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i wouldn’t want it any other way.

These are people who I will never, ever get sick of for I will be spending the rest of my life, celebrating every birthday with them. (This, incidentally, is the first time we’ve ever cut cake in our Ghim Moh flat since we moved here in 2007! And a long while since we celebrated a birthday with a cake!) I love you all, more than anyone else in the world. You are my family and I am proud to be a part of this bloodline. To Mummy especially – without you, there’s no me; you are the reason I am able to celebrate the day of my birth. Thank you!

From left: Mummy, Huiyi, Mr Forever 21, Maisie, Bryan

Kindly ignore the extra candles on the cake. And yes, I was really, really happy.

***

My goodness!!! (((:

I’ve been so blessed by the scores (I gave up counting!) of well-wishes that have poured in through Facebook, email, SMS, phone calls and in person! Thank you for making me feel cherished on this day. I’m blessed to be surrounded by friends like you; I’m tremendously touched by all your kind gestures! Words are my love language and I cherish all the notes that I’ve received, especially the snail-mailed ones from the Shepherds! – thank you for all your love! – handmade poloroids with attached messages is a great way to be remember my special day! A special shout out to my amazing girlfriend, Huiyi, for coordinating this effort! I’ll post pictures soon! I praise the Lord for blessing me this way! I wouldn’t want it any other way!

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top ten ways to end your relationship.

Even though I’ve been with HY for nearly 2.5 years, I’d never profess to be an expert in relationships simply because I’ve made countless mistakes in the past. But being with HY has changed me significantly (for the better, of course!) and there are some lessons that I’ve learnt along the way, which I’d like to share with you. As the Latin proverb goes, “A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own”, I do desire that you learn from my shortcomings. So, from the top of my head, here are the top ten things to avoid doing if you want your relationship to last!

1. Hang your dirty linen in public. Go ahead and announce to the world how terrible your partner has treated you and how horrible he or she is. There’s never a better way to kill your relationship than to embarrass each other publicly. While you’re at it, be sure to publish it on facebook, twitter and of course, on your blog.

2. Keep using “never” and “always”. Actually, this applies to any perilous relationship. If you want to continually make your partner feel condemned and like he or she always pisses you off and never makes you happy, go ahead and use these two very powerful and poisonous adverbs in your daily conversations.

3. Threaten to break up at every conflict. Nothing makes the relationship more unstable and volatile than to intimidate each other with the promise to call it quits at the dawn of any argument. Yeah, reap the benefits of blackmail. (This is something HY and I have carefully committed to never do and so far, we haven’t, thank God.)

4. Reply with “fine” and “whatever”. Guys, especially, will be particularly annoyed with this common bad habit that girls have. Whether you’re the guy or the girl, remember that this damaging attitude is one of the most terrible ways to communicate and it’s act of cowardice and immaturity.

5. Sweep things under the carpet, avoid and escape. Then rake up everything when you quarrel. This soak-and-strike method reflects your inability to resolve existing conflicts and your failure to learn from past mistakes. At the end of every episode, you both will feel empty, frustrated and like you’ve taken a step backwards.

6. Live in your private world all together separate. Isolation often leads to secrecy and this results in the couple making mistakes without the protective umbrella of accountability. This is deceptive when things are fine and dandy but when you get into trouble, you’ll learn the precious lesson of, “No man is an island”.

7. Express yourself through physical intimacy. I honestly confess that this is the number one struggle for guys and the number one weakness for girls. Too-far-too-soon is the number one killer for most relationships. Those who’ve experienced it may just tell you, regretfully, that their number one relationship didn’t survive.

8. Communicate the wrong love language. This passive error is one of the greatest cause of misery because the good intention displayed from either side is let down by the wrong delivery method. Do not ever forget to discover how your partner feels loved and appreciated, best done at the start of the relationship.

9. Exclude each other from each other. As if being guy and girl, being brought up completely differently and having different values systems isn’t already hard enough, you can jeopardise your relationship further by keeping your friends and activities to yourself. Watch how you slowly but surely drift – it’s a guarantee.

10. Maintain status quo, rewind and repeat. Take your courtship for granted and persist in your comfort zone by continuously doing the same things and going to the same places. Your laziness, inertia and reluctance to be creative will bear the fruits of apathy, lethargy and monotony. Great ingredients for any relationship.

