Jul 2, 2017

today was a lovely day :,)

1st july 2017

i never really do the "this is how my day was" sort of posts, but today was a lovely day in a simple way, so i'm just going to record it for myself.

Yesterday night's cell group meeting was transformative. The presence of God was a thick cloud. Holy, holy, and I knew I was royalty and deserved nothing less. Holy, holy, I wanted to be a strong woman for God. I wept in God's presence as soon as I paused to let the words I was singing sink in: "greater are You / over the worst of pain". All the way home I was listening to the voice recording I had taken of cell group, going back to the praise and worship session, and letting God fill my heart to the brim even in the train. His sweet song was at the tip on my lips as I walked home.




A post shared by Karen Ho (@queerkidslane) on

At night, cell group and its songs and the message kept playing over and over in my head, and I found myself chuckling. Laughing at the thought of "greater are You / over the worst of pain", "You dance over me / while I am unaware" and other verses that were extremely strange to laugh at. And I realised: I usually say that I cannot receive the gift of holy laughter, but that's not true. I simply receive it in a different way. When my pastor touches my churchmates with the power of God and everyone's rolling on the floor laughing, I'm just standing there like a rock. But Pastor Ming shared once that holy laughter is simply one's natural response to the joy of God. When one encounters that touch, it comes bubbling out of them and they laugh in pure holy joy. And I guess this, too, is it. Me thinking about the astounding magnitude of God, that He covers all sin and all pain, and laughing in lighthearted worship.

It took me a very long while to fall asleep, because I was still tingling with the excitement of His presence. I was singing, praying, because it was an outflow. Sleep was the last thing on my mind. I eventually fell asleep at about 4am, which worried me because I had a morning wedding to attend today, and I definitely didn't want to be late.

But God was good today. He woke me up at 7.30am, half an hour before my alarm. I was So. Awake. In a peaceful way. I couldn't believe it was 7.30, and because I refused to get up so early, I continued to laze around in bed until I was later than expected. (Tsk, taking a gift from God and throwing it aside in favour of my sleeping-in habits.)


Also, I'd been spending the past few days thinking about whether to go for PinkDot or not. I felt like going for it made a very big statement, not all of which was true of my stance. There is more nuance to my stance than the simple act of going for PinkDot can convey. Would my going be misinterpreted as condoning? Would my not going be misinterpreted as intolerance? I told Sau last night that I was still unsure, because I felt like these events tended to divide rather than unite, and while I would try to change the mindsets of the people around me within my means, putting myself in this public situation potentially made a statement about me that I wasn't willing to back. Kevin agreed; he said while he supported what PinkDot stood for, he mightn't be too keen on getting himself into this whole public political thing. Sau said it was about making a statement to the government, especially this year where foreigners are banned from participating in PinkDot, that locals, too, cared for the rights of LGBT individuals. I did see where she was coming from, but the turning point was when I was suddenly reminded of my dearest spiritual mentee this morning. As I fixed my outfit in the mirror, Serena – and the way she loves – came to my mind. Serena is such a blessing to the LGBT individuals in my school because she loves them wholeheartedly. She is wholeheartedly a lover of Jesus, and wholeheartedly a friend to many. In that instant I decided I would go. I immediately texted Sau to say I was going. To my surprise, Kevin said "me too". Guess that settled it then!

Got dressed and made up; got a GrabHitch to Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church for $14 (from PIONEER!), which was very reasonable. Arrived half an hour early, and the bridegroom himself, my former cell group leader Daniel Lee, greeted me, and we had a nice long chat with his brother Sam (who is also a very good friend). It was so lovely seeing everyone again.

It was lovely seeing Daniel finally getting married. A holy marriage between two strong persons of God is a wonderful thing. Daniel has been a very important leader in my life: as his cell group member, I spent every Friday night at his house for years, I was always able to share my heart openly with him, and I also appreciate having had the opportunity to witness him walk through various stages in his life. I remember Daniel once telling me that he feels it's very important to have children, so that we will understand our Heavenly Father's love for us. As a lady said while praying for them today, "let them walk through the rest of their lives together gazing upon You."

So it was a very lovely morning witnessing a holy event with my spiritual siblings, hearing Pastor Bobby preach and sharing my ngoh hiang with Alister and sitting with my old cell group members and seeing Auntie and Uncle so proud and also feeling so proud for Sam, and also being able to share about my new cell group and my Yale-NUS CF experience with a girl who's going to become a cell group leader soon.


Then I changed from my white dress to a pink one (there was a dress code for the wedding, but I wouldn't be caught dead wearing white on PinkDot day), and left for Adlin's Hari Raya lunch thingy. I arrived pretty late, but the rendang was still great (and not spicy!), and the Yale-NUS people were chilling out and chatting. It was so lovely to be among all these people I was close to and /or were generally comfortable with, Kevin Rachel Abel etc., because I generally feel quite awkward at gatherings but this one was really comfortable and natural, and I enjoyed being in the presence of these people and just chatting about jobs and Orientation at Yale (still?!) and things. I was also pleasantly surprised and grateful to see Nat there. It was wonderful that she was there, and that she appeared very much at ease. (Unfortunately no pictures of the afternoon, just an instastory video that doesn't really do anything.)

