How I prepared to go out with the baby alone

So, I reached a milestone in motherhood last Saturday (1 Sep) — bringing baby out on my own to a relatively unknown place, in this case, Clan Cafe at Bukit Pasoh.

What gave me the boldness to bring baby out on my own? Well, I’ve been talking more to my mother-in-law and realise she’s quite capable in child-caring! She told me she used to bring her three children out from Bedok to Toa Payoh to visit her parents on Saturdays — on her own! I was amazed.. she told me she would carry the youngest in a carrier, the middle child in the stroller and hold my hubby’s hands (as he’s the oldest child) when heading out. Without. Taxi. No MRT Circle Line in early 1990s. I was like… *slow clap*

So, when my girlfriends and I planned to catch up over lunch, I had wanted to place baby at my in laws’ so I can head out to meet them on own. Eventually I decided against it after finding out that Bukit Pasoh is just right next to Outram Park station! If it’s near an MRT station, I should bring baby out on my own. If my MIL has done it (with three kids, no less), I should be able to do it too!

So brought her out, I did! And survived 🙂

What is necessary when bringing out a baby on your own? Here’s my list of things to prepare…

1) Wear contact lenses instead of glasses so that you won’t risk having your baby grab your glasses or have glasses slipping down your nose when settling the baby. You wouldn’t want something to go awry when you are struggling with the baby on your own!

2) Ensure you have diapers and a fresh change of clothes, for soiled moments. Because you don’t want to be buying one whole packet of diapers just because you forgot to bring a few pieces!

3) Carry a sling bag and a backpack. Backpack for all the baby “barang barang” and sling bag to easily reach your wallet, ez-link card and mobile phones.

4) Push the baby with a stroller. I always thought that I just need a trusty, good carrier when going out but I realise a good stroller is equally important. Especially when you want to put baby down to sleep for a while or just rest your aching shoulders/hips.

5) Be friendly and smiley. You need to be prepared to be friendly when going out alone as you never know when you need help from strangers, like having them help hold the door for your stroller, or carry your stroller or giving you an empathetic “it’s-okay” look when your baby starts screaming in public.

Here’s the picture of victory. Thank you, Jesus for watching out for both of us!

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How can we desire God? – Explained through bak chor mee craving

“How can I desire God?”, a young girl asked me recently. I see her yearning to have a deeper walk with God, yet she does not know how to create this desire. The heart is willing but she doesn’t know where to start.

Instead of answering her, the Spirit led me to ask this question, “What will make you desire a particular food?”

“We all sometimes have a deep craving for a particular kind of food, let’s say bak chor mee (a local pork noodle dish) – so how does this come about?”

  1. We keeping reading and hearing about how good the bak chor mee is. I read food reviews which describe how springy the mee kia were, how the fragrant lard and vinegar coated the noodles and how fresh the pig liver and pork were in the dish; this is when I know I got to have it. In the same way, we need to keep hearing from others who have also experienced God. We need to read and listen to testimonies, listen to the sermons to know how mighty, how generous, how lovely, how magnificent, how strong our God is. When you keep hearing His Word, you will want to know Jesus better and taste His goodness. This is why fellowship is important – we read and hear about how good God is through our pastors, brothers and sisters.
  2. We have tasted bak chor mee before, and know that it is good. In the same way, when we personally have experienced God and tasted the goodness of His many promises in the Bible and witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (e.g. seeing how your bad temper can be controlled), we will desire more of God.
  3. You haven’t had bak chor mee for a long time, and although you had different kinds of food during this period of time, deep down, you know only bak chor mee can satisfy you. This applies when I have been overseas where they serve almost the same food to me for more than one week, and all I can think of eating when I land in Singapore is bak chor mee. Much as the food I have tried overseas were novel and I really like some of them, I know my first love is always bak chor mee. In the same way, sometimes, we want to try many different kinds of things, away from God, away from the “holy moly church stuff”. But deep inside, we know only Jesus can satisfy our souls. Hence, in the same way, a desire for God, to be with Him will come, interestingly, when we are away from Him. When a desire for Christ rises in such a situation, pray that it will increase and cling on to Him; and go on to #1 and #2!

The above is my simple, personal view of how I think we can create and sustain a desire for God. Would like to hear from you on other ways for us to sustain a desire for Christ 🙂

How to deal with two things that threaten our faith

(Edited on 19 Oct 2014, after 蔡蕙秋老师’s sermon)

This morning, I was led to think about the verses I studied about 2 years ago – 2 Timothy 4:7-8, using Pastor John Piper’s 1980 sermon. In explaining these verses, I remember Ps Piper elaborated that the two enemies of faith are, take note – not people, but our own self-centred, prideful nature, as well as the Devil.

