Finding Favor

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The Cornerstone African congregation is hosting a women’s retreat this Saturday, 16 Nov 2013. It will be a time of worship, prayer and seeking The Lord.

As we are gearing up for the retreat, the Lord has been teaching me and preparing me from the main scripture we have chosen for the retreat. It has been a time of experiencing God’s favor and finding rest in serving Him instead of having to strive to prepare for the retreat.

God has brought different people to help out in the retreat. During a prayer meeting with the organising team, we felt that there will be different ‘flavors’ of worship during the retreat, with women from different nations and different walks of life coming together to worship the King. Over the next few weeks, we have had different ladies from the church agree to help lead us in worship during the retreat, or to accompany on instruments. It will indeed be different ‘flavors’, yet with one passion and desire to worship the King.

As we prayed for the retreat and as I studied the Book of Esther over the last few weeks, a few things have really stood out.

1) Esther went through a period of preparation which spanned one year before coming into the presence of the King – 6 months with myrrh, 6 months with perfumes.

2) The sole purpose of Esther’s preparation was to please the King when she comes into His presence.

3) Esther found favor in the King’s sight and He granted her an audience, and also her desires.

1) Time of Preparation

Each young woman’s turn came to go in to King Ahasuerus after she had completed twelve months’ preparation, according to the regulations for the women, for thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women.
Esther 2:12

It is interesting to note that Esther, like all the other women, had to go through 6 months of preparation with oil of myrrh and 6 months with perfumes.

A little search on wikipedia reveals the following:

“The word “myrrh” derives from the Aramaic murr, meaning “was bitter”.”
“When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them of the gum.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrrh

Myrrh is a bitter sap. And it is interesting that Wikipedia uses the terms wound and bleed to describe the process of harvesting myrrh.

I have read that being prepared with the oil of myrrh is like a time of modern-day ‘detoxification’, our bodies being purified of toxins. But just looking this up today revealed more interesting findings. How are our spirits being detoxed? It is by going through tough times (or bitter times). And being wounded, and bled of our own ambitions, pride and self. I know this to be true as during prayer last week, God reminded me that in this time of preparation, there will be difficult times and difficult situations. But as we are wounded and bled, let us not become bitter, but allow the fragrance of Christ to flow out of us.

The next 6 months following the detoxification was a time of being soaked in perfumes. I guess it makes sense that unless we have been washed of our own stinking pride, no amount of perfume can make us smell good. Just imagine using perfume day after day without showering. Hmm… It is exciting to be looking forward to encounters with the Lord that will leave His fragrance lingering on us. I am reminded of Mary who came to anoint the Lord Jesus with an alabaster flask of expensive perfume. As she worshipped and poured out her love offering, imagine the fragrance that would have filled the room. Even as we worship the King this Saturday, I can imagine the fragrance that will fill the room and may that fragrance linger on us as we become carriers of His glory.

2) It is not for us, it is for the King

I shared in our service last Sunday that just the week before, I was looking forward to the retreat as a time of getting away from the busy-ness of life, of being a working mom who’s also involved in ministry. “Oh, how I look forward to being refreshed in the Lord’s presence.” In that week itself, I’ve realized that the retreat is not for me, but for Him.

I was reading one of John Piper’s book and he talked about how bringing Him glory is our sole and main purpose in life. We are never truly satisfied until we have put Him at the centre of all that we do. He asked this question, “Do you feel loved more loved by God because He makes much of you or because, at great cost to His Son, He frees you to enjoy knowing Him and treasuring Him and making much of Him?”

When we shift from being self-centered and inward-looking, and live not for self-gratification, we will find our satisfaction from pleasing God and being in His will.

Even as Esther went through the preparation with the sole purpose of pleasing the King, may our purpose in coming for the retreat be to please the King and pour out our love and worship for Him. No agenda, not for me, but for the King.

3) Being in a place of favor with the King.

Esther found favor in the sight of the King and He granted her her requests.

The place of favor is also a place of rest. When we are in that place, we find that we don’t have to strive to make things happen, we don’t have to fight to get what we want. The King shows favor because He knows His bride is asking for things not for herself, but that are according to His will. He can trust her with His authority and resources knowing she will not work against Him but for Him.

