Isaiah 41:13 (NKJV)

For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, "Fear not, I will help you."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Exam blues

I've been wishing there's a fast forward button I can press. Although I must admit the exams and presentation in this couple weeks are nothing like the real exams in Otago, exam blues are perhaps a form of knee-jerk reaction. Maybe I should think of them as practices and exercises. Not tests/exams.

Reminded me of how every semester come exam time, a good friend of mine and I would joke about dropping uni and getting married. This time round, she really is getting married (after she graduates of course ;p).

Exam blues are... ugh.

It is therefore refreshing waking up to this particular tune in my head. Since I only knew the first line, it played over and over again in my head, as if some sort of a wake-up anthem:

"Day by day and with each passing moment..."

after endless repetition of that line, I knew I had to google the rest of the song.

"Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here."

I especially found encouragement in the 2nd stanza:

"Ev'ryday the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure,
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
'As your days, your strength shall be in measure,'
This the pledge to me He made."

Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us;
if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

-2 Timothy 2:11-13

Saturday, January 26, 2008

thoughts of the day

Have you ever felt like you've been plunged into a day that you weren't prepared to take on yet? Even if it's a day that doesn't seem to have much on it?

and by the end of it you wonder, huh? the day's almost gone already? where did it go?

having someone walk with you makes the journey shorter and faster. but when you walk alone, you get to do things you wouldn't want others to see...

ever sang out loud on the streets while it's snowing heavily?

having mufflers helped.

word of the day: conviction.

where's the conviction?


Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

-"Be still, My Soul" by Katharina A. von Schlegel (2nd verse)

You will know.

a Thai dinner

I seem to have forgotten how enjoyable hanging out is. forget about the to-dos on your list and just chill out.

home-cooked Thai dinner

the infamous Thai green curry

mixed vegetables

beef stir-fry

this was my special request. I'm not hard to please at all.

our main chefs. i love it when guys take over the kitchen and cook up a storm. reminded me of 8A Union St, where the guys cook up a storm and do all the dishes.

Of course, the most important ingredient of good hanging-out is none other than the company:

Ice & Pare

Siqin, Pim & May

Methi & Pan. candle to touch up the ambience. but the lone candle didn't really make tt much of a diff.

a common language worldwide. be it "kampai", "yum seng", "cheers" etc. it's a practice that crosses international borders.

how could i have resisted? =)

X-Men II

I finally watched Ioan Gruffudd in X-Men. Wolverine is cool. but nothing beats William Wilberforce ;p

of course it's more than just a face. his wits, humor... a passionate man after God's own heart. fighting for His cause. and I was told the movie wasn't even a close representation of who William Wilberforce really is.

I wouldn't mind watching Amazing Grace again =)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

chewing over little bites

"being ready to go, but willing to stay" vs " being ready to stay, but willing to go"

i thought i understood. but after some serious thinking, i wonder if i really understood after all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another year is Dawning

My high school's anthem's written to the melody of a hymn:

I finally found out what hymn it is:

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in Heaven, another year for Thee.

-Frances R. Havergal (1874)

Reminds me of the anticipation one gets watching the sun rising slowly, warming the glowing surface of the earth with its rays, bringing hope of glory and light into the darkness... The anticipation, the excitement...

My school anthem:

We cannot all be heroes and thrill a hemisphere
With some great daring venture, some deed that mocks at fear
But we can fill a lifetime with kindly acts and true
There's always noble service for noble souls to do

We're not all blessed with beauty not everyone with brain
But each from every other has something good to gain
So let us make an effort to keep it as a rule
That each one needs the other within the Katong School

Then let us fill the hours with minutes truly spent
In helping one another towards a true content
So let us serve with honour and work for selfless fame
For credit of our country and glory of her name

Once a TK girl, always a TK girl. Moribus Modestus.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be...

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

-Psalm 13

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight."
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"I will be still, know You are God"

Today when I was walking,
I remember not where I was headed,
nor what I was looking for.
I remember not the time of the day,
nor the people, places ard me.

I only remember,
the surge of panic arising,
as waves of gloom and uncertainty,
swallowed me whole.

It was hard to breathe,
I found myself gasping for air.
I knew I needed to rise above the waters,
the waters that threaten to drown me so.

It was a passing moment,
but the struggle was real.
A song came into my head,
and reminded me that,
the struggle is not mine alone.

