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~306 days to the end of As

Yay January flew past! Just 10 more months and I’ll be done 🙂 School has been okay; it’s my own studying at home that is draining bleagh but what can I do heh I’m more productive at weird hours 😦 I’ve also been more active in school ministries because now I have school cell + morning worship + prayer group and it’s quite a different experience to serve God, and to serve in general, in this way! In RG it was always an institutional type of leadership that I was involved in, where the work benefits the school community and is (at times) done out of sheer obligation. But serving God is different in that this is our true purpose in the world (as opposed to our other duties being temp jobs). It’s kind of strange that my friends are all busy with council or OGL or CCA stuff, and I’m busy serving God. Okay not that it’s strange in a bad way, it’s just difficult to explain why I’m busy haha because my “commitments” are so different from everybody else’s!

I honestly don’t have much to say or show because 70% of my life is just spent in school now oops.

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I’ve been meal-prepping this month!! I really need to learn to cook better though because right now everything is just baked or steamed or boiled with little to no marinade or sauce whatsoever… But it’s quick and healthy I guess lmao.

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V grateful for friends like these ahhh fell asleep while trying to do Chem oops and when I woke up I saw this note + a milo packet ❤ Tough times present more opportunities to be kind! While looking for quotes for our class deco, I read one that went: a diamond was simply a lump of coal that did well under pressure. May I be that lump of coal 😭

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bye twenty seventeen (*´∇`*)

Time for a major reflection again as yet another year draws to a close! This whole year has honestly passed so quickly – it went from orientation to CTs to promos to start of Dec hols and here we are at the end. My true holidays have only just begun though because I’m finally done with my 5-week internship! And more time at home + at church retreat meant I finally had time to reflect properly. I really have a lot to thank God for this year, so let’s start from the beginning 🙂

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I think this was our first cell in school? Also best attendance haha we haven’t been this big since then. Friday afternoons with my favourite people! Didn’t really find new close friends in JC because RG was already too good and the bar was set too high. But it’s alright – oldies are goldies! I’m really thankful for this close-knit group of batch mates + seniors whom I can share my Joy Junk Jesus with and it really brightens up my day whenever I run into any one of them in school 🙂 Gonna miss this tons next year but I’m sure the young ones will bring some refreshing vibes!

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Hong Kong in March seems like such a long time ago! Honestly doesn’t even seem like this year haha but that was a fun holiday with the extended family (for once!!) Now whenever I think of HK, I think of cosy family times and chill cafes 🙂

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First youth camp overseas! I believe this was in June (the whole year was really a blur…) I really love going for camps and spending extended periods of time with my church friends hehe younger or older there’s always so much to learn from all of them ❤

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My lovely class! Honestly not very close to anyone in particular which is kinda sad hahaha but that’s okay if I’m okay with it right? They are all so special in their own way and very kind individuals 🙂 Can’t believe I haven’t seen them in 2 months!!

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Major fast forward here to October in Vietnam! Halong Bay was so picturesque ahh God’s creations are truly amazing! This was such an impromptu getaway but much needed respite from my promos mugging. Take me back 😦 I distinctively remember lying on the deck while waiting for dinner, watching the sky turn from pink to black, feeling the boat bobbing up and down and taking in the vastness of the sea and sky.

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Volleyball family! Has been a big part of this year with all our late trainings cry. I’m so bad at it hahaha but I’m grateful that my teammates are so friendly all the time and we have no drama at all. Training will be thrice a week next year and I’m honestly not ready for Saturday morning trainings again hahaha.

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A lot earlier on in the year, 10 of us agreed to perform for the seniors’ grad night, but when it finally came to it, only 4 of us managed to make it for practices and stuff haha. Nonetheless it was really fun dancing again with the dance batch mates! It’s also easier to choreograph a dance for fewer dancers! It was pretty tiring to have to practice at night after work (because 3/4 of us had work attachments) but it all paid off in the end 🙂

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Living my UK Christmas market dreams at Gardens By The Bay’s Christmas Wonderland? Everyday at work I would scroll through Insta and see all the pics of snow/ festivities/ holidays in general boohoo not cool at all. Severe wanderlust! GBTB’s version was actually not bad I guess! It was way bigger than I expected. Only issue I had with it was the lacklustre prizes haha they really looked very taobao-esque… And the games were impossible to win (but I guess carnival games are designed that way)

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Christmas parties for friends and family! I finally baked cream puffs again and stuck some $4 snowmen in to make them look more Christmassy. Really thankful for friends who turned up at the very last minute ❤ I’ve been eating a lot (too much) of good food since Christmas oops.

