Posted by: michellelohjy | September 10, 2009

Celebrating 090909

090909HappyMomentTheStar-3Happy moments – yesterday, 090909, we celebrated our beloved son, Toh Jern Yoong’s 9th birthday. He was born on the 9th of September 2000. So, yesterday was a very significant celebration for our family as it was his 9th brithday on the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year of the 21st century. Plus, his ‘target’ of interest at this moment is ‘dog’ (‘gao’, which  means 9 in Chinese). To mark this significant day, my hubby and son specially designed our 1st family Golden Retriever T-Shirt with the logo ‘Celebrating 090909’. Last Saturday, my hubby and I hunted high and low for a T-shirt printer and finally found one at Central Market. To have one T-shirt for our son is fantastic, what more, 4 for the family. This made a history in the Toh’s family. 

090909HappyMomentTheStar-5

Posted by: michellelohjy | August 10, 2008

Updated ‘About Michelle Loh Jee Yin’

Updated about who and what I am. Also the purpose of writing this blog

Posted by: michellelohjy | August 10, 2008

“Mummy, what are these two balls?”

Written on 18th July 2008
 

 

In the Evening (Getting ready for bedtime)

After dinner, we got ready to wash up early so that we could read a good long book before hitting the bed. While the kids were changing, JY asked, “Mummy, what are these 2 balls?” as he pointed to his private parts. Shocked that he would ask this but I knew it would come and I was actually quite prepared for it, though I didn’t know how to share this ‘sex education’ part with my kids.

 

Sex Education for my kids

I remembered I bought a book when he was about 2 years old, named ‘Where Do Babies Come From?’ (Ages 6 to 8) – Learning About Sex (A Series for the Christian Family). So, I asked him to fetch the book from the shelf and we ended up reading and discussing the book that night. The book uses a very natural and simple way to introduce to children about family and how babies are formed in the mother’s womb. All these are done during a trip to the museum in the story. I had to explain the part about how millions of sperms compete and only one would be the champion to enter the egg (ovum). Even though it was part of the education in the book, nothing was mentioned about ‘sexual intercourse’ (only very brief explanation of intimacy between husband & wife). Pheww!!! As I was reading and explaining, I kept worrying how I was going to explain about that. Thank God it was so simple and brief. Anyway, my kids did not ask further questions about that. That’s why the authors knew it’s appropriate for this age range to know just enough.

Then came the part where they showed drawn pictures of male & female’s lower private parts. JY shrieked out ‘Ham sap’ in Cantonese. I wondered where he acquired this notion. I commented that there was nothing to be ‘ham sap’ or shy about as this was how God made man and woman to be. Each one of us is made different. So, he relaxed. He was curious about the black patch just above the genital organs in the picture. So, I had to explain that when a child grows up to be an adolescent, he or she will start to have hairs grown not only on his or her armpits but on those sensitive parts too. I took the opportunity to explain about the 2 balls he asked earlier, which were the testicles, the place where sperms are produced and stored.  I knew my daughter did not really understand fully but she just listened. As for JY, it was his curiosity that led him to ask me.   

I was privileged to be there to tackle these growing up queries of my kids. They will encounter many more of such ‘distorted images’ of the opposite sex and issues of sexuality due to the bombardment of the media and internet. However, I desire to be their counselor and confidante to provide them the balance correct-image of what God has created – beauty of sex and sexuality in the light of marriage and commitment.

Posted by: michellelohjy | June 25, 2008

“Mummy, I want to QUIT!”

Written on 22nd June 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Morning (Carnival)

 

Today is the National Inter-Home School Centre Sport’s Day at the Matshusita Sports Complex, Shah Alam. JY was very excited because he has been chosen to represent his school to play doubles (under 12- men) for the badminton tournament.

          As a family, of course we were all charged up to give our fullest support. We packed out drinks and snacks and reached the stadium at 7.35 a.m. We waited a while and then helped to set up the game stalls. JY was assigned a game stall to mend together with an older girl. Of course throughout, he seemed to be busy playing and winning tokens at other stalls rather than helping to mend his own stall. (Sigh!)   

