Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's fun, but...

Have you had a time when you were having fun doing something but yet worried that in the end it will all be rubbish?


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It is to set us free...

I am still reading Counseling and Psychotherapy, A Christian Perspective. It is taking me longer than I would have liked -- 16 days and still counting.

Though it is not an easy read, because of its length, it is still a good read. I am at the portion where he goes on a bit more indepth into Christian Counseling and I'd like to highlight this part where he quoted Richard Foster:

"the 'dark night' not something bad or destructive...The purpose of the darkness is not to punish or afflict us. It is to set us free...

What is involved in entering the dark night of the soul? It may be a sense of dryness, depression, even lostness. It strips us of overdependence on the emotional life. The notion, often heard today, that such experiences can be avoided and that we should live in peace and comfort, joy and celebration, only betrays the fact that much contemporary experience is surface slush. The dark night is one of the ways God brings us to a hush, a stillness, so that He can work on inner transformation of the soul. . . . Recognize the dark night for what it is. Be grateful that God is lovingly drawing you away from every distraction so that you can see Him." (p.330)

I have always hated it when I am experiencing this kind of darkness where life seems so vain, hopeless and meaningless. However, it is necessary, and as Foster has put it, it does set me free.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Interpreting dreams?

Since reading about Jung, I began to pay more attention to my dreams. I used to have an opinion that dreams are nothing but night escapades for the mind, and nothing more than that.

However, I am quite convinced now that they do represent something. I agree to a certain degree with Jung that dreams represent our inner and outer aspects of our lives of which we are not consciously aware of. And so far, I've actually interpreted two of my own dreams and one of my good friend's.

In Scripture, we find that God uses dreams to speak to his people, to prophecy and also as a form of revelation. Whilst I believe God is still doing that -- I have heard of testimonies that some people get converted through dreams from God -- it has become rarer among us for God to prophecy through us in dreams.

But dreams still form a very important part of us as individuals. We are not aware of our unconscious mind, and it is in our dreams that it relates to us in symbols.

The three dreams that I have interpreted, I did it by relating them to our personal experiences and what certain symbols may mean to us, to see what we need to learn and unlearn from it. I do not refer to archetypes, or universal interpretation of symbols, though sometimes they may help. To me, what we dream is personal to us, unless we have a reason to believe that God is prophesying through us, and if and when that happens, we need to compare it with Scripture.

Anyway, there is this one dream of mine I still have no idea what it means, I dreamt I was in the departmental store trying on a pair of plain black shoes. When I remove it to be tried by someone else, they had hideous black spikes jutting out all over. I then walked to the other stores but they were all out of shoes. It's a weird dream, and I've given up trying to interpret it. Moreover, I've forgotten the context or what was I experiencing when I had that dream and so it is not important anymore, unless of course it is a premonition from God, which is exactly what my friend's dream was. Interpreting that one was downright amazing.

So, I understand some, I don't understand some. It's alright, but all in all, the biggest problem is still remembering them at all!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Are they serious?

Sitting for hours can shave years off life

I read this article in this morning and it freaked me out. But a treadmill office table? Come on...


Sunday, June 26, 2011

They make much of you...
that you may make much of them

Today's sermon in church was on Galatians 4:8-20, on not losing sight of the Gospel. There were many points in the sermon that struck me, with the main part being not letting anything divert us from the Gospel of Christ.

Gal 4:17 is also an interesting verse: "They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them."

I think Paul was refering to the false teachers. And to apply it to our times, there are in fact many false teachers or preachers in our midst. The one thing that would single them out is that true preachers instills deep and deeper love within the church but false preachers will "make much of you" to make sure that "you make much of them". And as a result, the making much of everyone will in the long run create strife in the church.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Movies Day

I had the whole morning to myself with Calvin off camping and hubby at the golf course. I ended up paying back some sleep debt and watched two movies.


I really loved this animated movie. Great script and storyline. The lantern scene made me cry!

