Great expectations

A conversation with daddy on the family chat, as my parents vacation in Baguio for his birthday (translated into English):

Dad: …Love you guys. I miss our family vacations in Baguio. Maybe someday, we can do it with the grandkids. (*three laughing emojis*)

Me: Ahhhhh hahahahahahaha!!! Even without grandkids, lezzzgoooo.

Patty (my sister): DAD. IT’LL BE A LONG TIME BEFORE GRANDKIDZZZ.

Me: You gotta have faith dad. #prayersalone (#dasallangtalaga) And very very very good health.

Patty: LONG LONG LONG HEALTHY HEALTHY HEALTHY LIFE

Dad: (changing the subject) #notexpectinga1000wordFBgreetingonmybday

Me: Oh dad, don’t expect it at all. (*laughing emoji*)

Dad: #pamyisnotfeelinganypressurerightnow

***

That, right there, is a true story. Hashtags included. And in that short exchange you immediately see three things about my dad. His love for family (and his yet-to-be, unknown grandchildren), his sense of humour (complete with #dadjokes), and his great expectations.

Now there is probably not a sane parent out there who has not had grand dreams for their children. Yet not every parent approaches this in the same, level-headed manner.

We are fresh from a wedding in the family—one that many of us jokingly refer to as the only wedding we’ll be having in a long time. It is in moments like these, that get me thinking of how my dad has graciously dealt with the many unmet expectations heaped upon him in 34 years of parenting.

Many people ask why none of us in a family of six children have followed in his footsteps to become medical doctors. The more kaypoh* ones may go a step further and pry about why we have yet to settle down and give our parents grandchildren.

35144771800_900e081173_oWhile I’m sure dad has his hopes for us, I didn’t feel that overbearing burden of expectation upon us. There wasn’t one course to take—not a case of medicine or bust. There wasn’t one way of living a life—not marrying for the sake of it, as if it were the only inevitable option. There wasn’t just one mold of thinking, being or doing, which looking back, may have been simpler for a young person finding her place in the world. Of course, we were well-aware of his preference, but in the end, the choice was still ours to make.

Well, he asks for a 2 million-word piece for Father’s day in June; and instead he gets these 977 words—as a belated birthday greeting, at that.

***

Growing up, dad was the one to start the fun and jokes at the dinner table (especially when he was in a very good mood. Ahem.) And admittedly, it was mom I would run to for the serious talk. Still, when it mattered, dad always came through with his words of love, encouragement and wisdom, usually written. I’d like to think I get my inclination to writing from him, among many other things. This is one old email I keep from the time I hit a rough patch in a previous relationship.

 


“…(you will find) someone who will share your dreams and aspirations…You are a beautiful person not only outside but moreso inside. I am sure that one day (maybe even sooner than you expect), Mr. Right will come your way.

 Again, I know that right now you feel that the world is coming down on you but please don’t feel so. I will tell you now to pray, pray harder than you have prayed before. Ask our Lord for guidance and strength. Prayer is powerful. Part of my daily prayers is that nothing but positive things come out of your relationship, no matter what happens. I am certain that even with your breakup, something positive will come out of this.”


I read back on this email five years later, and it astounds me how it was indeed prayer that saw me through that time in my life. Back then, I had my own daddy remind me to go to my Father in heaven. And out of that dark period, the light of a renewed relationship with God came forth.

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Picture taken from Heart of God Church Instagram account (@hogc)

We recently concluded a series on prayer at church. Pastor How preached that prayer is a posture of humility, a petition to the highest authority, a position to defend and hold, and that secret place where we encounter Him. It lifts our spirits to rejoice in Him and stirs up faith to expect great things from God.

***

Dad, on your birthday, I come before God grateful for you, my father here on earth. Through you, I have felt what it is to be loved unconditionally and to receive freely. And because of this, I can approach my heavenly Father with even greater expectation.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Ephesians 3:20, NLT

So yes, I pray not just for a life abundant in years, but one rich with love for and from God, and those around you. Yes, let’s pray you will be walking your children down the aisle, or enjoying with your grandchildren in due time, but also pray that you would walk with Him closely and enjoy His presence daily. I am expectant to see what God can do in and through your life in these golden years of wisdom. 

The Message version of the Bible puts it beautifully: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

So dearest dad, hope and dream far beyond what the world dictates. For if there’s someone who gives above and beyond what we expect, that is our Father God.

