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all of us are gifted.

Recently I had an opportunity to catch up with an old friend and he shared with me how he rejoiced with his wife when his son finally uttered, “Mama”. I rejoiced with him for it was a breakthrough for their family and when he shared it with me, he communicated a gratitude to God that nothing in the world could manufacture.

I juxtaposed it with parents who constantly berate their child for not doing better than their cousins, classmates, neighbours and whoever they could conveniently use to destroy their kid’s self-confidence and beliefs system. I remember telling HY that we’ve gotten it all wrong and have become complacent for the things that we ought to be thankful for. The more I hear it, the more I find “better than” a repulsive phrase.

That one-worded “Mama” was a gift from God to his child; as he shared his delight with me, I couldn’t help but to thank God for giving us speech – and I told HY that all these seemingly basic functions are truly gifts from God. I told her that in the future when we do have children of our own, we should be thankful for everything that the child has – speech, sight, hearing, limb movement, cognition, health and even something as taken-for-granted as daily breath! And not wish that our child is a pianist prodigy, artistic phenom, mathematics maestro or a kid with elephant memory (or not). Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to think that that’s being gifted, but we have forgotten that everyone is gifted – your ability to inhale and exhale is the gift of life from the Giver of life. Let’s not fight the wrong battles.

It wrenches my heart when I find out how my youths struggle with their (“inadequate”) academic achievements, because most times they’ve gotten it all wrong – they seek the result instead of the process; they seek a resume instead of academic returns; they seek worldly covetousness (wanting to be better than someone else) instead of godly contentment (wanting to be the best that God has designed them to be). I believe that our mentality is messed up because of the way we have been brought up (and this is no fault of ours). However, we should be careful not to pay it forward to the next generation.

At the end of the day, these pursuits amount to nothing all that significant. I so wished that I could hold their faces in my hands, look at them in the eye and tell them, “Come on, do you REALLY think that a C grade or a ‘regular’ CV could stop God from fulfilling His purpose in your life?” Oh, we of little faith; we ought to be dismissed for thinking that our destiny is determined by our downfalls. When will we finally learn that the sovereignty of God far exceeds earthly meritocracy?

Let us all take a step back to recalibrate our compasses, unless of course you have already decided to raise your child in the exact same manner that you have been raised. Let us remember that life in itself is the greatest gift and that we ought to be thankful for it. Let us not go overboard in seeking additional gifts instead of the Giver Himself. Don’t get caught in the world’s definition of “gifted”!

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housekeeping matters.

Warning: this post sounds relatively conceited and will be blatant, shameless self-advertisement for the blog. Bear with me because I’ll probably only do this once, I hope. Hehe. (:

First and foremost, and some of you may have already realised this…

I’d like to launch my new domain…

joeyasher.com!!!

(Feel free to update all your links if you so desire; misunderstoodsunshinekid.wordpress.com gets you here as well – both urls are one and the same.)

My silent countdown to the centenary post begins and I plan to put together a minuscule competition to spice things up a little here, so keep your eyes peeled to this one. Well, so far, so good; I’ve been enjoying the process of expanding on one thought per day – that’s what I’ve been telling myself to achieve, to think big, start small, build deep (thank you, EC). Blogging daily has become a part of my routine and I think that’s a good thing (for me) – kind of like my “think time”. After all, setting out with a purpose does result in a purposeful blog.

I love to write and (I think) you like to read (what I write); we have a nice little partnership going on here. At the beginning of March, I’ve actually set a readership target for this blog and told myself (and HY) that as soon as I hit a consecutive daily average of over a hundred hits, I’ll register my own domain name. Well, the time has come for me to do that. (Actually, I should have done that last month but I’ve been reluctant to part with the cash… Nonetheless, I think it’ll be a good investment.) Interestingly enough, the two days with the highest hits are for nice is never good enough and the recent top ten reasons to leave church at 162 and 170 views respectively. I’m surprised at the figures, to be honest; considering that I only have less than 5% of hits referred from Facebook or Twitter, I’d like to believe that I do possess a healthy following and a group of supportive readers. Thank you! Either that, or some joker has been hitting refresh non-stop.

Well, I promise you that more will come. There’s just so much to write about – for example, the one leadership question I asked PC during our bi-monthly lunch just two days ago resulted in an answer so rich, it could spawn 10 entries. (I had actually prepared seven questions to ask him but that one answer was enough food for thought.) I can only pray and ask God to keep sending me thoughts, and people to keep provoking my cognition. I take no credit for any of my musings anyway because my writing is post-prayer and inspired by the Holy Spirit. I try to follow what Paul advocates in 1 Corinthians 10:31 – that is to write for the glory of God.

And so I have decided to enhance your reading experience. I’ve already amassed a sizable number of posts and so it’s only sensible that I keep my writing organised and archived. I’ve created three new categories – The Greatest Gift, Top Ten Tuesdays and Football Fervour – for your navigation pleasure; in time, these categories will increase in volume. I will also create more “pages” (and update the current ones) as time passes. In a nutshell, if you keep returning, you’ll keep finding new things to read.

In a bid to achieve consistency, I’ve tried as much as I could to post/schedule new entries by/at the turn of midnight. Oh, I use Bloglines as my blog reader and I highly recommend it. However, an even more convenient method would be to simply subscribe to my blog via email; so if you’d like to be the first to read my daily updates, simply 1) fill in your email at the top-right of this page, 2) click on the link in the confirmation email and 3) MSK will appear automatically in your mailbox – I’d super recommend that. Easy as 1-2-3. HAHAHA.