 

In the Afternoon (Badminton Tournament)

Marching drills and carnival (food and games) were for morning. His tournament was scheduled to be in the afternoon, 1pm. We were already quite tired by 10 a.m. Anyway, the kids were still very active. So, we took them to play and waited. At 1.20 p.m., the organizers gathered the participants and shouted their hearts out for the contestants as there were no loud speakers. This delayed for another 20 minutes. I checked the list, there was about 50 plus of men under-18 male singles and 30 plus of men under-12 male singles before the doubles would start. At that time only 2 courts were available. One was for the males and the other for the females. JY was very excited at first and he with his partner, LT, did their warm-ups. His partner, LT, did not want to play singles (though his name was enlisted). He said that he could not do it. “Then, you’ll walk over.” “What’s ‘walk over’, Mummy?” “Walk over means you surrender and let your opponent wins without a contest. Are you going to walk over?” “Never. You must play LT,” instructed JY. I could not keep track of the number of rounds of warm-ups they did, but by the time it was 3.30 p.m., “Mummy, why do we have to wait so long!!!” “I suppose they have not finished. Be patient.” It started to rain cats and dogs. At about 4.20 p.m. “Mummy, I don’t want to play already-lah. I’m tired. I want to go home,” lamented my 8-year old boy who woke up at 6 a.m., active and moving about non-stop throughout the day until then. My hubby and I were also very, very, very tired. We also thought we should just go home and forget about the whole thing. “But it’s still raining cats and dogs outside. Can’t go back yet. Never mind, we’ll wait a while more. Going to be your turn already.” I went up to the empire and checked. It was still at game 30, out of 42 sets of under-12 male singles. I asked how long we need to wait. He said not more than an hour. So we asked JY if he wanted to wait or go home. After some discussion, they decided to wait. I walked back to other corner.

 

‘Mummy, I am glad I did not quit’

Both my hubby and I felt that it was important to teach our son ‘perseverance’, so we decided to stick to the end no matter what. About 10 minutes later, I saw LT, his partner went to the other side to play. JY came over and told me that LT wanted to surrender. I had to go down and coaxed him not to give up but to persevere. After much persuasion, he decided to continue. Then, it was my son’s turn to throw in his towel and said he wanted to go home. Oh Dear!!! Here I have succeeded in getting one agreed, there another one played up again. So, I have to enlist my hubby to encourage JY to persevere on. “We’ve waited so long and we’ve come thus far, boys, don’t give up. It’s going to be your turn. Just finish the race and enjoy yourself, OK? Whenever you start something, must finish it!!!” The clock struck 5 p.m. This time, I inquired of the empire, “It is set no. 36, still 6 more to go. The last one is finals.” “Excuse me, Sir. Do you mind putting the semi-finals and finals on hold, while you run the doubles first. Then you may put the semi-finals and finals of both singles and doubles together later? We’ve been waiting for a really long time. The kids are quite tired already.” So the empire sought for advice and finally agreed to change. Yeah! At 5.15 p.m., they started their match. Actually, we just wanted to teach our son to persevere to finish his task. Nevertheless, he and his partner won the 1st match in the semi-quarters. Another pair walked over at the semi-quarters and before we knew it, our boy and his partner were in the finals. Of course they lost to the champions, who were coached under Yang- yang (Yang yang’s Badminton Association). But, most importantly, they have learnt the lesson of ‘perseverance bears fruit’. At the end of the day, with the silver medals tagged around their necks and eyes beaming with light, “Mummy, I am glad I did not quit just now. I persevered.” It was his first-ever medal obtained in sports competition.          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: michellelohjy | June 24, 2008

“Am I going to Wear Spectacles?”

“JL’s Mummy, I would like to tell you something.” I wondered what the matter was as the teacher said it so loud as if the whole school could hear.

 

Children at home-school centre and Montessori pre-school

This year, we (my hubby and I) had decided to let both our kids be exposed to a school environment on a temporary basis. So, my eldest, who is using the AOP curriculum joined a home school centre while my daughter attends a Montessori kindergarten just 3 minutes’ drive from our home. We purposely chose a more Mandarin-speaking environment for her since we do not speak much at home. She took almost half a year to finally able to say ‘Goodbye’ to me in the morning without shedding tears. Such was a milestone she has achieved. She enjoys playing with her friends. Of course there are pros and cons. As she was being home-schooled from young together with her ‘koh-koh’ and other friends, she makes friends easily. Her teachers are friendly and the school system can be rated good.