I have seen a little of how that works in the preparation for the retreat. I shared earlier about people coming to lead in worship. I didn’t scramble to get these precious ones, but The Lord moved their hearts to want to be part of this special day of encountering the King and I’m amazed at how quickly they said ‘Yes’ when I approached them to come minister. And even though planning this retreat is right smack in the middle of a busy period at work (and being 8 months pregnant!), I have felt such peace, joy and strength, and also unity and love working and praying with the other ladies in the organizing team.

If you are reading this, I hope you catch what we have prayed and felt for the retreat and it will prepare your heart as you come. Come expecting. If you haven’t decided to come, do come. Come, let us adore Him.

Blessings,
Delia Walcott

The antidote to a cluttered life – Simplify

Best advice heard last weekend in a sermon preached by Ps Lim Lip Yong. I believe many will concur.

Our lives are too cluttered. The solution? Simplify.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

That got me to evaluate my life and think about what I can simplify, what can be cut down or removed. Here are some things I think we can do, including some advice from the sermon.

 

1) Cut Down Kids’ Enrichment Classes/Programmes

In Singapore, it has become the expected norm rather than the exception for kids to have their days filled with classes and enrichment programmes – tuition for the various subjects, piano, violin, ballet, hip hop (??), swimming lessons, Mindchamps/Adam Khoo’s classes, various classes on training your brain to work harder and think better. In other countries kids will also have sports and dance classes but probably spend half the time on these than our children in Singapore.

Is it really necessary to send them to every possible enrichment class in order to “give them a better future”? What if they grow up unhappy and contribute to Singapore being the “most unhappy country in the world”?

 

2) Cut Down on Reading Online Articles

Reading is good. Acquiring knowledge is good. But we really don’t need to read everyone’s status on Facebook, neither do we need to read the articles our friends on Facebook have just read and liked and shared. I know I spend too much time doing that. Especially these days when people seem to post less about themselves and more articles and videos. I have since turned off my Facebook notifications on my smartphone. I will go on Facebook when I have the time or need to wind down, but I do not have to go on Facebook EVERYtime I receive a notification.

And honestly, sometimes just scrolling down Facebook exposes us to graphic images we don’t really want to see… Your eyes are the entrances to your mind. Allow bad images in and you basically start a battle in your mind. Which is unncessary.

 

3) Cut Down on TV

How many are hooked on Korean dramas or Running Man? Please don’t raise your hands. I’m glad I never got started on that. But we do spend a lot of time watching TV. I think we need to be selective in what we watch. Reading is more edifying. Since work has lightened up somewhat, I have been able to get back to reading and I find that a lot more fulfilling. It’s like choosing to eat fruits instead of fried chicken wings. Hmm, a food analogy?

 

4) Keep Things at Home Simple

I actually learnt this ‘by accident’ on Tuesday.

I was starting to prepare dinner and wanted to make roast potatoes and carrots with my baked chicken. We really like those. But it will take maybe an extra 45 minutes to work on that. And this was after a workday. All of a sudden, I realised there’s no need to make those today, my kids would rather I spend time with them than to disappear into the kitchen. I can always make them on days I’m not working or am not so tired. So we went to the playground.🙂

This, I realise, is also a way to Simplify!

 

5) Prioritise

At the end of the day, our time is spent more constructively when we prioritise. How do we prioritise what we need to do for the day? I think our decisions should be made based on these considerations:

a) Our values

What is important to us? If our list of what’s important goes like this: God, Family, Friends, Work. Then how we spend our time and what we choose to do first can be decided accordingly. If it has to be a decision between hanging out with our girlfriends at Bakerz Inn (for that chocolate cake I’ve been dreaming of) or taking the kids to the playground because they have a day off from school, I would choose the kids. Or take the kids out with the friendies (who most likely won’t mind)!

b) The urgency of completing the specific task

If you are like me and have a To-Do list waiting to be… well, done, you’ll always have it at the back of your head and be stressed over it until it’s done. A few tips I’ve learnt to apply in order not to be stressed, is to write them down. After I write them down, they don’t have to stay in my head. So if you sneak a peek at my Notes on my phone, you’ll see To-Do lists, shopping lists etc. Do what’s important (according to your values) first and then get back to checking tasks off the list.