For now, I’d like to express my sincere thank to you for the great support. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. Actually… I’ll keep writing, regardless. I promise! (:

can i dream with You?

In life, there are many things that we share in common; dreams are one (and nightmares are another, but let’s not go there today). We tend to associate positivity to dreams (e.g. daydreaming always seems light and fluffy, after all it can’t be scary building sandcastles in the sky, right?); and we tie in negative connotations to nightmares. There are, however, dreams that well, are just neutral.

Like most of you, I can’t quite recall the majority of my dreams. I do recall a few particular (bizarre) ones, such as:

  1. It was 1994 and the first World Cup I watched. Brazil won Italy on penalties and it was Italy’s maestro Roberto Baggio who missed that decisive last kick. I was Signore Baggio and I remember placing the football on the penalty spot. The millions of spectators in the stadium were rapturous in their chanting of “JOEY! JOEY!” (Yes, indulge me, please). Very non-chalently, I silenced all of them with a wave of my hand and I knelt down to gather a handful of grass. (This is when it gets crazy…) I put one blade of grass into my mouth… And I shouted, “MEE GORENG!!!” (!!!) This catapulted everyone into delirium and they began their choruses of “MEE GORENG! MEE GORENG!” I went on to score of course, not that it mattered anymore. Crazy, I know.
  2. A part of my childhood was spent in the messy precinct of Jalan Besar and that was when I was really into Taoism – deities, ghosts, spirits, souls blah blah blah. It was also the time that I was really into Ghostbusters… (Yes, the TV/movie series with Marshmallow Man.) I recall being able to fly and manoeuvre around the estate on some cool skateboard machine. My main task each evening was to heroically exterminate the spooky beings in the (there’s-something-strange-in-the-)neighbourhood. I did that with ease and a dash of suave of course, shooting out from my bazooka green, acidic, slimy blobs of I-don’t-know-what and sucking the vermin into an ashtray-shaped ghost containment unit. As with all crazy dreams, before the mission was over, I ended up RECRUITING these ghosts instead. There is no sense in this, of course.
  3. When I am stressed, I almost always end up dreaming about looking for a needle in a haystack. (Cliche, but that’s the most normal bizarre dream…)
  4. And when I am very stressed, I dream about eating a piece of cake that grows bigger and bigger with each mouthful, and this stupid piece of cake (I remember it to be a strawberry shortcake) grows to the size of a HDB flat! It gets really insane because I’m supposed to finish eating a piece of cake that doesn’t quite finish!

These are the four dreams that come to my mind all the time, but I think if I had the time, I’d be able to pen down a few more ridiculous ones. Does anyone have crazy (or crazier) or recurring dreams like that? Do share!

On a more serious note, I actually am of the opinion that creativity takes place in the purest form in dreams. It’s as if each night we go to sleep with a white canvas, beckoning God to paint on it. Think about it, there are absolutely no limits in dreams; I can be anyone, doing anything, at anywhere I desire, at anytime I determine and with or without anyone. To an extent, it is when we actually get to experience what CREATING is like. (With God as the supreme Creator, I opine that human beings have absolutely no creativity. We are only able to innovate because everything that we “create” is but a reference from something else that already exists. More on that in another entry…)

Hence with dreams potentially serving as such powerful platforms, I’m inclined to do what I wanted to do some time ago – put a small notebook beside my pillow and to jot down, in whatever semi-conscious state I am in in the immediate aftermath of any dream. This is as good as getting free downloads from the Creator of the universe. Sounds lunatic, but dreaming actually taps into the creative power of God. (I say that very loosely and irresponsibly, of course.)

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that new songs and poems can be written and inspired by dreams. Dreaming is the playground for divine revelation and forward thinking. Our (finite) imagination is the platform for infinite possibilities. Holy smoke, I don’t even know how those statements came about. I believe that dreaming (whether day or night) transports us to places that our human eyes cannot see and our cognition cannot handle. We should not underestimate what (the work of God in) our minds are capable of accomplishing.

Of late, I keep dreaming of one particular action but in different scenes; I dream that I’m running against the wind – be it in football matches, away from crooks, chasing buses or even just regular jogging. Wind (or resistance), be it external or internal, is the immediate obstacle that is common to all, that all of us must overcome. I have mine and you have yours, in varying intensities. It’s always easier to cycle downhill or swim with the current; but it is running against resistance that train muscles and going against opposition that confidence is built up. These song lyrics sum up my sentiment perfectly:

逆风的方向,更适合飞翔;我不怕千万人阻挡,只怕自己投降。- 五月天:《倔强》

(Translated: Traveling against the wind is the best way to take flight; I’m not afraid of the opposition of a million people, I only fear my own surrender.)

I haven’t the faintest clue how this article evolved into this ending but I’m glad it did anyway; I just kept typing. In a sense, I put into practice what Finding Forrester advocates:

“No thinking – that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”

Spoken like a classic Sanguine, without first dreaming, we are never going to get anywhere. Dreaming without action may be useless and a complete waste of resources but without dreaming we have no solid action to execute at all! Let’s engage God in our dreams. Can I dream with You?

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