I love you always. Happy Birthday! 🙂

 

 

*kaypoh: (Singlish), (noun) a busybody, (verb) to pry into someone else’s business

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A toast to the first

It has been over a month now since our family congregated on that lawn in Semara Beach, Bali. And today is Lex and Ashna’s first wedding anniversary from last year’s solemnization rites. I’d like to share this supposedly five minute speech that I gave during the wedding dinner in Bali. This was the script at least, but I’m sure I may have deviated from it slightly.

Lex and Ash, we will never tire of seeing you two exchange vows. Give us another reason to celebrate. 😉

***

This is my first time to give the Best Man speech, but being Lex’s sister, I shouldn’t be surprised at this choice. If there’s anyone in our family who firmly believes in a true gender egalitarian utopia, that person would be Lex—the man formerly known as PB boy, but will always be Pablo.

I still remember that morning Lex went into my room and said he needed to tell me something. I had the privilege and what I felt then was a responsibility of being the first person to find out about his plan to propose marriage to Ashna. I launched into a long spiel about marriage and the motivations for doing so, which he probably wasn’t expecting. Turns out that what he needed was “logistical” help – a credit card with a certain limit to secure the ring.

Not that he needed my unsolicited advice. For the longest time, Lex has been blazing trails in our family—the first-born boy after two older sisters, the first to leave home, the first go overseas (back in 2004) and carve out his independence. And now the first to marry.

As a child, Lex was never afraid to stand out. When he outgrew the literal leash that we, his older sisters, used to tied around his neck,  he showed early signs of his avant garde, unconventional tastes. His talents as an orator are fondly remembered with his original dramatic performance of “The Egg”. And once he discovered the art of argument, it was hard to keep the outspoken Lex down.

It is hard to imagine that young PB once wanted to live in a functional box, with just his Linux powered computer and nothing else. Hard to remember his reluctance to go overseas. How far you have come indeed from our days as housemates in Ang Mo Kio. Almost a year ago (July 23, 2016), and once more today, you have made a decision to build a life together.

Throughout their six or so years together as a couple, I have seen glimpses of how they have conducted their affairs. Many of you will know them as an intensely private couple, and they have forged their own way of doing things, never to be defined by convention. We are definitely the few privileged to share this joyous occasion with them.

It amazes me how time and love can truly transform a man, one who could never be coerced to do anything if not by logic, to one who now spends his Sunday afternoons at wedding dance practice, social painting sessions, and even ice cream-making classes (*edit to reflect today’s events in July 2017).  And I see how both Lex and Ashna bring a grounded and stable counterpoint to each other when needed the most.

Lex and Ash, indeed what a blessing that you get to marry the same person twice, and in such poetic fashion for Lex, my fellow Piscean, to be wed by the sea.

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In many ways Lex has set the stage for how our lives played out. If you had not gone to Singapore 13 years ago, many of us would probably not be here today, finding our own paths outside the familiarity of our childhood home. It is always comforting to know that someone goes ahead, and your courage gave us that push to make it on our own. With you being the first, you go where none of us have gone. Yet take heart, that in our parents (daddy and mommy) and in Uncle SK and Auntie Sushma you have fine examples of marriages tested by time.

And so to my dear brother and my lovely new sister— I pray that you would find your strength in each other. But more than that you would find an anchor to place as first in your lives, a higher calling or purpose, something, Someone to place your faith in.

Yes, put each other first. But also find the Anchor that stands firm when all else fails and nothing remains. As the wise King Solomon has written,

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.

Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

And so I propose a toast to my favorite married couple in Singapore. To Lex and Ashna, may you live each day with the same fervor and wonder as if it were your first together. I love you both.

 

Independence Day (a letter to mom)

Dearest Mommy,

This is your first Mother’s Day as an empty-nester. When your not-so-little monkey, Paola, left home late last year, it all became official. And so it has been a long 34 years of motherhood thus far, that probably went by too quickly, depending on how you see it.

All around me, friends and relatives are becoming mothers for the first or second time. It must be an entirely different experience for you, transitioning into a new season of motherhood. One where your children no longer vie for your attention 24/7, but instead one where you wait for their Viber messages across different time zones. Where the once messy dinner affairs for eight are now intimate dates for two. Where peace and silence replace the shrill cries and raucous laughter.

Yet also one where we are no longer just a room away to kiss and hug you goodnight, or bug you for no good reason. Where we have come to rely on the virtual endearments of emoji and internet speak. And where finding us sometimes means seeing a Facebook post or an email of a flight itinerary, just to see where in the world we are.