We left Adlin's place at about 4.30, and the bunch of us who were going for PinkDot walked over to Nat's house, getting a corrugated board and vanguard sheet from a stationery shop along the way. Abel and I picked out all the pink things in the shop (party hats, paper bags, ribbons, balloons) and tried to think of ways to cover Kevin's stupid green tee. (He declared that he'd wear green to PinkDot and I still don't understand why.) In Nat's pretty room we used cheap nail polish to cover the vanguard sheet in glitter – a terrible idea, because the fumes were crazy and her room didn't have a fan – and cut the corrugated board to form a sign that said "LOCAL & VOCAL". (no foreigners allowed? no problem!) As we left Nat's house we were discussing the perplexing question of why people pee in HDB lifts (don't you live in the same block??? can't you just pee at home??? or find a secluded tree????), and at one point one of us made a casual comment that perhaps we are all actually passed out from the fumes in Nat's room and just lying on the floor, and only hallucinating that we're walking to the MRT station. And Kevin was like, well in that case that'd be a pretty well-coordinated hallucination. And Abel was like, no Kevin, maybe you're the only one that's passed out, and you're just imagining the rest of us here when we're actually all in Nat's room trying to wake you up right now.

I'm going to miss YNC chatter heh.

Reached Hong Lim Park at 6.30pm and walked right into the Class of 2017 Yale-NUS crowd, because they'd camped themselves right at the MRT exit. The premise within the boundaries had reached full capacity, so we just hung around beyond the barricades. I mean, not much happened in particular. Sam Rui sang; Nathan Hartono sang; we ate our snacks and Abel and I casually talked about how our presence at PinkDot wasn't actually making a difference at all, since we weren't even being officially counted with the crowd within the barricades, and who was actually going to care about a bunch of people gathering once a year anyway? Policymakers? Psh. Perhaps we were just all trying to feel better about ourselves, feeling like we were doing our part to make a change, but actually just wanting to be a part of the collective effervescence. Perhaps the government is happy to let us make our way to this crowded Speakers' Corner, feel like we're participating in politics and being active in voicing our stand, but not actually making so much as a dent in the policymaking arena. Well we stayed anyway. After all, for me it wasn't about the politics but about the LGBT individuals that I know, and the message I want to send across to LGBT individuals as a Christian.


We couldn't really see what was happening beyond the barricades, so we just chilled out. Our time there wasn't terribly special or exciting, but it was nice nontheless (it's always nice chilling with YNC people, and the great thing about it is that we don't need to be doing anything at all). I bumped into my brother and his girlfriend, which was amusing considering the number of people there. Mark was wearing Kat's shirt, and Kat was wearing my mum's top.

Went for dinner with some of them at the hawker centre, chatted about whatever, went home. I don't know why I typed this last sentence, but I want to remember it. Yale-NUS has become such a comfortable space, such a family, that even just hanging out is a time of peace that is well-cherished. Nothing ra-ra about it, just one another's company. I mean, today was pretty chill. I wasn't always super engaged in the conversation; I was just around people that I've missed and am comfortable with. Maybe that alone made it such a great day, so lovely that I'm writing this long blog post that's taken me a couple of hours. Tomorrow's going to be another lovely chill day with my new cell group: after service we're going to stay back for Malcolm's singing competition finals, and go watch a movie. Thank you, God, for community.

Jun 10, 2017

'unequally yoked' is overused & too vague to be taken seriously

(And I really don't know why people keep quoting it. For a more direct biblical instruction about 'unequally yoked' relationshhips, you could also refer to 1 Cor 7:12-16.)

It's as simple as this.

Christians, by definition, put themselves - their lives, bodies, identities - under the loving lordship of Christ.* They recognise that their lives and bodies were created by God for a certain purpose. The Christian's life is no longer their own, and the authority over them and their bodies is God, the Creator and Father.

The Christian recognises that the marriage union of man and woman acts as a window into the union of Christ and the Church. The Christian's marriage is supposed to emulate the love relationship between Jesus and His beloved. To the non-Christian, this does not make sense, because the non-Christian does not know Jesus or understand His love. The Christian idea of marriage does not make sense to the non-Christian, just as the Christian life does not make sense to the non-Christian, simply because the non-Christian does not know Christ.

(This is why non-Christian marriages are entitled to do as they please. To the non-Christian, marriage is a cultural symbol whose meaning and function change with the times; in today's age, where marriage and relationships are premised on the feeling of love, they should be able to marry whomever they love. And they should. Why do we attempt to impose the Christian idea of marriage on the non-Christian? What's the point? Sanctified lives are a response to Jesus' love, and don't make sense apart from it.)

What I'm trying to say is that marriage means something completely different to a Christian and to a non-Christian. To a Christian, the function of marriage is to emulate - and point to - the divine love relationship between Christ and the Church. To a non-Christian, marriage has served a myriad of functions over the centuries. To keep wealth within the family name, to establish households... in this age, it's often little more than a symbol of love.

