He reached me.

Dug my hand into my pocket, and I found something else…

It’s been some time since I got knocked out the moment my head hit the pillow. Lately, I’ve found myself going to bed feeling tired, but ending up lying awake for what feels like an hour. I would close my eyes and thought I’ll fall asleep that way, only realising some time later that it’s not working. Thoughts, images and questions just kept filling my mind. Sleep please… And you know, sometimes the harder you try, the harder it is to fall asleep. Your mind simply becomes more aware of what’s going on.

Things have been, I don’t know. Guess… that’s the right phrase for it. I took time to ask myself what’s going on in there, tried to put them in words to help myself understand, and sometimes it worked. Those moments when I thought I figured out how to form one sentence that described what’s going on within, I felt a little happier.

But there was also a point when my mind was filled with so many thoughts that I found myself being unable to discern what’s good and what’s bad. The only thing I know is that I can’t make a decision while I’m in this state of mind. There’s a chance that it will be rash, on impulse, hurts others and myself, and it’ll be something I regret. I refused to make a decision. Not now either.

With so many thoughts spinning around my head, I began to feel a little lonelier as well. I lost my bearings and didn’t know how I can get back to my Refuge anymore. I find myself being less and less able to hear God speak. It was getting too noisy in there.

What happened this evening brought a little comfort though. I opened Facebook on my browser and I was surprised to see a message from a more-like-stranger-than-acquaintance. We’ve never talked before, I think? She said that she saw my name, along with a vision. That message told me one thing – my God knows.

And He cares. He cares enough to get that message through when He can’t get through to me Himself. He gave that message to a stranger, and that totally caught me by surprise. He makes sure that I hear Him say He’s in control. My God knows and my God cares, wow!

Usually Valentine’s Day is just really another day. This time round though, my heart feels a little fuller :) Jesus, Lover of my soul.

As I was thinking about how God has won me over today, again, I recalled that moment on the train this morning. I was reading my devotions on a seat when doubts came in, asking, “What if this faith is just a figment of your imagination?” And I dismissed them with a prayer.

This miracle that appeared through my Facebook feed today lets me know that no, this faith is not a figment of my imagination. My God is real, He knows, He cares, and He makes sure I know it.

This, I guess, will keep me going on for a little more in this valley.

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again?
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?

Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are.

And You’ve told me who I am.
I am Yours.

He reached me.

My First Time

Today our worship team had the privilege of having Pastor Sidney Mohede over to conduct workshops on different aspects of worship. It was a long but definitely blessed day that we had with him. At different points in time, I felt this deep sense of agreement with what he was sharing. These were mostly concerning our hearts rather than the technical aspect of music.

One of the valuable things that I’ve gained was the love for God that He talked about. Man, I have much to say about this, but I’m going to skip the details and go right to the point. In the context of some claiming that there is insufficient time to practise our craft for worship, he said, “You only go the extra mile for the things you love.” Absolutely true! My mind just went on and on searching for instances of that in my life, be it towards God or anything else that I really love, and I saw what he meant. He went on to say that “A lot of times it’s not because we got busy, but that we forget why we do what we do.” He kept returning to his point on remembering how it was like the first time we were asked to serve in a worship team – weren’t we filled with so much awe, excitement and just wanting to give our best?

I recalled my first time. That was in December 2013, for NUS Ministry Camp. I was in the midst of preparing for my exams on the day of rehearsal. I vaguely remember that on that same day, there was also a ministry worship session, so there was worship practice for the session earlier on in the day. Felt discouraged from the practice, went back to my books and tried to concentrate, but after a while it was time for the worship session, and then back to the books. I didn’t have a proper time to study and all I wanted to do that day was just to study and not do anything else. The time that I was supposed to leave for worship rehearsal for the camp came, but some others from the band were still studying. So I continued studying while hoping that they had somehow forgotten about it, or something, just let me study! Another reason for those feelings was also a feeling of inadequacy – I mean, the practice for the session that consisted of just me on the guitar and the 2 worship leaders made me feel bad enough and then I was to play in a band?! The thought of playing in a band for the first time and hindering everyone’s progress was just… Can I not?