(Reuben Morgan)

Hide me now
Under Your wings
Cover me
within Your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father You are King over the flood
I will be still, know you are God

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know his power
In quietness and trust

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father You are King over the flood
I will be still, know you are God
"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
-Isaiah 40:27-31

" that we can have a tomorrow"

quoted from Mary.

i've never really been careful abt bedtimes. it's easy to just drift along the night and procrastinate going to bed. i wonder why i do that since i am certainly one that values sleep! why make tomorrow hard, esp when there's 一こま? 

bedtime. for tomorrow's sake.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

little perks in life

i can't think of a better way to greet the day than waking up to the smell of fresh bread and coffee-in-brew, with 2 cats sleeping right next to me on my duvet =) it's like a little reward for getting up early.

am thankful for such simple pleasures in life.

when my mind blanks out

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter
of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

-Psalm 27:4-5

Monday, January 14, 2008

smoky business

"i HAD to laugh when you said that your pillow got burnt by the heater and you're thankful it wasn't any worse!!! lol...oh my goodness...that definitely made my day!!! hhahahaha. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO funny u!!!!"

ok. my friend loves me soooooo much eh? ;p

but i don't blame her. this friend watched me almost suffocate my flatmate when I tried to warm up a pie without first removing the plastic wrapper. her eyes grew wide when i thought i should warm up a pie in the microwave for 30 minutes. oh ya, was it me that set the smoke alarm off too?

so the smoky business has moved from the kitchen to elsewhere. rest assured, i'm learning. somewhat slow but nonetheless...

@ 1 am

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
-Ephesians 6:12

this has been coming up a lot lately.

but i think my mind has shut down for tonight.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

filling in the gap

Gladys (Aylward) once said, "I wasn't God's first choice for what I've done for China... I don't know who it was... It must have been a man... a well-educated man. I don't know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn't willing... And God looked down... and saw Gladys Aylward... And God said - "Well, she's willing."

(quoted from "Having a Mary Spirit", Joanna Weaver)

perhaps it's not that important to look for the right fit. the sea is vast - where do we start anyway? Perhaps the beauty lies in while one continues filling in the gap indefinitely, one finds oneself in the best fit eventually.


it's a bit shocking to wake up to the smell of burnt stuff.

my room still stinks. but this has led me to reflect and think. the week hasn't been so good not because He isn't good. time and tide waits for no one. there's a time for play and there's a time for work. no point mulling around wishing for something that will not happen. it's not just about swinging back into the rhythm of uni, but about swinging back into the rhythm of life, taking up responsibilities as we continue on this journey.

i will need to get another pillow. nevertheless, i am thankful. it could be a lot more worse. at least it's not 焼きシーチン.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

a gift before uni started again

a gift indeed. awesome company. breathtaking scenery. good fun.

initially i thought Hakodate was over-rated. Until the magic sets in and took my breath away. that's probably something you can't understand from the photos alone.

above all that, i learnt more about myself. nothing strikingly surprising. it's like peeling off the skin on the surface and peering into the heart to understand the root of what's manifested outwardly. interesting process.

winter isn't winter without the snow. i caught myself secretly wishing it's snowing every time i'm out walking now. feels like winter sonata - but of course i watched it almost 5 years ago and i can't rmb much of it, except maybe for the snow =)

Friday, January 04, 2008

名曲咖啡-ひまわり 喫茶店

Classical music. Good ambience. Palatable desserts. Strong coffee. But don't try to read for long.

photo taken on my way out. i wish there's more daylight.

i'm really enjoying my holidays =) maybe if I improve my vocabulary bank someone will seriously consider hiring me as a cafe critic. For now, I'll be a self-employed freelancer.

Himawari Cafe @ 弘前市坂本町
(walking from Kinokuniya towards Nakasan, turn right just before Paris Tei. walking towards Nakasan parking, it's on your left.)

Opening hours - 11am-8:30pm

"For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."
-1 John 3:20b

Hirosaki Castle in winter

there wasn't much to see. botanical garden's closed from Nov 24 til mid-April. everything's covered in snow. maybe it'll be more interesting when snow festival comes in Feb, but i wonder if it'll be as good as the Sakura festival or the Momiji (autumn) festival.

this is cool =) it's actually pretty solid.

specially dedicated to bibs ;p

a beautiful day nonetheless =) the sun's shining, the birds are singing ;p

it didn't feel like there was much to do in Hirosaki. hmmmmm. if coming to Hirosaki is your once in a lifetime thing, definitely come in Spring for the sakura or end Oct/early Nov for the momiji =)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

it's a mochi day

I was at the Ogawa's for lunch. It's お正月 (o-syou-gatsu) in Japan, somewhat very similar to our Chinese New Year, except they only celebrate the first 3-4 days of Jan, while ours last for 15 days =)

I can't imagine what it's like to have 5 kids. But after being ard the Elliots and Ogawas, it's beginning to feel like that's the norm.

they sure look like they can handle 5 kids ;p

it's good to train them from young!

wat gr8 opportunity to join a japanese family for their Japanese New Year's celebration. I was told we're having traditional Japanese お正月 food. I knew mochi's a Japanese thing, but I din realise they were that big on mochis. It's mochi all the way in different forms!

starters: 2 mochis each, u put some soup and other stuff like naruto, greens, mushrooms, meat etc...

and it becomes おそうに (i think).

next, it was something called いそべ (isobe). mochi dipped in slightly thick salty sauce sandwiched in 海苔 (nori - seaweed). it has something to do with the sea. i can't catch the explanation. a japanese camp should come after english camp.

