Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sad and poignant New Year's Eve

Have you ever felt like you are trying the live out the whole year in one day?

That is how I have been feeling on the last day of the year for the past several years.

It's like having a feeling of disbelief that the year has passed by so fast and I am not able to catch up to it. And now on the last day of the year, I feel like I should have a blast of a day to finish of the year and welcoming a new one, but by the time half the day is gone, I am nowhere near having it mean something let alone having a blast.

I have had sad and poignant New Year's Eve for the past few years and looks like I'm having another one today.

So what gives?

It's no wonder some people go to parties and get drunk senseless. There is just too much to be expected from the last day of the year that we know we are going to fail miserably to make something meaningful and profound out of it.

I have not been attending any watch night services in church for years now. I think it will be a good idea that I go tonight.


I went. And this was the covenant I made with the Lord:

Minister: And now, beloved, let us bind ourselves with willing binds to our covenant God, and take yoke of Christ upon us. This taking of his yoke upon us means that we are heartily content that he appoint is our place and work, and that he alone be our reward. Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honor, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations, and temporal interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves; in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is assuredly given us in Christ, who strengthens us. Therefore, let us make the covenant of God our own. Let us engage our heart to the Lord, and resolve in his strength never to go back. Being thus prepared, let us now, in sincere dependence on his grace and trusting in his promises, yield ourselves anew to him.
O Lord God, holy Father, who has called us through Christ to be partakers in this gracious covenant: we take upon ourselves with joy the yoke of obedience, and engage ourselves, for love of you, to seek and do your perfect will. We are no longer our own, but yours.

People: I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will, put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you our brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, O gracious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are mine, and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.


Technically it is no longer 2015 but I didn't want the night to end yet. I just spent the last half an hour skimming through what I've posted over the year, the first time I've actually posted every single day of the year in a long time.

It was good looking back. It was a bitter sweet year - of frustration and hope, of learning and growing. And I thank God for it. I pray his direction for me will be clearer in 2016, that I will grow closer to him in listening to him, in following his leading.

Abba Father, I again commit myself to you and you alone. Amen.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Solitude and Loneliness

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.
~ Mother Teresa

Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.
~ Paul Tillich

We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.
~ Albert Schweitzer

Friendship needs no words - it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness.
~ Dag Hammarskjöld

Loneliness was the first thing that God's eye named not good.
~ John Milton

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.
~ John 14:16


Monday, December 28, 2015

I completed the course on coaching

I've only signed up for two paid courses and this is the second one I've completed.

I've also completed these without any certificates, bringing to a total of six:

I have two more to complete and after that, I think I will take a break from lectures, though there's one on Early Christianity: The Letters of Paul and one on What is a Mind? which I think are too interesting to pass up. Here's learning getting the better of me, again.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

I'm bored to death

When you pay attention to boredom, it gets unbelievably interesting.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

I fell asleep reading a dull book and dreamed I kept on reading, so I awoke from sheer boredom.
~ Heinrich Heine

Boredom, after all, is a form of criticism.
~ Wendell Phillips

If I planned everything out in advance, I'd expire of boredom.
~ Peter Straub

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
~ Marilyn Monroe

Shout out to KC Bob who gave me the last quote above

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Thousand Words uhh...People #181

We planned a short family trip to nearby Genting Highlands but I'm beginning to feel that it is an absolutely terrible, horrible idea.

There were seven of us and we decided for a few of us to take the cable car up and not strain the car engine driving us all uphill.

Well, it took us more than one hour lining up to board a cable car what with more than 1,000 people in the line.

And I can imagine how massive a crowd there must be when we reach there. Oh dear...


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I joined my family church in their combined celebration service today, which was held in a school hall. It was certainly some school hall. Amazing stage, lightings and I'm still in awe of the humongous LED screen. Just wished that the sound system was better.

Merry Christmas all! May the birth of Christ fill you with much hope and joy. May we live our lives filled with the Holy Spirit, with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Amen.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Christmas reading

The First Days of Jesus, The Story of Incarnation
by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Alexander E. Stewart

"The birth of Jesus stands as a pivotal moment in the history of the world, marking a dramatic turning point in God’s plan to redeem creation from sin and death. Much to the world’s surprise, redemption had arrived . . . in the form of a lowly baby.