Another tip I’ve read this year is to start off each day with 3 things you have to complete that day and do them first. Then get on with other tasks. If you can’t complete the other tasks, it’s ok. At least you’ll have completed the 3 tasks. It may seem like a small thing, but you’ll be surprised how often we go from task to task and checking email and facebook and not even completing 3 tasks in a day! So if you see laundry unfolded in my home, just know it wasn’t on my Big 3 for the day. Hee.

 

Wow, it seems ironic that this post is on Simplifying and I’ve written this much. I hope I haven’t made things more complicated for you! I’ll end by sharing a really meaningful story that has been widely spread and had different versions written but here’s one.

On the first day of term, a university professor stood in front of his philosophy class with an empty jar.

Without saying a word to his students, he removed the lid of the jar and filled it with golf balls. When no more golf balls fit he closed the jar with its lid. He then asked his class, “Would you say that the jar is now full?” His students observed the jar and concluded that the jar was indeed full.

The professor then proceeded to open the jar up and started inserting marbles into the jar. The marbles started to fill the gaps between the golf balls. After sealing the jar, he asked his class once again if they thought the jar was now full. The class concluded that the jar was indeed now full.

The professor opened the jar a third time and started pouring in sand. Obviously, the sand started filling the gaps between the golf balls and the marbles. He then sealed the jar and asked his class a third time if the jar was full. His class chuckled and replied in unison, “Yes, it is now full!”

The professor opened the jar and emptied two small cups of coffee in the jar. The liquid had completely filled the gap between the golf balls, the marbles, and the grains of sand. He then began his lecture.

“I hope you realise that life is very much like this jar. The golf balls represent the important things in life, like God, family, loved ones, health, things that you care intimately about. If we lost everything else in life, our lives would still be ‘full’. The marbles are the other things in our lives that are important, but our happiness shouldn’t depend on them. Things like our work, our house, our car, etc. Finally, the sand represents everything else; the small stuff.

“If we were to have filled our jar up with sand first, there we wouldn’t have had enough room for the marbles or the golf balls. If we use all our life and energy on the small stuff, we won’t have any room for the important things.”

 After a brief moment of silence one of the students asked, “Professor, what does the coffee represent?”

 “Ah, I’m glad you asked,” replied the professor. “It means that no matter how full your life is, there is always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.”

Let me know your suggestions on how to Simplify. I’m sure it’ll benefit us all.🙂

Have a good day today and perhaps find time for coffee with a friend or loved one.

Two Casts and an Ultrasound… His promises will endure

It has been a really eventful one week. Many will know by now that both our boys had an arm in a cast – one left, one right. But as of today, one is cast free!

Going back to what happened, last Thursday we were at an indoor children’s playground at a chalet. The boys had lined up a row of padded stools and were attempting to cross from one end to the other. The stools were knee high (Evan’ knee) and the floor was rubber padded, so it seemed like a relatively safe game to play. We were watching them play. Evan fell off first and started crying and saying his arm hurt. As we were tending to him, minutes later, Caleb fell too. We didn’t even see how he fell. He was holding on to his arm and saying, “Ow, ow.” But he wasn’t really screaming or crying. We simply could not believe both of them could be hurt at the same time, and certainly the thought of fractures didn’t even seem possible. Caleb’s lips did turn pale though, so that was probably a sign of pain or shock. But I just couldn’t imagine him being so hurt then.

We brought them home after that and they were quite calm in the car, both falling asleep. But at home, Evan was still crying about his arm being painful and Cameron saw that Caleb’s arm was swollen. We took them to our GP immediately. Thankfully he was open for half the day. It was a public holiday after all.

He felt quite sure that Caleb’s left arm was fractured and put it in a sling. It hurt the poor little boy to move his wrist, arm or fingers. Evan cringed when his arm was touched but didn’t seem as bad as Caleb. So he referred us to the A&E at KKH.