Well, the rest got up and was ready to go in the end, and so I dragged myself along. I reached the venue, did the set-up as they guided me along, and I just waited for instructions on what to do next. Like, really, I had zero idea of what’s supposed to happen and what I was supposed to do. One thing that comforted me, though, was when I realised there was someone else who was just as new as me to this band thing, so I was glad that I wasn’t alone.

The worship leader started off the rehearsal with a time of worshipping and praying. The keyboard played on while I just continued to remain where I was. At that moment, I surrendered it all to God. What overcame me was this eagerness to just worship God, to remain in His Presence. There was then this realisation that the fact I was there was… grace. Like, come on, given how limited my skills were, no one in the world looking at technicalities would ever invite me to play in their band. But the invitation to serve came because of God’s grace in allowing me to serve Him in that capacity. That is privilege, my privilege to be serving my King! And there is also the leader’s grace to extend that invitation to me to serve in the camp in a worship band, even though they have heard me play before and know where my weaknesses lie. God really touched my heart as I realised these things, and I was just so ready to pour my heart out to worship Him. Was just filled with so, so, so much awe for my King! All the fears and inadequacy I had faded away in that instant. That evening, I received a lot of help and assurance from the band leader as well – this is grace as well.

That was my first time serving my King in a worship team. I hope that as I continue to serve in the band, I will continue to have this awe and reverence for my God, for my King. I hope I will continue to love Him in this way, that all I know and is natural for me to do is to just give Him my all and to pour it all out.

While I’m currently still a guitarist new to the worship team and probably haven’t really experienced what it means to forget why I’m serving, I think an area of application for my life right now would be to practise guitar as I did before. Nowadays, to be honest, I practise and push myself only when there is a need to (e.g. playing a song that the worship leader requested). Practice has become a “I have to” rather than a simple “I want to”. It used to be that I kept on practising and pushing myself to master something well because I was determined to use the guitar to worship God. That was like almost everyday, and an hour would just flew by without me realising. That was how eager I was to worship God with the instrument I had in my hands. The session today was a good reminder for me to practise not just to play in a worship setting as in for cell group or service, but that I practise because I just want to worship God with greater skills. It’s not about what techniques I can pull off, but it’s the spirit of excellence in striving the best for my King because He deserves it.

This alabaster jar is all I have of worth
I break it at Your feet, Lord
It’s less than You deserve
You’re far more beautiful
More precious than the oil
The sum of my desires
And the fullness of my joy

Like You spilled Your blood
I spill my heart
As an offering to my King

My First Time

His Empowerment

I’ve been sharing that I struggle with playing the guitar, and the insecurities that come along with that. Interestingly, each time I serve as a musician in service (this week’s gonna be the 3rd time), there will bound to be a song that makes me turn purple *cues emoji with half purple face with a drop of sweat by the side*

As I think about times like that, and about how even though there’s always this particular song that’s like that, I realise so far I’ve not crumbled in despair. Songs like that are difficult, but not impossible. They take more effort and require me to step out of my comfort zone more, but not unattainable.

They are not impossible and unattainable because God has been enabling me to pick up what I need to play those songs. There’s the help that God sends through people in my life – so many people I’ve bothered to ask to be my ears. I hear well in terms of decibels, but I don’t hear well musically. So these people have been my ears to ask them what they hear in this and that song. Trying to learn from them in the midst of this. There were also skills that God enabled me to pick up quickly within a short time. Like, playing along with the metronome, practising how to hold a pick when I’m plucking… I’m still not able to play very confidently (and the sound person has to deal with my lack of confidence haha >.< cos I’ll end up playing softer whenever I’m not confident and that changes the balance of the sounds), but I do see progress after staying stagnant in my playing for years.

I thank God for His empowerment in my worship unto Him. And each time I have to play, I know I can trust that His empowerment will come because if He has called me to this, He will give me what I need. I have little, but I guess it’s this little that helps me to understand what grace means (to be serving at this capacity when I am not good enough by this world’s standard) and what empowerment means (to be enabled to do things beyond my comfort zone). What I have in my hands are not my own, but what God has given and this teaches me to use these to worship my King.

