Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Small, but Mighty

I have always thought, even though S & K are two very young children, very small indeed, but everyday, they live fully.
Everyday, they live as two torches that burn with all their might, no reserving, no doubting, no worrying, no fear for tomorrow. They burn all they have, they live to the fullest. They live in the moment, they laugh and cry to their hearts' content. They offer love without hesitation, they enjoy everything fully, the joy in their eyes and faces are constant, and there is no holding back.
I watch them, and you know what, I want to live like that.
I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to be be burning. I want no holding back. I want no reservation, no worries and no fear. I want to love with no hesitation.
For why haven't I done so already? Has not Christ given me the second chance I need to really live? Has he not said do not worry about tomorrow? Should I not be burning my life for Him?
Funny how God had to give me twins to teach me something. Simple things that are too simple, I fail to see them. Such as I had been asking many many days, what should I be doing for the Lord when I am raising my children? What should I be doing? What can I do?
One day the answer came while I was preparing breakfast for the little ones, it was so simple I almost laughed, but at the same time I was disturbed that it took me that long to figure out the answer. It is very simple. This is a very busy season of my life, but it is also the perfect season for me to, learn His words. Is it not? I have never gone through any Bible foundation class ever since I became a believer, and I keep telling myself, I will study all the Lord's words one day. But when is that one day? Is now not the perfect time? Do I not have time to myself? If I do not know His word, do I really know Him? If I do not know Him, how can I tell the others about Him? How can I tell someone about how to build a house if I build my house on the sand? Most importantly, how can I teach my children about Him if I myself do not know anything about the Word? It is all too simple, yet it took me long time to see the answer. I am amazed at His patience with me.
I have learned many lessons through my little ones since I became a mother. I think I have matured more and quicker in motherhood compared to before.
One day I was praying before lunch, quite weary of the children's quarrels and misbehaving, I prayed on behalf of the children,"Dear Jesus, please help us to be loving and gentle to each others. Please help us to be nice, and NO SCREAMING." While I was praying I selfishly emphasized the last part as a reminder to the children who were listening. I was quite proud of myself using prayer time as teaching time as well, but the good feeling did not last long. As soon as I finished praying, conviction came swiftly and fiercely,"How about you? how about yourself? Are you being loving and gentle to your children? Are you being nice? Are you not screaming?" It hit me right on my head, I could feel my pulse quickened and cheek getting red. Is it not true? I had not been loving, I had not been gentle, and I certainly had been screaming too much at them. The Holy Spirit is sharper than a two-edge sword. I immediately started praying again,"Dear Jesus, please help me to be loving and gentle to my children, and help me to not be screaming!"
Small, but mighty, are the lessons God teach me through my children. And I am most grateful, for the things He has taught me since I became a mother. He is faithful, and he is very very patient and full of mercies. Through my children He pour out His sweet sweet grace, small dosage, but mighty. I believe He has many many lessons prepared for me, and I can only say, yes Lord, teach me and show me. Be patient with my stubbornness and slow understanding, but teach nonetheless. Teach me through these little ones. Teach me to live like them, teach me to burn like them, teach me to love like them. Teach me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grieving For the Griever

What do you say to someone who has lost their loved one?  One lost so suddenly, so tragically? One who had to endure so much suffering and pain before his departing from this world?
What can you say?  Words will not come.
What do I say to the one who has been left behind?  With so much sorrow, so much regrets, so much anger, so many questions?
One who is blaming himself for not being able to grant his dying father's last wish?
"But I have so much dreams, dreams involving him, I work really hard, but what do I get?  Is this what I got from working so hard?"
I have no words.  No words for the one who does not share my hope.  One who does not see, cannot see what I see.  I cannot give him false hope.  I cannot simply say,"he is at a better place now."
I can only grief with him.  I can only said,"We are praying for you."
I see him being absolutely lonely in this mass of grievance that is tossing him back and forth, but I cannot reach out to him.  It is not within my power.  I grief that he does not know the mighty Comforter, I grief that it is broken, everything is broken and he does not see why.
I can only pray.  I pray that Jesus will reveal Himself to him at this time, I pray that He will embrace him close.  I pray that over time his heart will be open a little bit more, and we can talk, and he will open it wider to let the Lord go in, to put the soothing balm over his wounds.
I can only tread the water gently, very gently.  Never pushing, but letting him know, we are here.  We are here, and He is here.
I pray that he will know that one day.
Death comes quick, my friends.  What regrets we will have if it claims us or one of our love ones tomorrow?
Leave no regret.  Love to the greatest extend.
I have fear for my family who does not know and have the hope.  It is my greatest fear.  It is one that steals my peace.  But tonight I shall cast it on Him, tonight I shall sleep.  My fear He shall carry it for me, just as He has done it for so many nights faithfully, letting me know He is faithful, and just.
Tonight He dwells in the deepest part of my heart, and I shall be comforted.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer in the South