If a Christian's idea of marriage points to Jesus through the couple and a non-Christian's idea of marriage points only to the couple, i.e. their fundamental views on marriage are very different, a Christian and non-Christian may unite themselves under a marriage pact, but have extremely different terms and assumptions inwardly. One's authority over the marriage is Christ; one is each other. How can one unite themselves so profoundly with another when their understanding of this unity is so different?

-
Of course, there are a whole host of other reasons against the uniting of souls between a Christian and a non-Christian. In my view, how can I so profoundly unite myself with someone who cannot share my greatest joy, my deepest love, and the core of my identity? Etc etc, perhaps one day I'll have the time for a longer blog post.

* I know a lot of people who call themselves Christian don't practise these things in real life. I'm not concerned with those people. A Christian is by definition a "little Christ". A true follower of Christ is led by Him.

May 31, 2017

perpetual summer

for kevin

Summers have always been difficult for Yale-NUS students. You spend the bulk of the year living, sleeping, eating and learning with the same bunch of people, and then for three months you don't. It's difficult to transition from hectic 8am-3am days, eating in the dining hall and readings-rushing in any available classroom with everyone you know and love, to waking up in the middle of day to an empty house and having absolutely nothing to do. Your friends have become your family, and then all of a sudden you have to part. The summer of our first year in college, I was set to spend six weeks in the States. The night before, you Sau and me stood at Botanic Gardens MRT after dinner, not really knowing how to say goodbye. We had been around each other almost every day for nearly two years. I gave you a very, very long hug, so long that she politely walked away.

Three days ago at Class Day, an hour after it was slated to have ended, the crowd was finally beginning to thin. We took a seat by the side and watched the rest. "Karen, I'm going to be so lonely after this," you said. "No, you won't be. We'll continue to meet up. We're both still unemployed anyway." You chuckled.

Two days ago on the day of commencement, Sau's dad got the three of us to take a photo together. Sau said "Kevin you have to make that sian face." "For what!" "You always makes that face," Sau replied, to which you and I both corrected her: you always make that face to us, because we and only we are your annoying little sisters. We're the ones who started your fanclub and refuse to let it die; we're the ones who run to you with squeezes and squeals. You're generally a nice laughy chatty guy to other people, but only we have the privilege of being given the look of exasperation.

You smiled for the picture instead, and put your arms around us. "I'm a changed man," you said. After it was taken you lingered two seconds longer with a tighter squeeze, bittersweet: "ahh, my little sisters!" You let go a bit too soon, and then the moment was over, and we parted ways to take pictures with other people.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in your room reading. Passport came over for a while to watch you play Overwatch before his flight at 9.20pm. I made us instant noodles with eggs, and eventually I got sleepy, so I took a nap on your bed while you and he chatted about his grad school plans and you continued doing whatever it is one does on Overwatch. Then he played for a bit, and then I drifted off. I woke up to quiet. "Oh, he left?" "He left for the airport," you said. "He cried. I teared up too. Stupid... stupid world..."

You and I were supposed to hang out sometime today after lunch, because we hadn't had the chance to chat in twelve hours, and a significant deal had happened since then. (I got a job offer, for one, but I thought the job would suit him better, and I'm sure they'd consider taking him in too.) But right after lunch you had to pack, and I set to crafting my portfolio, and the hangout never materialised. I made a quick trip to the SRC at 6pm, texting our three-way group chat about dinner plans on the way. Sau said she had to eat with her family, and you said the same. I spotted you walking towards the gate on the way back, and playfully shouted your name just for fun, as I always do. A pause. I casually asked if you'd gotten the trolley back. You said yes, it was with Sau now. I said okay. I took a better look at you, and realised you weren't walking anymore. You were leaning on the railing, looking somewhere past me. When I reached you you said "I'm leaving." I didn't realise you meant forever - and that I, too, was leaving forever - and it hit me just a little bit when you wiped your red eyes. You gave me a hug. You were sniffing.

"We'll still meet up," you said, and I replied "of course we will." We let go too soon. Your parents were waiting. You walked away.

I am sitting in my dorm room as I type this, my stuff still all over the place. We move out every summer, and it's never easy to say goodbye to my room. I've accomplished the incredible feat of moving everything in and out of college before - three times before, to be exact - but now I will pack and lug my things to the lift lobby and bring it all down to the car for the last time. This is the perpetual summer. We will have two rooms' worth of stuff in our bedrooms at home and we can no longer turn a blind eye to the mess in the reassurance that it's only temporary. Tomorrow we will wake up to an empty house, our parents having left for work, and the daylight will engulf us in a profound sense of purposelessness. And then eventually we'll get internships or jobs, but not just for a couple of months this time. This is the perpetual summer, and then a year will pass, and two, and maybe you and i will find Significant Others, and then in years to come we'll get married and move out.