However, I tend to find it a chore to catch up with the amount of homework, spellings, ‘ejaan’ and ‘ting xie’ (Mandarin spelling). At one time, I sounded my concern about being assigned an average of 5 pages of writing exercises for each subject (English, Bahasa Melayu and Phonics) in a day for HOMEWORK (that means 15 pages of writing exercise). And this is for kindergarten 5 years old!!! Some have not even learned their basic Phonic sounds and they are expected to spell ‘BLACKBOARD’ together with 3 other long words. Since our main purpose is for her to have a real school experience (on a temporary basis), I just continue to help build her vocabulary through reading at home, while helping her to do her best in preparing for these ‘school drills’ without pressuring her too much.  

 

Complaint from the pre-school teacher

Back to the loud alert from the teacher, I listened attentively as she complained about my daughter not finishing her work while EVERYONE else managed to copy the passage from the board. According to her, this happened 2 weeks already and each time she scolded her, JL would withdraw. The teacher assumed that JL could not see the board clearly and thus checked her out in the class. According to her, JL seemed not able to give her good answers when she checked her eye sight.

 

Confidence Restored

At that time, my daughter had already come out to where I was and her eyes and face were all red. I could see that she had been crying. I thanked the teacher for informing and agreed to check on JL. Upon entering the car, I just let JL poured out to me. Her first words, “Mummy, am I going to wear spectacles?” in between sobs. “I don’t want to wear spectacles!” wailed JL. “My friends will laugh at me!!!” I wondered where she had gotten this idea. “Mummy and Daddy wear spectacles too, do you laugh at us?” “No.” “Your friend, HX (at Musical Drama class), wears spectacles too. Do you laugh at her? She is only 6 years old.” “No.” “Now, don’t worry. Mummy will help see if your eyes are okay.”

         

I led her up to her room to wash up and change. She was still wailing and feeling so insecure. I took out a set of alphabetical flashcards and tried to check her eye sight at different distances. At first, she hesitated and showed uncertainty. I knew she could read, just that she was still shocked by the whole ordeal. As I continue to assure her that she could do it, her confidence was regained after each correct answer she gave. Finally, she was smiling and the answer is clear, her eyesight is PERFECTLY alright! This gave me a glimpse into my child’s world. When she lost her focus in copying paragraphs of sentences, she was scolded. She withdrew into her shell and was lost for words when asked to tell the answers from the board. I suspect that the teacher might have used the words in her sentences which JL was not familiar with when she checked her eyesight. So, the teacher amplified the matter by focusing on her failing eyesight which paralyzed JL’s confidence further instead of bringing her attention to her lack of focus in class. After this ordeal, I knew my little girl’s heart is restored, though not completely yet. At least she would know one thing, her eyesight is still good and her mummy had checked it!!! Of course, after that I still had to instruct her on her behavior and obedience in school.     

           

Privilege as a Mother

As a mother, I am glad that I was given a privilege like this to be alongside my child when she faces growing challenges of life. Everyday, our children encounter different challenges, disappointments, joys and celebrations, are we the first ones to be there for them at the right time? I thank God for such a privilege.

           

 

Posted by: michellelohjy | June 24, 2008

“Champion Curry Daddy”

        

 ‘FATHER’ – such a beautiful, intimate word from long ago to address one of the most important persons in our lives, besides our mothers.