Today we had ants invasion in the girls’ room.  The girls were both really excited but also concerned,  Shiloh lay down on the floor to watch them while Kayla screamed,”ma yi! ma yi! (ants)” crazily beside me.  I exercised my lightening-fast fingers muscles right away by squishing them, with Shiloh guiding me by pointing her finger to every one of the ant she could see while yelling,”haiyou! haiyou! (there is still more)”.  True excitement for our mundane morning schedule, but not one I have wished or would wish for.  The other day I killed a fly, a roach, a spider and caught a giant cricket(that gave such a fright to poor Kayla, because she sat right next to it and it jumped!) all within an hour, INSIDE the house.  Welcome to the summer in the South, where all the creeping creatures outdoor do their summer heat escape, in YOUR house.

You would think “What’s the big deal, you grow up in Malaysia, eh?”  True, true,  We do have ants inside the house, flies galore when it’s the season(when I said, season, I actually mean seasons, you will always have flies, only low season or peak season), we have cockroaches of course, and they do fly, one time one flew into my older brother’s mouth when he was sleeping, he coughed and spat and screamed so much it made us laughed so badly; but karma soon made its way back to me when one day I tried to play my recorder, I sucked in a deep breath, and in with the air was this tiny baby cockroach…I coughed and spat and screamed so much that my siblings laughed so badly at me.  I also washed my mouth out million times and always checked before I played my recorder then.  We also have geckos in the house, they are good tiny lizards that crawl on the ceilings that eat insects, but they also poo everywhere and that always annoy my mother.  We got really excited when my mother tried to hit it with a cane but it didn’t kill the gecko but only got its tail,  the tail would fall off, still wiggling on the floor with the gecko alive but gone.  It’s an amazement when you saw the same gecko again next time with a short but new tail.  Sometimes the geckos lay eggs among the clothes in the dresser, we would bring them and bury them in the hot sand.  If the time was ripe you got baby geckos crawled out from the eggs.  We also have millipedes and centipedes, and occasionally mice.

So what’s the big deal about all these crawling creatures inside my house here in US?

The big deal is, my friends, in Malaysia, everything is opened.  The doors are opened, the windows are opened, so to have crawling things inside my house is expected.  Because they can get in and out of the house easily.  But here in US, everything is closed.  My doors and windows are closed most of the time, if I so leave my door opened ajar, just a few millimeters, I would have my husband and my in-laws screaming at me,”Close that door before the bugs get in!!!”  And I always obey.   But what good it does when you obey but you still have troops and troops of crawling creatures decide to invade your house from some unseen cracks and literally creep up on you when it’s least expected? The suspend is further heighten by the fact that there is poisonous spiders in South Carolina.  It helps greatly when you cannot sleep at night and your thought start to stray off to the poisonous spiders that might be lurking in your children's bedroom, or worse, dangling over their cribs while they slumber off in their sweet, innocent dreamland.

Last year within the same day I had a standoff with a green, weird type of gecko (OK, any kind of gecko I can’t identify is weird, and the only type I can identify if of course those good gecko back in Malaysia) and also had to thwart an entire troop of ants’ invasion.  I came upon the bright green gecko while I was heading to my bedroom, and there it was, on its all four in front of my bedroom door, with its back to the back door out to the backyard.  I stopped in my track, it sensed my presence and raised its head and looked at me with its beady eyes.  Usually lizards do not alarm me, outdoor; but this one was in my house.  I also was still breastfeeding, that means I still have lots of crazy motherly hormones coursing inside me.  Maybe it felt my unfriendliness, it started to look around for a way out.  What is worse than to have a lizard in your house?  A frantic lizard.  It decided to make a mad dash to my bedroom!  And what’s worse than to have a frantic lizard?  You guessed it, to have a frantic lizard in your bedroom!  I quickly opened the bedroom door and it froze, I used something to hit the floor near it, it realized it was a bad choice to go that way and quickly ran out of the room.  I jumped over it and opened the back door and used the same sound tactic to scare it, it quickly wiggled itself out.  Relief swarmed over me after I slammed the door shut.  Earlier that day,  I had to eliminate a whole colony of the ants who had decide to claim ownership to the girls’ dresser.  Yes, right among the girls fluffy, soft clothing (that their mother slaved to wash and dry and fold) they made themselves comfortable.  I had to kill them one by one with my fingers, because I could not bear to use any chemicals in the girls’ room, which resulted in more than few bites on my hands.  And while their mama risking her life battling with the whole colony of the ants, the girls decided they should not waste their time waiting around for me, they launched their stealth mode and went to party-with the cat food.  By the time my mother instinct told me they were up to something, they were already splashing in the water puddles from the water bowl, and Shiloh was munching the cat food happily.  The younger one was quick to tears once I discovered them and reprimanded them, but the older one…proceeded to munch more cat food.