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Another big part of my after work night life – dance pracs in church! We look the same age on stage but we are actually 28, 17 and 14 hahaha I’m really very grateful for the opportunity to dance and perform for God! It was an entire different feeling to dance for God’s glory and not my own. It was liberating and empowering because I wasn’t focusing so much on the steps, but on the message and the emotions of the song! I think it also helped immensely that we had two actors to show the crucifixion of Jesus and bring across the message more plainly.

And yet another big part of my life this year (later half) was BCM (kids ministry)! It takes me away from worshipping and learning in youth service, but the kids here are so precious and I really love being here too 🙂 I especially love it when they come in pink princess dresses or loud disney princess clothes hahaha. Some of them can get quite clingy and clamber all over me, but there is still cuteness in that 🙂

Here are my biggest takeaways from prayer walks this year! Left: lil Vietnamese girl named My Ngoan! Ju and I visited her house earlier in the year and spoke to her parents for quite a while, understanding more about their roots in Vietnam and their religious beliefs and all that! It was truly such a surprise when I saw her one day in BCM ahh because her grandma asked her dad to let her come to church. And she even performed for Christmas! Hopefully one day her parents will come along with her 🙂

Right: super duper friendly aunty who is always at home and always so smiley whenever we visit her! She goes to the TCM clinic in church and I hope she will get the chance to come for our services one day.

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Ended this year with three days of zone retreat! Featured a lot of games but also plenty of time for reflection and worship 🙂 There are so many things I have to thank God for! ❤ One of my favourite moments was worshipping by the seaside. I think nature is really the most tangible aspect of God’s majesty.

Looking down at the sand beneath my feet, God reminded me of Psalms 139:17-18. “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.” Can you even begin to imagine having that many thoughts of anything?

Looking straight ahead, I saw the vast ocean. I was reminded of the song Amazed. When I sing the words ‘how deep, how wide (how great, is your love for me),” I think of the ocean. It is the deepest and widest thing my limited human mind can picture.

Looking to my right, I saw the waves relentlessly chasing the shore – first surging in from a distance, then melting into a soft foamy caress. That reminded me of God’s gentle way of loving us. While His fatherly love is no doubt a powerful force, he showers it upon us in the tenderest of ways. I thought of this line by Sarah Kay: “There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” We are so imperfect and so ungrateful. Yet even when we repeatedly fall short and choose worldly things over Him, He never stops loving us and pursuing our hearts.

In 2018, I’m going to try to learn to love without any expectations of reciprocity. Be careful what you pray for ahh but I think God has been trying to teach me this even in 2017. I think a lot of the times I felt hurt this year was because I sat there feeling like I hadn’t received the love/treatment I deserved, but through my Christmas dance, I realised and appreciated (on a deeper level) how Jesus never received the love he deserved! The saviour of the world loved us so much, he came down to suffer for us, being spiritually tempted by the devil, being physically tortured, lash after lash, and being mentally tormented by the curses of those whom he had blessed. And even after learning about all this from the Bible, we imperfect creatures still don’t give him our 100%! So suck it up YH!!! I have so so much to learn from Jesus.

Memory verse for 2018:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2

One year on

How am I supposed to feel after growing up for 16 years with my Grandma by my side, and then have to continue growing up even when she’s gone? Sometimes I think about all the things that have happened or changed in this past year that she wasn’t here to witness, and wonder how she might have responded if she were here. Like how I’m no longer in a dance cca, and how I’ll be having another attachment at the end of the year, and how I’ve already almost completed one year of JC. Some days, I play out conversations in my head, like on the day I received my results. It’s been happening since primary 1 – me coming home from school to tell her my results – and now all of a sudden, I can’t tell her anymore.

