Monday, March 29, 2010

Snippets: Of grumpy bears and kimonos

A: :Let’s have a Japanese theme night! I’ll cook chirashi rice!
B: I’ll wear a kimono!
C: I’ll wear my kimono print dress!
D: I’ll paint my face white!

A, B and C: .....! HAHAHAHAHA


Gchat with the sister

D:I'm so grumpy right now....
C: dont be grumpy! grumpy bear isnt quite as fun as cheer bear!
D: ......
C: *sends a picture of Grumpy bear* Although, this one is quite cute....

The said cute picture is above :)


C: sigh, i dun wanna study...let's run away together jie
D: hahaha ok, where do we go?
C:Canada? Melbourne? or let's be Coldplay groupies and follow them wherever they go!
D: ....
C: i have clearly put much thought into this plan eh?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Work's been mad this week and I'm was so stressed yesterday - at one point, I felt my chest tighten and realized I how overwhelmed I felt.

It's really strange but I'm reading Jerry Bridges 'Respectable Sins' now and for some reason, it's helping my stress not raising the stress level further. Maybe because he lists anxiety, frustration, impatience and irritability as sins and draws your attention to the various bits of scripture to remind us of .....(you got it!) God's sovereignty and holiness.

I'm emotional (B.A in Eng lit and loves gothic suspense novels? Yeah, emotional is the understatement of the year)and learning to deal with my emotions in a manner that honours God is.... well, lets just say that its an on going project commissioned and undertaken by Christ and probably won't be completed till the day I die. But every so often, there's a progress report or update :)

Giving thanks for:-

+ conversation with the sister yesterday. we laughed and caught up and teased each other. 'twas the highlight of my day :) will post snippets from that sometime.

+ a meeting in which my boss was present - I'd never have been able to control the other guy on my own or gotten so much information out of him otherwise.

+ music - Eva Cassidy's Songbird and Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony to help dial down the stress

+ reading - good lit helps refocus the mind on what's really important.

+ running - dopamine release, yeah!

Vent over, just needed to blurt all this out to ... well, whoever lurks around reading this space.


"My feelings are not God. God is God. My feelings do not define truth. God's word defines truth. My feelings are echoes and responses to what my mind perceives. And sometimes--many times--my feelings are out of sync with the truth. When that happens--and it happens every day in some measure--I try not to bend the truth to justify my imperfect feelings, but rather, I plead with God: Purify my perceptions of your truth and transform my feelings so that they are in sync with the truth.

That's the way I live my life every day. I hope you are with me in that battle."

- John Piper, Finally Alive, pages 165-166


"Prayer mirrors the gospel. In the gospel, the Father takes us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of salvation. In prayer, the Father receives us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of help. We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers."

- Paul Miller, A Praying Life, page 55


Lord I am willing to -
Receive what you give,
Lack what you withhold,
Relinquish what you take.

- Anonymous

(From 'Respectable Sins' by Jerry Bridges)

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Reading Life: The Thirteenth Tale

Shouldn't be blogging today(so much work!) but using my dinner break to read and write a little because, well, I don't like days without any of that at all.

The reading continues apace. This nerd took herself off to the library on Friday and gulped down a gorgeously rich book over the weekend. It's been a long long time since I read any gothic suspense novels and I hadn't realized I was quite so tired of the lean modern prose style until I picked up Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale.

"My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don't expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie."

Someone once told me that good writers write short crisp sentences, neat and concise. I disagreed vehemently.

Maybe good writing for a workaday news article or a management/marketing report requires short sharp writing and I agree that there is a place for deft sharp stories - knife sharp and honed to a fine point - all the better for piercing through the fog of life that surrounds us most of the time.

But ask any fiction lover who has ever read Dickens, Angela Carter, A S Byatt or Du Maurier and they'll tell you that there is nothing on earth that comes close to the experience of plunging into a sea of words, only to surface hours later, metaphors and dreams clinging to the skin like so many fronds of seaweed.

The Thirteenth Tale was as rich and dark as the best kind of brandied fruit cake, filled with interesting and aromatic little nuggets of lyric and metaphor. The perfect antidote to the driven, spare prose that dominates so much of modern literature and a perfect luxurious companion for the grey, rain filled weekend.

"For I was spellbound. There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic. When I at last woke up to myself, I could only guess what had been going on in the darkness of my unconsciousness."

Oh books. I've read a love letter to all of you old friends over the weekend and I must buckle down and write my own love letter(s) to you one day. Have been reading so much fact and study material lately, I'm just utterly craving some story.