When the night dawned and the husband came home, I boasted my heroic rescues to him.  His respond was mild,”Oh!  THAT lizard.  Yeah, I have seen him.”, which prompted the wife to asked,”You have seen HIM??!! In the house?”  ”Yeah, I have seen him in the house…” “WHEN???!”  ”I don’t know, a few days ago…?”  and by this time, he had his monstrous fire-breathing, eyes blazing with green glow wife on him screaming,”YOU HAVE SEEN HIM FEW DAYS AGO AND DID NOT GET HIM OUT???!  YOU LET THE LIZARD STAYED IN MY HOUSE FOR FEW DAYS???!”  To this he finally realized he gave the wrong answer and replied,”Oh, maybe not few days, maybe it was yesterday that I saw him…” The wife was very tempted to let her husband stay in the backyard with the same lizard that night.

This year, the girls have voluntarily signed up for the scouting job and are on board of our swat team.  They scour every corner of the house looking for the creatures.  When found one they flew to their mommy and screamed on top of their lungs for their discoveries.  When their special language is not understood, they make such noise until their mother drops everything she is doing to go investigate.  They yell and yelp and jump and pant and whine and cry while their mother does the job of killing or evicting.  It is good to have little helpers, at least one of them is courageous and sometime tries to take the killing into her own hand; but they have to work on their identify skill, especially the younger one.  Because for now, every black speck on the floor is an ant to her (which she jumps and screams), and everything she can find with her eagle eyes is suspicious.

So, welcome to the summer in the South.  Down here we have all kind of creeping creatures, not only in your backyard but also in your house.  When the husband is home, he comes to the call of rescue; but when he is not around, I stand and do the job of protecting my family by battling and evicting those illegal immigrants in my house.  I do not mind doing the job (with some disgusted exclamation along doing it, of course), but does any of you, my friends, who has a one-time solution?  Or, I guess I can resolve to to a lesser solution –recipes of natural insecticide I can use safely around children, anyone?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oh motherhood.

(I usually write about the girls on our private blog, but unfortunately it has been down for a while now and my poor, torn, busy husband has not have the time to fix it.  I have so much things I want to write down, about the girls that is, that I'm afraid if I don't they will be gone as fast as the girls' infancy.  And so I'm writing them here.)

The girls are growing and learning at such amazing speed, they truly grow like weeds!  Shiloh was wearing a dress yesterday, the same one she was wearing about a month ago, but it already seemed to be getting too short for her!  Two months ago before we left to Malaysia they could barely looked out of the windows without standing on something or their tippy toes, but after a month in Malaysia, I was very surprise to find out they can look out of the windows when we were back with no problem and no help now!  Weight wise, I think they have lost some weight during the stay in Malaysia, but are slowly gaining it back.  They were at the 0 percentile at the 18 months old check-up, and the doctor wanted me to bring them back in June to have their weights checked again,"just to be safe" he said.  But that "just to be safe" will cost me 50 dollar, you know.  I canceled the appointment after we got back from Malaysia, not because I want to save that 50 dollar, but because I know they have lost weight and the appointment would do them no good.  I do not appreciate probing and more tests on my babies just because they are small.  They are healthy and running around like crazy.

