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 ❤

2015-march

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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! :~)

Unshakable 2k17

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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Holding On Tight

Happy hump day to myself! It’s already week nine (okay we cheated a little since our full timetable only started last week but whatever) and I’m 100% ready for the March (not)holidays to start asap! I feel as though school sucks so much out of me because I go home every night tired and unable to keep my eyes open regardless of whether I’ve just had coffee. I can’t pinpoint what it is exactly: the social interaction, the work, volleyball or ??? I’m watching all my friends drag themselves through this cycle of: 1. I don’t want to do this, but 2. Everyone else is doing it, so 3. I will make myself do it. I’ve honestly not seen so many people work so hard and publicly for that matter hahaha I’m more used to being intimidated by closet muggers/people who post their mugging pictures on their Snapchat/Insta stories for the rest of the world to see and feel ashamed of themselves.

Of course it really isn’t all dreary! I won’t deny that now is a really tough time because Dramafeste is really a horrible experience because all our sets are falling apart and the whole production just isn’t as concerted (compared to RGDF at least). But working on Dramafeste has given me time to get together with my House friends again.Though it is really beyond exasperating, I’m really glad I’m doing it with them. I find so so much solace in getting together with my friends from RG. Having left RG, I really miss it incredibly much </3 I miss being able to speak my mind or not speak at all, depending on whether I feel like it, because right now I feel obliged to interact and get to know new friends haha. I miss the teachers! Whether they were not so nice or really friendly, I still miss them all. I miss being able to walk around school and see familiar smiley faces because here it’s so awkward to see a once familiar face that now doesn’t smile back. Primary school boys are really such bad memories no joke.

Though I am most times mentally tired, and sometimes physically tired, I think God has been working more than ever in me. Even though I have to skip my Miracle Mornings when I sleep late and miss my 18983248 alarms in the morning, God still meets me after that and amazes me in the most unexpected ways. I’ve been walking to the MRT for the past few days, and the sky is always a different ombre in the morning. It’s a seamless and most gentle ombre, each hue of blue washed over the previous layer in a delicate and honestly perfect stroke. God paints the pitch black nights into glorious days, reminding us how His mercies are new every morning. Listening to worship songs on the way to school also wakes me up and reminds me of His presence, and how He will continually replenish my energy and give me strength to walk through the entire day.

The past week, God spoke to me about finding rest in Him. Though I’m only halfway through this week, I sense He is telling me about love and strength. I’ve always interpreted 1 Corinthians 13 as instructions on how to love people, but yesterday I realised that all love comes from God. Before we can love others in the way God instructed us to, He first loved us in the same way. So if our love to others is supposed to always hope, always protect, always trust, and always persevere, we can be certain that God loves us the same way. Even when we feel like giving up, God covers us with His love. He not only protects us but places His hope in us and trusts us. He perseveres in His love towards us even if we stumble. ❤ As I overheard another prayer group sing this morning, “You’re a good, good father.”

If Perfection is an Asymptote

January is almost over, CNY is almost here and I feel I have just been swept along by the relentless torrent of Social Activities since school started. I’ve allowed myself to slip back into the company of comfortable friends rather than that of classmates who, while earnest and kind, always seemed to be on a different intellectual curve. I still feel like a foreign specimen in the sprawling campus, looking straight forward whenever I am obligated to move around, for fear of making eye contact with a primary school acquaintance who I no longer recognise at first glance, and then have to make the oh-so-awkward decision of whether to smile or feign ignorance. Hopefully, this tense consciousness will dissipate with orientation, which begins at the end of next week! Meanwhile, I will revel in the one week long break from school.

