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

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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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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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Sleepy Vibes

It has just been ONE week of school and I am already returning home each day completely exhausted and ready to roll into bed. The words that come most easily to me are I’m tired, and I say them almost robotically whenever I have nothing else to say. I think it’s insane how draining social interaction has become for me, considering how this time last year I would have had to lead cheers and be enthusiastically engaging lil year 1s in conversations. It’s not always bad though – when I’m talking to a friend one-on-one, or when I’m with a group of familiar people who I am (truly) comfortable with, I really savour the time we have together. Like my MRT rides with my primary school friends, the talk with my dance batch mates during auditions, and all the Whatsapp conversations with friends I see everyday and those I haven’t seen in a while. I love friends who I can have conversations with without having to worry about anything, without having to hide anything and without having to fear that they’ll judge me. I love just being able to tell them about the significant and insignificant, knowing they will actually care about my life and be interested in the conversation regardless of the content.These conversations rejuvenate me rather than add to my stress, and make me feel like a friend rather than just-another-person-I-can-use (lol I’m so angsty). When lessons start proper, I’m going to have to make new friends and hopefully they will be the dependable sort who won’t be part of my worries! screams a little

I’ve tried to be more mindful about what I’m doing and I think it has helped in some ways. The Miracle Morning routine has been an amazing way to start the day thus far. I have to get up at least 30 minutes earlier, but once I brush my teeth and wash my face, I’m wide awake to focus on TMM. I play my instrumental ambient music and do this:

  • Silent time (pray)
  • Affirmations (read a list of affirmations about myself – sounds highly egoistic but it reminds me of the positive when I am often dragged down by the negative)
  • Visualisation (play out the rest of the day in your head, helps me to prep myself mentally and think about how everything will turn out fine)
  • Exercise (do a few leg lifts and stretches just to complete the acronym)
  • Read (read my Bible + devotions book)
  • Scribe (write the daily verse + my thoughts on it – I hope to end up with 365 pages of beautiful scripture when I am done)

It’s honestly so easy to start the day frazzled and anxious, but when I listen to the calming music and pray and read the Word, I allow my heart to settle down and block out the noise of the world. It gives me time to reflect on what I’ve been doing right and wrong and most importantly gives me the opportunity to correct my wrongs. In this week alone, TMM has made me realise how 1. my response to A Certain Situation was highly un-Christlike and 2. how worrying about my future CCA was really a waste of time because *surprise* God has a plan for me and it will work out no matter what CCA I join. God’s perception of time is so different from ours, it’s like us being burdened by a tiny speck in a magnificent masterpiece. I won’t deny that I still worry a lot, but I would say TMM still makes me a little more trusting and a little less worried, so it’s still a worthy habit!

On the other hand, being mindful means I am Acutely Aware of my life goals + my action plan, which is entirely contradictory to what I know I am supposed to live out, i.e. trusting in God’s plan for my life. Seriously I struggle with this everyday, not knowing which line is the point at which I need to let go and let God. Some days I wish our world weren’t so competitive and education could be innocent and fun and purely educational. I tell myself JC is probably the last time I can have fun and do things as a student that I won’t be able to do in the future, but on the flip side if I just have fun then what about my bigger goal? Y I K E S . I want to do so many things but there is never enough time for everything and not knowing how to find the perfect balance really tortures me. For this reason I over-plan and overthink and this is so lethal and school hasn’t even really started yet! (If I could make the letters in this sentence grow progressively bigger to emphasise the increasing anxiousness I feel, I would.) BIG SIGH.

I love spending time with children and elderly because they teach me how happiness doesn’t have to be complicated. Watching the little boy get up to dance along to the worship song (alone, mind you, all the other children just sat and played with the toys), and seeing the elderly’s faces light up as they sang and clapped along, are such precious reminders of how simple our emotions of joy were meant to be. I wonder how long it will be till the time when I don’t have a care in the world and a song could bring me complete bliss.

Because I have been so tired recently, I have just been reading ferociously to escape from reality (triggered: memories of Literature and the characters in The Glass Menagerie escaping from their tragic lives). But the books I have been reading are barely an escape because their plot developments and endings always leave me more confused about how to carry on with my life. (Am highly tempted to use the word sh00k HAH). I feel I haven’t made time to read a book properly in the last 4 years, so returning to fiction for fun is really refreshing and I hope I continue to read actively in the next 2 years!

Honestly, like all my other posts, I have no idea where this one is going… I guess I just felt like surviving the first week of JC was something to shout about and also felt like putting all my reflective/nonsense thoughts into proper sentences. I cannot believe it’s going to be Chinese New Year so soon but I’m So. Excited. at the prospect of not having to go to school for a week!!! Jiayouzzz to you and to me for the next week of life, try to make the most of it!

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.”