Aimed at stirring your affections for Jesus, this meditative book will lead you on a step-by-step journey through the Gospels’ birth narratives, clearing away common misconceptions, making messianic connections, and setting the stage for Jesus’s later life and ministry."


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy I finally found a good book

No, not this one.

The Magicians
by Lev Grossman

My brother was telling me about this new TV series that I must watch, especially since I liked the Harry Potter series and movies.

So I had high hopes and looked out for the premier pilot episode. I was sorely disappointed. I felt that they were trying to fill in too many things in one episode and what they had wasn't very interesting or profound. It's was just boring.

I then found out that the series was based on a bestseller book, and I got a copy to read. It was interesting but too bad it was only for the first half of the book. Soon I was getting bored and my mind kept drifting away as I was reading. I find that there isn't much of a plot and development of characters was very thin. I found myself having to track back several times, pages to re-read, when I got drifted off. It was frustrating. The narrative often go on a tangent to something else.

I seldom ditch a book once I've started reading it, but at the thought of forcefully trudging through it, I decided I'm not going to torture myself, and stopped with much relief.

And off I went looking for another book and found this.

The Mysterious Benedict Society
by Trenton Lee Stewart

I have just started and it is really far, after reading 32% of it. (Weird right? It's no longer the number of pages I've read, but percentage.) I know it's a kid's book but it's really amusing and it even made me actually laugh out loud. It's clever and it holds my attention with no problem at all.

I'm happy now.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bethlehem's Treasure by Integrity Music

Bethlehem's Treasure
Integrity Music (1992)

I used to listen to this album every year during the Christmas season for several years in a row. I've lost the CD but found it in Spotify here.

It's lovely to listen to it again after so many years and be amazed with the wonderful gift of love that God has given us in Christ.

My favorite carol here is We Three Kings of Orient Are. The classic carol is given a superb rearrangement. And what more, the carol has the whole gospel in it. It's beautiful.


Monday, December 21, 2015

I'm a fourth generation Christian

It may not mean much, but I just found out I'm a 4th generation Christian and not a 3rd, which I thought I was all along.

I have always thought it was my grandfather who accepted Christ first, making him the 1st, my dad 2nd and me 3rd.

I just found out that it was my great grandmother who was the 1st, making me a 4th. Most Christians I know around here are 1st generation Christians, and I thought me being 3rd was already quite a big deal, heritage wise.

And that would make my son a 5th. Wow.

People would say that God does not have grandchildren. I get that. We are all his children, but I'm proud that this faith in Jesus is a heritage in my family for so many generations. The LORD has been good to us, in good times and in bad times. He remains faithful.

And my prayer would be for it to continue, for our future generations to continue to grow to have strong personal relationships with God, with Jesus. Amen.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Do the Epley Maneuver at home

If you have the vertigo, it may help if you could try the Epley Maneuver at home.

My hubby was telling me the story that this man was about to get his head operated on when one of his doctors got him to do the maneuvers saving him a trip into the operation theatre. I am not sure if that's a true account - I can't find any of such stories in the Internet. But the Epley Maneuver works.

You first need to find out which kind of vertigo you have for the right maneuver. Check the links provided in the video above in YouTube.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Cantata: Come to the Manger

Grace Notes combined with the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Chinese Methodist Cantonese Church Choir presented a Christmas Cantata today: Come to the Manger, by Joe E. Parks.

The choir have been practicing for about 4 months now and I must say, it was quite well done - to the credit of the conductor and Grace Notes's director Joanna Lau.

The cantata carries a message that the angels have invited you to come to the manger and even if the inn had no room for him, do you have room for him in your life?


Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Team Lunch

I was down for three days - the longest I've been sick and I had to drag myself back to work today. I've also been postponing my team's get-together lunch because of it.

We finally made it for lunch today at Pigs and Wolf in Pavillion KL. The food is quite good. The juices were too - I had Funny Strawberry!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Spasso Milano @Pavillion KL

I wasn't feeling very well today but I have been missing the last divisional dinner we had and so I thought I had better turn up for this one.