From Prada to Nada

I have a soft spot for rom-coms and even though this one has a regrettable title and some scenes that makes no sense, I still enjoyed it. And Camilla Belle is just too gorgeous.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Off Camping

Calvin stayed back at school today to attend a one-night "camp-in" organised by his Computer Club. This mommy is worried as this will be his first time away from home but his grandmother is even more worried! :)


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coincidence, synchronicity,
divine direction?

I used to remember confiding with my mentor-friend about life, and she will usually remind me that there are no coincidences as far as our lives are concerned if we are in a relationship with God. He leads and guides us and what we see as coincidences may in fact be his promptings and guidance.

I was reading about C.G. Jung and was introduced to his concept of synchronicity. It is "the experience of two or more events, that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, that are observed to occur together in a meaningful manner." (Do refer to its Wikipedia entry, link provided above, it is quite well explained, complete with very interesting examples.)

Jung, even though was brought up in a Christian family -- an extensive Christian family no less, with his father a pastor and eight of his uncles clergymen -- struggled with its dogmatism and institutionalisation. It seem to me that he has provided a place to develop on "meaningful coincidences" and yet not call it divine direction.

A form of "meaningful coincidence" has been happening to me for the past week. This one particular subject kept coming up in altogether unrelated sources, four at the last count. I did ask God for something and these "meaningful coincidences" started to appear and when I asked God for confirmation, another one appeared.

I can't quite interpret what it all mean as yet. It can go both ways, or another way. Therefore, I am still listening to God.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I first posted this picture on October 22, 2006 with a Woohoo! on my "Exegesis on Ephesians" paper, and then posted it again on September 12, 2007 with a second Woohoo! on my "Christian Theology 1" paper.

This is my third Woohoo! And it has certainly been awhile.

This third Woohoo! comes in three: an A- in "Exegesis on 1 Corinthians", an A- in "Biblical Theology" and an A in "Major Religion in Malaysia (Islam)".

I am happy, I am dancing. And now, to get myself working on my last 2 assignments.

Photo (c) 2006 Yi-Chen Lin

Monday, June 20, 2011

My 50-Book Challenge 2011/12

I am challenging myself to read 50 books in 2011/12.
Criteria: as long as it is a book of any kind, of any topic, of any genre, be it print or electronic, whatever strikes my fancy.

11. Jonathan Stranger & Mr. Norrell: A Novel
by Susanna Clarke (27-?? August 2011)

10. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
by John Piper (15-16 July 2011)

9. Beside Ourselves, Our Hidden Personality in Everyday Life
by Naomi L. Quenk (5-?? July 2011)

8. Stone's Fall
by Iain Pears (1-5 July 2011)

7. Counselling and Psychotherapy, A Christian Perspective
by Tan Siang Yang (14-30 June 2011)

6. Jung - The Key Ideas
by Ruth Snowden (18-19 June 2011)

5. Nine Parts of Desire, The Hidden World of Islamic Women
by Geraldine Brooks (6-13 June 2011)

4. People of the Book, A Novel
by Geraldine Brooks (19 May - 5 June 2011)

3. Cathedral of the Sea
by Ildefonso Falcones (16-19 May 2011)

2. Introvert Power
by Laurie Helgoe (12-15 May 2011)

1. Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett (8-11 May 2011)


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Language of Adoption

I attended Pantai Baptist Church today. I have a friend who goes there and I have been there several times, though not for Sunday service, and thought I'd go and take a look.

Verdict? I like it there.

Today's sermon was on Galatians 3:23-4:7. It was packed with substance I must say, which it should be, given that the text is from Galatians. The one thing that struck me was the speaker's treatment on our adoption as sons of God. I have never thought much about the concept of adoption as God's son. I have had just taken it as it is, adoption. The speaker however, brought me to a new outlook when he shared about the life of a North Korean girl named Hyun Sook* who was adopted by a family in Atlanta. He said that as an adopted child, you would never have thought that you would be loved by someone. And that struck me.

Not being adopted, I fully know and experience love in my family, in whatever state I am. Hence, the language of adoption does not strike much of an emotion in me to fully understand the significance of being adopted. My thoughts were more in the area of I, being a creation of God, am therefore his child, period. Of course I know that it is because of my rebellion that I am disconnected from God and now by his grace, I am adopted as His son, with full claim to the inheritance that is in Jesus Christ. It is just that it has not dawned upon me the colour and depth of the reality of being adopted as a son of God.

