Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Literary Love Affair

We live in a sea of resources that doesn't quite run out, no matter what economics tell us. There is always alternatives, and ways to make things work good, if not better. There was abundant oil reserves, it runs out, no problem, we research and discover alternative sources of renewable energy.

Likewise, books. They don't run out. We are a fortunate generation living in an advance age of unprecedented technology and communication and never found wanting of media resources.

I always cherish good books like I do a precious, new found treasure, and as much as I relish every word read, I dread every page turned, because that spells the end approaching. As I bask on cloud nine each time with a terrific book, I fall into bouts of despair at the end of each read. I'd caress the book gently, re-reading the cover page and back credits, and skimp through the folded pages which bear lines and sentences that I favor much. After a day or two, I reluctantly drag my feet to the local library and watch the bookdrop swallow my friend whole. The vicious cycle doesn't end there. I'd mull about aimlessly, like a ship without anchor, lost in a sea of restlessly, until I start running and listening to podcasts on books and authors and make a mental note of titles that piqué my interest. I'd hunt the title down on the library online catalogue, find the book and reserve to pick it up; or if it's dead urgent, where I gotta have the book instantly as if my life depended on it, I'd make a special trip to the library during my one-hour lunch break, never mind the rush, and march triumphantly out of the library, with my new book-bride in hand.

Yes, I'm eccentric, and I make no apologies for my frequent, short-lived, literary love affair. If anything, my husband wholly supports it.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Running places

Maybe, deep down, I feel that running might bring me places - across the Great Wall, the Gobi, the Sahara, the Copper Canyons. Maybe, just maybe. And that dream fuels my running everyday.

I'd always wanted to travel; to experience cross cultures. When a lack of finances deprived me from studying in Australia after high school, I held on to a dream that I would visit Australia still - somehow, though I didn't know how then. And sure enough I did, albeit 10 years later, on my honeymoon.

That's just one small example of how my achievements in life don't usually take the typical route, mostly due to financial depravation, but God is mightier than both my internal and external limitations. He has been gracious all these while; and even more so with each passing day. He makes me stronger as I wait, and eventually manifests His multi faceted way of doing things. Indeed, He's never late; He's right on time.

Of course, I haven't quite gotten acquainted to His timetable. Maybe that's because I like to know what and when to expect; while He's more relaxed than I am and unfazed by how desperate or impatient I am. He's cool while I'm not - I'm hot headed and am always wanting to get ahead of myself. It's time I trust Him a little more with my aspirations. Or much more. Or entirely. Because I'm sure what He has in store for me's gonna blow my mind. Simply because He's big and I'm in His plans.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Running for You

When I run, I feel You near; I feel Your joy.

I am free to be who You've created me to be; to pursue my dreams and passions and use them for Your glory. There aren't fixed set rules on how I can glorify You with my pursuits; I listen to the still small voice and pulsing heartbeat that rhyme with peace.

I am not mediocre and will not remain so. I am built for success, great things and much more than I'd ever imagine myself accomplishing. I run to begin the journey of discipline and pursuit that You've placed in my life.

Something marvelous happens each time I run - I end each run feeling bigger on the inside than when I began. My spirit grows bigger and bigger; my dreams higher and higher and my reach wider and wider.

I experience internal transformation I've never experienced before, and the intensity of such encounters heighten with each struggled morning run. It's as if the greater the resistance to run each morning, and the overcoming act of running still; no matter how painful, unfulfiling or unsatisfactory my performance may be; I develop internal muscles of discipline, tenacity, grit and can-do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What Teddy taught me

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.

-Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Running Prayer

It’s a great pleasure to be able to run like I do - to have the support of my husband and in-laws in the pursuit of my fitness and running goals; to sleep by 10 each weekday night and wake by 5 in the morning; to still wake up by 5am on weekends for longer, harder trainings, despite sleeping later on weekend nights, simply because lingering in bed past sunrise irks and frustrates me so.

Thank You Lord, for peace and security in this country that enable me to run early and safely everyday.

Till the day I outrun this tiny island-state from end to end, bring me to bigger pastures and more magnificent landscapes to begin a fresh journey of running and exploring the beauty of Your creation.

Let me never stop running, and may I add, cycling and swimming. Let me never stop, but with every breath of life, let this human body never be limited.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bigger, better, higher

I need something visual in my life, something that will remind me everyday of the gift of life that I've been generously dealt with. And that is why I write - to draw remembrance and gratitude for all I have, scars from points I've fallen and lessons learnt from them.