Until then, we'll remain #overlyattachedync. We will crash Josh-Anshuman-Yihao's and Peiyun-Nia's apartments. We'll call for breakfasts and lunches and dinners and movie screenings and karaoke sessions and board game nights. We'll hang out at Island Creamery, or Holland V, or maybe even back in school. We'll find new ways to chill. We'll rage against the dying of the light. This is the perpetual summer.


postscript:
Thank you
That was really nice
But I was sniffing because I was allergic to the dust in my room LOL

Mar 19, 2017

cat day 3



2016-03-01, with minor edits 2017-03-19. chanced upon this and realised it fits with the things that i've been thinking about recently. 

dear cat,

it has taken you a while but you’re finally comfortable with me. on day 1 you peed in terror of seeing So Many People, and for two days you refused to eat. yesterday you hid in the cabinet, refused to let me near, until you realised i gave really good neck scratches. today you climbed into my lap because i was eating something. you look at me with familiarity today. now you fall so easily into the rub-my-belly roll.

today is hell day, rush everything day, and yet i keep getting distracted by you. you lie in bed, sit on the windowsill, a picture of zen. it is so unfair how you just get to lie around in bed all day. i come back from class feeling so frustrated at myself and there you are just lying there. sort of reminds me of the afternoons i napped on k’s bed while he gamed. that serenity in mere company.

dear cat, it is so unfair that you get to be so unreservedly affectionate. i have forgotten what affection is. it has been many years since i fell into a comfortable sort of affection. and those moments were always rare even then. but you, you just curl up on laps and let your tail cling to legs as you walk by. you don’t have to worry about Boundaries and Hormones and Keeping A Healthy Distance Because You Don’t Want Them To Get The Wrong Idea. you just come, and rub your head against my hand, and lie down. and you bring people into that space, guard down comfortable. these couple of days i am covered in cat fur.

we city humans are suffering from an epidemic of loneliness. we have alienated ourselves from others, lost that healthy companionship and physical affection with other humans in true community and philia. a couple of days ago, upon acquiring my new roommate (and you), i marvelled at how accustomed i have become to being on my own. there is that safety in solitude, and also an impenetrability. what would it be like to have your world so intimately integrated with someone else’s? for two people - lovers, friends, siblings - to be in sync, to be connected every moment of the day, an oasis, a safe little world just for yourselves even if you were continents apart. i have forgotten what that is like. even in all the other interactions there has always been this...gap, between my world and the other's. this not being entirely comfortable, entirely trusting, this lack of a sense of home. yet God says to trust him. two weeks ago my church leader told me that God wanted to reassure me that the effort I was putting in, and my expectations, would not go to waste. and that God is more than enough for me. last week Ben said that God was telling me that His love will saturate my heart, and i will see one day that the cracks were there for a reason. these people don't know what i've been going through, but God led their hearts through my concrete walls. in these days when my heart is a gulf apart from His, He still finds a way in through my friends, and i can only take the word of God in faith.

Mar 10, 2017

matrix

i am a wanderer in the desert gone too far from the oasis. it is too much to ask of me to go back. i have been running to mirages, glistening dark splendour. please stay. please stay. the illusion slips through my fingers and i crumple to the floor again.

awakening is a return to emptiness. what is left now but the same old, the stale silent heat and the brutal indifference of the sand and the expanse that goes on forever. early on warning bells went off in my head: i saw too many parallels between you and him - in who you were, and in how i began to put my heart at your feet. i didn't want to let myself make the same mistake again but the mirage glistened and soon the illusion became too beautiful to stay where i was. i let myself be drawn in. protected it. defended it. i knew it for what it was, but i didn't let myself give in to reality. let me live this lie. let me pretend. glimpses of truth showed themselves from time to time: the scaffolding of my sky would begin to show its cracks, its tears, its glitches, and i grew afraid, i didn't want to see. i learnt to identify those dangerous moments of realisation, and to dip my head at the right times.

my afternoons are too free. i lie in bed, stare at the lights, and it comes back to me: what now? who will catch you? and who cares if you exist? you are completely alone, an insignificant blip, there is no one around to notice or catch you if you fall. other people are only mirages, illusions you run to, code-generated avatars that do not care.

seal yourself up in airtight solitude. master the art of being smilingly indifferent; only then can you appreciate the mirages.


Mar 9, 2017

triggers

today a guest speaker loosely brought up an example to illustrate a point in which suicide was implied. something about using your freedom of walking to walk to the top of a building and jump off, thereby ending your freedom to walk or to do anything at all. i was like, ouch. he probably doesn't know what happened a few months back. probably not the best thing to say.

the conversation went on and i had a question i really wanted to ask. raised my hand the same time as theo, who was sitting beside me. theo went first. the whole time he was speaking i was trying to clear my mind. partly nerves about speaking up, perhaps. partly trying not to think of the thing. the more i tried not to think about it the more my heart raced. as the speaker answered his question i decided to type it out instead. couldn't speak. would have cried.