Note to self - to borrow and read some Jeanette Winterson books soon. Love the blog, love the articles, need to get my grubby little fingers on some of her books.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The reading life - children's books

Why is it so hard to find Madeleine L'Engle books in Singapore? Even Kino has failed me - I own all the ones they stock - not that they had much to begin with. It's strange but now that I'm grown and have an income, I find that the things I wanted when I was 11 or 15 are still the things I want today. I wanted a whole set of Beethoven's Symphonies conducted by Von Karajan when I was 14(got that last year), all of the Anne of Green Gables series (got that by the time I hit uni) and I still want the rest of Madeleine L'Engle's fiction books, DVDs of some old favourite movies etc.

On a related note, while wandering around Kino's children's books section trying to find the L'Engle books, I looked at the selection available and had to suppress a shudder. What are the children these days reading?

Vampire stories, brat stories, stories about rich manhattanites wearing designer togs, stories designed to turn your daughter into a kid who sleeps around with billionaire's sons - really, what filth!

I've written about discernment and wisdom in the consumption of intellectual fodder before but I seriously thought I wouldn't need to add: Isn't it even more crucial to be diligent in policing the sorts of books (and values and morals etc) that your 11 year old is gulping down?

Ugh. This bears thinking through. Might come back and write about this some other time. For now though, I leave you with a lovely CS Lewis quote - courtesy of Mr DT - who kindly emailed it to me.


When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. -- CS Lewis


FB Exchange:

A's Status update: The Vorpal blade went snicker snack
B: Fables?
A: No, Alice in Wonderland.
C: We have now proven that B is geekier than A and C put together.

B to C (in person): I refuse to admit that I'm geekier than you; you code for fun!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gems from CS Lewis

Awhile back I mentioned reading some CS Lewis and I finally have a spare moment so to post up a couple of snippets. Good gracious, how I love the dry no nonsense way the British sometimes have about them.

I laughed out loud when I read the first snippet that I'm posting up - was on the MRT and I'm positive the aunty standing near me shot me an uneasy look and edged away (as far away as you can get on an MRT train pretending to be a can of sardines, anyway).

The second is just simply true. In this day where self help books abound and the pulpit has become psychologized and drained of theology proper, people often equate Christianity as another self help remedy, Christ as the giver of feelings of psychological well being and church as a social gathering place. The human need for redemption is not lessened by a pleasant personality, a vegan diet or driving a hybrid car with a save the whales sticker on it.

Decades before it happened, Lewis crystallized it into one sentence: Mere improvement is not redemption.

On the contrary, improvement comes after redemption, from gratitude and from repentance. But even then, sanctification is called a process..because well, it is a process. It'll take your whole life. As Lewis himself put it, when Christ says He wants your life, He doesn't just want the Sunday bits of it. He wants all of you. You give Him and inch and He'll take an ell.


There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous by saying that they do not want to spend ‘eternity playing harps’. The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them. All the scriptural imagery (harps, crowns, gold etc) is,of course, a merely symbolic attempt to express the inexpressible, Musical instruments are mentioned because for many people (not all) music is the thing known in the present life which most strongly suggests ecstasy and infinity. Crowns are mentioned to suggest the fact that those who are united with God in eternity share His splendor and power and joy. Gold is mentioned to suggest the timelessness of heaven (gold does not rust) and the preciousness of it. People who take symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.


‘Niceness’ - wholesome integrated personality is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice’; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world – and might even be more difficult to save.

For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons; not simply produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.

Monday, March 8, 2010

He restores

Only that I have had good news today - of an unexpected and personal nature.

It's the first time in a year (a whole year!) and I'm so grateful - no, I don't think this post is ever going to make sense to anyone but those nearest and dearest to me. But its ok. This one is my Ebenezer.

God willing, this may continue- discovered a possible reason for it on my way home - but no - I won't attribute this to anything else but the compassion and mercy of God.

Its not happy in the butterflies kissing daisies way. Only... only that the girl sitting on a ledge waiting for the wind is giving way to another girl on her knees and who knows that He gathers the wind in His fists.

Oh I'm so tired. And I know this won't make sense - I can't be coherent, can't even read right now. But it's here because - won't you give thanks with me?

The Lord, He is good - can't even begin to tell about how good - and His mercies endure forever.


Oh Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
His mercy endures forever

(Psalm 136:1)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Safety: Thoughts on abusive relationships

Emotional safety - in any and all relationships - is critical for the health and growth of the relationship. One of the key skills an adult must acquire is learning to discern between those who can be trusted and those who can't.

I'm deeply uncomfortable around anyone I perceive to be "unsafe" but unfortunately, there isn't a perfect "radar" that can identify abusers with 100% accuracy (if there were, I'd pay through the nose for it). One can only keep one's eyes peeled, be wary and always always pull in your community and family to back you up, keep you accountable and protect you. I cannot emphasize this last enough: A key trait of nearly all abusive relationships is the isolation - the victim is brought to the point where he/she no longer has anyone else to trust or confide in.

Even as I write this though, I know. In the end, it is God who protects, unfailingly and lovingly. Guarding the heart, guarding the mind and self is done through seeking wisdom in scripture and embedding yourself in a community, amongst other trusted Godly men and women. It is important to highlight that abuse is a manifestation of sin - and that in guarding you against sin, your community can and will guard you against abuse as well.