To sum up the 4 hours we spent at the hospital, x-rays were taken and both boys had their arm in a cast. We could see the fracture in Caleb’s arm on the x-ray, but not the one for Evan. The doctor pointed out that there was bleeding around the bone near the elbow joint and that could be a sign of a hairline fracture, or at least some kind of trauma to the elbow. And we were given an appointment to bring them to see the orthopaedics specialist the following Thursday.

We were still in shock when we got home, and went from blaming ourselves, thinking how we could have prevented this, to being in utter disbelief at what happened. We did pray with the boys a lot the next few days and asked God to heal their arms. As we were praying the first night, I was reminded of bridge of a song, “I am pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. I am blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure, and His joy’s gonna be my strength. Though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes in the morning!” We were encouraged that God is in control, and that He can cause good to come out of every bad situation.

I was thankful we had the next day off, and then the weekend that followed. And those were precious days of hanging out with the boys and doing things with them. It was certainly heartwarming to see them work together playing or colouring. I wished I had caught this on camera, the sight of them sitting with their good arms together, one colouring the page on the left, the other the page on the right of their colouring book. J My favourite thing I did with them was definitely having our own children’s church at home on Sunday, since I stayed home with them on Sunday, not wanting to risk them being too wild at church with their friends and getting hurt again when still recovering. (plus the slings were still temporary ones)

We had worship – I played Caleb’s guitar, he played the keyboard with his right hand only, and Evan attempted to play the ‘violin’ with his toy guitar (he later switched it to a cello which was more manageable). We made shakers, and we learnt the story of Jehoshaphat leading Judah in battle. “They didn’t even have to fight, they only had to sing! The singers went ahead of the army and they sang praises to God!” It was a timely lesson. So we sang after that, marching with the shakers, and shouting “Victory!” Later on we learnt that Daddy also got the African congregation in church to shout Victory! We are encouraged and reminded that we serve a living God who speaks to us today! And He is the One who gives us Victory in every situation.

The other exciting thing that happened was that we all went to my 20-week detailed ultrasound scan to see the baby. We were going to find out if it was a girl or boy! Caleb had been saying how he wished he could see the baby as he’s always in school when we went to the gynae. Evan had gone with us a couple of times. So it turned out to be a blessing that because he couldn’t go to school on Monday, we all could see the baby together! And we are so, so happy and excited that we are having a baby girl! Indeed, His promise will endure. We had felt this was God’s promise of a girl to us, and we have indeed been blessed with a girl! (It will take another post to share of God’s goodness J )

Today we brought them to see the specialist. And as we had been praying, we were hoping that Evan wouldn’t need a cast after today. We saw the doctor and he looked through the x-rays. Caleb’s was a straightforward case of a fracture and he was going to get a stronger cast on. For Evan, the doctor said there was a fracture near the elbow joint and that he could see it. He was concerned that it was the kind of fracture that could get displaced over weeks so we may have to bring Evan back weekly for x-rays and close monitoring. But he didn’t think it may be that serious so he wanted to let his senior check the x-rays to get his opinion. It was not exactly what we’d hoped to hear… We waited for a while for the senior consultant to come. He looked at the x-ray and said it wasn’t obvious that there was a fracture. And he said pain is a good indication. So he cut off Evan’s cast and asked him to move his arm around. He could do so perfectly with no pain at all. And the doctor said, “I don’t think he has a fracture at all!” Now that’s what we wanted to hear!  Suddenly our hearts soared again. As we waited to get Caleb’s new cast on and another x-ray taken, we reminded Evan how we had prayed that he wouldn’t need a cast after today and God had answered our prayers. We rejoice together! Caleb got a cool blue cast that was much lighter yet stronger than the previous one and he seemed quite happy. He is really disappointed that he can’t do sports for 2 months and will miss his school’s sports fiesta, but otherwise has been in good spirits.

We feel so blessed to have 2 precious little boys and I have so enjoyed the time I have spent with them (I took leave on Tuesday too to be with them). I think this experience has brought us closer, and even gave the boys opportunities to help each other and empathise with each other. And we must always remember, that God’s promises will endure.

“You are good, You are good, You are good

Your mercy is forever.”