As I type, I realise that I can easily share another five to ten more. So maybe I’ll share that in the sequel to this post. In conclusion, just remember that my relationship is mine to learn from and cherish and yours is yours. Every relationship is vastly different yet it requires the same amount of immense effort in order to make it work. So, whenever you’re in doubt, refer to a higher authority. I don’t know who or what you turn to, but I’d recommend you to consider referring what I use as my guideline:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever… 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, New Living Translation

air thoughts at the airport.

I won’t have sufficient time to write properly tonight as I’ll be with the boys tormenting LK on his buck’s night. I was just telling BL (whom I met for lunch), that LK will either thank me for such a great job planning this memorable evening or regret making his best friend his best man for his wedding. Tonight is going to be legendary evening that will live on in brotherhood folklore; I can’t wait to execute the tricks up my sleeves together with JT1, JT2, JW and ML. I’m in the business of creating memories! (Actually, I’m going the extra mile only because he has been my best mate for nearly half my life.)

So for today’s entry, I’ve found this two-year-old note lying amongst my facebook notes and I think it’s quite a poignant read, now that I’m finally back and settled in Singapore. I’ll share it here. By the way, do remember to participate in my centenary giveaway!

Air thoughts at the airport
Friday, 10 October 2008 @ 16:13

The all-too-familiar Singlish of my fellow passengers surrounds me as I sit at Gate D87, waiting to board the plane. Like me, a good number of people are also at their laptops, doing work. I have to churn out the company budget for 2009 to while I’m on the plane as I plan to submit it tonight. What really drives me on is that the earlier I complete it, the earlier I can indulge myself with Naruto. HAHA! But seriously, the less outstanding work I have means the more work-free my holiday would be. I do not want to suffer the same fate as my colleague who went back to Singapore just before I did – hounded by calls from the company everyday. That must have been absolutely annoying on a vacation.

I have appointments lined up, hmm, more like packed-to-the-brim, during my time back home. It’s quite scary how I do it but strangely enough I enjoy being loaded with activities. It’s almost deja vu; at the same time last year, I was frantically meeting up with people from all over to say my goodbyes, averaging 4-5 appointments a day; it’s no different this time. Huiyi thinks I’m crazy. Sometimes I think I am crazy too but I think at the end of the trip I will look back and be glad that I’ve actually gone on an appointment frenzy.

I really miss hawker food – good, cheap, fast. I remember a friend telling me that between the three adjectives, you can only choose two. Things that are good and fast will not be cheap, etc. Hawker food is the answer.

More and more people of all nationalities are starting to congregate even as I write this note. I look forward to the many embraces that I will receive from and give to my friends, especially the affection from my family and my girlfriend. Somehow, this trip back – my fourth in a year – is the one that was most hastily arranged but yet the one that I am most anticipating. I guess spontaneity always puts me at the edge of my seat.

Oh, and I have to mention this. I had a total of four checked-in baggages but only one belonged to me. (Thanks, Kurk, for the very snazzy black Samsonite!) The other three baggages are: a snare drum which I helped Jenn to buy, a bag for my grandmother, and a bag for Aunty Coreen; these two bags are such a contrast from my overall public image – it’s a Tiger Beer and a Chan Brothers bag for pete’s sake! That’s certainly 100% yucks. HAHA. Well, it doesn’t matter. The total baggage weighed 37kg! That’s the SAME WEIGHT as when I first got to Shanghai! Thank God the airport folks closed one (and possibly two) eye(s) on this! And to think it’s actually quite a full flight makes me all the more grateful.

In retrospect, it’s coming to a year in Shanghai and in that year, I’ve learnt so much. Well, I can’t possibly write down the things I’ve learnt in one paragraph so don’t expect it to be published here! I believe I’ve matured spiritually, grown wiser in my character and gained valuable work experience over here. I believe I experience many things others do not; for example, my friends in Singapore are dying to head out of Singapore for a vacation and yet I’m dying to head back to my home country for a holiday. Nothing beats home – absolutely nothing. Oh I’m so convinced that It’s a gonna be a good homecoming. The fourth, and the best one yet, I’m sure.

Yes, I’m coming home.

23 haikus for 23 years.