I don’t recall when I first started the draft for this blog post, but here is a list I’ve accumulated for a while now, and revised 25 times (or so WordPress informs me). It’s in no way exhaustive, just

Random things I miss very much:

  1. Going downstairs on Bazhang days and not seeing her standing at the stove in her light blue pyjamas, the one with little flowers on them
  2. Having toast and tuna and otah and eggs for dinner
  3. Adventurous brands of ice cream in the fridge
  4. The TV turned on at full volume
  5. Random calls from family members in Hong Kong asking for her
  6. The pair of old-fashioned slippers with netting and golden soles that she wore around the house
  7. Me baking in the kitchen and her coming over to watch me whenever her TV show switched to an advertisement
  8. Helping her fix the TV
  9. The bright yellow plastic cup with a lid
  10. Her calling me “ah Hui (hwee)”
  11. Telling her my exam results and her praising me (?) (hmm maybe not the praising bit, but feeling like I made her proud)
  12. Baking and giving her the first one, fresh out of the oven
  13. Sometimes seeing her at the stadium on the way to school
  14. Getting her version of tempura, or just any special feast of my favourite food, on my birthday
  15. Watching her watch and nod at the TV
  16. Helping her fill out the lucky draw ticket attached to NTUC receipts
  17. Looking out for her/walking behind her whenever we went out for meals
  18. Planning what she would cook for when my friends came over
  19. Wishing her happy new year in Teochew on the first morning of Chinese New Year
  20. Watching Korean dramas or the 9 o’clock channel 8 dramas with her
  21. Her favourite Julie’s butter biscuits
  22. Folding wantons together
  23. Looking for chiffon cake recipes or less sweet, healthier recipes to make for her
  24. Thanking her for preparing each meal
  25. Folding angpow cranes together for Chinese New Year
  26. Simply being able to sit with her

Hi mama, 我非常想念你 ❤

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Love that pursues

The local universities held their White Coat Ceremonies over the last two weeks, and I (fresh out of my 40 day insta-fast) scrolled through many pictures of my seniors in their new white coats. I was filled with a mixture of envy, excitement, and fear. I admired them for having survived JC and A levels, attaining what must have been excellent grades, and now being able to start their Medicine journey. The prospect of wearing my own white coat is thrilling, but at the same time, the fear that I won’t make it there is so so real. Every day I go to school and (try my best to) stay awake in class and pay full attention and take down notes meticulously and complete my homework to the best of my ability and study and study and study, but eventually, whatever fuel I’m running on burns out. The feelings of never matching up to my smarter schoolmates, of never being able to tick off everything on my study plan, are immensely frustrating. Coffee-fuelled late nights can only bring me so far.

Even during the past week as I felt myself burning out, I received verses from God – reminders of his constant presence. I read somewhere before that we don’t need God to give us new promises, we simply need to remember the promises He gave us before. Trusting God takes a lot of faith in his future grace. Even if He has been so faithful thus far, I, as a tiny ungrateful human, forget far too easily. I have forgotten how when I felt this same despair during CTs prep, I eventually just gave it to God, and how He really took the wheel and steered me through. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil His promises to her.” Not only does God make these promises to us, He never forgets them and carries us through till the very end. Nothing He says to us is a mistake, because He is a perfect God who sees all our flaws and can turn them into victories. 

I really love this song On and On by Housefires. It tells of how no matter where we may run – the highest mountain or the deepest darkest valley – God finds us there, because His love goes on and on and on. Even when we turn away from God, He chooses to pursue us. His love holds on and won’t let go, His love never leaves us on our own.

Even as I slog away at my endless tutorials and notes, God is right here with me. There is no need to fear, because if this is God’s plan, nothing that I do can make it happen any more surely, and if it is not, then nothing I can do will make it happen. It is really easy to trust this all up in my head, but as this week’s guest pastor shared, we can’t just have cerebral worship (obeying God in our heads and not living out our knowledge). I’ll try harder (!!) to be less stressed and to be more joyful in my work, knowing full well that God is God over all.

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Apart from Him, I have no good thing

Psalm 16

miktam of David.

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

I am still reeling from the joy I experienced in the past week, in something very “worldly” but that I give God all the glory for. I am 100% certain when I say I could not have achieved it by my human strength, but God is a faithful and limitless God. Even when I commit just one part of the process to Him, He goes before me and claims all the victory. He really does not shortchange me when I choose to honour Him above all else, and He is a God of miracles.

The guest pastor shared today that faith is not a blind leap. Rather, faith is a commitment to action, often beyond our natural abilities, but based on our knowledge of God and His ways. Faith is when the impossible becomes logical and the supernatural becomes natural. And the basis of faith is God.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil His promises to her!