(the chorus that’s in my head right now)

 

 

PS: Thank you to all who have been praying for us and who have been visiting the boys and buying them little gifts to cheer them up.🙂

What Should I Eat?

 

If you’ve battled with morning sickness like I have, the last thing you may have on your mind then is, “What should I eat?” But as everyone with good advice will tell us, “Try to eat something.”

Morning sickness was especially bad the last 2 days. Yesterday I couldn’t even hold down water. And by morning sickness, I actually mean all-day sickness at times. But these 2 days have been kept to the mornings. And I am officially past my first trimester!

So today I stayed home from church in the morning but went in the afternoon for our African Service where my husband was preaching. Going to church is the best thing to do. I was prompted to read Psalm 91 as I opened our service. God was reassuring me that He is our rock and fortress, that when everything around us shakes, He will not be shaken, and that He holds us in his hands. The picture the bible gave of us hiding under the wings of the Almighty is especially comforting.

So as I was preparing dinner at home after church, I realized how good I was feeling. I wasn’t even feeling sleepy from jetlag, having just returned from the US on Thursday. And this verse came to me, “My food is to do the will of my Father.” Jesus said that. And even though I’m having gastritical problems in the natural, in the spirit I can be feeding on His grace as I get around His business. Last night I felt my spirits uplifted too as I was preparing a teaching session on Children’s Ministry. I realize that as we do His will, He takes care of us. This is better than wallowing in self pity as I have been doing (or sharing my status on Facebook to get ‘sympathy likes’🙂 Thanks to all who liked it though and for all the encouragement and prayers.)

Sharing the beautiful psalm with all. Goodnight!

Love,

Delia

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Alan – “For someone to believe in me”

I just saw an inspiring commercial on TV for people to join the teaching profession. It reminded me of how important it is to believe in someone. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to believe in them, and it can mean a difference to a kid’s life. And it reminded me of a student I once had – Alan.

I first met Alan when he was in Secondary One. I had the fortune, or misfortune, to be his form teacher. Later on I found out he was from the primary school next door, where my aunt used to teach. I asked her if she knew him, and did she know him! He was in a programme for at-risk kids in her school and she was overseeing the programme. More interestingly, my husband and another friend used to volunteer at the programme and they both knew Alan too. So I got quite acquainted with Alan even before class really started.

Alan was the typical hyperactive Secondary One boy. He got into mischief. A lot. And was very disruptive and loud in class. I remember Teachers’ Day of 2007. Alan waited for me behind the door in his class, armed with a water bomb. I got alerted by his classmates (good thing I had them on my side!) and disaster was averted. To show him how mad I was, I refused to go to class for the Teachers’ Day celebration, until he came to apologise, upon pressure from his classmates. The lesson for him to learn was that he had to apologise for his mistakes, and not think he could do as he wished and get away with it! Being attacked by a water bomb was just not my idea of a wonderful Teachers’ Day celebration.

Each day as I stepped into class, I wondered what tricks this boy might be up to. Could it be taking the glass panes off the window slabs again? Or hiding his friend’s belongings? Or bullying? (One time he sent a text message to a boy he and his group of friends were ostracizing. He pretended to be a secret admirer, but the boy knew it was Alan and told me about it. Alan feigned ignorance. He was adamant that it wasn’t him. I waited a few hours later before calling the number, and it was his voice on the other end of the line. So much for “I swear it’s not me!”)

With a case as extreme as Alan, the turning point was quite memorable too (although it still took him some time to kick the habit of playing pranks and bullying his friends). I remember the day well.

We had public speaking in English class. I told the class I was grading them and the best presenter would get a prize. Alan surprised us all with his speaking skills. It should have come as no surprise, seeing how good he was at fabricating stories to get him out of trouble. My favourite story of his was how he told my friend, his ex-counsellor, that he was an orphan, and didn’t have much money, and no one to love him. It wasn’t true! He actually has good parents who both had good jobs. So Alan won the prize for best public speaking.