How then do I deal with them? Our self-centred, prideful self often wants to yield to our fleshly desires… That’s how temptations are – fleshly desires. They are things we enjoy for a short moment, but detrimental for us in the long run. Temptations can be grumbling, being easily angry, sexual immorality. On the other hand, the other enemy – Satan prowls around like a hungry lion (1 Peter 5:8), looking for a target to instill lies, to shame us, to make us go on a guilt trip, veering us away from the truth.

So, we must resist temptations and escape from the Devil.  Right, no?

This morning, God reminded me about his instructions from the Bible on how to deal with these two major disruptions of faith – Satan and our fleshly desires.

To Satan, we must fight it, resist it with God’s Word and lots of prayer! That’s how Jesus did it when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days before he began his ministry, and when he was struggling the night before his crucifixion. James 4:7 says we must “…(r)esist the devil, and he will flee from you”. It’s not us running away from him; we must see Satan run away from us when we use God’s Word and prayers to resist him.

To deal with temptations, according to 2 Tim 2:22, we must flee, run away quickly, siam from them. So if you feel like watching a little bit more of TV (after spending hours on it), you have to pluck the strength and say, “I need to stop!” and walk away. You don’t start praying, “God, please help me to stop watching TV”, when the TV is still in front of you.

So often we do the opposite – we try to resist temptation by trying to fight it face-to-face and pray about it. On the other hand, some people try to run away from Satan by pretending that he doesn’t really exist, but at the end of it, still find his lies bugging them. We become downtrodden because we often fail so miserably to overcome these enemies of faith…. all because we have been using the wrong ways to deal with them.

Of course, sometimes temptations can be used by the Devil as well. For instance, if we are unable to get rid of our TV addiction, Satan may tell us, “you are a worthless person for not being able to get over your addiction”. In such cases, we must combine both ways to deal with this – first, to be conscious of the areas we are easily tempted; second, pray loads and read the Bible so that you can have verses to counter every satanic suggestion as you attempt to flee from temptations.

Thankfully, God has also showed us that we have the armour of God to resist the Devil. Paul’s letter to the Ephesus church shows us what this armour is made up of as we take our stand against Satan:

Put on the full armor of God,so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes...Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Eph 6:11-18)

Moreover, we have the seal of God, the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13) to help us along as we meet such challenges in our lives. With the mark of the God of the universe – the great Almighty, the Devil gets afraid when we choose to take up our armour and fight him.

I believe God revealed this to me, and reminded me with these two methods so that I can better discern my own struggles in faith. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide me to deal with these issues of faith wisely.

What skincare/cosmetic products to buy in Korea?

After my trip to Korea just this July, I’ve been wearing a little bit more make-up. I bought some products to try since they were relatively cheaper than many cosmetic brands from the US or those distributed in Singapore.

Mantra to Korea trippers – when in Korea, buy their skincare products!

So I googled and found a list of skincare products people buy when they head there. It was useful to guide me when I was tearing down Myeongdong in a race against time. Don’t judge – I only had 1 to 2 hours left to shop all the cosmetics I wanted to get for myself and others before the shops close! So I needed to get the essentials!

Anyway, here’s a picture of my loot first! It’s everything I’ve bought for friends, colleagues and family.

20141011-005220.jpg

Here’s my list of things cosmetics/skincare products you may wish to buy/stock up when in South Korea! Like buying clothes wholesale, the more you buy, the more discounts and exclusive freebie sets you get at these Korean cosmetic shops.
1. Banila Co’s Clean It Zero Make-up remover (the pink box at the extreme right of the picture)
2. Laneige’s Water Sleeping pack. It costs about SGD$25 when you get it from this shop called Aritaum. I also bought one at the airport before I flew back to Singapore. I thought it would be way more expensive but surprisingly, it only costs me about SGD$27 when I paid with my credit card! They give more discounts if you buy 8 of them! Still not too pricey considering the price it’s selling at in Singapore.
3. Innisfree Super Volcanic Clay Pore Mask; quite helpful in stripping dead skin cells.
4. Banila Co. Primer; cheaper than Benefit’s (it costs about SGD$24 if I’m not wrong) but has almost the same effect!
5. Tony Moly snail masks; I hear people raving about it so I’ll just add this on my list. On a side note, ever since I discovered My Beauty Diary masks, I’ve decided they are more effective than Korean masks. Hehe…
6. Étude House’s lip tints; cheap and good… They cost about SGD$4 for a handy tub.
7. Skin Food’s Black Sugar mask which is actually more like a scrub.
8. Laneige or Innisfree BB cushion
9. Pink lipsticks! From places like Banila Co., or The Face Shop.

Leave me a comment if you know of any skincare or cosmetic product one must definitely get when in Korea! I’m keen to know (:

Overcoming Candy Crush

Sumiko Tan’s plea for help about her Candy Crush addiction was something I identified with.

Her article in Sunday Times brought back memories of my Candy Crush-playing days earlier this year. The descriptions of her fighting to stay awake just to inch up the next level and her having images of the Candy Crush grids when she closed her eyes were exactly what I experienced! Realising that smart phone games could be potentially addictive, I downloaded the game only in my iPad mini but not on my phone. This way, I could only play it when I was home from work.

