End of 2016, Come 2017

“2016”

A yearful of hard work.
A yearful of rewards.
A yearful of vulnerability.
A yearful of courage.
A yearful of pain.
A yearful of comfort.
A yearful of sowing.
A yearful of reaping.
A yearful of sickness.
A yearful of health.
A yearful of serving.
And so…. a yearful of JOY.

Looking forward to a new year of new yearfuls. Bring on 2017!!

***

The end of 2016 is approaching. I’ve spent less time doing yoga and more time with family and friends this last month of the year. It has been an amazing year full of achievements, happiness, migraines even but full of love and joy spurred on by the Holy Spirit.

The man in the background, hardly ever seen on this Instagram page. He’s the MAN “behind the scenes”. Literally. He’s not always physically around. But with him, is how I grow in Him (with the big H). My husband, my best friend, is the great reminder on SERVITUDE.

The one in front of him is our little boss in this household. Together with my older son, we form the circle of bosses where we boss each other around.

Nevertheless, in the centre of this is our BIG BOSS, our loving Father G-O-D, whom my husband reminds us to always centre ourselves around.

So thankful for this year of serving. Thankful for my husband’s guidance. Even when he is at his peak annoyance index.

#thankyouJesus #2017 #bringiton 

Mother’s Day Tribute & Reflections | 2016

// MOTHER’S DAY REFLECTION  – Part 1 //


Here’s one of my husband’s and my all-time-favourite photos. It’s me and my younger son. I love both my 2 children a lot. But my older son has certainly taught me a few things about motherhood. Don’t wish their lives away. Here’s what I mean. When it gets hard, we wish our kids would grow up quickly and be more independent. When they are old enough to make their decisions, we wish at those times that they would depend on us. It is then when we look back and wished we could bottle the moments in this photo and reopen them whenever for a taste. Life doesn’t work like that, unfortunately.

So, let’s make sure we don’t wish our kids’ lives away. Savour every moment. For it is a blessing that God chose YOU to carry His child(ren).

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”‭‭ ~Psalm‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭NIV

// MOTHER’S DAY REFLECTION – Part 2 //


Here is a photo of the little succulent we received for our Mother’s Day Gift at this morning’s church service. As they were handed out, I couldn’t help but notice the different shapes and sizes of the succulents, each in different coloured pots.
As the youth ministry kids walked around with their trays, handing them out to the women in the hall, I couldn’t help but eye at all the succulents in the tray wishing that maybe I could take a moment to choose my own. When mine was handed to me, I was delighted that I got one in the pink pot (my favourite colour). But I looked at the plant and it was noticeably smaller than the other ones. Immediately, I looked around curiously to see who got the pots that perhaps I would have chosen if we were given a choice. All along, forgetting that this is a GIFT! A FREE gift. And not something I was entitled to in the first place.

On reflecting in our celebrations today, I realised today’s attitude is very much like modern-day motherhood. We are blessed, or gifted, with these cute little things that God entrusted in us to nurture and grow. Yet sometimes, we just eye at others wishing our child could be like the other. Or we wishing we could choose this and that. Or in some extreme cases, getting frustrated when we feel our CHOICES are compromised.

God’s blessing is not an entitlement. It’s not a choice either. Today, God spoke to me in the cutest of ways.

So now, I look at my midget succulent in its little pink pot being so thankful that I got my favourite coloured pot as a cherry on top! I’m growing together with my children.

Living My Dream in Kids Ministry

 

From a young age, I’ve been blessed with a gift of teaching and a way with kids.  Most kids get along with me and I them.  It’s something that I’m very grateful for.

Growing up, I’ve volunteered at Child Care centres, youth groups and most recently assistant helping with kindergarten and school kids at my son’s school.

Last year, I was given an opportunity to be employed by the Kids Ministry at my church.  It was a tough decision but I turned it down, feeling that the time wasn’t right.  I knew that God will call again if that was His plan.

This year, I am honoured and take pleasure in re-visiting this dream.   Not in an employment capacity but to serve Him when I can.

Kids.  They are our future.  They are the responsibilities that God has given us to grow His Kingdom.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. ~Psalm 127:3

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. ~ 3 John  1:4

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~Deuteronomy 6:7

All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. ~ Isaiah 54:13


But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” ~Matthew 19:14

 

 

 

Small Changes, Big Effects | Being Grateful on a New Level

2015-09-29-1443535575-2767534-photo1430165558479de3cf8cf1478One of my Holy Yoga sisters shared this article on our Facebook group.  The author, Julie Cantrell, is one of the best-selling authors for the NY Times and also Holy Yogi!