23 haikus, 23 years

Specially written for Lee Huiyi

1
So far, you have had
Eight four zero zero days
That’s good, not too bad

2
Three two eight seven
That’s the time we’re acquainted
Start of my heaven

3
Eight one three great days
As lovers were meant to be
My heart, set ablaze

4
Bottom of my heart
Five one one three absent days
’twas tough when apart

5
Not ‘nother hour
I will ever want to miss
My superpower

6
No more books this year
Sashimi meal, shopping spree
May these bring you cheer

7
Rhino and hedgehog
Perfect combination like
Princess and the frog

8
ANTM sighs
Man United double sighs
Addicts in disguise

9
Lonely Lakeside walks
Buona Vista sweaty strides
Distance does its talks

10
Two zero one one
May we become more than this
Journey’s just begun

11
Spend quality time
Reflected in our shared plans
G Cal is sublime

12
Independent girl
Thankful for this strength of yours
I’m oyster, you’re pearl

13
I am halfway through
This cheesy piece written by
Baby kangaroo

14
My wordy pursuit
Haikus, poems, songs lined up
Lyrical salute

15
Oh I miss you so
Ev’ry minute without you
From my head to toe

16
Best friend and lover
You are my truest soul mate
Just undercover

17
You’re God’s grace to me
Accepting tainted hist’ry
Love to that degree

18
Whether “Precious Thirds”
Or “Do You Love Me?”, we are
Feathers of a bird

19
A happy birthday
My prayer for us is to
Travel a long way

20
Another cliche
Sweeter still, my sentiments
In action replay

21
Shanghai or at home
We’ll emerge through it all, could
Honeymoon be Rome?

22
Finito, the end
I’d gladly write another
Twenty three, extend

23
My dearest darling
How I love you ’til the end
Soon I’ll bring a ring

***

Happy birthday, my dearest darling girlfriend, Lee Huiyi. (:

recovery reflections.

I don’t really write about events because I’ve set out this blog to capture more thoughts and reflections than moments, but I think I should remember my thoughts and feelings about this particular piece of memory in my operation recovery.

Many of you would know that on Tuesday I underwent surgery to deal with Dercum’s Disease; the team of surgeons removed all 25 lumps (L arm-2, R arm-5, L leg-2, R leg-2, F torso-9, B torso-5) which I had identified on my body. There are many things which I am thankful for throughout the entire process:

  • The excellent SGH team – be it nurses, assistants, anesthetists or administrators. There’s a lot that could be learnt from their care-giving; I left that evening with better idea of what it meant to show hospitality, from none other than a hospital team.
  • Normal bodily motion and function – with 25 dressings all over my body, my movement is restricted, uncomfortable and painful. I believe I would never take normality for granted again; the temporal inability of doing things normally heighten my appreciation.
  • Sudden and unexpected team of prayer warriors – be it from my DoYouLoveMe? cell, Shanghai MannaM@X cell, REAL2010, colleagues, family members and random friends. I must have had at least 25 people praying with and for me. God does His math properly – one for every lipoma.
  • Non-reaction to General Anesthetic – I’ve had neither allergic nor nauseating reactions to GA. Seems like everyone whom I’ve spoken to (who has undergone GA) either puked or felt really giddy. My doctor said I may also get sore throats and coughs. But praise God – I’ve had zero reactions. (By the way, I managed to stay awake for all of four seconds.)
  • Mummy’s unfailing storge (natural love and affection from parents) – 10th March marks her birthday and yet she spent the entire day making sure I was all right. The closest agape an unmarried man would experience would undoubtedly be from his mother. I could never be more thankful for the last 27 years of care-giving, self-sacrificing and out-loving from this remarkable woman.