Therefore, with this realisation that I have not experience being adopted, how should I come to understand the full significance of being adopted as a son of God?

I need to re-read Galatians and the passages on adoption.


* I have not seen this video yet but this was the story that was shared with us this morning.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Draw of Books, Printed or Otherwise

I was in Kinokuniya today and succumbed to the draw that books have on me. I bought 4 of them, one on Carl Jung and 3 by Carl Jung. I may have gone electronic but I still gave in to printed books this round. My excuse was that these books are not available electronically, though I found out later that one of them was and I would have saved RM30 if I have gotten the electronic version. Kinokuniya does not have a return policy and so I am stuck with it; which is still okay because I am already halfway through Jung, The Key Ideas. I plan to finish it tomorrow so that I can get back to Tan Siang Yang's Counseling and Psychotherapy volume.

I'm back to being bookish again after a long draught but hmm...I would never have thought I'd actually end up with these:

Jung: The Key Ideas, Teach Yourself
Ruth Snowden (2010)

Four Archetypes
Carl Jung (Routledge Classic, 2003)

Answer to Job
Carl Jung (Routledge Classic, 2002)

Children's Dreams: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936-1940 (Jung Seminars)
Carl Jung (Princeton University Press, 2007)


Friday, June 17, 2011

Why do I go to church?

Have you ever wondered why you are at the church you are at? I grew up in a Methodist church I had been attending for years, which was the church my grandfather attended and the church my dad attended. I met my husband in that church, we got married there, and we raised a family within the community of that church.

But soon we found ourselves no longer in a "community" as our friends moved on where their career brought them and where family responsibilities require them. I felt that we could not experience church life as a community anymore. The church became to me a city church where we just attend church once a week and a community spirit was in lack. So we decided to find a church where we can build a relationship within a community and we started attending a church, Methodist, which is just 2 minutes away from our home. We were soon attending prayer meetings and bible studies other than the regular Sunday service.

But for some reasons I'd rather not disclose here, we have decided to move on. And we have been on a limbo ever since. We returned to our original church, but to a preaching point nearer to our home. But somehow, we could not quite fit into the community there. Suffice to say that we could not speak their "language" nor do we have much in common other than the fact that we worship the same God.

Which brings me to a dilemma. Why do I go to church? I have never asked this question that seriously before. It is obvious I "go to church" because I desire to worship the God whom I love. The phrase "go to church" is interesting though because church is not exactly a building but the body of Christ. In that sense, I would say that I gather together with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to worship God together and in doing so I relate to God and to one another in love. And what if I cannot fit into this group of brothers and sisters? It is not that I do not like them, we are just different. Does that warrant a reason for us to find a more suitable group of people to be with, to worship God together with?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Suppressing Anger, A Very, Very Interesting Sensation

I got really, really angry today but because I was not in an environment where I can release and vent the way I like, I had to suppress it. It was hard but I managed to do so by extracting myself from the situation, take long deep breaths and talk about it in short spurts to someone who knew the context of the situation. I became calmer in 5 minutes.

Then, me being me, I began to analyse myself and found that suppressed anger is indeed a very interesting sensation. I have gotten angry before and I have vented my anger without thinking, but that is with people whom I love and whom I trust (though I would usually regret for venting it). But this is different. I can say that this is the first time I have ever been so mad. But what is interesting is that I analysed it, I made myself mindful of the feelings that I had, and it was interesting. At first I felt like I want to burst out in every way possible, then I felt in control, and then I begin to feel detached and not so angry anymore. But I did feel a bit off though, like I don't have enough blood in my head and I did end of with a migraine-like headache now.

What an experience.