 

Celebration At Church

Yesterday, we had just celebrated Father’s Day at church as well as at home. The children from the Sunday School who had been practicing their ‘Robot Dad’ skit for the past few weeks finally gave their best shot after the church service with both my children in it. It was a TV Channel – Great Inventor’s Showcase. My son was the ‘robot dad’ which was invented by an intelligent professor. A group of young children (including my daughter) were ushered in to witness his magnificent invention. His intention was to show that his robot could do anything, even to replace their ‘dads’. However, though this robot was highly intelligent and multi-tasking, but it could not hug gently, not fun, showed no emotions of kindness, patience and forgiveness. It could not help with homework, buy ice-creams and lollipops, love any of the children when they were naughty, buy mum flowers, tell good stories, make funny faces, cook curries, keep promises, pray for the children everyday etc. Wow! Fathers have wonderful and important roles to play in their children’s lives. As a conclusion, I summarized the presentation by reminding the children, parents and those who were seated on the pew with the following:

          F – Friend (Our fathers are to be our friend)

          A – Admire (Admiration for our fathers is vital)

          T – Trust (Trusting our fathers will build the family)

          H – Hero (Our fathers must be our Hero)

          E – Enjoy (Enjoying our fathers is an asset)

          R – Respect (Respecting our fathers teaches us obedience)

 

Celebration at our 1-year-old Home

That night, we invited my Papa and family (mummy and siblings) for a Father’s Day celebration at our one-year old home. We celebrated for three daddies (my Papa, my hubby and my brother-in-law). My hubby cooked the most delicious curry while our siblings and my mother chipped in with Heng Hua mee-hoon, best salad and jellies in town. We had a good time of fellowship. My children drew what they thought the three fathers would love and pasted on a recycled calendar holder. For their daddy, my son drew fish; for their grandpa, he drew 2 badminton rackets and shuttlecocks; for their uncle, they drew a dog. (Do you see them up there? Know which one is my Hubby, Papa or brother-in-law?) As usual, later that night, as we got the kids ready for bed, we asked them what their best thing from daddy which they would remember that day. “Champion Curry!” was their response. Not bad eh, for a legacy to remember.      

Posted by: michellelohjy | June 24, 2008

“I Can’t do it, Mummy”

Written on 13th June 2008

The Challenge

Teaching musical drama classes is my passion. To be able to teach my own children in the musical drama class is a special ‘Privilege’. Yesterday, I taught my group of home-schoolers (with my son too) at the USJ homeschool centre. Our theme was on ‘String Instruments’. We were having a Rhythmical activity during the theatre games where I instructed the children to follow the pitching exercise. They were supposed to stand on the chair when they hear a high pitch sound and sit on the floor when low pitch sound was heard. After playing on the instruments for them to listen and associate their movements a few times, my son, as usual volunteered to start doing the movement first. However, after trying twice, he failed to follow the proper pitch movements. Embarrassed and disappointed, he gave up trying and went to hide himself at the corner. The others continued to try until they got the cue. This made my son even madder. Throughout the last 20 minutes of lesson, he just refused to join the others. I tried to coax him into trying again and that he could do it, but to no avail. Being a strong-willed child, he held on to his stand. 

 

Heart of a teacher cum mother

             As a mother, I felt angry and I didn’t understand why he would refuse such a simple pitching movement. How could I encourage him to try? I have to keep my cool though, since the class was still on. As a teacher, I knew I have to persevere in winning ‘discouraged children’ to come out of themselves. That’s what the course is all about. I moved on to another activity, Musical mime play, where I could get him to notice and respond a little while the rest of the class were still actively participating.  At the end of the class, he was still NOT THROUGH!!!

          “I ain’t gonna give up on him.” I had to think about something quick to get him back on track. So, I sat down together with the children and started talking about their first baby steps. I threw them the question: “What happens if a baby decides to say to himself that he’s not going to try to walk because it’s just too painful and difficult to do so?” Very smart answers from each of them such as, “Then he’ll be lame for the rest of his life”, “He’ll not be able to run and play”, “He’ll not be able to play Wild Force Power Rangers” etc. All the while, I was trying to peep at my son from the corner of the eyes to see how he would respond. I encouraged them about the most important persons in their lives like parents, teachers etc who would encourage them to persevere and not give up etc. I knew my son was listening. As I continued, “You know, sometimes, the hardest thing is when you fail and you feel like a fool – embarrassed and very, very sad.” “I understand your feelings; I feel like that too… many, many hundred times more than you do.” “But you know what, I told myself I want to be like that baby, do not care or worry about whether being laughed at or anything like that, I will focus to try to walk, that’s right. Walk, I must do it.” “Such child-like faith”. Then one of boys said, “yes, just like the disciples of Jesus who shooed the children away and Jesus told them not to and that everyone who has child-like faith can come to him.” 

