Huang and he noted that the author, Liao Yiwu, is "one of the most prominent and outspoken contemporary writers in China today. His epic poem 'Massacre' composed in 1989 in condemnation of the government's bloody crackdown at Tiananmen Square, landed him in jail for four years." He has subsequently been researching the Falun Gong group, and was pursued and investigated by the government as well. He got interested in Christians in China as part of his wider project about people living at the margins of society in China today. He remains an unbeliever, which in a sense made the book quite an interesting read from an outsider's point of view but as Huang said, "the journeys brought him kinship with millions of Chinese Christians who are finding meaning in a tumultuous society."
It is indeed a very good read. The tone is conversational as Liao reconstructed his interviews with the people in dialogue form allowing us to hear them as they are.
It is also a painful read. I cannot imagine the atrocities, persecution and suffering that they went through. And what I am thankful for are the missionaries who were there with them before they were deported when the Cultural Revolution started. The missionaries certainly plowed and planted and harvested and is now still harvesting many believers in the Lord.
I have a list of songs I simply love listening to time and again. I have only realised recently how melancholic they are. And so I have started my Being Melancholic playlist in Spotify. It does not have many songs but these are the ones that sets me down to think and mull about life.
My hubby kept saying that I should watch Nashville since I like singing so much, and so I watched the pilot episode today. I would say the show is not too bad, but I feel in love with this song and with Clare Bowen.
It's a singing day for me today. I have our twice-weekly practice this evening to prepare for The Messiah by Handel to be sung this Christmas on Saturday, Dec 10th in KL Wesley. We are only doing Part 1 and if you are available, do come and join us as we share the Christmas good news.
I also auditioned to sing in the chorus of two Beethovan sacred music pieces with Yin Qi. It was tough. I had to sight sing seven pages of scores. I ended up sight singing because I only received the scores three days ago and did not have enough time to learn up the music. Nevertheless, I am thankful I passed the audition, even though I did not do so well.
I am quite glad though that my singing range has broadened over the years. My range is now from G3 to C6#. And I was told I can still go higher.
It will be a busy year of singing for me next year and I'm really looking forward to it.
I did not keep to my promise of fasting TV for one month. I only lasted for 4 days!
I got bored over the weekend and after spending Saturday finishing three books, I needed to do something else.
Yes, I am feeling guilty and I am still trying to keep away from the television. I am trying very hard. I recently noticed quite a number of new good shows in iflix: like The Catch, new season of Quantico, Code Black, and new season of Agent Carter.
But I'm going to read this evening. I just bought this book yesterday, and have started on it. It feels like a very interesting read.
God is Red, The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China
by Liao Yiwu
The book is translated by Wenguang Huang and he noted that the author, Liao Yiwu, is "one of the most prominent and outspoken contemporary writers in China today. His epic poem 'Massacre' composed in 1989 in condemnation of the government's bloody crackdown at Tiananmen Square, landed him in jail for four years." He has subsequently been researching the Falun Gong group, and was pursued and investigated by the government as well.
He got interested in Christians in China as part of his wider project about people living at the margins of society in China today.
He remains an unbeliever, which in a sense would make the book quite an interesting read from an outsider's point of view but as Huang said, "the journeys brought him kinship with millions of Chinese Christians who are finding meaning in a tumultuous society."
I have just read about 16% of the book and I am looking forward to it.
So it's looking good so far, to keep me off the television, at least for this evening.
You have to checked out the non-fiction Holidays Deals in Amazon Kindle for the month of November. There are 274 titles on sale! There were only about 40-50 in the previous months.
I have already purchased 14 books this month, and there are 21 more titles I am considering.
Am I mad or something?
Where in the world will I find the time to read all of them, I really don't know. But they are so interesting and affordable it is hard to stop myself.
After all, I am a book collector, albeit electronic ones. My friends do challenge me in the sense that it is only when I buy print books that I can put them all on my shelves to show off my collection.
But I beg to differ. No one will come to my house to see my shelves but anyone can now view my online shelf right here in www.goodreads.com/pearlie.
I now have 946 books and counting, both print and electronic combined.
I bet I will be reaching a thousand in no time at all.
Thanks to my hubby I think my car problem is finally solved.
I had problems getting my car started for quite a while now. It's not that my car won't start. I need to try it a few times before it does, especially if I've just turned off the engine and wanted to restart it again.
I have asked several mechanics but no one could tell me why. I finally brought it to the Honda service center and they told me it was the starter motor. I wanted to get it changed but they did not have any units stocked.
So I left without getting it fixed and I left it be. I thought since I can still get my car started, even though sometimes it does take a few tries, I ignored it hoping against hope that my car will not just die on me one fine day.
On our way to church yesterday, it suddenly dawned on my hubby that it might be the ignition lock cylinder that might be problem. He felt that the connection might be cut off if I turn the key all the way to start the car. He suggested I only turn it midway.
Viola! It now works everytime.
I am thankful I did not waste any money replacing a good starter motor and not solving the problem. I suppose it pays to wait it out sometimes.
My good friend Lee Mei was worried reading my posts about me feeling sad and having failed that when I saw her yesterday, she made it a point to ask me if I am really ok.
I assured her, I am.
I still am but today I got really frustrated.
I train the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at work and I have just read The Like Switch by Jack Schafer. Both have a section on emphatic listening and emphatic language, and I was reminded of it today after a conversation went haywire.
Steven Covey introduced me to the subject of Autobiographical Listening. It is a kind of listening that we are quite used to, that is we listen to what others are telling us by using our own stories and filters. In such listening, we tend to probe, evaluate, advice and analyze. As a result, we lead the story away from the person who owns it in the first place.
It is alright to use this kind of listening in normal circumstances, but when emotions are high, we cannot listen to others with our own filters and add to it with our own stories. We need to listen empathetically.
But Schafer went further to say that we should even use empathic language at all times. It is putting yourself in the other person's shoes and listening to their stories as they are and understanding the person as a result. The focus is not you or even the story, it's the person you are speaking with.
This was how the conversation went haywire this afternoon. I was correcting my vehicle's side view mirror when I was reminded of what happened a few days ago that made my driving that day quite risky on the road.
Me: Do you know that someone flipped close my side view mirror on my right that day? I did not realise it until I was already on the road and I did not have any chance to stop by the side of road to adjust it back. It was so difficult to drive without it, without a view of what's coming from my right.
Him: Really? Well, that person did something good for you. He closed it so that your mirror won't be spoilt when others come by.
Me: What? I had my car parked at a place where pedestrian traffic is minimal. It is fine that the person need space to walk through but he should have readjusted it back.
Him: No, he did you a favour.
Me: Why are you not on my side and why are you speaking for others? You weren't even there to really know what happened.
Him: Why are you so emotional?
For the rest of the day I was just being quiet and not wanting to say anything anymore. I keep telling myself that it is so, so trivial and that he lacked in empathetical listening anyway, that he is basically a person of common sense and facts but the other half of me just cannot accept it.
To do it Schafer-style, the conversation should have gone this way.
Me: Do you know that someone flipped close my side view mirror on my right that day? I did not realise it until I was already on the road and I did not have any chance to stop by the side of road to adjust it back. It was so difficult to drive without it, without a view of what's coming from my right.
Him: Really? Well, yeah that could have been very dangerous.
Me: Exactly. It's alright that the person need space to pass by my car but he should have readjusted it back.
Him: You may be right, but it must have been a natural reflex for the person to flip it close and then not think to adjust it back. Good that you managed to drive more carefully though.
Me: Yeah, next time I do need to check all my mirrors before I begin to drive.