Both girls love to be with each others now and enjoy playing together.  BUT, they also hate it when the other one takes her toys away, or bugging her, or sharing her mommy.  Shiloh is more independent.  She will ask about Kayla when she doesn't see her, but she is completely happy playing by herself.  Kayla on the other hand, adores Shiloh and needs her more.  She asks about Shiloh when she doesn't see her, and follows Shiloh everywhere and does whatever Shiloh does.  Shiloh can make Kayla laughs like no one else.  She really doesn't have to try hard, one weird noise or simple action can send Kayla into such giggle again and again.  They love to pretend to feed each other with a spoon, and one will cry "more! more!" and the other one will feed more.  Or the feeder get so zealous and will not stop, not even after the eater cries" ALL DONE!  ALL DONE!".  Usually the "zealous" feeder is Kayla and Shiloh will be so ticked that she tries to walk away but Kayla chases her down with the feeding spoon shouting "umm! umm!" , which is their language for eating.  Sometime they both get spoons and take turns "feeding" each others, and laughing the same time.  They like to do this while sitting on the kitchen floor (while mama cooking) with their backs to the door that goes out to the garage. Sometime they pretend they are drinking soup by making slurping noise.  This always make the other one giggles.  They also like to color, but only for a very short time.  Kayla enjoys walking around holding on to something,  I don't mind when it's a cup or toy, but when it's a crayon, I have problem with that.  I can always foresee her coloring on my wall or somewhere else she shouldn't be.  Today when I helped them to sit at their table and color, Shiloh opened the drawer and said,"uh oh!" I looked and discovered someone had colored in the drawer!  But that someone quickly confessed by pointing to herself and said,"An An!" (pronounced as "un un", which is what we call Shiloh in her Chinese nickname and she has been adopted calling herself that.").  Luckily it's a plastic table that I got from a yard sale and it can be easily washed off.  That's another thing about the girls, they like to be snitches lately.  If Kayla is doing something she is not suppose to be doing, you can be sure Shiloh is quick to tell her that by shouting,"Meimei (younger sister)!!  No!!  No!!  mmkeyi (you can't)!!  pigu (bottom--meaning she will get spanked)!!"  Sometime she even tries to "discipline" Kayla, to daddy and mommy's dismay.  We're working on letting her understand she is not allowed to boss her sister, or reprimand her as we do, nor hitting her sister.  Kayla is the smarter one.  When she catches Shiloh doing something inappropriate, she runs to mommy and said,"Jiejie (older sister)!! *jabber jabber jabber in gibberish*  No!!".  The first few times she did this I was completely confused of what she was trying to tell me.  She was determined and would not give up though, until I decided to go with her to investigate, and realized what she tried to tell me.  Now when she flies to mommy talking about her sister in gibberish, I know right away Shiloh is misbehaving.  Interesting.  But more interesting when I found out Shiloh tattles about no one but also herself!  When we're reading a book and come to a torn page, or the previous drawer incident, she quickly let me know she was the one who did it by pointing to her nose, saying her own name and nodding her head!  It makes me laugh (not in front of her), but I sure hope she will remain to be this honest as she grows up.

Shiloh is half potty trained.  It actually doesn't require much effort with her.  Before we left to Malaysia she was having a series of bad diaper rash.  So we let her go without diapers whenever she wasn't sleeping.  She quickly discovered about her own urine, first disgusted by it, then proceeded to play in it.  I tried to let her sit on the potty when she first got up from her nap, and she went in there few times.  She loves to be praised and to learn new thing, so I wasn't surprise when she wanted to sit on the potty even when she wasn't going.  The other thing is, she loves, loves, loves reading.  She realized that if she sat on the potty, she could have mama read to her heart's contend.  Sometimes we sat and read 7 books straight!  But I was more surprise but she actually realized the urge to go and let me know!  We had a month's break of potty training in Malaysia, because the crazy schedule just wouldn't allow it.  When we came back, she was very reluctant in telling us whether she wanted to go or not, so I just popped her on the potty every hour or so, and she would go when she needed to.  Soon she is telling her when she needs to go again, and mommy is very proud that she is now diaper free when she is awake.  She still doesn't like to go poo-poo on the potty and only go when I put them down for their afternoon in her diaper.  We shall work on that later.  Kayla will sit on the potty but refuse to go.  I think she is fear to pee or poo in the potty.  She doesn't like the sight on them, period.  She always says,"Yay!" to Shiloh when Shiloh goes pee in the potty, but a lot of time, she will look at it and says,"Ewww!" too.  One time, Shiloh accidentally went poo in the potty (because we both didn't realized she needed to poo), after she realized it, she stopped doing it no matter how I encouraged her.  She got up and looked at it, then looked at me (who was cheering and saying yay like crazy), then tentatively said,"yay...." with a disgusted face.  Kayla of course was so all grossed out by her sister's "misdoing" and she just keep saying "Ewwww!!  Ewww!! Ewww!!" no matter how I tried to let her know it is not "eww!".  I told her not to look if it disgust her so much, but of course she couldn't resist, and thus she couldn't stop saying eww to her very confused sister...aah, you never know potty training can be so fun with twins, did you?

Welcome to my world. 
There will be more to come if you enjoy the madness and the comic of it.  Now let me first get back to my screaming children, and we'll see I have more strength left to write afterward.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A wall built up, a fortress torn.