dear fondler of the world

so i received a screenshot of a chat between a friend of mine and another girl who had been hit on by you, that she and another girl were walking out of the lecture theatre when they saw you and the other girl rolled her eyes and got all annoyed. she had been hit on by you too. and then it came to light that some other girl had also been hit on by you. not just the entire poly batch of girls, then, but uni too. this friend of mine had also been hit on by you. i was the last one to be hit on by you, i think, before you finally turned around and got back together with the one girl.


you are so

lucky

that a large portion of these girls generally keep your encounters with them to themselves, because they are nice. well not everyone has kept it to themselves. there are some girls who tell everyone else. there was once i asked dennis if he knew you and his reaction was instinctively one of distaste. later on he had a more measured response about how you had hit on his friend but he guessed it “didn’t work out”. (i chuckled to myself then. i guess that was a charitable way of putting it.)

there was once we were having beer in my suite, her her him and me, and we the three girls came to a realisation that we had all been hit on by you at one point. that was quite funny. the only boy in the room was a little awkward. he had known you. he was there at the mixer with you and me, after which you were trying so much to hold my hand that he got uncomfortable and walked away.

how do you feel, serial fondler, that everyone knows? i guess you don’t realise that everyone knows, or that so many are still reeling from the hurt, because they don’t make it known to you. but as she said, if everyone you had ever hurt came to your wedding, it’d fill the church.

Mar 6, 2017

bondservant

Two summers ago, I was in Indonesia for a five-week teaching volunteer internship stint. I was miserable. Just days before departing, I had walked past a girl who looked extremely stoned, whose shirt was unbuttoned to reveal her bra, and a boy who was calling a friend for help over the phone in urgent tones. A thought hit me: why am I going overseas to volunteer, when needs abound right here? I arrived, unprepared and unmotivated, to thirteen volunteers and barely any students because it was Ramadan; the fan broken; the little house steaming in the humidity.

The other volunteers were very different from me, and I couldn't care less for their conversation topics, which comprised little other than sitcoms, parties, alcohol, weed and sex. I was bored out of my wits. I had just come from two incredible church camps, in which I had felt so inspired and rejuvenated spiritually. I was all ready to take a deeper step in worship, spend more time in communion with Him alone in my room, and meet with ministry partners and mentees to edify them. Instead I was whisked off to a centre whose fellow volunteers I couldn't connect with, in a culture so foreign, prayers blaring in a language I didn't understand every dawn and dusk. It just wasn't the right time for me, and I wasn't ready for it. I felt like an alien longing for home.

One Sunday afternoon, I sat in Classroom One, the air bathed in yellow sunlight, listening to Christian music and writing in my diary about how homesick and lonely I was.

I've been waiting 11 days for this morning - the day I get to go to church, where I am free to worship and pray, be with God and His people. But alas - 2.5 out of the 3 songs were in Indonesian, and the Chinese lyrics were in 繁体字. And the translator's Chinese pronunciation was so different, completely unintelligible to me. I couldn't understand anything of the sermon, except that the main text was from Ezekiel 37, the passage about dry bones. Relevant to how I was feeling right then, sitting in the pew all frustrated.

But I was reading "Jesus Among Other Gods" yesterday, and there's a quote: 


"Abraham saw his home as temporary but his worship is permanent. Now, on the run, Jacob was homeless and altarless. When he reached a place called Luz, he slept with a stone for a pillow. Even for a desert dweller, that was rough. // And while he slept, the Lord came to him in a dream...he thought to himself, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it... How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of Heaven.' Jacob took the stone pillow and left it as a marker in the place he was now going to call Bethel - meaning, 'the house of God.'"


Even as I feel homeless and altarless, this place is where God is, too. Bethel is within me. Even when a church cannot meet my needs, Bethel is here. 


I'll have to work out Bethel for myself now. Today I discovered that mornings in the centre are peaceful and empty, and I can utilise them. Find my own way to worship here, listen to sermons online, feed myself. Bethel is within me.


I really miss God, the freedom of worshipping and being with Him. Isaac sent me this song quote yesterday: "Don't turn away from me, for My love won't be undone / Don't hide your face from me, for My light has surely come / Lift up your eyes and see, Heaven is closer than you know / Lift up your voice and sing, know that My love won't let you go, and I won't forsake you."


As I was writing this, Your Presence Is Heaven started playing on YouTube and for some reason I truly felt the presence of Heaven come upon me at that moment. I felt a divine peace embrace me. True tranquility, and the world seemed different. Still.

There was one other girl, Denise, sitting at the table behind me. I had just found out that morning that she was Catholic, but hadn't gone to church since coming to the centre. The peace of God blossoming in my heart, I decided to turn around and ask if I could pray for her. And she said "sure", and I did, led by the Holy Spirit: I thanked God for blessing her with her family (and I felt God in me point out her sister in particular, but I thought, "What? What if she doesn't have a sister? That'd be a weird thing to say, I don't dare say it" - but I later found out that she did indeed have a sister!! Don't doubt your prophecies! Speak in faith!!!), and I prayed that God would show her beautiful things of Him, and draw her closer to Himself in Thailand where she was headed the following week*. By the end of it I was the one in tears.