On most days, I feel like the author of this article before she made the shift in perspective.  How liberating is it that just a small change in perspective brings so much joy and gratitude.  All this undeserving, unmerited grace I am given by our Father above and yet all these complaints about life.  Disgraceful…. But I’m not going to beat myself up because I know it’s all about the learning and the journey.

I am just thankful that I GET to have this new perspective… Thank you, Lord, for everything you let me GET to do.

The best 3 minute read  this year – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-cantrell/this-threeletter-word-wil_b_8123488.html

So, I made a change.

I replaced one four-letter word with a three-letter word, and everything came back to good. That’s all it took. The shift of one teensy-weensy little word. And voila! My once shriveling soul was smiling again. And still is.

Now, instead of saying, I HAVE to do x, y, z… I say I GET to do x, y, z.

How Do You Define Precious Motherhood? | Is the modern day image distorted? 

On our Mother’s Day sermon, our pastor reminded us of how modern age  perception has distorted our views of what the role model mother is.  And how we should refer to the Scriptures on the true definition.

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.  Proverbs 31:10

Here’s my view. Whether the media and Hollywood wants to admit it or not, they have shaped this distorted modern day view.  And here goes:

A successful, role model mum does not just wear an apron at home making the best meals for their children, providing for the household and ensuring everyone is well fed (including her own self). The modern day successful mum:

1. is juggling between a high-flying career and soccer mum duties, like it is possible to do both perfectly. Let’s just accept that it is an impossibility.

2. looks unrealistically supermodel-like and hits the gym 5 times a week  (thanks to the rise of juice diets and workout plans that have exploded in the past 10 years, easy access to plastic surgery, etc.) Not to mention there’s a race on who can lose all her baby weight the quickest post-birth.

3. has a nanny to help because the double household income will allow for that. Or for those without help, refer to point 1 again.

4. looks immaculate and chants ‘positivity’ as her mantra. Yes, everyday. Where is the social empathy of ‘sharing’ and empathy on women’s support? Oh sorry, wrong answer.  Society nowadays condones sharing of issues and slams that as being weak. No wonder there is all this suppressed bitterness, passive-aggressive comparison and disingenuous concern in mothers circles! How many times I’ve had a friend simply voice an opinion in a Whatsapp Group chat only to be immediately compared with her worse-off friend? Honey, she’s not asking you how bad your situation is.  Save your ‘at least you….’ for your husband, please! Women, we are here to support one another. Pray for your friend! Hear her out! Give her an emoji hug! Whatever you do, please skip the ‘Oh, at least you…..’ We are reminded that in God’s eyes, we are all the same.  Sorry, clearly this is a very sticking  point for me. So, moving on…

5. have kids who are well-groomed, sent to the best schools…all because the mum did the most research and sacrificed her dignity or pre-pregnancy vitamins for the school entry fees.  Either that, or she flaunts her own social status through her child’s education privileges.

I suspect the points in discussion here require dedication and I do not underestimate that. But it also comes with sacrifice. Often, subliminally, at the expense of your relationship with your child(ren), husband and family.  The devil always has ways to justify why we should strive for those things. Perhaps we could hone in the same level of effort to strive for real beauty?

I could harp on forever and I should really stop on the sarcasm. But that word vomit was necessary.  Far too often, I find myself being a culprit. I wonder how many women will fess up to falling into that category of somewhat striving to be what the modern age successful mum looks like.

Well, I do. I wave the white flag. I do. I surrender. Because, what defines a woman’s worth is not her charm nor vanity. It is the inner beauty, the genuine kind intent, the real sacrifices that she makes for her children, family, friends and others that we should value.

Let this post pause you for a moment.  Even for a minute. Let’s reflect and make for better role models and create a better place for our children.

Lord Jesus, I confess I sin with most if not all of the above. Every day, I strive to avoid fitting into the pressures and distorted views of modern age definitions. Please give me strengths, grace, love and patience to overcome the temptations. 

After all…

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30

2010 – Life’s Challenges & Debt-free 2011

2010 has been a year of  challenges.  Challenges, to say the least. Stresses or meltdowns to be realistic.  I think many couples walk into relationships or particularly, marriages, underestimating the impacts of financial burdens.  I certainly did, even though I had been in similar situations before, which proves to show that the matter is only augmented in marriage.

I hear my father’s advice ringing in my ears. ‘When you enter into marriage, be prepared to come into disagreement (or fight , was what he wanted to say, I bet) about three things: 
1. In-laws,
2. Parenting your children and
3. Finances or how you both agree to spend your money. 