When I presented him with the prize, which was a little purple stapler, you could see the pride underneath his cool exterior. He muttered thanks. But it was the way he took care of the stapler that showed how much winning this meant to him. When his friends needed to borrow his stapler, you could hear the pride in his voice as he said, “Here, here, you can borrow mine!”

What made a difference was for Alan to realize he could be good at something, that he could do well, and that success was an option.

Alan started to open up to me slowly. I learnt to focus on his strengths and gave him words of encouragement instead of reprimanding words that he had no lack of from everyone around him, teachers and parents alike.

One day, he broke down when I had a heart to heart talk with him about why he had to behave badly, and that he could make a choice to do the right things. He told me that if there was one thing he wished, it was that his dad would stop hitting him in punishment. At that age, what he wanted was for his dad to talk to him like a big boy, a teenager. You could see that underlying that was a need for affirmation from his father. I called his mom to tell her what he confided in me, and to share these thoughts from a teenage boy who didn’t know how to communicate his thoughts and feelings to his parents. His parents are wonderful people and very open to communication. I’m sure his mom talked to his dad about this, because the next time I saw Alan, he was beaming, and I asked him why he was so happy. He told me his family sat down to dinner together the night before, and they talked. It was a simple conversation over a meal, but it meant a lot to him. And as his parents changed the way they dealt with him, you could also see the change in Alan.

As I said, it took some time for Alan to kick those bad habits. But you could see new motivation in him when he got the approval of his parents and his teachers. I wasn’t the only teacher, of course, whom he felt he could approach and who believed in him. He did very well in his CCA too as his teacher gave him leadership opportunities and trusted him with responsibilities that would normally not have been given to him.

Alan later on went to ITE and is hoping to go to Poly next.

I got a Facebook message from Alan today. He wanted to let me know he’s graduating from ITE with Early Childhood Studies, no less! And was scouted by soccer coach, Fandi Ahmad to play for him last year! He’s pursuing his passion indeed. And then he went on to say, “A lot has happened in the past 2 years since I graduated from secondary school and while a lot of people have written me off back then, you were one of the people who kept spurring me forward. I just wanted to say thank you for believing in me when others have clearly lost hope.”

I am sharing this story of Alan not to say I’m a good teacher, for I am still learning. But I want to remind us all, teachers, parents, youth leaders and youth workers, that it is so important to see the good in a child, and encourage him to pursue his best, and not put anyone down for the mistakes he has made. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to believe in you, and you can soar. 

I am so proud of you, Alan.

(His name has been changed for privacy reasons.)

A practical tip I learnt (for parents and teachers):

Use the positive instead of negative.

Eg. “Please put the blocks in the toy box.” Instead of “Don’t throw the blocks all over the floor!”

Or “Please sit down and read Page 78 of your textbook.” Instead of “Don’t talk, don’t walk around, don’t ….” Because then they will say, “If I can’t do this and that, what can I do then?”

Teen Stories

 

How many of us have talked to or worked with teenagers who are angry/depressed/confused/violent etc? Why is adolescence such a tumultuous time?

Experts can explain it from the physiological point of view (hormonal changes causing changes in brain activity which in turn causes changes in hormone levels blah blah?, emotional point of view (adolescence is a volatile period, the transition from childhood to adulthood, time of seeking identity and belonging etc) or cognitive point of view (among others).

But the reality is if you are a teacher of teens (high school, secondary school) or a youth leader, you will face countless episodes of blow ups from one or many of those you work with. If you are a parent of teens, you probably have an ongoing drama series or soap opera going on at home with a few episodes playing everyday!

No matter what reasons may be available out there to explain teenagers’ out-of-the-norm behaviour, I believe 2 things: 1) The home is a major factor contributing to instability in a teenager’s emotions and behaviour, 2) there is a way to cope with these behaviours (or misbehaviours) and teenagers should be taught to manage their emotions and behaviour. Of course, ideally, the source of the issues should be addressed. But as teachers, there are problems outside of school that we cannot solve. There could also be situations when the home environment is perfect or ideal, but the teenager has personal issues that causes problems to surface. We could coach them and help them to manage their issues and not turn into a delinquent for want of attention.