No regrets. The food was good. The company was better.

Wild Mushroom Rissoto

Beef Tenderloin Steak



Monday, December 14, 2015

Is anyone still blogging anymore?

I found it hard to keep blogging lately but I kept at it desiring to have a complete year of blogging this year. I blog to keep a public journal, which I believe nobody reads other than my current sole blogger friend Kansas Bob (thanks Bob!), who drops in once in a while. I know I do need to connect with other bloggers but I lack the time and energy.

I wrote about blogging before:
Why do I blog? and Why do I blog? 2

I still like to write. I don't have any other places where I can get my thoughts out, not that many come by but no matter. I still like what I do here.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Me in a video? Oh no!

My friend Phong, from Vietnam, is getting married this 19th December! I am so happy for him. He and his wife, Phuong apparently have many friends from other countries and they have decided to make a video montage from friends from all over the world. It is such a good idea.

Except that I was asked one. Oh no...

I hate being photographed and worse, I hate being videotaped. But for Phong's sake I have to do it, and I did.

I am not going to post it here, no way Jose. I would just like to talk through the experience doing it.

I started with getting a short script out. In brief, I wished them a happy married life, of love and companionship, of happiness and lots and lots of laughter. I also gave them a pair of wishes in Cantonese:
bak lin hou hap, bak tau dou lou.
A hundred happy years of marriage, being together till hair turn white.

Next, I had to find a suitable place to do it and I finally settled for my bedroom. I get a private and quiet place with natural light coming in from the windows. Perfect.

Then it was take after take after take. I think I did twenty of them and I'm glad I finally did one without any mistakes or being tongue tied, and one where I sounded more natural and not reading from my script.

Ah! I will not do this again for a long, long, long, long time to come.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

It's cheesy but quite funny though

Cheesy, you think?

We finally made our way to the new IKEA at Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.


Friday, December 11, 2015

No coincidence

I often unwittingly double-book myself and I did it again. I really thank God that there was a change in plans not in my control. The thing is I didn't even realised I double-booked myself until the day of one of the two events was changed. Both the events are very important and I cannot miss either any of them. And so I am so, so, so, so grateful they are now at different dates and time.

This is certainly not a coincidence. It has happened too many times. God is definitely the captain and pilot of my life.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

It's time for Christmas Carols

Christmas is coming and I used to get my Christmas music out to listen to...but ah! there's now Spotify and I have access to so much choice.

But this is what I am listening to this round: Pentonix, That's Christmas to Me. They are fantastic.

Pentatonix: Hark the Herald Angels Sing


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Writing Social Science Field Notes

I learnt something useful today. I used to take notes about happenings with people around me but I wasn't doing it very well and it soon turned out to my my venting journal and so I stopped it. But I found this website today about writing social studies field notes.

Scientist often write fields notes and and we should emulate them. For example, these are field notes by a biologist studying birds:

I must learn the skills of writing field notes and more objectively. The guide is found here.


Monday, December 07, 2015

Why did I think it was Wednesday today?

The brain is weird sometimes. I actually thought that it was Wednesday today, when it's clearly Monday with the usual busyness at work on the first day of the work week.

So why did I think it was Wednesday?

It happened when I was in a meeting in the afternoon when someone remarked that it was a Monday. I raised my eyes and thought to myself, "Monday? Isn't it Wednesday today?"

When I realised my mistake, I was really curious as to why I felt like it was a Wednesday. I thought about it a bit and realised why.

I started my day attending a training at 9 in the morning in a hotel several floors above my work place. But I had to step out at 10 to attend a meeting back on the office. I was back in the training session at 10:30. I stepped out again at 3 in the afternoon for another meeting. With the in and out and in and out, my brain actually thought 3 days have passed!

It's just too weird.


Sunday, December 06, 2015

We will be complete when he returns

I learnt about the concept of protogospel from this morning's sermon on Genesis 3. And on checking my commentary, Derek Kidner says on 3:15, "There is good New Testament authority for seeing here the protevangelium, the first glimmer of the gospel."

The first glimmer of the gospel... Wow.