                 At that moment, at the corner of my eye, I noticed my son’s eyes getting redder and he was wiping his tears away secretly. I finally understood that he was not trying to rebel on purpose or to make havoc. The true fact is that he was bruised in his ego and if I did not address this matter, he would go deeper into his shell. I concluded the chit-chatting session by encouraging him to try the exercise again. This time I got my students to cheer him on. He still refused though, so I thought just give him time. A moment later, someone shouted “Hey, JY did it! He could do that already!” He secretly did it on the chair without me noticing it and wow, that was the first breakthrough. Hmm… he was still aloof. He didn’t want to help me carry the stuff as he would do normally. He just walked away and tried to avoid eye-contact with me. You know, I felt crushed, like wanting to give up but I knew I had to hang on there.  

Winning his heart again

            On the way back, we (some of my students, my son & I) talked about their interests etc. After a very long while, then I asked my son (seated right behind the driver’s seat) “Do you want to be like that anymore?” “No.” “Do you think you can try the movements again next week without getting angry?” No reply. “Maybe we can practise a few times at home so that you’ll be able to do it during the class, OK?” “Ok (softly).” “I’m sorry, mummy.” “I forgive you. I understand how you feel. Please don’t give up easily the next time you face something tough, OK? We’ll try to work at it together, OK?” “OK.” “Please give me a hug.” I held my hand backwards and he touched it with his warm hands. I knew I had won him back.

     

 

 

 

Posted by: michellelohjy | June 24, 2008

“Mummy, please play my game”

 

Written on 13th May 2008

It was a very hot and humid day. Today was special as no other kids are at our place for tuition and we could have the whole time to ourselves. As usual, I brought them out at 6pm (our normal play time at the playground). Since the sun was still scorching at us and too glaring, I suggested for us to play at the centre in-between the two blocks of terrace houses just by the side of our block. My son was amusing himself by flying his kite (occasionally calling out to me to watch his stunts) while my daughter picked up some twigs at the side and started to arrange them with a certain pattern. I was trying my best to give my attention to both of them by keeping them at the corners of both my eyes. “Mummy, do you want to play my game?” I was tickled by the words of my 5-year old cute little girl. I listened carefully as she gave me instructions to play her newly-invented game (another version of long-track hopscotch). We started playing and of course … “Mummy, please follow my game.” Oh… I had stepped into the wrong box and jumped differently. “Sorry, can you explain how I should this here?” Wow, my daughter had turned into a little game expert. You know what, the game was so fun that my son soon joined us and we had a jolly great time together.

       So often we stifle our children’s creativity by imposing our standard instructions of games and what they should or should not do. Many children are hurried from one tuition or ‘enrichment centre’ to another from Monday to Sunday. Either they are at school, tuition, shopping malls or at home playing computer games/PS2. They have missed the beauty of childhood where they can just unleash their creativity by enjoying and playing with ‘natural’ things around them. We are one of the very few who go out to our playground outside almost every evening. When we first moved over to this new area, my children asked me, “Mummy, why there aren’t any kids around?” “Maybe we are new here. Not many houses yet. Maybe later, when more people move in, then you’ll make more friends.” We are here for almost a year now. 70% of the houses are occupied. The scenario in the evenings is still almost the same (probably a few more during the weekends). Where are our neighbors?        

         

  

Posted by: michellelohjy | June 24, 2008

Hungering for more parenting techniques

20 Oct 2004

 

 

                     Hungering for more of parenting techniques, I plucked up my courage to sign up for the “Happy Mama Class” organized by the Family Wellness Counseling Centre in 2004. It was a 12-week course which was divided into 3 sections, conducted in the month of April, July and September. The most challenging part of this course was that it was conducted in Mandarin. Being a non-Chinese educated person, I felt rather inadequate. But I knew that I should not let language be the barrier to my learning. Moreover, I thought as long as I could understand spoken-Mandarin and converse in Mandarin, I would “survive” through. So, I sought for help. I asked Winnie (Mrs. Tie King Tai) if her eldest daughter, Joy Tie, could help recite and record all the contents of the course in cassette tapes so that I could listen and prepare my homework before going for the classes. She graciously agreed. One lesson I have learnt from Winnie was always encourage our children to use their resources or gifts to do charity or serve with generous hearts. Indeed one “struggling mother” (me) was thoroughly blessed by such a generous act of kindness. Of course, my husband and the Chinese-English dictionary also came to my aid as my faithful teachers in those few months of study. I am also grateful to my instructor, Mrs. Liong Yuk Choong, and my other class-mates for being so understanding and kind in helping me to learn especially when the Mandarin words were too difficult for me to grasp.