納豆with大根 (nattou-fermented soy and daikon-radish). not really my kinda thing. it was a bit hard to breathe with the bowl of 納豆 sitting right in front of me the whole afternoon.

everyone's fav: peanuts and sugar. it's like the kinda mochi we often get in KL =)

they have あんこう (adzuki - red bean) everything here. dessert is あんこうmochi =)

other interesting stuff we had:

黒豆 (kuromame) - black beans

it's kinda like what we Chinese call porridge (congee for some) except that it's sweet and has a rather strong ginger taste.

tea @ 5pm. if we stayed longer it would be dinner time!

our gracious hosts:

really thankful for the 小川s. such hospitality warms my heart =)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

煉瓦亭(Ren Ga Tei) @ 土手町

I don't think this is the cafe I was looking for, but nevertheless I had an enjoyable time. There weren't many ppl, which suited me perfectly. 60's decor. Orange lights - not very good for photo-taking but good enough for me to read and write without putting any strain on my eyes.

view from the window

it's actually pretty good! =)

I thought I'm rather oblivious to lyrics of background music... but I caught myself humming along with what was playing:

"It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini..."

while I was reading:

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

because the Lord disciplines those he loves,

and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

-Hebrews 12:5-11

Along the same train of thought that's been planted in my head since New Year's eve. Renovation of the heart. Brokenness. Just like how the alabaster jar of expensive perfume has to be broken first, before the fragrance can have its effect. Painful brokenness. Sweet-smelling fragrance.

With comfy boots, warm enough clothing, nothing heavy to carry, no time schedule, mp3 music in my ears, I was surprised to find myself enjoying the walk in the snow. It's really beautiful! The snowflakes were bigger today. I held some on my glove-covered palm and the flakes sparkled as though they were winking at me! =)

Sometimes Japan feels so familiar yet foreign, I feel like I'm in a scene of a movie. And in the scene described above, I could almost begin to dance in the snow...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

my first day of 2008

i overslept and missed new year day's service! i didn't even hear andie getting up and going out. not exactly my idea of a good way to start the year but at least it got me planning to adhere to more normal bedtimes and wake-up times ;p

snowfall is rather heavy. prob to make up for not snowing on Christmas Day. it's nice to stay indoors and remain lazy. well, i haven't got many days left to do that. better make the most out of it =)

can't help but wonder... what adventure has He laid ahead of me?

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 3:13-14

a brand new year

it's 2008!

it almost felt like 2008 has crept up on me quietly... i remember the times when i had really wanted to be out there in the crowds, to count down with others, to watch the fireworks, to be out there. well... there was a year i was at rum jungle's with the gang. there was another year when mum had felt sorry for me and drove me over to bkt bintang just to watch the lights and the crowd. last year... i was in taiping. or more accurately, i just got back from taiping and was counting down in a mamak back in KL.

this time, there was no plans. i was just gonna keep warm at home. or so i thought. some friends asked me to join them for dinner. i found my new favourite burger in Mos =)

i'm not keen on crowds anymore, I thought it'll be nice just spending new year eve's night on my own. but perhaps secretly in my heart, unknown to me, I really didn't want to be alone, perhaps I longed to have small company, and even more so, i wanted to be with ppl that will read the Bible with me and pray with me.

Off I headed towards Dote-machi. The bus service ended early on the last day of 2007. On normal days I wouldn't make the journey, but there was something in my heart that just made me walk on and on, with a kind of determination that surprised even myself. It was actually very nice and soothing to walk on deserted white snow-covered streets. I ran along, walked some, messed the snow with my umbrella...

The group was really small tonight. We read through Philippians. We shared and talked. They had already prayed before I got there. Initially I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing. But I'm glad I went. In the closing prayer, I felt strongly that God wants to do renovation in our hearts. As with most renovations, there'll be some walls that needs to be broken. It'll be painful, it'll be messy, but that's part of the renovation process. I felt that some of us, if not all, will be walking through some hard journey, to be broken, to be humbled just so that He can make us the persons He wants us to be.

"A broken spirit, and a contrite heart, You will not despise, You will not despise.
You desire truth, in the inward parts, a broken spirit, and a contrite heart."

It was as though He was looking for our broken and contrite hearts. Because it is only then He can truly work and renovate our hearts.

So how did I spend my new year eve counting down moments? Just outside in the snow, throwing snowballs at ppl and making my very first (and possibly last) snow angel! =) It was really special. The next new year's count down will be hot, and tropical... and I won't know when I'll get that much snow again. As I laid on the bed of white snow, watching the flakes fall on my face, I knew that I am exactly where He wants me to be.

may we all keep our eyes fixed and focused on the author and perfecter of our faith as He leads us into 2008! =)