Praying with the Right Heart

During prayer meeting this week, Pastor Ming took the time to share a great word about prayer.

Pastor paused during the prayer meeting and asked us what needs we have today. Members of the audience then shouted out – "Financial breakthrough", "Health", "Family’s salvation", etc.

He then referred us to Philippians 2:14, which says "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe…"

The word ‘complaining’ actually means ‘murmuring’ and it was first used in the Old Testament when the children of Israel were continually complaining about how God didn’t meet their needs. God had parted the Red Sea for them and showed them miracles, yet the people were continually complaining about their own needs – about how they were hungry, how they were too hot and too cold. As a result of that, they ended up walking in the desert for 40 years.

In old Jewish times, the Rabbi used to share this story about 2 Jewish men who were walking through the Red Sea as God parted it. As they were walking, they kept on complaining about how the ground was so muddy and how difficult it was to walk through. All this time, they focused only on their needs and didn’t bother to look up and see how God had actually parted the sea and raised up walls of water on their sides.

Bringing us back to the point about prayer – Many times, we are too need-centred and we pray out of need, out of fear and faith. We become like the murmuring Israelites and we forget that we need to come to God with a heart of thanksgiving and be thankful for all that God has given us. Attending a prayer meeting is a holy and scared time. There is no doubt that God wants to bless us, so as we come to pray, we need to put aside our own needs and worries, and come to God with a heart of thanksgiving. Give thanks for everything that we have – that we can breathe, that we have good health, that we have a home to go back to and this is the heart that will please God.

After sharing this word, Pastor Ming led us in a time of thanksgiving, where we just kept thanking God for everything and I felt like a burden was truly lifted up and I was praying with a greater sense of assuredness. 🙂

The Paper Cup

The cell members sat in a circle, as usual for their cell meeting.

“Today, we will be doing something different,” the cell leader said.

He placed in the midst of them – a paper cup.

“Now, I want all of you to imagine that this paper cup, in the centre, is you.”

“All of you will take on the position of God today and respond to what is going to happen next.”

“I will take on the position of the devil.”

Following which, the cell leader stands up, pauses for a while, and then launches into a violent attack on the paper cup. He stamps on it with much force, crushing it – but crushing it is not enough, even in its crushed state, the cell leader continues to stomp on it, repeatedly, mercilessly. This goes on for two minutes.

Then he pauses – and everyone thinks its all over.

But he continues again, with the renewed vehemence, mercilessly trampling on the paper cup. Finally, after 5 minutes, he stops.

“Now, how did you all feel as you were watching the cup?”, the cell leader asked.

Think about how what answer you would give, before reading on. 🙂

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Gems of Experience

My NIE English tutor emailed my batchmates two weeks ago with this question, “If there was one piece of advice you need to give a beginning teacher, what would that be?”

The responses received were inspiring, down-to-earth and honest. Thought it would benefit all my other teaching friends who read this blog too.

1. Never take things too personally. Sometimes students are schizo. They might hate you one minute and worship you the next.

2. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

3. Just because you get one lesson wrong or make a mess on a certain day doesn’t mean that you can’t teach. As long you keep trying to get better, things will get better.

4. Just be patient. You really become a good teacher only through after years of learning and experience, so don’t aspire to achieve what senior colleagues around you already seem to have, so soon.

5. You really don’t realise how hard it is at the beginning for you–until you look back much later and reflect on it!

6. You’re never alone but never entirely indispensable either.

7. Believe in yourself… As long as your intentions are for the betterment of your students, even if someone claims you’ve screwed up, screw them!

8. Plans and contraptions serve as good support but what really makes that difference is Belief: belief in yourself, belief in your students, and belief in the belief that these two taken together have the power to vanquish most forms of skepticism, both- outside and within.

9. Also, that Everyday is indeed a New Day. It’s good to learn from past mistakes, but only to distill what serves as a pointer for the future. The chaff is to be deleted from our hard disk on a daily basis so as to savor the newness of the new day!

10. Never forget your primary calling as a teacher to teach well. Any other thing that you do in school matters less than this.

11. Your students’ results are their responsibility, not yours. Do all you can for them, and do not beat yourself up or blame yourself if they do not perform.

12. Always go into class expecting to LEARN something from your students that day. They can often surprise you with their brand of wisdom. When I am ready to learn, they become ready to learn also.

13. If a lesson idea strikes you as being too crazy or over the top, go for it anyway. You may be surprised at the reception.

14. Don’t mistake students’ silence for a lack of appreciation for the things that you do. Often, they just don’t know how to express it.

15. Be critical of the materials that you get or find in assessment books. Even though it is from a senior teacher or from some renowned book, read through it and ask yourself  if the "worksheet" is really useful for your students’ learning.

16. There is always a thing called EDUMALL and E-SHARING 🙂

17. There is always going to be work to do. Remember that you are human and at times, you need to just STOP and REST, so you can give more to your students.

18. Do not neglect your social life. End of the day, we need to ask ourselves, what is it that is really important to me? Remember, there is a reason why they call it SCHOOL life. :) 

Thanks Pei, Nicola, James, Ann, Eugene, Millicent, Andrea, Monica and my Dear for all these wonderful tips!

Moving On

When people ask me now about how we’re doing, my answer now is that we’re moving on. And indeed, we are.

My dad’s been posted to work in KL and has been occupied with finding a new place and refurnishing it.

My mum’s recently re-kindled her love for baking once again and she’s been baking scones, cupcakes, quiches, butter and lemon cakes, raisin and walnut loaves. She even tried selling her cupcakes for a weekend! My mum’s latest creation – Spinach and Tomato quiche!

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My brother started setting up his own aquarium and he’s really gotten into it – always buying new filters, redesigning his tank and setting up new ones, taking videos of his puffer fish.

School has started for me and with a higher workload this year, it’s been keeping me sufficiently occupied. I’ve also been starting my fitness regime all over again and continued my love for reading cookbooks. My latest read is Kylie Wong’s My China, which combines two of my greatest loves – food and travel:

As we move on, the memories will never leave us.

Some triggers are expected, but sometimes, the least expected event can bring back a whole wave of memories and bring tears to my eyes.

Reading the newspapers about the latest eICU treatment.

Opening my car-boot and finding a face mask there.

Remembering her excitement, just last New Year. Asking me to take photos of her all the time. She loved to take photographs.

It still feels too sudden.

I never knew I loved her so much.

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Korkor will never forget you.