"Oh- you're crying!!"

It was simply so precious to be able to pray for another Christian at last. Some semblance of Christian community, some spirit of communion. Finally, what was within me had an outlet. I had been texting and Skyping my friends back home the whole time, though, so why was this different? Perhaps it was the feeling of being a channel through which God was flowing. Finally, new anointing, new oil running through me. Finally being able to do ministry, being able to speak the word of God. Once, Evannia got me to write down all the moments where I felt that God's presence had been undeniable in my life, and I realised it was always when I was praying for other people that God showed me what was on His heart, whether through an absurd yet accurate prophecy or through an image of sheer love and purity.


I was reminded of all this today as I sat in church. It wasn't related to what was being preached at all, but God reminded me of this in relation to something that was prophesied over me in my new cell group two days ago. My leader had said that now was the time for me to make a decision about being God's bondservant, dedicating my life entirely to Him; it was time to stop having one foot out the door. It has been hard. Following a friend's death last year, I've been having a hard time trusting in God's tenderness and goodness; I've been fearing the next heartache He would bring. What more might He lead me through, if I surrender all to Him as I did before? Today I remember that Sunday afternoon two years ago, how liberating it was to release God's spirit in community, in ministry. The taste of God, the sweetness of ministry is something I cannot do without. I feel homesick and utterly alone without it. I must be bound to Christ. I cannot live any other way.

--

* This, too, was a prophecy! The Thailand volunteering stint that she had planned was extremely unfulfilling for her, so she decided to leave the place prematurely, and she went instead to a Catholic charity home for children with disabilities, run by nuns. She was able to go to Mass every week and teach catechism classes. When she was there, she texted me sounding all happy and grateful, and declared that my prayer had worked.

Mar 3, 2017

To want to be wanted

is different from desiring to feel needed or wishing to be loved. It is a little more sinister, a little more rough. It starts with a kiss on her mouth and becomes a bite on her neck and it ends with her fingernails in your waist, clinging, pleading. There is something cruel about it. Something erotically sublime in its ravishing brutality, in the way she will grip the back of your head and clutch your hair, in the way she will cry. You want her to cry, for you. It's a sort of power. It fills you up, gives you more than you need. You have been feeling very empty.

-

The truth is that people feel things towards other people, and the same people don't necessarily feel for each other. Also people don't always know what they're feeling, and they mix it up with love; and just because they know it's bad or hopeless doesn't stop them from feeling. Ultimately many people are just very lonely. And what can be done about that? To make friends with a man in the sky; to find oneness with the world, in the grass, in the trees; to swear yourself to another person for the comfort of having her around; to admit the fact, snap a picture and play the game that everyone else is playing, a carousel of masqueraders. swipe. swipe. a chat. a dinner. a play. hands. a kiss. sex. we pretend, we let their interest in us give us the tingles, make us feel wanted. "it's not love. no one's kidding themselves."

What if you wake up one day and look in the mirror and you see the lie that it is, but also that you've let yourself waste away from atrophy, that you're not the whole you used to be. That you're skin and bones, but it'd be too painful now to tear yourself off the lover you've been feeding on. It's been too long; the wound would be too large. You'd never heal. You can't ever be yourself anymore, but it's better to have crutches than nothing. What if you wake up one day and wonder, what if I had stuck it through? Waited until you found what you deserved. And maybe it would never come, but at least you'd have allowed yourself enough pride not to settle out of fear.


evening drizzle

1.
i was feeling rather mellow,
so i took a nap
to reset my emotions.

but i dreamt you had asked her for a dance
so your name was on my tongue when i awoke
one and a half hours late.

2.
i move between joy and grief
grief and joy

joy in the wine
and grief in the waking

3.
下雨天–南拳妈妈


4.
“Love is a joint experience between two persons–but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world - a world intense and strange, complete in himself…

Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else - but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit… Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being loved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”

–"The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," Carson McCullers

4.
a considerable silence. the end of a conversation topic. i feel it coming, somewhere in my lungs, somewhere towards the back of my brain, something i want to bring up but shouldn't, it'll only be dismissed. besides, what would i say? something trivial, anything, in place of it.

the train of words resumes where it left off.

5.
evening sun–jon bryant


Feb 11, 2017

redemption

seal up. arms to your chest, guarded. you are a princess. don't prostitute your words; they are jewels; don't give them out any old how. don't use 'love': it means too much. you cheapen it by offering it like a door gift. you don't mean it. what you mean is the blank around the word, utterly empty, like outer space devoid of atmosphere. reach out and seize the word, save it from the vacuum. keep it in a box under lock and key, to be revisited only when one is true. let the Lord cradle it, put your precious in His arms. and you, return to your chamber.

Feb 5, 2017

a violin's screech

"sometimes the devil can seem so close to you, like your very own thoughts"
"what if the devil is right?"