I only have this much
But use them as You will

His Empowerment

Camp that day

Did an overnight camp at the zoo the other day. Brought the 10-year-old kids all around, shared with them what I know, and tried to listen to their stories about anything and everything. At the end of the camp when I sent them off at the bus bay, there was something in some of these eyes that would make a heart melt.

Those eyes tell you that you’ve just made a small little difference in their lives in that short 20 over hours. I may just be doing my job, and maybe try to drop words of inspiration (I try la) here and there, but to them it means more than that. At least when I was a kid, my student care teacher or my zoo guide meant quite a bit to me by the end. And I always felt that those adults don’t understand and they come and go just like that :( But haha anyway, I think I saw a very sincere and loud “thank you” in those eyes.

It’s often what I see in eyes like that which gives me a sense of fulfilment in my work, especially when it comes to working with children. For some reason, I realise that I’ve unknowingly gotten myself involved in quite a few children-related stuff. Like, being a facilitator here, being a workshop trainer elsewhere and teaching kids guitar every 2 weeks. No idea where this is leading to, but yeah… shall see.

Not the kind who squeals over how cute kids are usually. But I was a kid who was always upset with how adults treat kids and I told myself that I am going to be different when I grow up, and have more empathy towards kids. I believe in the potential of these kids too. What we do for them as adults can make a difference to the path that they eventually tread on in the future, simply because they look up to us and are ever-ready to follow what we say to them.

I’m going everywhere but well… This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of their teachers during that camp. She’s quite young, like 25 years old, just graduated from university last year. And well you know, WX sometimes ask difficult questions that hardly anyone asks, yeah even if they are strangers… I asked about how she feels about what she is doing and where her motivations lie. Love the answer that came!

She said she enjoys being with these children. Although she doesn’t like how teachers don’t get paid more for making trips with students like this one (while leaving their work behind as it continues to pile) or even overseas trips that require them to take time off their own holidays, she finds value in getting to know her students more by spending extended time with them. She likes how students tend to become more comfortable with her after such trips. She also said that she prefers to teach in a classroom setting rather than a tuition centre – though the latter provides a somewhat easier and higher income – because being in a classroom allows her to impart moral values and character that are important to life to her students. Whereas, teaching in a tuition centre will not allow her to do that, because students come in only for a short 1-2 hours each week.

I’m glad that I had that conversation with her about her job. It may be tiring, especially when you actually signed up for a teaching job but in the end there’s a whole load of admin duties behind that, but she sees a value in what she does. Always glad to hear from people who aren’t doing things just for the sake of doing things but do things with passion. And in this case, her passion involves making a difference in the future generation. Quite encouraging to meet someone like that outside of my own church’s context. I mean it’s good that I see many lead encouraging lives in church, but it will be quite sad if this church is the only place to find such people. There’s got to be more.

Going to be my turn to enter the working world soon. Entering into my final year this coming academic year. I’ve always told people that I’ll enjoy working more than studying (not really the kind who enjoys studying by nature), but now I think I’m starting to feel that… not-really-fear-not-really-worries-but-something-like-that. At least when I’m still in school, I can still have quite a few other commitments during internship periods, and at least I had the choice to work where I like. But when it comes to starting work officially, I’m not sure if I’ll still have the same privileges. Hope that when I graduate I won’t be stuck in some bohhh-rring office all day long. Even if you pay me a lot a lot to work in an environment that leads me to rot on the outside inside every side, I may want to reconsider that job man. While I’m still young and have energy to be pursuing passions and the things that I value, I hope I make good use of this time that I have.

Camp that day

Here’s my five loaves and two fishes

Decided to write this down, in preparation for those “days of regret” when I regret this decision I’ve made.