You always told us that your main role as a parent would be to equip us for independence. That it would be your greatest joy not to keep us all close by and dependent, but standing on our own two feet, wherever our individual paths would take us.

I know this is ‘out-of-season’, but I still remember that skirt you painstakingly crafted for our Christmas tree. At some point, the holiday rush interrupted that yearly practice of adding a new star for another year passed. Growing up, it would have been unthinkable to break from tradition—like being incomplete for the annual family picture. Yet the day has come when we are all beginning to build new traditions, while gratefully drawing from our home and family that you and daddy built with great love and sacrifice.

I’m sitting outside now at some café, and I just finished my long overdue read of Joy’s novel, “All My Lonely Islands”. (As an aside, has dad gone past the fourth chapter? Please tell him to read the whole thing.)

The central mother figure to the story’s protagonist wrote to her—

“I wanted a faith that stands on its own even if it seems that God has snatched back His hand and no longer remembers my name. I hope you’ll learn to drive your roots in a deep earth so that the fullness of your life will depend on no one, not a mother or a best friend.” 

Your prayers have been answered. You have raised us as independent men and women, and I will always be grateful for that.

Rather than selfishly keep us dependent on you, you gave us the space to fight our own battles, be it as simple as nursing a cold or overcoming heartbreak. Yet not once did I feel any distance, as you always readily listened, offered your wise counsel and fervently prayed daily for every one of us.

You have shown us a better way—anchoring our faith not on filial ties or limited human capacity, but a complete trust in God alone. More than being an independent woman, over the years, I have gone through a journey of becoming God-dependent. And I thank you for supporting me through every step of this walk in faith.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3: 5-6

As it turns out, not one of your daughters is in any great hurry to become a mother. I know though, that when that time comes, if God wills, then I would like to share this same kind of God-dependent parenting. You did subscribe to the idea that your children are not entirely your own; that God blessed you with each of us, only to pass under your care for a season. And we are all ultimately, His children.

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Mommy, we can never truly be apart, as our ties have been forged by flesh and blood, by a lifetime of vivid moments, a treasure of values I hold close, and the great blessing of a shared faith. Know that I would choose to be by your side, not because of desperate need, but because of the love I have for you.

Happy Mother’s Day! In a strange way, after 34 years, Happy Independence Day to you too! 😉

Near or far, I love you always, mom.

Pamy

Never Alone

It took me awhile to be absolutely sure of what I would do on that Sunday, the thirteenth of March. For many reasons—aborted plans, physical limitations, work schedules, among other things—I waited until the day before to map out my activities. Planning and preparation are key, but there is also wisdom in leaving room for a change in course, and joy in welcoming the unexpected.

My 13 year-old self would never have envisioned this kind of a life at 33. Flashback to summers with cousins, “making” our wedding invitations (sorry girls, I’m outing us all here), fantasizing future fairy tales that would come true circa 2010 or thereabouts. Yes, we would be married in our mid-twenties, because that only seemed natural. In my youth and naiveté, it never crossed my mind that I would be very much single well into my thirties.

I find that I struggle when writing about love and relationships, especially the quest for a life partner. I don’t want to sound obsessed or desperate, as if all life depended on it. Yet by the very personal and significant nature of the topic, I would be a hypocrite to pretend to be immune to the yearnings and pleasures of love’s fulfilment.

I had been meaning to pen this down, until that moment I took a detour to explore another aspect of love. So here goes.

Last February, I made a statement to myself on Valentine’s Day—

I have never been happier in my singlehood.

That on a day when my Facebook feed was flooded with pictures of lovestruck couples, I could be genuinely happy and rejoice for them. To see the beauty of love in all its forms, and experience the joy of one who gives and receives it.

For the first time in a long time, an unrivalled peace held this hopeful romantic’s heart. Not because of a promise of a future partner to come, but the very real present, the true gift that comes on this 33rd year.

Down on my knees on the eve of my birthday, all my bursting heart could hold and utter forth—

Lord, you love me. You really really really love me.

And it may have taken awhile to get here, but that 20 year-old “curse” of desperately seeking my one true love, of moving from one object of affection (or obsession) to the next, has been lifted. I have awaken from that intoxicating delusion. To borrow from Leonardo Di Caprio’s long-awaited Oscars acceptance speech, I do not take this for granted.

That all the love in the world could never compare to what Christ has done on the cross, to just one drop of His precious blood. It was that which freed me, that which fills me.