Of the many books I have been indulging in, two stood out for me. The first, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, is an astoundingly realistic novel about sisterhood and how war changes everything. Then again, I use “astoundingly realistic” as a reader who is entirely unacquainted with war. It is one thing to read about the atrocious war crimes in a non-fiction text, but it is another to live the (still detached, but arguably closest possible) experience through the descriptive paragraphs of a skilful author. Every time I thought it couldn’t possibly get worse, it did. Relationships were strained, people changed, and children matured quicker than they should have. The immense feelings of loneliness and desperation penetrated the novel and gripped me from start to finish. While wars rage in our world, our lives continue. We go on each day, hopefully gratefully, most probably robotically, while someone else suffers. The things the book described still happen today, and it so chilling to think about another in distress, while I sit here in perfect safety and comfort. If this is not motivation enough for me to make real change through Medicine, then I don’t know what is. It is so easy to turn away in denial and continue basking in my undeserved privilege, but how could I allow myself to do that to a fellow child of God? God tells me I was born for this, called to this royal position for such a time as this. A time of suffering for another is a time for me to challenge myself to use my education to make a positive change.

The second immensely thought-provoking book I read was When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. This autobiography chronicles the life of a neurosurgeon-neuroscientist (the most revered combination of specialities according to Dr Kalanithi, and I can see why) and how everything flipped on its side when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He studied in America and hence did two previous degrees in Literature and the History of Medicine (at Cambridge!!) before pursuing his medical degree at Yale. What a legend, truly. He conveyed the confused and conflicted thoughts of a Medical student perfectly, bringing the beauty of literature and the power of words together with his deep understanding of the human experience. My biggest takeaway from the book was the need to make life changing (actually, life changing) decisions as a surgeon. So much hinged on the decision to go ahead with a particular procedure or to hold back, and there were instances where he was right and others where he was wrong. He couldn’t let doubt get in the way of his choices and had to do his very best for his patients to see them through till the very end. He also discussed the importance of the doctor’s human touch – the need to empathise and communicate with the patient in a way that made them feel secure in your care, and not to see them as mere paperwork or another box in your checklist keeping you from going home. All his experiences were articulated in such a raw, true way. I can only think of it as him giving me glasses to look into the Medical experience, where previously my vision was blurry and my impressions unsure. Of his many sentences that hit the nail on the head, this is perhaps my favourite: You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.

What beautiful words!!

This quote resonates so deeply with me, especially in these two weeks where we were reminded of the wealth of opportunities offered to us by the school. We are encouraged to pick a domain in which to develop: cognitive, leadership, sports, arts and community service. I feel, to a certain extent, that I have dared to dip my toes in a little of each aspect and yet never really excelled in any. After readjusting my goals for JC in accordance to my priorities for my grand life plan, I am turning away from the old familiarities. It is always hard to leave what I am used to, no matter if they were good experiences or unpleasant ones. There have been so many times where I considered my plans again, trying to decide if I were really brave enough to radically (for me) change my previous style of existence. It helps that so many of my friends are also venturing into new unknowns with me I guess! This year, I need to learn that I can’t do everything someone else does, have everything someone else has, or be anybody but myself. How many times have I gone on the once-innocent-Instagram only to become upset because of what someone else is doing that I am not? I’m slowly learning to regulate my emotions and learning to lean on God for strength. He created me and made me the perfect one to carry out His plans in my circles. He will not deny me of anything that I will need to succeed, so fear not YH!

For the past few mornings, God has reminded me through my daily verses that I am 1. not to worry because 2. He will guide me and establish my steps (no matter how much I seek to chart my own journeys) and that 3. I need only ask Him for it to be given to me, and knock, for the door to be opened.

Christina Perri aptly sings: How to be brave, how to love when I am afraid to fall?

So I mustn’t be afraid to fall. My identity is that of a child of God, NOT a slave to fear. For with man things are impossible, but with God, nothing is impossible.

I am very blessed to be surrounded by supportive friends, from the crazy ones to the ones who celebrate my successes more than I do myself. So blessed. There are just so many things to be appreciative of. Growing up is such a strange feeling. While I feel more in touch with my emotions and thoughts and self-dependence, this connectedness is foreign, and makes me long for my pink-princessy-dress days, where life was a hundred times simpler.

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