Last Saturday, Libo talked to me about serving in the new university service. Months before he spoke to me when the idea of the new university service was brought up, there were already people who randomly asked me, ‘would you agree to play for the service if the leaders ask?’ Without hesitation, my answer was nope I’m not going to do it. To be honest, ever since I started playing on a more public level in terms of sub-d size (and I still remember that was for exam HQ), I started to lose confidence bit by bit because there were things that I just couldn’t do and pick up like how others could. Basic things to all musicians like, keeping rhythm, keeping tempo. There were also days I just wished I hadn’t agreed to play for this and that camp. So I told Libo that I’m not confident at all, and each time I had to play on such a public level, I had to settle with God these issues of insecurities. He explained to me that it’s not just about skills – while skills are important in enabling us to minister at ease, a heart of desiring to minister to others through the instrument and a spirit of excellence are what matter more. I replied that frankly and logically, I knew skills are not everything but when moments of insecurities hit, it’s a totally different story. At the end of our conversation, he gave me close to a week to think through it and talk to whoever I needed to.

So on the following Monday, at its first hour, I decided to spend time with God on my birthday. In that time, I prayed for two things and I wrote them down. First was to know if God has called me to this (^), because if He did, then He would ensure that whatever I have is sufficient for His Purposes (2 Corinthians 3:4-6). Second was – well, I didn’t even realise what I was writing at that point in time – that I will put to good use what God has given me, to serve His Purposes with them (e.g. public speaking skills, guitar, voice, etc.). It wasn’t until after I came out of my room that I saw Shi Ting’s birthday message which asked me for prayer request, that I realised how the second prayer was perhaps, an answer. I only realised it when I was typing that out for her lol. But I thought, well I don’t think I meant it that way.

Some time later (I can’t remember when and why actually), I was reminded of two incidents. First, when I was at the beginning stages of learning the guitar, I played so terribly that my sister commented that I should just stop playing. She said something along the lines of how that was not music. I was hurt by that remark. And I talked to God about it in tears, and I came out of it telling Him that I am going to play for Him, so help me to do so! The second incident took place when I was midway through learning and could perhaps play a few songs. At that point in time, I was still an active member on Guitar4Christ’s forum. On that forum, there were many Christians, and some of them shared that they made a bold prayer that if they ever stop using their skills for God, they prayed that God would take it from them. I gave that prayer some thoughts, and it was really a tough prayer to make. But I prayed it anyway, because I was committed to playing for God.

These two incidents just reminded me of what I’ve said to God. And the question was, if not now then when would I use it for God? It felt as though it was a ‘yes’ that I had to give. But just in case my train of logic did not make sense, I found a time where my mentor and Karen were both present to talk them through my thought process. That took like, 5 minutes? And then I texted Libo a yes before I had any time to regret that decision haha! Well I guess I just needed to talk it out, and if no one raises any questions against that then, I would go ahead with the decision. Even with this decision made, I told some people that I think there’s gonna be some short bursts of regrets on some days on the week I play.

And just now, I was scrolling through Instagram and stumbled upon a post that mentioned something about five loaves and two fishes. I recalled that Corrinne May wrote a song with that title, so I went to listen to it. Made it my prayer after that.

So, take my five loaves and two fishes. It’s limited and I know it, but do with it as You will. I surrender. Take all these fears, insecurities, burdens, hopes, ambitions. Use what I have for Your people, that it will minister to them.

I also like the verse that says:
I often think about that boy when I’m feeling small
And I worry that the work I do means nothing at all
But every single tear I cry is a diamond in His hands

Believe me, I teared those times I had to play. I teared because I felt so insecure and helpless. Why me, when there are so many others who are endowed with much. But I remember too, the first time I had to play for NUS camp, I learnt that precisely because I am so limited, the opportunity to play is by God’s grace and the grace of my leaders that have been showered upon me. If not, what makes me think I would ever be asked to play? Nothing, but grace. It is thus a privilege. And I remember too, how God told me then that He has not called me to be a guitarist, but a worshipper. As simple as that.

Tonight as I made that song my prayer, I believe this is another milestone with God. Those first two incidents were always God’s reminder for me when I doubted. And today as I surrender my five loaves and two fishes, this will be another story that God reminds me of on those days when I fall again and need to be reminded of why I made that decision.

Here’s my five loaves and two fishes

When two or three are gathered,

An interesting question I was asked today, “Looking at how there were so few of us the previous time we met, and today, are you disappointed?”