And a love this great must be shared. This March, on Women’s month, I pray for all women, most especially those nearest and dearest to me.

That all women, single or attached, may come to an awakening of God’s eternal and complete love. We all know of women who despair and struggle, who attach their worth and purpose to their relationships and perfecting their roles as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters. Of women who constantly fear loneliness, barrenness, abandonment, rejection—festering lies that the devil has deviously planted in their hearts. And to varying degrees, we are those women who have experienced the sadness, emptiness, and heartache that come with this longing.

Beyond this sense of worth, I pray that we would truly delight in God, live each day in His loving presence, and desire something more than just a man.

That we will live our days, planning not only for dream weddings, rising in our careers, charting exotic travel destinations, chasing after noble pursuits, or even building a life with our partners or ensuring our children’s futures—but also readying our hearts and souls for the eternity ahead.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act.”

Psalm 37:4-5

In the end, I woke up last Sunday, racing to greet the Punggol sunrise in solitude. I looked forward to attending service on my actual birthday, sans the company of the connect group who had gone the day before, then maybe spend some time at the museum or even try to get this entry finished before dinner (clearly that didn’t happen until today).

Instead, my sister Patty joined me around mid-day at the park, Chloe sat with me during service and greeted me with flowers and gifts from the rest of the girls, friends messaged me throughout the day, my parents and scattered siblings Google hung out in the afternoon, until I finally had dinner with my Singapore family. I hadn’t planned most of that, but God always has a beautiful way with surprises.

Sisters, we are never alone. We have our families. We have friends. We have each other. We also have the men God places in our lives in different roles, purposes and seasons. For God knows we are not meant to live in isolation, but are made for relationships with others and with Him.

Ultimately, we have a God who has promised that He will never forsake us, who will be with us until the end of the ages, who prepares for us an eternal union with Him, and who will never ever leave us alone.

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Thirty-three, single and free

Thirty-three, single and free. Sometimes I wonder how it would be if I had come to this place sooner, but I brush aside the thought, knowing this is exactly how He wanted it to unfold.

May you too find true freedom, overwhelming peace, great comfort and delight in our Lord always.

It only takes a moment

And so that song1 goes. It only takes a moment to be loved a whole life long. One sincere gesture, one solemn vow, one true word can seal the deal. On the ugly flipside, it also takes but a moment to be scarred for what could seem a lifetime. One careless gesture, one damning curse, one hurtful word can set off a series of unfortunate events.

Most of you may have heard (and that’s an understatement) about the recent2 brouhaha around Manny Pacquiao speaking out against same-sex relationships and marriage, casting aspersions on the LGBT lifestyle and offending many in the community on an international stage.

I was struck by many things on different levels—the personal, moral, social aspects of it. What happens when in sharing a personal revelation, or something we hold as truth—regardless of our motivations— we then put in question the truths that others believe, and even thrust into a negative light on the lives that others lead?

I was disturbed with how quickly people can pass harsh judgment or let words loose, in any given situation, whether you are the first to make a statement, or in violent reaction to something. In the heat of it all, I had a few choices on what I could or not do:

  1. Keep silent. What use another voice in the chaotic fray? If I would not add anything of value, then to what end?
  2. Take a stand, and defend it with all righteous indignation. With no regard for what I say or do, not caring whom I hurt along the way.
  3. Take an apologetic stance. Not all Christians present Bible truths in such contexts and with judging undertones.
  4. Truly examine the condition of my heart and reflect on how I myself have judged others. And in any situation for that matter, be it to the tiniest degree, even in the recesses of my heart, I could think of the times in that same day alone when I held myself in higher regard than I should have. Number 4 was the clear winner.

We live in a pervasive culture of snap judgments, of callous words, of an ease with which we throw around opinions or truths. People have become numb, desensitized with all the insults, vulgarity and crassness thrown around in a world that places a premium on speaking freely. And regardless of what you believe in, we are in a depraved state when negativity and personal attacks have become the norm.

***

Now Christianity is not a comfort zone or feel-good balm that soothes our problems away. And it is certainly not a pedestal that gives anyone license to feel more upright than others. That is why I cannot sit here and judge at a distance people whose struggles and reality I have never experienced. God Himself spared us from the judgment we rightly deserve, and Jesus came into this world to carry the weight of that judgment.