Hence, I’ve decided to start a collection of true Singapopre Teen Stories to share some of the stories I’ve encountered over my 10 years in youth ministry in church and 8 years teaching teens, with the hope that these stories will help us to understand the issues teenagers face and think about our roles as teachers or parents and how we can help guide and coach them through the difficult growing up years. This may also involve instilling discipline and putting in routine and boundaries in a teen’s life. It is better for us to be able to do this with them, than for them to have to learn that in an insitution like The Boys’ Home.

More than that, it’s about giving them a chance to grow up. If your one-year-old falls while learning to walk, you don’t immediately yell at her, “Why did you fall?! Get up!” So why do we raise our voices at teenagers who are just learning to be mature and responsible young adults? They will make mistakes, they will mess up, and they will even justify their wrongdoings and seem to honestly not think they have done anything wrong! (aggravating) But if we scold them everytime they fail, one day they’ll just stop trying…

I do not profess to be an expert or an academic in this area. I certainly do not write like they do in the books we read on our courses on teaching teenagers! (If you want someone to understand what you are writing, then write in a way they can understand!) And the names will of course be made up, but the stories are true, and they are real people, much like the ones we see in our classrooms everyday.

Enjoy! (And let me know if you have any inputs to share!)

I am going to Cambodia!!!

I am going to Cambodia! It’s like a dream come true.

I’ve been wanting to visit Cambodia since I don’t know when. But this year in February, on the plane back from Surabaya with my sister after we visited the ministries in Surabaya, we were talking about our dreams for God. I asked her, “So, where do you think we should go next?” We don’t even know if we can take another trip together. That was actually our first mission trip together although we have gone on different trips with different teams. We both thought for a while, and then I remember we looked at each other and said, “Cambodia.” Ok, maybe it wasn’t so dramatic. But it was something to that effect.

Time passed and I still had in my mind that I wanted to go to Cambodia. However, with me going back to work in June this year, I didn’t think I could take another trip. The trip in February was planned so so that I could go on a trip before going back to work.

And then Cambodia started to come up. Over and over.

Our church didn’t have any partners or churches in Cambodia, so it wasn’t easy to just plan a trip there. What were we going to do? However, over the last few months, different ministries have been visiting our church and extending invitations for us to visit and partner with them. Then one day in September, my sister sent me a text message while she was in church, I was at home and Cameron was in Africa. She said, “I want to give 3 months of my life to serve in Cambodia.” That was after Ps Yang was talking about Cambodia in the church service she was attending.

She has a good job with the government, but she wanted to take 3 months off to give the best time of her life to the Lord. She just turned 25 (last Saturday), so she’s already a quarter of a century old! (yea like that’s very old) But I was excited for her and encouraged her to do it! I told Cameron about it and he said if she was serious, he could look into getting her connected with a ministry she could serve.

In October, two of our dear friends in church got married. They decided to give all the ang bao (wedding gifts) money they received at their wedding to a ministry in Cambodia. (you can read about their story here: http://kitesong.sg/iloveyou/)

And just before the wedding, we met up with a missionary friend who has a great ministry in Cambodia training pastors and saving children from the sex trade. Cambodia kept coming up. We were serious about visiting by the time we had dinner with Sis. Liney. So we started planning for the trip.

We were going thinking about taking a family vacation. But I told my husband, honestly, I’d rather go on a family mission trip. So we were thinking of taking the kids to Surabaya, since my husband has not visited the ministry before (it’s http://www.pondokhayat.org/ by the way, a ministry that provides shelter to unwed moms and runs an orphanage and children’s home for the children these young women can’t provide for. These babies would have otherwise been aborted. But now, many of them get adopted.)

Since then, our plans have changed. Now, we would be going to Cambodia with my sister and spend 5 days there while she’ll stay on for another 9 weeks. And since we’re relatively unfamiliar with Cambodia (both Cameron and my sis have been there once before), we couldn’t take the boys. We have prepared them for this trip though and they know why we are going there and why we can’t take them. They are very precious and sensible little boys. And we are thankful for my mom who will be taking care of them. And to all the other people whom I know will be taking them out and watching out for them.🙂

So please pray for us as we go to Cambodia next week.🙂

Delia