However, after writing what I wrote above, it suddenly dawned on me what I read yesterday in Tan Siang Yang's Counseling and Psychotherapy - Sigmund Freud wrote about the defense mechanism that we employ to deal with negative situations we encounter. When we use them "infrequently and appropriately, they can serve a constructive purpose by reducing stress or anxiety and enabling the person to cope more effectively" (p.40, 2011). And it is interesting to note that the defense mechanism which I have opted to use is "intellectualisation". I quote Tan: "Intellectualisation is a defense mechanism whereby a person detaches from a painful emotional experience by focusing only on his or her thoughts and the minute details involved in trying to analyse and explain the negative emotional experience." (p.42, 2011)

How interesting.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm seriously plagued by this song

This is the longest I have been ever plagued by a song.

15 June 2011: I still can't get it off my head. The off button is missing.


Monday, June 13, 2011

My next read: Counseling and Psychotherapy by Tan Siang Yang

Counseling and Psychotherapy
by Tan Siang Yang
Baker Academic, 2011

Alex recommended me this book as my next read. I managed to get a copy, an electronic copy no less, and have started on it. I have completed the first part on "Basic Issues in the Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy," which is brief and informative, though that not relevant to me.

I am looking forward to the second portion on "Major Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories and Techniques" which is quite extensive, covering Psychoanalytic Therapy (Sigmund Freud), Adlerian Therapy, Jungian Therapy (my center of interest), Existential Therapy, Person-Centered Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Reality Therapy, Behavior Therapy (I suppose this is widely used in my HR circle), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (my other center of interest) and Marital and Family Therapy.

The book closes with a third part on "A Christian Approach to Counseling and Psychotherapy".

In my search for an integration between Psychology and Christianity, this book is more than I bargained for. As a layman, I am getting an insight into the profession of a psychotherapist and counselor. It is ironical since in the days of my youth, we are being called "counselors" in church especially in evangelistic meeting settings, whilst I am reading here that counselors are serious business. I wonder if churches still call them counselors.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

E-books: confirmed convert

Ever since I have downloaded Kobo into my iPhone exactly a month ago, I have finished 4 books, the latest being Geraldine Brooks's Nine Parts of Desire, The Hidden World of Islamic Women.

I am a confirmed e-book convert.

I am now contemplating which will be my next read. I am thinking I will go for Mark Kurlansky's Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World.

The irony is that I have bought his other volume Salt: A World History in print a couple of years ago and I have not read it.

So there it is. As much as I still love the smell and feel of books, e-books work much, much better for me.

And here is one reason why I like Kobo:

My Reading Life


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Internet Frustrations

We have been having problems with our internet connection and nothing seem to work. Moreover, the broadband packages available in the market just do not meet our needs. I just signed up for one with a 3GB limit in data transfer, and we actually gobbled up all 3GB in one night. What now?

Photo (c) 2009 Claudio Sepulveda Geoffroy

Friday, June 10, 2011

Integrating Psychology and Christianity?

I was very interested in the subject of psychology since my younger days. Wish I had pursued it then, but now that I have revived the interest and begun to read and research the topic, I do wonder how psychology and Christianity would fare together. Can I, as a committed Christian, study and practice psychology?

One of my close friends is always worried when I bring the subject up, and he would hand me volumes of Christian writings about humanity and the human soul.

I found this website today that has a very interesting article entitled "Integrating Psychology and Christianity". The writer John Shepard said, "The key question is whether or not psychology is based on a world view which opposes the essentials of the Christian faith. This includes the assumptions of psychology of materialism, rationalism, determinism and relativism, and that humans are not self-aware, responsible and free moral agents. Christians cannot accept these philosophical assumptions and at the same time remain true to their faith."

So far in my fragmentary study of the subject, I have not seen any contradictions yet. I suppose I would when I do, if I do, get to the depth of it.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Our Levels of Energy

How would you draw out your level of energy of the week?

The level of energy between my colleague and I starts at opposing sides, my Monday at the bottom and hers at the top, meeting at the same level on Wednesday and back to opposing sides on Fridays, mine at the top whilst she would have spent all her energy by then. So we complement each other pretty well, energy wise.

I should be loving it today with my energy up but not today. The office is super quiet with majority of people on leave due to the school holidays wrapping up this weekend and I am bored. On top of it I am feeling sick and I am still having the headache which started this morning when I woke up.