To which I answered, no. And uh, I have no good/appropriate answer to this too.

Well, numbers shouldn’t matter and that’s what I keep reminding myself even as I pray for this group. Secondly, I kinda prepared myself for a time like this right from the start – can’t say this was a genius move though, haha it probably has to do with some issues I have with disappointment/expectations? Thirdly, I just hope that they are close to God and still reaching out in their lives in the midst of busyness even if they do not turn up on this day.

To be honest, there were some days when I realise it’s going to be just the 2 or 3 of us, and there’s still preparation needed on top of my academic submissions, a small part of me would kindaaa wish we meet another day. But then haha I’ll be reminded by what my pastor once shared, that even if there’s only 1 other person with him, he would still go ahead with the prayer meeting. What excuses shall I have then~ hahaha it’s a good reminder though.

Anyway, I am encouraged and I do feel supported by this brother-in-Christ who asked this question. I am encouraged by his desire to simply seek God and worship Him. It’s as though nothing else matters as much, and he really just enjoys worshipping God THAT much. It’s quite… amazing. And although he dropped me a “warning” to say I am to continue leading this group (phrased in a nice way of course) and his focus in this year may not be on this group, he still turns up and supports in whatever ways he can. Thankful for this bro! :)

After doing this for about 1.5 year now, I really enjoy seeking God with those who desire to seek Him. I love how this group does not exist because of an… institution (e.g. church, cell group) in a way? I love how we gather simply because we want to. I love how we love God. Quite a lot of those powerful encounters with God took place here.

Amazed and humbled by this experience. haha to think that God would use someone as tiny as I am and with hands as bare as mine to gather His people.

When two or three are gathered,

“Look at Me”

Just read a Facebook note written by Chrystal, and I’m impacted by it… Considering how I rarely scroll through my news feed, it’s interesting how I actually saw this post, and read on. It’s a little long, but as I was reading through it, I felt something within my heart. Got her permission to share this, so here goes…

Was really very reluctant to post this on social media, cause my family’s on facebook, they may think that I’m too into this thing called Christianity and I may get talks on this issue. Struggled much and but still I decided to obey since I was prompted strongly by the Holy Spirit to post this so that my life can be of a testimony and people can hold me accountable to this too.

I guess today was a very big crying and struggling moment for me as I reconciled certain things with God during the extended time of worship session today. I didn’t go to Him with my problems, I merely wanted to worship Him simply for who He is. But then again, He dug up things that’s happening within me and dealt with them and spoke to me ever so clearly about it.

So here goes…

My uni life- hasn’t been a very successful one, or in the world’s pov, I’m not living up to the general expectations of what a NUS student should have. Yes I do have a fulfilling hall life in year 1, but results wise, I do not reap what I sow.

-CAP 2.0 in year 1 sem 1, became 1.95 in year 1 sem 2 (I’ve put in loads of effort but then it doesn’t reflect and I was super discouraged) In the world’s pov, my results likka cui.

-Year 2 sem 1, not taking any core modules at all cause I planned on transferring and I’m taking a super big risk that I guess nobody who is sane will do that. But I did it, in hope to pull my CAP up for this sem.

-This sem: in 17 days time, I will be taking 4 papers in 2 consecutive days (9am, 1pm; 9am, 5pm). Comments from the people I know: “Siao!” “Last warning ah!” “Crazy girl!” “you chose it yourself”

Upon receiving such comments, truthfully speaking, I was affected. But I still responded to them in a smile, agreeing to them “I know right!” “Ya I think I’m really mad” and I even regret for not overloading this sem. I didn’t express fully how I feel because I know no one will understand how I truly feel. I don’t think anybody has been in this pair of shoes before. Even with my application of transfer, I seem fine and not very fearful, but in fact, deep down within me, there’s fear but its buried deep within such that I do not have to face it. I question God at times: “why do I have to go through all these?” “why didn’t you just place me in FASS from the very start?” “is there something that needs to be done in science?” I always doubt and wonder and so I stayed on in science for a year. I can still remember how disappointed I was when I first received notification that I got into NUS Science. I can still remember the excited faces of my parents in the morning, and the next moment, the disappointed expressions. “You taking stats?!” accompanied with the jaw-drop expressions of my friends.