 

Reasons for enduring

          Many people asked me why I would go through that kind of “suffering”. After giving much thought to it, I came to 3 conclusions:

1.       Firstly, as an inexperienced young mother with 2 young kids, I would grab any opportunity to learn about how to be a better mother, irregardless of language.

2.     Secondly, I want to learn Mandarin.

3.     Thirdly, I want to learn from other mothers, about their experiences, successful techniques etc.

 

                 The topics were very relevant to me as I have been exposed to the possibilities of communicating with my children tactfully, instead of commanding them. Reminders like “Must try to understand my children’s feelings before I respond to their behaviors” rang a warning bell in times of frustrations. I realized that I need to command respect from my children not from my threats nor punishments, but firm and loving discipline. Besides, I have gained addition ideas in helping to cultivate my children’s interest in learning. In fact, some have been tested already and proven to be successful! The biggest comfort that I received was that knowing that I am not the only mother in the whole wide world who is facing those challenges in motherhood. Phewww! What an encouragement!

 

                  Mostly, I am especially grateful to our gracious God, who made it possible for me to attend the whole course, pick up important points to be practised on my children and enjoy the fellowship of other mothers.

 

              I would truly encourage all mothers, young and old, new or amateurs, or mothers-to-be, do take the opportunities to learn how to be the best nurturers for your children, because we are shaping the future generation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: michellelohjy | June 24, 2008

Christmas Reflection: Home By Choice

Written on 16 November 2003

 

Home By Choice

“Home by Choice”…… it was almost about a year since the day I tossed my high heel shoes, executive briefcase and office suits aside to embrace the “Full-time Mother of the Century banner” with  uncountable joys and sorrows. The most unlikely decision anyone think I would make. I never planned, let alone dreamed of becoming a stay-at-home mother. My mother was a full fledge successful finance officer. All my aunts and relatives worked out of homes from nine to five. In those days, housewives were for those who were non-educated, no employment offers and stereotype-traditional. Thus, there were neither inspiring mentors nor model figures of “good homemakers” as point of references in my growing up days. You would have remembered those days when the time came for the teacher to give out cards with three lines of which we were to fill in our most cherished ambitions. Sounds familiar? I do not recall anyone sane enough to put down “Housewife” as their “top” ambition nor their second nor third. WHY? I guess a housewife has a low status quo and one does not need to attend school or university to be qualified, as perceived by many.

 

My ambition or calling is to be teacher. Teaching is my passion, my vocation. Such a noble profession, that is to shape the new generation of leaders. Yes, that was where I began. But God had other plans. This Christmas is a very special one for me because God had taught, and is still teaching me that if I follow His path, I will travel far beyond even my greatest dream. The following story is a very inspiring story about following one’s dream …..in the light of God’s plan.

 

The Legend of the Three Trees

 

Far away in a green valley, a fox dropped an olive pit. And along a rocky shore, a stork split open an acorn. On a tall mountain, a goat accidentally shook loose a seed from a pine cone. The pit, the acorn and the seed grew into saplings. Watered by the rain and warmed by the sun, they reached upward. In time, a beautiful olive tree blossomed in the valley. A mighty oak stood on the rocky coast. And a tall pine tree stood on the mountain. As each tree grew, it dreamed of what it would become.