If I think about the instances when harshness and brute force have succeeded in “winning over” people—that would in essence be slavery. As someone who has not been shackled by my beliefs, but has instead been freed by this faith, I would only hope to speak the same Truth in a spirit of love. God has never and will never force Himself on us, but instead waits patiently as the work He does in us bears fruit and turns our hearts toward Him.

In professing this, I want to make known that the reason I have come to believe is not because human will shoved me into it, but because the LOVE of God has truly transformed my life. This love has not made me in any way perfect or immune to the temptations that abound, and yet it has opened my heart and whole being to the glory, beauty and truth of who God is. Only then could I find the humility, strength and grace to fight battles with sloth, lust, pride (the list goes on and on), and submit every detail of my life to Him. Love first above all.

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The true antidote to hypocrisy and judgment is love (Sculpture by Jean-Baptiste Debay)

Until such time, it is more often than not a losing battle for Christians to hammer down ideas that have no meaning or value to the hearer. The only true antidote to hypocrisy and judgment is LOVE. It may be the longer, less convenient route, the more deliberate way. But it is the way of Christ

 

 

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your FAITH with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with LOVE”

2 Peter 1: 5-7

The call to spread the Truth of the Good News and to stand up for our faith is not simply in the words we say, but in the lives we lead. And even as I “only” write this, my prayer remains that I not only stop at reciting verses, but truly become a doer of the Word. May my deeds be greater than my words, and my snap judgments always cast aside by love.

In all that we do, God is most concerned about the condition of our hearts. Only God’s final judgment will stand, and through faith in Jesus’ saving work on the cross, we are free to live in truth and love. Indeed, it only took that one moment to be loved our whole lives long.

In any given moment, we can choose to speak life or death, we can shine His light or keep people in the dark, and we can offer love, hatred or indifference.

It is love that penetrates, not harsh words. And it only takes a moment.

 

 

1“It Only Takes a Moment” (Jerry Herman). You may recognize the song from ‘Hello Dolly’ or ‘Wall-E’ (borrowing from Hello Dolly)

2In Internet time or any time, this may come as a delayed reaction, but true to that title, I wanted to consider the weight of that moment and not make a snap judgment 😉

Life and Choices in Slow Motion

“If you have not chosen the kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead… The tempter tells me, ‘Take care, think how much this good resolve, the acceptance of this grace is going to cost.’ But Our Lord equally tells us to count the cost.”                

 (C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”)

***

At dusk, the last orange hues faintly lined the cloudy horizon and the calm over the water expanded all over the Upper Pierce, for as far my eyes could take in the view. On my bike, with only the GPS as my guide, I ventured out that Saturday evening, cruising unknown roads and going the opposite direction from planned. All I wanted was a place of quiet, a body of water to gaze out on. I remember being ensconced in the forest—greenery to no end—the smell of the earth and leaves heavy in the air. I railed against the uphill pedal, then swiftly let loose downhill. The rush of the wind and the evening cool signalled what felt like higher altitudes, but may have well just been a fantastic perception shift.

 

This passage would have gone a different direction, if I were not nursing a minor knee injury for two weeks now after that weekend of relentless action.

Earlier that Saturday morning, I read the tale of Jonah and the whale. It was a quaint choice harking back to Bible stories of childhood. In younger days, all that stood out was God’s care of Jonah—rescuing him from the storm, placing him in the belly of that sea creature, and delivering him to the shore of Nineveh, as planned. But there is always more to a story when revisited many decades after.

I was provoked with a question—how do I react when plans fail? What do I do when what I envision doesn’t go my way? At the beginning of the year, I was pondering big plans, possible mission trips, new travel destinations, and grand hiking adventures, down to simpler resolutions like cycling or running every weekend.

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Choices we make, steps we take

Little did I know, it would be that “simple” yet crucial ability to walk and run with abandon that would be temporarily slowed down, and right around the corner of the Lunar New Year holiday. All because I overdid my fitness and recreation routine. Apparently, the quest for health can become a dazzlingly blinding idol.

More than being an alarming call about my physical limits or even a demand for sounder warm-up routines, it became a reflection of the choices I make and the steps I take. Am I too cavalier with the freedom and time I have in my singlehood? Do I over-indulge in pleasures and adventures with wanton disregard for the consequences? Do I find myself in little moments of “falling in love” with the world and dismiss them as harmless flights of fancy?

“Do not love the world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with its desires. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”                                                                          

(1 John 2: 15-17)

 

How frail and fleeting this world is. As the pain on my left knee sharpened, it was sobering to be reminded that literally every step I take is anchored on You, Lord, on the strength that you deem to give me. That the choices I make will ultimately bring me nearer or farther from You—one sure step at a time. And how all my plans are never completely my own.