Also, as known by many, I’ve been anchoring many birthday celebrations with different groups of my friends. Friends always say to me: wa! you so free ah, no need study. Still can celebrate birthdays and make cards. When I write encouragement cards during exam times, they will always wonder if I ever studied. Truth is, yes i do. But I also believe in the value of investing in the lives of the people and birthdays-are always the best time to bless the person.

Today during worship, God dug up all these thoughts. Along with these thoughts, He also dug back my memories of how I survived through my O levels and A level days together with HIm. He reminded me how blessed I was with supportive lifegroups at every life station. Also, He reminded me of the characteristics of Him and I sang it all during free worship:
-God of provider
-God of healer
-God of love
-God of grace
-God of strength
-God of peace
-God of mercy
and the list goes on and on. After which, it came with an assurance: I will carry you through. You’ll be in my arms. People may think you’re cui, but you’re still a precious gem in my eyes.

And God says:
“I will make you the head, and not the tail”
“I will make you shine my light in the darkest times”
“Fear me, and not the things of this world”
“You will praise me when the perfect timing comes”

In the process of my transfer, everything seems so uncertain. As I pray, God refuse to reveal if it’ll be successful or not. He wants me to grow in my faith, to trust Him and He will help me to be able to praise Him in any circumstances. Be it whether my transfer is successful or not.

I really cannot reconcile this fact with Him. I want my transfer so badly.

But I was humbled greatly. I trembled during worship and God weakened my knees to surrender in worship and to pray.

There and then, I knelt down, both hands lifted up and cried in surrender.

I knelt, and was made to claim His promises.

It was the first time I’ve ever knelt, without prompting from the worship leader. And all I have to remember: I’m living for the audience of One and He will honour me as I glorify Him.

“With everything, we will shout for Your glory”

And I will praise the name of the Most High King.

Identification, or empathy, was one thing. Haven’t been doing well in uni either, and well, mugged way harder in year 1 sem 2 but it didn’t show as well. Perhaps not to the full extent, but I guess I could identify with those fears somewhat.

Incidentally, I was just recounting briefly during dinner with the LG just now, about what happened in June this year on the day I saw my results. I can still remember how I was angry, how I just kept asking God “WHY!”. I was really disappointed. I remember too, the scene where Reb sat with me on the floor that night, singing I Offer My Life.

Even with the assurance that I’ll be able to stay in uni, and even with wearing a smile as I go about in school, fears still lingered somewhere in my life. I guess I’ve been avoiding setting expectations so as to not stress myself up and perhaps, so as to not set myself up for disappointment. I remember this part of a conversation with a friend that at the end of it, basically 1, I was having my paper the next day and I had no clue about the weightage (and I didn’t want to find out either) and the number of questions, 2, I thought I saw disbelief on her face. My attitude towards my acad this sem has been something that I question too – I keep asking myself if I am really just trusting God more this sem or have I just given up? Discussion about results – anything results-related – had been just… Let’s change the topic.

God knows it all. Time, and time, and time again He kept reminding me to trust Him as I read through Genesis 15-17, 3 verses by 3 verses each time. To trust Him even when nothing seems to be happening, to trust Him even when things don’t seem to be getting better. It helped me to decide to trust Him, to put things into greater perspective… though sometimes I still waver a little.

And last night as I was walking home, I was just thinking through some stuff when an idea came into my mind… I was imagining God snapping His fingers in my face going “Look at Me, look at Me”. Yes I’m treading on uncomfortable grounds, in my acads and in other aspects, but I think it was a reminder for me to stop looking at the water beneath me and stop fearing over sinking into that sea. Instead, to turn my eyes upon Him once more, and simply fix it on Him. I will be fine if I would keep my eyes on Him, things will be fine.

Today, this note came. While it tells of a story not unfamiliar to me, it also speaks of a heart that seeks to worship God and surrender to Him. My heart needs to come to this point as well, a point of total surrender unto Him.

“Look at Me”