However, doing this wasn’t enough. I was still playing the game intensively after work; so much so that it was robbing me of my sleep and my time with God most of the nights… Until, I realise the futility of the entire game.

I had always thought that Candy Crush required strategy but DR pointed out to me then that it really was dependent on the colour of candies you were given every round. It was designed to hook. They make it “difficult” for different rounds but somehow, one could always make it to the next level (for some, it might mean being stuck for 1000 times at the same level but you realise you eventually did move on). When you are able to overcome all these “difficult” levels, you would think: “Hey, maybe I can do for this round. I got to try!”. And so, you keep trying. And trying. And trying.

It got too frustrating when I realised that my winning was actually determined by the system (which obviously wanted me hooked!) right from the start.

That was when I decided to quit.

So yeah, this is the story of how I overcame Candy Crush. You need to realise that it really is a game to make you feel like you have strategized when in fact, you are just being engineered by the system’s allocation of candies for each round.

The easy art of not listening (but pretending that you are)

I have learned a lot about listening from DR and my direct supervisor. They’ve shown me what it is like to listen, consider and respond accordingly. Not just hear and react.

Here, I would like to differentiate between “listen” and “hear”, as well as “respond” and “react” (for respond vs react, I will leave it to another blog post)

What entails active listening?

– Eye contact with the person talking (most basic requirement – our eyes are very telling. It can reveal you to be a faker trying to listen when you are actually not and more keen to express your views).

– Giving allowance for the other person to finish his/her point.

– Prompts.

– Clarifications to understand the person’s viewpoint or concerns.

– Leaning of the body towards the person sharing his/her concerns

– Expressions of the listener trying to internalise the points said.

“Hearing” is the opposite of the points mentioned above. There are many other cues that reveal whether a person is listening to you speak but I don’t think I can list everything down. I admit, I am not that great a listener… probably because I try to give a lot of advice immediately after hearing the issue instead of trying to understand the person’s perspective with empathy. Yes, I am a little bit like my mom. My mom likes giving advice for every single thing she sees as wrong or not ideal. It’s part of her that makes her endearing. However, I am trying to be better in listening though I still tend to be quite careless in listening when with my own family.

From my direct supervisor, I have seen how she has demonstrated empathy in listening, especially when my colleague and I share difficulties we face when doing our work. Not only does she empathise, she would offer solutions and take responsibility for the decision made. DR also told me before that listening simply means not offering your opinions first but internalising what is being said and figuring out the deep, real issues unknown to the one sharing.

It is really easy to make yourself believe that you are listening cos all you have to do is to keep nodding or lean in to pretend to be interested. However, a fake listener is revealed when he/she nods but also likes to pepper the conversations with their own opinions or “advice”. Yeah, sure… It could be great advice. But one thing I’ve learned about great advice is saying it at the appropriate time. And what is the appropriate time..? It is when the person indicates that he/she needs the advice. That’s when a person’s needs are met and thus an advice, timely.

I am still learning to listen… Learning to suspend my opinions when listening to others. Dear God, please grant me the wisdom and love to patiently listen and wait for the appropriate time to speak.

Increasing birth rates, one blackout at a time

Our colleagues asked me this morning how many children I wanted to have in the future. I ended up speculating how we could increase birth rates here in Singapore 😛 😛

Here goes our conversation:

Colleague: How many children would you like in the future?

Me: Should be two. To be honest, previously I said I wanted three. Reason being, if one died, there’s would still be two left.

Colleague: Oh…. (pauses for a while) But that’s quite a farmer’s mentality!

Me: Hahahaha!

Colleague: Ya, it’s true. They usually give birth to more children so that their chances of survival are higher. This way, they have more labour to help in their farms.

Me: My friends and I have another theory – The reason for spilling birth rates in rural areas is that farmers have nothing better to do at night. So the only activity is to… *winks*

Colleague: Plus, they have no lights! Makes for a very conducive environment.

Me: *sniggles*

Colleague: Oh but I heard that to control birth rates, farmers were given televisions. This way, they would be kept entertained and they won’t engage in “the process of procreation”

***end***

From our conversation, I deduced two rather simplistic but plausible reasons why Singaporeans do not procreate as much:

1. We have lights – not conducive enough

2. We have televisions/the Internet/the computer/magazines to keep us too occupied

So, in order to encourage procreation, we need total blackouts nation-wide. Yes, cut off our electricity source in all entertainment outlets, all housing residences! And we must do so frequently. This way, with no electricity and thus, no lights and electronic devices as distractions, people may be keen to…. YOU GET THE IDEA? Teehee! Helps to reduce everyone’s electricity bill too!

The tagline for this nation-wide campaign shall be: Increasing birth rates, one blackout at a time.

Brilliant, no??! LOL.

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