It is not a good day…but all is good. No complaints. Just bored.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Story of the Nation

I attended "A Conversation with Professor Anthony Milner" on the topic of "Constructing and Contesting Malaysian History: Towards Responsible Writing and Teaching of History for Nation Building" organised by Kairos Research Centre this evening. It is a discussion based on the recently raised concerns when the Ministry of Education requires students to obtain a compulsory pass in History in the national Form 5 examinations, SPM.

History never held an interest for me until several years ago when I felt that my lack of knowledge in it resulted in a pallid understanding of events of the world. In my schooldays, I studied history in a rote manner and only of the Malaysian history, not anything beyond that - I never knew much about the enlightenment, the various inquisitions, or the wars. Only as I grew up and began to read more serious works had I realise that I lack in the understanding of the stories behind the times and the events as I encountered them.

As such, I attended the session with a sense of unfamiliarity. I had problems trying to take in and digest the horde of information and dialogue that went on. However, I came away with a renewed interest to ensure that my son will have a better exposure to the subject of History that I did. But I am not sure yet what I can do.

Firstly, I think I should get myself up-to-date with regards to the History textbooks in our national curriculum. For one, the textbooks do not favour an inclusive history and concentrates much on just one race, the Malays. We need to have textbooks that tells the story of the nation in an inclusive manner that will ignite an emotive fervour in all students of all races in Malaysia that will work towards nation building. We need an inclusive story of our nation that is respectful to the Malays, Chinese and Indians.

Secondly, I need to find out how the subject is being taught in schools, but I wonder how I can make that happen. A proper teaching of the subject can provoke passionate and emotive discussion about not only what happened but what it meant to the students today. We need more than rote and flat learning, without getting involved in the story of the nation. This reminds me of an excellent movie I watched some time ago, The Freedom Writers. It is based on a true account of a new and enthusiastic teacher who was placed in a classroom to teach kids from the ghettos and gangs. The classroom was akin to a world with borders drawn between the Hispanics, Asians, Blacks and one white student. She had to engaged them, she needs to teach them. She finally succeeded, by touching their lives with the stories of people in similar situations as they were. She used the Hollocaust event, brought them to visit the Hollocause museum, have them meet survivors of concentration camps and had them read The Diary of Anne Frank.

We need a more inclusive account of our Malaysian history and we need a more involving approach to teaching it. Only then will we build our youngsters with a sense of love and pride for the country from the stories of heros and heroines of all races.


Monday, June 06, 2011


Someone used an acronym I have not heard before only to find out that it is an entry in Wikipedia: CYA - well, there are a lot of these around us these days. But I think all of us do that to a certain extent to survive but some tend to overdo it that it is so apparent. And when that happens, it is difficult to get things done and you'd have to take many roundabout ways just to get things done.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

People of the Book: A Novel

People of the Book, A Novel
By Geraldine Brooks (Penguin, 2008)

Words do not do justice to how I feel about reading this book. Just that of all the novels I have read in my entire life, this is certainly one of the most amazing one. The intrigue, the mystery, the inter-connections between the stories are astounding. And if you are a lover of historical fiction, I fully recommend you this book.

The story is wrapped around a real book or manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah.

A Haggadah is an illuminated manuscript that contains the illustrated traditional text of the Passover Haggadah, a Jewish text that used during the Passover meal. It contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings and rituals, commentaries from the Talmud, and special Passover songs. An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decorations, illustrations and usually decorated with gold or silver.

Very little is known about the Sarajevo Haggadah. From the little known facts about the manuscript, Brooks has woven an amazing story around it. It revolves around a manuscript conservator as she was assigned to conserve the Haggadah. As she worked with the manuscript, she extracted "history" from in it, in the form of an insect wing, a feather, wine stains, salt stains, and a piece of white hair. The story of the Haggadah is then interwoven with the people in five stories of different times. I love the mystery and intrigue they tell.

