A nice cooling Saturday

It is a very nice and cooling Saturday today. The weather is at about 25C and everyone in the Klang Valley is wishing the weather will be like this every day. 

I drove my son to Midvalley Megamall to meet his friend and I had a nice time myself walking around and finally reading and having coffee alfresco in Starbucks. 


Rainy weather for one whole week

This may be too tiny to observe but it’s the weather from now until Wednesday next week, rain and rain and rain until the sun peeks out behind the clouds on Wednesday.

When I first check it this morning, it was blue raindrop markings right through till Wednesday. 

And it actually started from yesterday, heavy rain throughout the whole day and the roads became extremely congested after work. Most of us were stuck in traffic, no matter where we are. 

May look miserable but here’s to a week of nice cooling weather. 

Wish I could just stay in though. 


At work all day today

I had an uneventful day but it was rather interesting. I did nothing else but work for almost 11 hours. 

But it was spent in a training session learning about the skills of giving presentations complete with vocal training on speaking.

We were shown how to develop a optimum voice and for guys it sounds like the Patrick Teoh kind of voice, and not too low for the ladies but still in the lower range. 

Through my singing training in the past 10 years, I do have that optimum voice but lacking in projection. I’d need to work on that.


My very 紧张 morning

This morning was indeed very 紧张 (Cant. gan2zoeng1/Mand. jǐn zhāng) for me. 

I almost never mix languages in a single sentence in my blog, though that is very much how most of us converse here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we will sometimes even use up to 4 languages in one sentence—English, Malay, Mandarin and Cantonese or Hokkien. 

I don’t think there is a direct translation for 紧张, but I think “being nervous, stressful, intense and nerve-wrecking” would be quite accurate to translate it. 

And there is no better way to describe what happened to me this morning. 

Today was my US Visa interview day and I requested for the 8:00am slot. I am not allowed to be there earlier than 7:45am and so I decided to drive and park my car at my office and take a GrabCar to the embassy, which is quite nearby. 

My alarm rang at 6:00am but I dillyed-dallyed while keeping an eye on the expected time of arrival on Waze. I planned to arrive at 7:30am and loiter around until 7:45am. 

All was good. 

Until I hopped into my car, and Waze added an extra 30 minutes to the expected time of arrival. 

I started to panic. Oh no, oh no, oh no. 

I tried my best to drive as fast as I could, using the fastest congested lane. 

But traffic was bad. 

And as I considered the two alternatives—drive directly to the embassy and look for a parking space or park in office and take a GrabCar—I decided on the latter. 

I tapped to book a GrabCar at 7:35am while I was still in the Smart Tunnel, which was a good decision because after parking my car and going up to the designated pickup point at the main entrance, the GrabCar arrived just in time at 7:50am. 

The driver used the fastest route possible, using back lanes and shortcuts. And at the slip road into Jalan Tun Razak, I actually begged the policeman to not stop us but let us through. 

I had my hands clasped together like in a prayer rubbing my palms while saying, “Tolong, tolong, tolong, tolong...” (Malay word for “help” but I said it with a Chinese accent).

He must have seen me though he can’t possibly hear me, because he stopped the car behind us instead!

I arrived at the embassy at 8:06am. I was late but thankfully I was still allowed in. 

It was quite a long queue, since I think today is the first interview day for the year after the long Christmas break, but I got it all done in 35 minutes. 

They only asked me four questions and they approved my visa. All the documents I prepared were not requested for. 

They only took my passport. 

Woohoo...USA, here I come. 


My 2018 Prayer: to overflow with thankfulness

Pastor Wong Fong Yang preached on the Lordship of Christ from Colossians 2:1-8, with God’s word to chart us off into the new year. 

I like it when he referred to 2:6-7 as a litmus test of life in Christ. 

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
~ Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

His message for the new year is that we will continue our lives in Jesus, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith we have been taught all these years, long or short. 

And the litmus test is to ask: am I overflowing with thankfulness or am I always complaining or murmuring?

I pray for a more Spirit-filled 2018, to live my life more fervently in Christ, to stay rooted in him, to continually be built up in him, to be strengthened in my faith in him. And all in all, to overflow with thankfulness in whatever circumstances I am in. 


Fruit juice in BreadFruits

One of my favourite restaurants is BreadFruits in Faber Tower, Taman Desa but I have not been there for quite awhile. 

I received this text yesterday. 

And my son reminded me of it and so we decided to have brunch in BreadFruits today. 

This was my choice of the free juice: pineapple, beetroot, banana and something else I can’t remember. It was very good. 

A pretty effective way to have me back at the restaurant. 


Pain: a megaphone to rouse a deaf world

Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
~ CS Lewis

This is my favourite quote of all time and it is most relevant today. I’ve not been talking to God for such a long stretch of time in a long while. 

It’s not good but good that the time has come. Thank you Lord. 


I am starting my new reading year with this book

Praying Backwards, Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name
by Bryan Chapell

I am still in the midst of reading it but I’m finding it an excellent read. I have had so many questions about prayer and I have blogged before that even though I don’t understand it, I am still praying—and it’s tough sometimes—because God commands us to. 

I found some answers from this book—to some important questions. 