With the gospel beginning right from the start, we are clear that God's redemption plan for us is The One Grand Plan of God, which I have posted three years ago in December 2012. (Wow, I did not even realized I had posted that so long ago. The thought I had still feel fresh to me, which means I should continue developing it.)

Although Gen 3:15 happened after the fall, it does not preclude that it is still God's one grand plan to create us in his likeness, who will disobey him and die, who will need the Incarnate Son of God to die and be raised for us to live. And as his kingdom is already upon us now, this Advent is where we are reminded of our waiting for his coming again, to bring completion to his prefect creation of the world, the universe and us, his chosen people, his royal priesthood, his holy nation.

Our story began back when he created us, and we will be completed in Christ when he returns.

Source: Derek Kidner, Genesis, An Introduction and Commentary, TOTC, IVP 1967

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Another new old

I was talking about the brand new Atria Complex a few days ago and how much it has changed from the old. Today, I experienced the same nostalgia with the Port Dickson Methodist Center.

Grace Notes was invited to sing in the Trinity Annual Conference's (TRAC) 40th annual conference. I was told that the center was renovated but I hadn't realised that it has been given such a complete makeover that I could not recognise it. Worse, I could not remember how it was before.

Anyway, I feel we did just fairly in our singing this round because the acoustics in the hall was really so bad our voice sounded dead.

Anyway, it's a good thing I found these pictures of the old center:

Entrance to the center

The Main Hall

Inside the Main Hall


Photos: disciples

Friday, December 04, 2015

Completed my practical coaching assignment

I've completed my practical coaching sessions with the final session for my second coachee today, as part of the Coursera Conversation that Inspire: Coaching Learning, Leadership and Change course.

I've started the course back in October and it has been quite a good experience, learning the useful Intentional Change Theory (ICT) model developed by Richard Boyatzis and having very interesting coaching conversations with my coachees.

I've submitted the required written assignment. I will be required to do several peer assessments in the next few days before coming to a completion of the programme.


Thursday, December 03, 2015

A useful MOOC aggregator

I was introduced to this useful MOOC aggregator that helps group all your MOOC courses in one place. It also allows you to keep track of courses that you are interested in without enrolling, which was what I wanted to do in but was not able to.

And my list in Class Central is certainly growing.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Seeing psychological disorders everywhere

I was trying to catch up on the Mental Illnesses lectures in the Introduction to Psychology course in Coursera. Professor Steve Joordens kept cautioning us that "learning about [psychological] disorders makes you see them everywhere, even in the mirror!"

It did in fact happened exactly as he cautioned. I noticed that I became quite down as a result in these few days, and it just might be because of the lectures, what with panic attacks and phobic disorders, depression and schizophrenia.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The new heaven and new earth

I am still reading NT Wright's Surprised by Hope and learning a lot from it and I'm especially glad that it somewhat conforms to what I thought about heaven and what we bring to heaven, or rather the new heaven and new earth. With it, I'm now able to be more firm about my thoughts on the subject.

For one, Wright's gist of the book is about life after life after death, and on one of his favorite subject, the kingdom of God, which he interprets quite differently from the other writers and scholars.

One of the important things that he brought up is how wrong our regular thought of heaven is. After we die, we do not get transferred to a distant and disembodied heaven. But rather, we come back to this very earth, but renewed, like it was supposed to be, good and perfect as created by God.

I blogged before about my nagging thoughts on the existence of God. I made a general reference to the Star Trek series where the beliefs of gods in alien civilisations are seen to be stupid and childish. What I did not refer to was this episode where there is this civilisation of people, or humanoids as they call them, where the dead are sent to "heaven" where they will start a new phase of life with the departed, but it was found that they instead remained as corpses in a cavern in another planet.

That episode stayed with me because I find it a parody of what I believed in. And for that, I'm being denigrated to a childish sort person who believes that I go to a place when I die but actually I still remain dead.

But with what Wright has proposed, that is we finally come back to this earth, fresh and renewed, it certainly makes more sense and I feel more comfortable now that I no longer felt belittled by such parodies.

I highly recommend you to read Surprised by Hope and let your understanding of what heaven and what life after death is be challenged by Wright's proposition.