 

The olive tree dreamed of becoming a beautiful and important treasure chest. Decorated with sparkling jewels, it would hold the greatest treasure in the world. One day, a woodsman came to the forest; it seemed that the olive tree’s dream would come true. The woodsman chose the olive tree from all the other trees. The olive tree trembled with happiness. At last, it would become a beautiful treasure chest! The woodsman took the olive tree to his workshop. He cut the wood into boards and hammered them into a box shape. But to the tree’s surprise, the woodsman did not make the box into a treasure chest. He did not polish the olive tree’s fine wood or fill it with gold. Instead, he dragged it into a stable with messy sheep, smelly cows, and noisy chickens. The woodsman filled the box with hay. The olive tree saw that it had become a manger, a mere feeding box for animals! It knew then that it would never hold a treasure.

 

As the olive tree’s dream faded in the dusty stable, the oak tree looked out over the water with a dream of its own. Strong and proud, it dreamed that its mighty trunk would be made into a mighty ship that would carry a king! One day, shipbuilders cut down the oak tree and hauled it to their boatyard. They sawed the broad trunk into boards. They bent the boards to form the sides of the boat. With each passing day, the oak tree felt certain that its dream was coming true. But when the shipbuilders were done, the oak felt small and weak. It had not become a mighty ship at all. Instead, it was a little fishing boat, launched on a calm lake. The mighty oak knew then that a king would never sail in a little fishing boat.

 

High on the mountainside, above the oak boat, the pine tree stood tall. Many times, it saw people in the valley looking up. The pine hoped that its towering branches would remind people of the glory of God’s creation. It dreamed that it would always stay on the mountain and point people to God. One night, a fierce storm shook the mountain. The pine tree bent and swayed in the powerful wind. As thunder boomed, a bolt of lighting flashed from the sky and splintered the tree’s trunk. With a sound almost as loud as the thunder, the pine tree fell to the ground. The pine tree’s dream crashed down with it. No one would ever look up to it again. Some soldiers hauled it to the scrap yard. Unused and forgotten, the pine lay on a heap of old lumber. It knew then that a piece of scrap wood would never point people to God.

 

Many years passed. The trees’ great dreams seemed so far away that they stopped thinking about them. For what greatness could come to a feedbox, a fishing boat and scrap wood? But God had His own plan for each of the trees. One night, shepherds keeping watch over their flock saw an angel. A great light shone all around. The angel told them not to be afraid, for their Savior had been born in Bethlehem. Just as the angel said, the shepherds found the baby lying in a manger. The olive tree had not become a treasure chest, but now, as a manger, it held the greatest treasure of all time, God’s only Son, Jesus.

 

The infant Jesus grew into a man, and the man traveled to the very lake that held the oak fishing boat. One day, the little boat carried Jesus onto the lake with the fishermen. Suddenly, a great storm swept over the lake. Water washed into the boat. The oak boat struggled with all of its strength so it would not sink. “Quiet! Be still,” Jesus said. The storm stopped. The oak boat felt Jesus’ power. The oak boat had never carried a king of this world, but now it carried the King of kings!

 

The pine tree knew nothing of Jesus and His miracles. But one morning, it heard angry voices in the distance. “Crucify him!” the people yelled. Soldiers came to the scrap yard and grabbed the forgotten pine. The pine tree expected to be cut into firewood. Instead, the soldiers cut its trunk into two pieces to make a cross.  Then they laid the cross on Jesus’ back. On the hillside under a blackening sky, the pine cross swayed as the soldiers raised it. It did not know whether it could bear the weight of the man upon it. The pine tree had wanted only to point people to God. Now, it knew that it would be a sign of death. Jesus died that day to take away the sins of all who believed in Him. He was taken down from the cross and laid inside a tomb. Then a wondrous thing happened. Three days later, Jesus rose to life again. And so Jesus fulfilled His heavenly Father’s plan for Him.

 

What about the three trees? They, too, had fulfilled God’s plan for them. Miraculously, God had taken them beyond their youthful dreams. The olive wood-manger had held the greatest treasure of all, God’s beloved only Son. The oak fishing boat had carried the King of kings, God’s Son, during His work on earth. And to this day, the cross points people to God as a symbol of His great love for us.

 

Sometimes, the dreams that we have for ourselves are much smaller than the dreams that God has for us. The three trees’ dream came true, just not in the way they imagined. And so it is with each of us. If we follow God’s path, we will travel far beyond even our greatest dream.