Since church camp I have just gone on further, from a place of peace to a place of joy and rest in God’s presence and I pray that this will continue for the next 1.5 years. In a place of sleep deprivation, hopelessness and so often despair, God can move so mightily!

During worship today I was reminded of what Chris Tomlin said in one of his live music pieces on Spotify: “May they live lives that are as big as you are God, dream dreams that are as big as you are God, to have visions that are as big as you are God, that in no way will their lives belittle you in any way.”

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (1 John 4:16)

Mid ’17 Roundup!

Lazy girl’s way of saving her blog? Haha I’ve been waiting for some big event to blog but it never really came/I just never got the time to sit down and write but here are some nice pictures I wanted to share and talk about! Mostly from May and June so they’re not that old!

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Have been really into putting effort into and savouring my breakfasts! Breakfast foods are easily my favourite foods; I would legit eat them for every meal if I could. Oatmeal, cereal, smoothie bowls, acai bowls, more cereal yum yum.

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Also went back to RG for their second last house prac! Really miss everything about it ahhhhhhh take me back to RG 😦 It’s been so long since I’ve planned something for school tbh! JC has just been studying all the way it’s really quite draining.

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Okay but I’m still very thankful to be part of 3A because this is such a happy bunch! A good balance between happy and mugger 🙂

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All the sick kids who went for Sportsfest! Hehe loved seeing so many familiar faces and meeting the teachers again! They seemed more happy to see us than we were ahahaha and they didn’t even ask why we were there x)

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Best thing that came out of Cambridge tbh!! Surer thankful for Claire for being my ranting buddy, smart and over-qualified advisor, and just my 100% relatable friend who somehow knows me vv well after just half a year of friendship that has mainly been established over WhatsApp HAHA.

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Food adventures with J!! Of course Jap and of course we needed dessert :~)

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Yum yum yum yum.

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Yx graduated! And YQ and I baked her this carrot cake to celebrate :–) This is one bake that hasn’t failed me thus far hahaha but I guess it’s because I actually followed the recipe lol.IMG_2167

Treat yoself right … Have been wanting to try this bread for a while so one morning I treated myself to this nut butter and honey atop sourdough! V tiny for the price but oh well it was not bad!

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Happy birthday Mom haha tempura overload that night but no ragrets!
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Went to try Veganburg with YX!! After driving past it for so many years and seeing posts on Insta all the time. Really not bad but still pretty far haha will be a while before I go back.

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And Happy Birthday Pa!

Okay legit cannot believe 3/4 of my June holidays are already gone. Don’t even know what I DID AHH but I guess all good things must come to an end :”( One more week of good breakfasts, slightly better sleeps and a lot more studying before the 3 days of CTs roll around. Hopefully the next post won’t come in December! :~)

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Youth camp this year really exceeded my expectations because God met me in every place of need. Before camp, I was letting myself be so consumed by work that God took second place in my life. But then came burn out and a loss of my sense of purpose and confidence. I needed God to rekindle my fire for Him, to give me new purpose and give me the courage to dream and love myself again. And He did just that. At the very first service, even before we left for Malaysia, Ps Gerald and Ps Mavis already spoke God’s word to me during the altar call. I was reminded that God will never let me go and that I mustn’t let the devil assassinate the dreams that God has given me. Their prayers for me were really so spot on in addressing what I had been struggling with, I actually wondered how else God could surprise me and refresh me during the camp.

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Almost every altar call during the camp was a place of encounter with God, where I received visions and words from God, where prayers prayed over me continued to help me confront the doubts and fears I had stored up in my heart. I think the biggest problem I have is not that I don’t know God’s truths and promises, but that during difficult phases I find it hard to fully believe them. I’m always going to be a work in progress I guess! Every day can be a step closer to God 🙂

Besides getting to hear from God, I’m also really happy that I managed to get to know more people over the course of camp, including the younger p6s, sec 1s and 2s and the tertiary people! I’ve been really inspired by some of them and excited by the prospect of possibly doing some of the things they’ve shared with me when I’m older 🙂

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Really managed to let loose this camp and realign myself with God; I hope this won’t be an emotional high, or even a spiritual high, but become the new spiritual norm in my walk with God. I’m going to try my very best to let God take over my studies as well and trust that He will help me through the next two weeks and even 1.5 years 🙂

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