Here are some of the excerpts:

But how are we supposed to pray without doubting? Is it wrong to allow any thought that we might not receive the answer we desire? If so, how do we keep negative thoughts from invading our brain? Isn’t being told not to doubt a little like being told not to think about pink elephants? Once you have been told not to think about something, it’s practically impossible not to think about it...The basic problem with all definitions of believing prayer that make God the servant of our will is that the object of belief is misplaced...The success of our prayers does not lie in exceptional confidence that we have pumped enough of our own faith into our prayer (and extracted enough doubt) so that now God must respond. Our belief must be in God. He, not our desire, is the object of our faith.

Praying in Jesus’ name requires seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness with the absolute trust that God will then add all that is best for us (Matt. 6: 31–33). This is the way that Jesus prayed and the way he taught us to pray. 

All who are so bold as to tell God exactly how to answer are expressing a kind of belief, but it is great faith in human wisdom and faint confidence in our God.

“The better you know the Shepherd, the easier it is to trust his heart.”

And I am in love with any writer that quotes and draws the truth from CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia:

In The Magician’s Nephew, C. S. Lewis has his lion king, Aslan, send two children, Polly and Digory, on a mission with Fledge, the flying horse. After a while, they discover they have no food. Polly and Digory are dismayed: “Well, I do think someone might have arranged our meals,” said Digory. “I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge. “Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly. “I’ve no doubt he would,” said the horse. . . . “But, I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”

We may grow concerned that faith in God’s sovereignty may also tempt us to reason: Why ask if God already knows?...no doubt he knows what to do, but he likes to be asked. God is like that. He knows what we need before we ask (Matt. 6: 8), but he still likes to be asked. He urges us to pray in ways that deepen our love and trust of him.

Isn’t it an excellent book to start the year with?


What if someone prayed the wrong things for you?

We are to pray for others and support each other in petitions to the Lord, but we can sometimes pray the wrong things for our brethren and loved ones. 

That is exactly what happened to me today. 

It happened because they did not have the full story and so when the person prayed for me, she prayed for exactly the opposite of what I am asking God for. 

She was not to blame of course because I wasn’t given the opportunity to say more about my situation but I’m also okay in not doing so. I appreciate the privacy accorded to me, but then the prayer wasn’t accurate. 

So what do we do in such circumstances, for both the person who prays and the person prayed for?

Of course the person prayed for can talk to the person who prays and they can pray again. 

But if that is not possible or preferred, then nothing I suppose. We pray for others as we deem necessary and as the Spirit lead but that also begs the question, was it really Spirit led?

I don’t know. 

But this I know: we need to be thankful that God knows all. And he hears our prayers and will answer according to his perfect wisdom and knowledge. 


Peace is what I need in 2018

I recently responded to a friend’s Facebook post: Leave a positive word you can carry through to 2018 that starts with the first letter of your name. It should only be one word.

The first word that came to my mind was peace. And just to be sure, I also went through a list of good words that start with the letter P. 

Nothing else stood out and so I decided peace it shall be. 

I did think about it over the last couple of weeks and felt that it will be appropriate for me in 2018. 

I will be a very worried mom this year with my son away from home for the first time in our lives and so, so faraway, I do need peace in my heart. 

There are a lot of things happening around me and peace is what I need to trust in the Lord and to be thankful in all circumstances. 

And these are such words of comfort:

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:5b-7 (ESV)

May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!
~ Psalm 29:11 (ESV)

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
~ Psalm 119:165 (ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
~ Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
~ Isaiah 54:10 (ESV)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
~ Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
~ John 16:33 (ESV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
~ John 14:27 (ESV)


My Projects for 2018

Happy New Year and a Blessed 2018! 
Selamat Tahun Baru! 
新年快乐 万事如意! 
새해복많이 받으세요!

It was since 2016 that I am giving myself three projects every year. I don’t want any resolutions because they have a bad reputation of being broken. 

My projects don’t get broken. They are either completed or I don’t find them interesting enough and I abandon them. 

I know. I know. It’s the same thing but I’m still calling them my projects. 

I had these three in 2016, with their success and failure noted here

And in 2017, (1) I kind of succeeded in completing my 20-book challenge but I’ve always gone way beyond the minimum count of 20 consecutively since 2012. But I’ve only manage 20 in 2017. (2) I wanted to join a more “technical” choral group. I passed the audition but on my first rehearsal, I didn’t like the way it was done and so I quit. (3) I wanted to learn a new language. I started on Korean and with the progress using the tools I have, I went into Mandarin as well. But I’m still a beginner. Language isn’t an easy thing. 

So what’s in it for me in 2018?

1. I just started my 2018 book challenge in Goodreads and I’m being realistic. I know my limitations but I want to do more than 20 and so I have set it at 25. I hope I can surpass that and despite sounding rather resolution-ish, I have to do something about my recent addiction to the television. 

2. I am giving my language learning another year. I feel I am really plateauing at the moment but I need to press on and so I will. I hope to give a good report at the end of the year. 

3. I’ve inadvertently set my mind to lose some weight beginning September 2016 and walk more since December 2017. And I have done quite well. Maintaining it is much harder and so my third project will be to maintain my current weight, though I’m quite set on losing a couple more kilos and for a person who doesn’t like to walk, I need to keep on walking. 

So there you go, let’s see how I will fare this time round.