Sometimes it is beautiful to go off-plan. I could have sulked about the missed nature walks on the marshes of Kranji, or the forfeited trails of MacRitchie. Instead, I had time to walk slowly through the halls of the National Gallery and appreciate the art more intently. I found domestic pleasures and soothing catharsis in weekend spring cleaning. I had time to lovingly arrange flowers for display at home. And I had time to write all this down.

In those moments I pushed myself running the Marina and cycling Old Upper Thomson, I felt exhilaration and a sense of miraculous accomplishment. Yet sometimes it is wiser to exercise prudence, to slow down, take stock, and count the cost. I’ve a way to go in learning the art of living life on the deliberate, intentional lane, not too fast as to crash, but not too slow short of inaction.

When God has a plan and we commit to it, He will surely see it through. Neither external obstacles, nor internal objections will block His work. Inasmuch as He uses us, it is never left completely to us. Jonah may have gone in the other direction, but nothing could prevent God’s divine redemptive plan for Nineveh. With God taking the reins, there is always progress, whether we are racing or at the pit stops.

 

Twilight had darkened the sky. It was time to head back. I laughed by myself, anticipating the steep, uphill climb I would have to face. Crazy girl, what have you gotten yourself into again? All for the sake of a little quiet, and of course, a photograph. Pushing on less than a kilometer, there it was, my very own “Jonah’s whale”, a miracle of a van. A kind man and his family slowed down inviting me onboard the rescue vehicle, preventing far more serious injury that I had no idea was going to present itself a day later. And with that, I was set straight on the safe path back home to Ang Mo Kio.

***

Lead me where you will, Lord. You are my choice. And with You, I am going to make every step count.

They can’t take that (Joy) away from me

Up at the crack of dawn on Easter morning. After lingering a moment in that state between sleep and wakefulness, I compelled myself to get out of bed and cycle down to the park. The thought of the sunrise, and all the attendant meaning of this day, excited me.

It was a different salubong*, but in that exhilarating ride, catching the first light of this greatest of Sundays, I experienced a rush of giddiness and a calm contentment all at once. I found that perfect spot, by the sculpture on a hill, sunlight peeking through the trees, and a clear view was laid out before me.

For this felt like another kind of Easter, with a new story to tell–where the overriding emotion of the concluded Lenten season, was not so much the arduous suffering, but the LOVE. Jesus’ love. A love so great and incomprehensible, but in the grand plan made sense of all that suffering and sacrifice. Indeed, the past weeks were a time of greater realization and a heightened awareness of His real, utmost, unconditional, selfless, beautiful and outrageous love.

After the hemming and hawing, the going back and forth, clarity found its way, as light rays growing ever brighter with the day. Through the glass, and not quite as darkly as before. There it was, a refocus on the first truth of my life, that He lived and died out of a love for me, breaking the barriers for me to come to Him and love in all freedom.

To hold on to this eternal gift, how can I not rejoice?

And from here on, no matter the circumstances, this JOY cannot be taken away. Suddenly, the title of that old standard “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” brims with new meaning.

And perhaps there is a reason why I write this only now (aside from procrastination). For when the high of scaling a summit dies down and routines go back to normal, it becomes all the more precious to have this joy and believe this love down to my core. Beyond the loud praise, the invigorating intonation of “Oh Happy Day”, the inspirational messages, or even the simple beauty of sunrise–when reality sets in, how do you and I proceed and respond?

Coming face-to-face with little skirmishes at the airport or even in the midst of a critical time for the family, I see God’s hand at work. We do not hinge our hopes on just one happy day, but a promise of a joyful eternity to come.


“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you…Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

(John 16:22,24)


And this is true joy. To know that whatever it is we ask, the answer will always find its way back to Him and His Love. In His Name, we press on not in futility, but in faith, being witnesses and living in the grace of His glorious conquering of death.

Let me go back to that spot on the hill, and send out this love letter to God:

On that beautiful Easter morning, I knew then, as I know now and always will–that You love me, Lord. And that You are all I need above all. With this Love, undeserving as I remain, You ultimately saved me from my broken self.

In You, Lord, my joy is complete and unending.

*Literally “meeting”, from that age-old ritual performed before the Easter Dawn mass, where in a reenactment/procession, Jesus meets his grieving Mother.