"he's only a liar."


there are demons in me, i think. not literally - that would be too easy. they say things about myself that i don't mean, but that ring true. the demon is me.

i am a fucktard / i wish i could disappear 

this is the start of my descent. my existence is shameful, foolish. and i can't even hide it like others can. if hands could wrap around my face and smother me into unthinking liminality. i don't have the time to drink.

dear Lord Jesus, i am so done

Feb 3, 2017

wild iris

i have three letters stuck on my wall, "HNH", for my baptism name. one of the letters fell off last week. another fell today. all the post-its are becoming unsticky, fluttering to the floor.

if only we could save ourselves, things would be so much easier. we humans need a little breaking to remember.

i heard the snake was baffled by his sin / he shed his scales to find the snake within

i looked away for an instant, and my heart ran itself full again: crush, crush, crush it, until it is a crumpled writhing cockroach on the floor. until it has no more air in itself, until the last shred of hope has expired like a breath.

i am uniquely
suited to praise you. then why
torment me?

a word makes me tremble. a thought makes me cry. i think my current levels of instability warrant me a break but the looming numbers barrel towards me and i must not leave my seat; yet my mind flies away, dives into itself-

you only give it when it doesn't matter. when it mattered you pushed my hand away. remember? i did know, right from the start, what it was not. i was just selfish. the sky is friendly when it has nothing to offer; when an unsearchable, heart-wrenching Glory hides behind it it becomes a dividing and indifferent blue.

is pain
your gift to make me
conscious in my need of you, as though
i must need you to worship you,
or have you abandoned me in favor of the field, the stoic lambs turning
silver in twilight;

late spring passed too soon, gave way to summer, the undeniable glare of glory in your face; but now the little flower is dead, sticky, rank, the petals have dropped off; now it's only a greenish-brown stalk and it sticks out like an awkward growth spurt that came before it was due-

i dread eating, fear the night, lament the long afternoon hours, despise my face. a cog in my machine is missing; i cling on to whatever will keep me functioning; the awkward silences through the day give away the fact that something is broken and i am simply desperate to cling on to whatever will help me survive. any human presence. any thing to do. anything to stop my mind from the songs and the spiral of inward-looking anger.

i worked against me. did i kill it? now, forever? is faith valid when you screw up the plan?


--
i am a dull seed buried in the soil. i must die, die, but somehow he has the mercy to preserve a tiny pocket of air. i curl up in the husk to make space. it sits with me. i open my eyes to darkness, to solid damp weight. i must push against the earth, find the strength for god knows how long, until my head comes to the light heavens.

Jan 23, 2017

song of songs II

This is a song of springtime, of a heart in bloom, of a face kissed by God. The darkness has seen the light, and it flees. The light reigns supreme. The glory of day has come down and shone on me, and it has sent me to proclaim it. Yesterday morning I knelt on the floor and laughed and cried and was late for church. This morning I haven't stopped smiling.

"arise, my love,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the flowers appear on the earth,
the time of singing has come..."

Look at what the Lord does to a soul. Look at how the wretch rejoices; look at how the flaccid heart has become full, full, overflowing with the eternal substance. It is a love song, a miracle, heaven touching earth. The beloved is never the same again.

He will restore sevenfold. He has restored. My God, my God, why did I ever doubt. Look at the radiance that flows from his heart. In God there is purpose, there is healing, there is love, and His river will not relent. He knows best. His timing is just right, and we only see it when it is done.

Only God can save. Only God can save. He has saved, and He will. What the devil meant for evil, the Lord has meant for good.

"This song testifies to the divine presence and God's overwhelming effect in the saint's life. Moreover, the poet makes no connection to the anguished songs...the ecstasy of the present moment stands on its own." - F. X. Clooney

Jan 19, 2017

song of songs

there is a song of grief,
of revelation, of awakening to what is true.
it is sung on your bed, curled up. a song of remorse, the child coming back to the Father. it is sung on your knees.
it cannot be learnt. you will know it when it comes.


God, give me a heart of steel,
eyes like eagles, fixed on the sun.
give me feathers,
warm, so i will not fear the loneliness.
i wrap myself with a shawl.

help me find home,
home in your people who share your heart, or help me be okay with empty.
home in the grass, home in solitude, home in my own heart, pour into me.

Dec 16, 2016

i pray you come home

may flowers bloom where you tread. may your voice be a healing balm to those who need it; may your hugs seal tears. may you be mother and sister and friend and as you soothe their hearts with porridge and song may it warm yours too. above all i pray you come back home.

once somebody mused about the beauty of cathedrals to a friend, and she replied, "if it feels like home, go home." i pray that in those stained glass windows and white carved walls you find again your greatest love. that you will remember the locket with the saints you used to wear, and that you will ache to finger it again. i remember the days where you glowed with a pure, peaceful love, amidst all the brokenness on either side of you. you showed me your book of prayers and taught me to say them together with you. love radiated from your soul and you were the mother of the world, of all the broken and poor. He gave you that grace, that anointing, over people and animals alike.

i pray that tonight you remember those days. that He will open the door to His heart and invite you in, that He will lead you into his rose garden and dance with you there. that as you hold His hands and fall in step with Him, you will taste again of His sweetness. dear child, beloved daughter, come home to His arms; find yourself again in Him.