Love is the foundation from which dreams are built and visions take flight.

My God, being the magnificent Father that He is, decided that not only would He give me the best possible man to live an amazingly great, fulfilling and rich life; but also incredible support from his parents who love me like their own. With this enclave of an existence of life and destiny (from my God) and this rock solid foundation of love (from my husband and in laws), it has become impossible for me to live nonchalantly, not taking stock of what I do with my time, gifts, talents and abilities.

Discontent at non-progress rattles within my bones.
I work, with a vision of expansion. I run, with a vision of position. I give, with a vision of mission. I live, simply with a vision of Him - and as long as I do, I keep dreaming bigger and stepping onto higher plains.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

His legacy

As I sat sipping my coffee and munching my toast, with a pen in hand to write my usual morning reflections, I saw a middle-aged father walking in with his teenage daughter. He was dressed simply in a grey collared tee and dark blue berms, carrying a black backpack slung over one shoulder. She was in a bright pink top and white shorts. He ordered breakfast for his daughter and himself, and repeatedly turned over to check that he had ordered sufficient food - he wanted to ensure she had enough to eat. She had rice, while he merely had bread and coffee. They ate mostly silently, except for a few exchanges of animatedly-spoken Indonesian conversation.

The sight of them reminds me of my dad, and created a wishful longing for quality time and intimacy which has been missing from my life for over 10 years.

As I thought of him, I'm puzzled myself that I did not long for a similar intimacy with my mom. Though she played the crucial role of sacrifice in the family (my only recollection of her is just that - lots of hard work and sacrifice), there was almost no exhibit of intimacy, support and encouragement; no providence of knowledge and recreational fun. She was constantly labouring away, making sure there was money for household expenses, the children's education, and savings. There was never a moment of indulgence or luxury. Everything was spoken in terms of money saved. Growing up, she never told me she loved me, was proud of me and never indicated the need to spend time with me, to bond with me.

My dad, on the other hand, though an extremely hard, stern and ready-to-punish man, gave me what every child needed - love, support, encouragement, knowledge and recreation. His declaration of love and demonstration of fatherhood was never conventional - while maintaining a stoic and practical demeanour (at all times - he has never let up or changed, all through the years), he supported me in my love for language; brought me books (from relatives, having not enough money to buy them); encouraged me to read and write extensively; was a strict teacher at home to ensure my good grades; made me read the newspaper and watch the news at nine every night; prohibited me from watching drama serials which to him were a complete waste of time and uneducational; played with me; encouraged me to play with kids in the neighbourhood, saying all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy; brought me and my friends to places adults wouldn't usually bring their kids to - abandoned houses with drug addicts, seedy back lanes of red light districts - in an effort to teach me 'general knowledge' and expose me to the 'real' world.

For all of that, I am very grateful. He was very real, very human. He never tried too hard to become anything he wasn’t. And when I say he was a hard man, he really was. And still is. For all the fond memories he brought me, so many more were painful, for I endured excruciating beatings for my disobedient ways and constant rebellion. My sister was often privy to the display of my bloody wounds, now healed with time.

How very often I've tried to write about my mom, a woman far virtuous and gracious above any other I’ve known, but I have ended up writing about my dad instead. This is yet another instance, a true account of my life, even as I'm still searching for the right words to pen them all down and do justice to those whom I’ve not credited enough.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Innocence lost

It's disquieting, this stew of fondness stirred in regret

The sidelong glance
The shy curves of a smile
The gentle moves of the limbs
The high regard of a trusting heart
The complete yield to a restless brute

Oh the tragedy of innocence lost

Friday, June 11, 2010

This Call

It's been far too long now that my voice has been shut up within my bones, without a drop of ink to etch these words into permanence.

Today I hear a knocking on my door. No, it isn't so much a knocking as it is a persistent rapping; almost rude sounding, for it grows impatient everytime I ignore it. What you are born with will never let you go. It wraps its arms firmly around your heart, mind and soul - embracing your perfections and imperfections, and simply stands in its place throughout your lifetime, without so much as move an inch or yard. It is a reflection of the Creator's faithfulness to you - the calling is irrevocable.

Today I hear Him, open the door and sit down to write.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Creatures of comfort

It's easier to be served than to serve. My eating breakfast at Macs most weekday mornings serve to confirm that. I could jolly well prepare my own breakfast of fragrant toast, wholesome oat and hot coffee, at very little cost, but no, I'd rather fork out a substantially steeper price for instant breakfast not even specially prepared for me like French cuisine usually is, but mass produced by retirees and students earning less money per hour than the cost of my ultra unhealthy n innutritious breakfast set.