Note: I reserve a special brand of dislike for those who use their faith to emotionally blackmail people into doing things - emotional blackmail is abuse. Utter selfishness and an inability to understand or try to understand another's needs is abuse wrapped up in another word.

There is only one thing to do if a relationship begins to corrode in this manner (oh and it's biblical too): Flee.

A key question to ask: Do you feel safe expressing your thoughts/feelings to this person?

Excerpts from Yv:

Another mark of something being wrong is secrecy. Secrecy that isolates you from your friends and family is not acceptable. In fact, too much secrecy in a relationship can be the first sign of manipulation and coercion. The more you keep abuse — physical, emotional or sexual — secret from your family and friends, the more ashamed you become. Communication is vital for safety.

The abuser disguises his true intention of control and domination in two ways. First, he performs actions that he knows are interpreted as signs of love and devotion by most women. Second, he convinces the woman that his other actions, the ones that reveal his true intentions, *are also demonstrations of love*.

Two of the key tools he uses are focus and intensity.

Focus: They will use the information you give them to “package” their promised rewards and punishments. The more they match your desires in their promised rewards and dredge up your deepest fears in their punishments, the more control they get and maintain. Throughout your r/s with an abuser, he will be able to get a smile on your face and make your heart flutter with pleasure. He will also know how to make your stomach clench in dread and sweat break out on your brow. He was given the means of doing both of these things *by you* in the early stages of your relationship. NOTE: This wearing down of resistance happens in brainwashing cults, sects, religions, state propaganda, etc etc as well.

Intensity: They let you talk on and on, or find time to ask you very personal questions and demand completely honest answers. This is more common when an abuser believes he has enough advantages over you and you will want him regardless. He gains power by getting you to do what he asks, every time he asks, without question or hesitation on your part. You are too overwhelmed to ask yourself why he wants to do everything so fast and so completely — it’s not passion. It’s training. He’s psychologically training you to submit to his emotional control and the abuse that will accompany it very soon.

Physical abuse is not what you’re going to be afraid of. What’s most damaging sometimes is emotional abuse. Here are guys who know exactly what the girl wants to hear, how special and wonderful she is, they can say it with the straightest face — and then with the same straight face they can crush your spirit without even touching you.

The stages2:

Stage I: Tension building
She feels as though she’s walking on eggshells. He is edgy, moody, easily agitated, unpredictable. There’s an air of heightened anxiety.

Stage II: Acute or abusive
Concentrated and intense emotional and verbal abuse, actual physical abuse, an eruption of the tension previously described.

Stage III:
He says “I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again.” He may blame her for his actions with “If you wouldn’t…I wouldn’t get angry.” He makes up with “hearts and flowers” or sex. She experiences many feelings from anger to love to confusion. She believes him and the cycle continues.

Shame is one of the most powerful emotions the abused feels. They don’t see it as rape, they are not outraged. They absorb all the shame and humiliation that a rape victim experiences, but they blame themselves, not him. She won’t tell a parent or a therapist. If the girl has strong rescue needs, a suicide threat is an effective way of keeping her trapped in an abusive relationship. It’s the ultimate manipulation.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

C S Lewis on love

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around your hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

-- C S Lewis The Four Loves, chapter 6


Met M and V for a cuppa milo and wound up venting a whole load of frustration at them - the poor things - I don't they'd ever seen me in such a snit before.

So tired and drained now and so so angry at myself.


The four cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. Self control isn't staying calm all the time, but also knowing when or where you can safely vent.

Friends, let me lean on you for a bit? I'm ok - or I will be - but for now, I just need a hug very badly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Meditation: 1 Cor 1:22 - 31

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For consider your calling, brothers:not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written,"Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

1 Cor 1:22 - 31


There isn't really anything else that's important.Not intellectualism, not name dropping, not money. Just that attitude of meekness, humility, surrender.


Biblical worship invades the human soul. It is the soul that too often has been banished from modern worship. We are a people preoccupied with self-image, self-esteem, and self-gratification. Yet in all this we don’t even know what a “self” is.

The human soul is in exile from our thinking. No wonder, then, that it is not considered relevant to worship. Heaven is too distant to contemplate. Our lives are lived within the restricted boundaries of our terrestrial horizon. We have so despised the notion of pie in the sky that we have lost our taste for it altogether.

But when our souls are engaged in worship, our gaze is lifted heavenward, our hearts are set aflame by the divine fire, and we are ready to be done with this world. There is such a thing as mystic sweet communion with Christ in worship.

I’m speaking about something that goes beyond emotion (but includes it); that transcends passion (but doesn’t annul it); that penetrates to the deepest core of our being, where we sense—nay, we know—that we are in the presence of the living God.

-- R C Sproul