 This is a tribute to my dear friend, Layshan's brother, JengChang Lee (1985-2002) who fought liver cancer bravely for 2 years before he passed into Jesus's arms.  Through their suffering, his death and Layshan's amazing faith, I was brought closer to the God I mocked and loathed.  Amidst all the sorrow, God was growing something beautiful.  Whenever I thought of this, I feel forever indebted to my dear friend who was (and still is ) the greatest witness to me just by living her life rooted in God, and my heart trembles by how God works.  None but only our God can plan just unthinkable and impossible plans!

The tears came.  Quietly but fiercely.  I was sitting alone by a wide river, on the sloping riverbank.
It was early spring in Japan.    It was a very sunny day, but the cold bitter wind was relentless.  I had walked about 15 minutes to get to the river.  Any day I would have given up to go out, it was simply too cold for a girl who had grew up in a country which summer lasts all year long.  But not that day, not that day.  I walked in the merciless cold wind, feeling it cutting through my face and my skin.  I walked and walked until I got to the river.  I remember sitting down on the riverbank, looking at the river.  The bright sunlight fell on the flowing water,  reflecting bright beautiful patches of light over the river.  I squinted at it.
Then the tears came.  And I let it.  There were nobody around.  And even if there was, I did not care.  I did not care.  The wind caressed and tried to brush it away, only to sting my face more.  I let it stay, welcoming the pain, hoping the pain would make me feel better.  Maybe.
But it did not.
I was burdened with sorrow.  And most of all, my heart was bursting with anger.  Anger boiling all over, at one whom they call, God.
But He was not my God, He was her God.  A God to my very dear friend. My very dear friend, Shan.
I poured my anger out at Him.  How could you?!  How could you do that to her?  How could you do that to her when she has been so faithful all these time?  How could you do that to her brother?  HOW COULD YOU!  It did not matter I did not know Him.  Or I did not call Him my God.  I was angry at what He allowed to happen, so I let my anger loose.
With the anger, my own memories of losing someone came vividly.  The boy whom sat by me for 2 years in elementary school, he never grew up.  The chance was taken away from him when he was 13, while he was crossing a road, a car hit him.  And he was gone.  My own grandmothers.  One death came claimed her out of the blue.  My mother whom had never cried came to the school to fetch me while I was in the class.  My teacher talked in a hushed tone and with a face full of sympathy.  My mother's red eyes.  And she wept at the funeral.   I was too young to understand my mother's heartbreak.  But I remember my father's mother.  Towards the end I could see and smell death when I looked at her.  And my father whom never seen to be close with her wept too, at her funeral. He wailed and I was shock, I long to hold him but our culture did not foster physical closeness among parents and children.  So all I did was stared.
All those people gone, but the emptiness stayed.  Sitting on the riverbank, I pondered on death, and life.  How meaningless I thought.  So I was living, but so what, the end would come.  It would come and it would be the same.
How vain.  How empty was this life.  I walked back to the dormitory with only that thought in mind, and my face red stung by the wind. 

That night I made a phone call to my dear friend Shan in Malaysia.  I had to talk to her.  I had to give her some encouragement, some comfort, some strength.  Even though I had no idea how.
Yet upon hearing her voice, my voice broke, and I could only manage to mutter her name.  No words would come, and the tears flowed.  We stayed quietly for a moment, I tried to say something again only to have my mouth agape with no voice coming out.  Finally she said, it's Okay.  I am Okay.
I am Okay.
And I cried harder hearing those words.  I do not remember the rest of the conversation.  It was a short phone call.  But all these years those words echo in my mind, I. am. Okay.
After hanging up I was totally embarrassed, amazed and baffled.  How could I tried to comfort her but turned out to be the one who was comforted and encouraged?  How could she be so strong?  What is holding her together?  And who is this Jesus?

Who is this Jesus?
I asked the question to myself, half amazed and half baffled.  I had no idea later that year I would ask the same question again, this time with anger, when the boy I deeply loved broke my heart, telling me he could not marry me unless I was a Christian.  I asked the same question fiercely and with such hatred, I wanted to murder Him with my thought.  And I vowed to myself, I would have nothing to do with a Christian boy anymore.  I spat Christianity at its face.  That is it.  I drew the line and I built up a fortress.  Little did I know, when I thought I was building up the fortress, He was actually tearing it down.  When I thought I would see and hear His name no more, He would come to me again and again.  Little did I know, in order for me to be able to receive His love and grace, my heart had to be broken.
Little did I know.