If you think that you have every antibody for all of the above attacks, be warned.  You have either had divine intervention lifting you into heaven, again literally, or you are being naive.  Every couple will face one of the above challenges in the course of their marriage and I have not met one single couple who would disagree.

If you are still skeptical, try picking up any self-help book in Borders and you will soon find your fairytale shattered by reality sharings from the experienced.  Those who survive through the challenges become stronger; both as an individual and for the relationship.  And those who come out of the marriage will learn a thing or two about the expectations of marriage.  There are no two ways around it.

For all the advice of my father has given me, this has to be the most valuable.  Indeed, there were no two ways around it and it didn’t take long for all three to attack, sometimes on the same day.  More often, it felt like those issues became too overwhelming and it was easier to opt out.  For the total 365 days in the past year, it has felt like we have both been through 365 years of cyclical pertaining issues and the burden only got heavier.

If I had to rank them by weight, the heaviest would have to be the financial pressures.

2010 marked the beginning of building a new home and a new family business.  You would think it sounds simple enough but the intricacies of managing the mortgage and renovation debts plus capital required for new business setup was beyond manageable.  Layer that with differences in risk perspectives between my husband and I, life became a mundane routine of working to make ends meet and torturing savings to pay bills.  We were also far from what my mother’s generation would accept as a frugal lifestyle but for Willie, it was beyond imagination to deprive oneself from a nice Friday dinner after a long stressful week.  For me, those nice dinners only added more pressure.   You can see how different our perspectives were and that is just to say the least.

I would spend days in front of multiple spreadsheets, working through forecasts for the family’s cash flow and Willie’s business expenses.  I would also loathe weekends of cash flow reconciling and checking every single bill to ensure we were not over-charged – I picked a few of these and spent hours on customer service calls.  Where there were opportunities to pick up some extra cash, like a $5 rebate on buying Clarintyne or the $200 cashback from HP, I would be on to it immediately.  Often, these meant hours worth of photocopying receipts, registering online or worse, waiting on the customer service line.  Altogether, I would have spent a month’s worth of time on potential savings which was probably worth only a fortnight’s worth of pay as a consultant.  But there are no regrets.

Towards the end of 2010, I saw light at the end of the tunnel.  We were hit with a big tax bill from Willie’s consulting revenue which did not see taxes being withheld in advance and a $10K HECS payout that my accountant strongly recommended I closed off by the end of this calendar year.

All the hard work paid off (literally, again) in December.

We managed, we rode through the wave of challenges and I am proud to announce that we are finally debt free – all tax bills and HECS debts cleared.

The weight off my shoulders has had such a tremendous impact on my well-being.  I no longer feel like I am sick of life.  The fatigue I feel every morning has been replaced with energy for life.  The strain on our marriage has eased itself.   It’s like a tightly knotted elastic that had been stretched had successfully unknotted and the elasticity was restored.   Quite dramatically, I was more flexible and tolerant.   This applied to both work and play.  It was such a noticeable change with my husband being rewarded first, of course; followed by rewarding comments from colleagues and friends.

It is an amazing feeling to be content with life again – a very important essence in life, it proves.

While it has been a rough journey this year, I have learnt so much and appreciate so much more in life.   I wouldn’t have it any other way; it teaches us all to embrace life’s challenges and to take out some key learnings.  I have no false expectation that life will get easier but I’m glad to be recharged to be armed with the energy for 2011’s challenges.

 

A truly challenging job

For the years that I have worked, never before have I dreaded going back to work after a long holiday – particularly after one full month’s break.  Usually, I am eager to kick right back into it.

Tomorrow, work resumes.  I am dreading it.

I’m not sure whether it’s being a mother that has changed me or whether it’s the business I am working for or the fact that my personal life is giving me enough stress that I simply don’t want to take on more.

Being a mother means there is no way of ever shaking off the feeling of anxiety.  There is always going to be a reserve in the mind for Seth.  That reserve, itself, has taken up some capacity to manage stress.

The business is absolutely heading off in the right direction and I am proud to be part of team that is growing 10x the other business units are, also backed by the most powerful influencers within the organisation.  That said, stress levels come in at least 5x more, I bet.  Ok, that’s an exaggeration.  Let’s just say there are more eagle eyes and pressure or expectation to perform.

So, with personal life being full of its highs and lows, is it not so normal to wish that you didn’t have to work so you can feel like your life is in control first?

Who knows….all I know is that life doesn’t get easier.  Tomorrow, here I come.