This morning I was resisting the urge to buy a cup of cappuccino but bought it anyhow to prove a point to myself – that men (and by that I mean women as well) are creatures of comfort – we'd rather be served than serve. Unlike animals, whose primary instincts are survival, which includes hunting, preying and evading attack – they are creatures of service.

Yet to serve, to work, is an absolutely essential tool for survival in a highly competitive and rapidly progressing world. Which brings me to this point – much as we yearn for comfort, we weren't created for such. We are created for work, as animals and plants are. The need for comfort and relaxation comes as a reward for our hard work, not a natural given. In short, we should strive to serve, to work hard, and after all these, enjoy the fruits of our labor in moderate proportions. Then, and only then, will we be fulfilled as creatures of both service and comfort.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Covenant Song

Lord give me one heart & one way
That I may fear You forever
That all may go well for me and my children

Make an everlasting covenant with me
That You will not turn away from me
Nor will You withhold good things from me
Put Your fear in my heart
That I will not depart from You

Yes, rejoice over me
Pour Your blessings over me
Plant me in this land, in Your house

adapted from Jer 32:39-41

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Step into the sunshine

Today I sit at Macs and take in the cacophony of sounds, especially the high decibel of chatter from secondary kids. What on earth are they doing here in the mall so early in the morning, invading the audio space of working adults preparing to get to work? Don't they have school?

It's too stark not to notice the gregarious bubbles of the youth, compared to the stoned, cold pillars of the adults, mulling over work while chewing on their sausage mcmuffins and sipping hot coffee.

Ah, the weight of the world carried on the shoulders of adults!

Have we grown from enthusiasm to sobriety?

What we lack, we desire.

What we desire, we envy in others.

How do we stop this vicious cycle?

Break the ice that locks you in a segregated and cold world, and step into the sunshine.

Welcome to a better, happier world.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Book of Eli

When was the last I watched a movie that significantly affected my mental & spiritual disposition? I can't remember, but I did today. The Book of Eli shakes the core of my beliefs in what I have been living by since the day I was born - my faith and walk with Christ.

The Book of Eli invokes a renewed love and reverence for the precious Word of God, an abiding guide to this walk of life and a very present help in times of need.

He is the voice that leads me on a journey of faith, my protector, my shield from harm, my deliverer. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for He is with me - He never leaves nor forsakes me. He neither sleeps nor slumbers, He is my constant victor. In Him will I trust, from this day till journey's end.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Running for Fitness

For those of who have always wanted to start running for fitness (having read or heard that running burns the most calories in the shortest amount of time - yes, you've read and heard right) but lack the willpower to, here is a piece of practical tip on running that I shared with a friend recently. Read on for bite-size, manageable pointers to help you run consistently every week...

Here are some things I started out with, which you could replicate, but do tailor according to your own needs, ability and schedule.

Are you a day or night person? When are you at your best? You could start by running in the morning before you start school/work. Which means you have to get up an hour earlier than your usual time (tell yourself it’s not so bad; it’s just an hour – I can do it!).

Start by running 20mins 3 times a week, for a month.

By the second month, increase to 25mins, and if possible, run 4 times a week.

As much as you are able to push yourself, do push yourself to go further and longer, and more often. But don’t push yourself too much too quickly, or you might tire yourself out and stop running altogether.

Always remember “sustainability”. You have to develop a running regime for yourself that you can sustain for a long time, and not burn out too quickly. If 25mins 3 times a week is sustainable for you, then do that. As you progress through the months, and your body and muscles get accustomed to a regular running regime, you’ll want to, and good news, you’ll be able to run further and longer.

And on and on it goes. Before long, you’ll be running distances you never think you could run before. It took me a year and a half to be able to run 10km daily. So no hurry, be stern, yet, gentle on your body. It’ll take you places. Most importantly, have fun running! Put on a smile and watch how your smile brightens up someone else's day! ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

She runs

She runs on the soft green grass and falls. Rolling on its soft and moist cushion from the morning dew, she closes her eyes and dreams of lovely days now tucked far away in the crevices of time. When love and laughter filled her home. When dad and mom would talk about bringing her on holidays to beautiful places. When her sister would cook her favourite chips in tomato sauce, burning herself occasionally from the hot oil jumping on her arms from out of the old, worn wok. When she would play with her friends in the neighbourhood chasing down cats and burning their hiding holes.

She was rid of such joy the day her dad left home and her mom called, weeping.