I’m also especially thankful for HY. Three years ago, immediately after I left the SAF, I went for a minor operation to remove three lipomas on both arms. HY was there with me; back then, I was still courting her. Three years on, HY was also there with me, this time as my girlfriend and what a difference three years have made:

  • The comfort and assurance I felt when I was pushed back to my ward to recover, and to find a familiar face of love who had been waiting there for the last two hours. That is something I should never take for granted because she doesn’t owe it to me; she didn’t need to do it, she wanted to.
  • HY had a fear and natural dislike for hospitals and yet she overcame that to care for me. Of course there were boo-boo moments (for us to know, for others never to find out), but it made it all the more memorable.
  • She demonstrated patience for my impatience and a cool head for my hot head. This last statement actually does sum up how HY makes me a holier person by allowing me to overcome my weaknesses by learning from her strengths.
  • HY came to my place today to also celebrate Mummy’s birthday. She bought and brought along with her my recovery pack – two boxes of Post cereal and Magnolia milk for my breakfasts over the next week, Bee Cheng Hiang pork floss for my congee lunches and (my two favourite snacks of) Famous Amos cookies and Jollybean peanut pancakes in case I go hungry at night. It doesn’t get more thoughtful than that! HY never fails to demonstrate to me that love is indeed a verb.
  • Her presence during my absence from work this week have made and will continue to make a world of difference. She was there on Tuesday, Wednesday and she has offered to accompany me for Thursday. Every Naruto needs a Sakura in their lives for speedy healing, uh? (:

All right, I’ll be missing in action until next Monday (when I visit my doctor for the follow-up medical appointment). I doubt I’ll be mobile enough to make it to church services this weekend. I’m gonna try to work on the Newbies sermon series during this period of absence but I highly doubt my productivity. There’s little packing that I can do at home due to the awkwardness in moving around too. So… I think I’ll just be reading, playing FM (hehe), watching free movies on MioTV and couch-potato-ing a lot during the next few days. I welcome company.

There’s so much to praise God and to give Him glory for. He is good, in control and will bring it to pass. I serve a God who heals and a God who provides. And so I continue to covet your prayers. Please pray that:

  1. The root of the disease has been removed;
  2. There won’t be a recurrence – new lumps won’t grow, old lumps won’t return;
  3. Insurance will cover the bulk of the surgery cost – it wasn’t a cheap operation by any measure, and as it stands, I’m footing the entire bill;
  4. My body will heal well;
  5. Scars will be minimal;
  6. Wounds won’t be painful when I move around, sit or sleep, and
  7. There will be no infections or complications

And now I shall head off to watch Man Utd beat the living daylights out of AC Milan. (It’s 1-0 now but I may come back to edit this last sentence depending on the final score 90 minutes later…) [Edit: I’m a prophet. The final score: Man Utd 4 AC Milan 0.]

a break before i break.

A number of misunderstandings have taken place during the planning process for this trip, but I guess, at the end of the day, I’m still really looking forward to Langkawi. I’m heading there for the weekend together with HY, the recently engaged LK and JQ, CN and JW. I’m sure it’s gonna be a great trip.

I hope the weather holds and I am looking forward to quality conversations with everyone. It’s great to have my girlfriend, best friend and super friend on the same trip. I’m blessed. That combination itself is worth it. Let’s see if I’ll have time to post a short entry while I’m there.

On another note, besides being excited about this short weekend getaway, I’m even more excited about the REAL applications that will be confirmed this weekend. I can’t wait to put faces and names to the 10 slots. It’s gonna be a great camp from 28-31 Dec and it’s gonna be a great journey with the 10 of them until 28 Feb. You can either leave it on my table or better still, pass it to either RY or CX.

fight today’s battles today.

I am grateful for the welcome that I have received from my colleagues. Everyone has been kind and helpful. It feels like working from home; after all, this is a place I’ve called home for over a decade. Premature to say, but I feel good about being here. Let’s see where that takes me tomorrow.

Attended a prayer meeting in the afternoon together and somehow it feels really good to pray during office hours and not feel like you’re taking time away from your work! I never felt this way before when I prayed for extended periods of time in my previous jobs during office hours.

Thought of the day – there’s no difference between relational praying and religious chanting if we’re just doing it for the sake of doing it without engaging God with our heart, mind and spirit. Whenever we pray we shouldn’t just vomit words but we should really seek God and ask Him what we ought to be praying about and for today. It’s all about praying the will of God.

HY and I experienced a breakthrough in our journey of faith today. She’s been such a courageous girl, bless her heart – I have a girlfriend who inspires me. God has shown Himself to be faithful and He granted us favour tonight. We are beginning to make sense of Romans 8:28 and have that verse personalise our faith in God. God is good, He is in control and He will bring it to pass.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Can’t wait to wake up to pursue His purpose in a few hours.

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