 

 

Little heart … little faith … God’s thoughts are higher than my thoughts

 

As the truth of the story above sank in, I felt comforted. My dream to impact the youth through my vocation as a teacher did launch off with a good beginning. However, after my firstborn came, I found myself at tug-of-war with balancing my roles as a mother, a wife, a teacher and an employee. I had often felt guilty for spending so little time with my firstborn when I was working full-time as a lecturer in a private college. I missed many opportunities to witness my son’s milestones and I found myself compromising the way he was being brought up since he spent most of his time with his nanny. Also at the same time, I was offered a sponsored Masters program in Information Technology followed by a promotion, and then, it suddenly struck me. Although the promotion came with an attractive salary increase and greater influence in the teaching arena, it would have meant longer hours for me to be away from my son again. After much soul-searching, I turned down the offer for promotion, but I still hung on to my “secured-job”.

 

The Lord knew that my little heart could contain just that “little amount of faith”, just like the three trees in story above, so He decided to stretch me further. He had to pluck us (my family) out literally from Kuala Lumpur and put us in Sibu. I struggled with the decision to quit altogether. Yet, I did not have the courage to take this giant step of faith. So, with persuasion from my parents who thought I was foolish to quit, and my bosses who offered to transfer me over to the Sibu branch with a part-time status, I plunged into it, thinking I could still fulfill my dream to be a good mother and teacher.

 

Plucked us from ‘K.L.’ to Sibu

In Sibu, as a part-time lecturer, I worked for 20 hours a week. I taught in the afternoons and my son would be at my in-laws’ place. So, I savaged every moment I could have with him in the mornings and nights. I thought I could not stand the stresses of “staying at home all day”, but being at home with a little longer hour, enabled me to enjoy the possibilities of staying at home full-time later. The Lord knew that I need to learn this lesson slowly. Like I had shared in the previous issue, I thought that was a brilliant arrangement until my second child came along.

 

All throughout, my husband had been very supportive in every decision that I made. We did not buy in the idea of hiring a babysitter again nor sending our children to nurseries at such a young age. Brenda Hunter, a child psychologist, when asked if it really made any difference which arms held the baby, she commented, “Yes, babies are programmed to fall in love with their mothers, not nannies or baby-sitters”. So, this time, I took a courageous step and embraced the title of a full-time homemaker more confidently. Although we did get some objections or sneers like “Ai-yah…. Such a waste lah….. all the years of acquiring your education!”, “Wow…..husband must be earning high salary lah…rich lah”, “Hmmmmm…. now become ‘sau nai nai’ ”, “You can still cope with motherhood and job at the same time what!”, “There are many good nurseries, i.e. Sunshine, Montessori etc. qualified to take care of your children” etc., but by God’s grace, He had been taking care of us thus so far.     

 

Of course, there was a huge salary-cut in our family income. We had to work around a tighter budget. We had to learn to live simply rather than in luxury. My dream to be home with my children, to be there for them at every point of change in their little lives, to witness every single milestone, to pass on our first-hand faith in Jesus Christ…… to train them in the way they should go so that they would not depart from it when they are old…… Wow, sounds so easy and sentimental, but coming home does not work that easily. At home, motherhood was unexpectedly difficult.  Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week….The magic transformation did not happen as I have expected. I felt like I was in foreign territory. I was not the kind of person who fumbles through things. I was the “if I want to do something, I’ll do it right and well” kind of professional. But here I was, felt so helpless not able to cook fantastic meals, finish the laundry on time, keep the house absolutely clean and neat, teach and mould perfect well-mannered children. Yet, my unending chores of wiping endless runny noses of crying children, changing soiled diapers, washing and hanging clothes, cooking nutritious meal to accommodate  picky eaters, scrubbing and cleaning dirty floor etc., made me wonder if I am achieving my initial goal of staying at home.

 

In my career as a lecturer, I was given a trail of professional trainings to enhance my teaching skills, but being a homemaker, I started my new job description without prior training. It is the most humbling job I have ever embarked on. I was stripped to the core of my being, not having any skill or quality to be a “good homemaker”, but to be dependant on God’s strength and wisdom totally to make my dream realized. To Him Be the Glory!

 

    

 

 

 

 

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