And I must say that People of the Book this is a big volume; big not in the sense of the length of the book, it is after only 372 pages in print, but big in terms of the subject it holds. I learnt much about life as it was in Sarajevo with its religious diversity, with adherents to Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting there for centuries. You will be amazed at how the people coexist there and how they hang on to their relationship despite their differences, the sacrifices the made,and the sufferings they had to endure. And yet, they held on to their friendship, with one another even though their differences and similarity of beliefs can steer them to unbelievable atrocities as it did happen in various levels in various parts of the world over the last few centuries. I also learnt, as I diverted here and there (to Wikipedia mostly), about the Spanish Inquisition, manuscripts preservation, and anthropodermic bibliopegy amongst others.

From the beginning of the book, I was mesmerized when the story was intensely into the conservation of the manuscript. It was interesting to get acquainted with the inks and the colours that we take for granted. Let me quote this paragraph in the book:

I turned a page. More dazzle. The illuminations were beautiful, but I didn't allow myself to look at them as art. Not yet. First I had to understand them as chemicals. There was yellow, made of saffron. That beautiful autumn flower, Crocus sativus Linnaeus, each with just three tiny precious stigmas, had been a prized luxury then and remained one, still. Even if we now know that the rich color comes from a carotene, crocin, with a molecular structure of 44 carbon, 64 hydrogen, and 24 oxygen, we still haven't synthesized a substitute as complex and as beautiful. There was malachite green, and red; the intense red known as worm scarlet -- tola'at shani in Hebrew-- extracted from tree-dwelling insects, crushed up and boiled in lye. Later, when alchemists learned how to make similar red from sulfur and mercury, they still named the color "little worm" -- vermiculum. Some things don't change -- we call it vermillion even today.

I just love how Brooks has put hard facts and delightful fiction together. It is a reader's haven. If you are into manuscripts, text, lives of the Jews, Muslims and Christians, mystery and intrigue, this book is for you.

One more thing about fiction that gets to me -- the ending -- it has to be perfect. And this book does not disappoint. It is not perfect perfect, but it was satisfying.

I will definitely read it again, and this round I will be able to recognize the "aha" portions, and I am looking forward to it.


Friday, June 03, 2011

Imagine How God Can Sing

I was listening to this song today and it came beautifully to me, in its music and lyrics and of course, Sandi Patti's amazing vocals.

Imagine how God can sing
How His voice delights the universe
With a range that blends eternally
Into chords of His love

Imagine how God can dance
Moving gracefully up to our hearts
To invite us to be intimate
And share in His joy

Then imagine how God must feel
If we move back away from Him
To design our own destinies
Shaping lives of desiring and fear

The imagine God's happiness
When a wanderer cries out to Him
For the peace that only He can give
For the strength He grants to truly live
And when the choice is made to look to Him
And finally draw near

Composed by: John Jarvis, Phill McHugh

Too bad I could not find a video from YouTube to include in here.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Office Space...What Space?

The term "office space" has now become an oxymoron. How so?

I was reading a book that included a section on office space that intrigued me. Let me quote:
In an article for Fortune (March 22, 2006), Julie Scholosser reviewed how cubicles were faring thirty years after Robert Propst released his prototype for the enclosure. The article, "Cubicles: The great mistake," noted that Propst, like investors of tools used in warfare, despised the office culture that grew out of his contribution. Scholsser compared the cubicle to crabgrass that persists in growing despite its lack of popularity:

Reviled by workers, demonized by designers, disowned by its very creator, it still claims the largest share of office furniture sales -- $3 billion or so a year -- and has outlived every "office of the future" meant to replace it. It is the Fidel Castro of office furniture.
I started working since 1991 and have worked in many different forms of office. I have had my share of cubicles in several offices...

...and whilst I still prefer the room, of which I had two in my working life... got down to hot-desking, but everyone claimed our place religiously and thus goodbye to hot-desking...

...but it got worse and I ended up with just having a space in a conference table packed with 7 other people, all working closely together, elbow-to-elbow proximity-wise, all in different areas of work...

...and all I would ever dream of, is a home office...

...although I don't think I will survive with the television and refrigerator so close by.


Source: Laurie Helgoe, Introvert Power, Sourcebooks, 2008

Wednesday, June 01, 2011