Dec 8, 2016

prone to wander

I.

a high achiever, everything you ever wanted to be. sporty, pretty, slim, intelligent, kind-hearted, humble. a steady woman of faith. she reads and reads. prays up a storm. but her light has dimmed lately. she went for meetings about revival, about the work of God, but she cannot get herself excited about it. things are happening around her but her heart has been dulled. people mistake it for complacency, nonchalance, that she cannot be bothered with the things of God, but it's not her fault, she cannot help the fact that her sponge has become a weight. grey stale water. try as she might she cannot swim out of the murkiness. but she clings to the lifebuoy that will keep her afloat. she will hold on with all her strength.

II.

it was all steady until the pillar of faith came crashing down. distrust: i didn't think you would do that to me. backed out, whimpering. if the journey of faith were a journey at sea, on her boat some dark fugitives have taken refuge: anger, disappointment, envy, hurt, and fear, an insurmountable mass of fear. she flees. she wants to do all that will disregard God. she toys with the desires in her mind. but try as she might she cannot shake off her conscience. she knows that ultimately she must make a choice: to believe in eternity, and therefore put on holiness, or to believe in nothing, and therefore that life is as meaningless as death, and oh, how she would like to die, but with death there are no second chances. but she hates it all. she wants to run. run, dear, just run. every daughter has her tantrums. be secure that you are safe in the knowledge that you are still His child.

(but i am still a good child, yes? i have not given up the faith. look, i still pray to overcome sin. i still do the work of God when He calls me, minister to people. i still live as His messenger. i am still not giving in to my own desires, even in my rebellion. i am not beyond saving. i haven't lost it. i'm not lukewarm. right?)

the point is that even without all of this, He still loves you with an everlasting love, as he loves the next sinner.

III.

"For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."

"I saw that post-it on your wall just now, you know, and for a split second I thought oh that's pretty, I should take a picture of it and put it on Instagram. And then the sourness came back, no, I'm running away. And instantly the thought vanished. And it all happened so quickly. It was such a trivial thing. I forgot it happened until you brought up the verse again.

I want to have nothing to do with God. All these God things I want to avoid it. Just now when I was on my way here a fleeting thought came to mind, 'don't talk about God at all ah. Stay away from the topic.' And here I am now, crying. You know, I used to be a cell group leader in my previous place. I would read all these books and pray with all the girls and always talk about God. I would get all these visions. I was always talking about God. They called me the God girl. And then now, because of all this, look at where I am. I just cannot shake off my conscience. I know I'm not going to stop dating her, I feel like I have to choose between her and God."

but you have heard before that the worst thing you can do is to stop talking to your Father. you know that He has known your whole life, and any debt has been paid in full. He will wait for you. soak in that love again, and the love will show you where you need to go. you do not need to repent on thorns, resentful and bitter, hating God for being a tyrant against your happiness. let Love carry you. He will only accept a willing offering after all, one given in the knowledge of joy and assurance of hope.

Dec 6, 2016

海阔天空

i still don’t get how he is dead; in every picture and in every video and memory he is so alive, so very very alive.

i was watching old videos on facebook again. carissa and janel summoning an army of singers and filling the corridors of rc4 with christmas carols; open mics; the wondergirls singing 'nobody' with master chun at our orientation in yale with evan banging out a brilliant accompaniment on the piano; bursting into MRTs with NDP songs on singapore's 50th birthday. i am reminded of the wallets' exhilarating chandler's wife performance, mahjong cny parties, sleepovers at the common lounge. man, we were so full of life in our earlier college years. remember our weekly meetups even before college started? winning third place at our first trivia night at brewerkz? watching les mis together? there was so much love. and remember when josh was annoyed that someone stole his cup noodles and he posted on our facebook page and he came back to four cups of noodles left by classmates at his door. even in the difficult times our community worked through the issues together. these are the best days. those were the best days. one of my favourite memories is of y'all uncles dressed like absolute toots and performing 对面的女孩看过来, complete with props: a fly swatter, a harmonica, a flower. after that we all went crazy over the photo of carissa and abel holding hands when they were kids.

following your death a little over two months ago we were jolted out of our studious hermitage. we were reminded that this community is a family and we needed to stick together. we had some fun even during finals week. we studied together, senior study party. we had a steamboat at sau's, which was fun. after the elm formal, in which none of the friends i was intending to go with had ended up going, i was restless and grabbed a few friends and we all just hung out in dylan's room and had a great time just chatting. i miss us, and i will miss us. i wonder, had our community remembered to keep tight and have fun in these later years, if you would have been more in joy than in loneliness.

Dec 3, 2016

words?

I love words. Words strung beautifully carry a sort of weight, a flavour-enhancer, that helps you say the ordinary thing in a way that makes the heart stir. I wish I could write the way you do, midnight blue glass beads, compact words sealed tight that lead me to pause and cup my face in my hands and cry. I wish my words could do that. To you. To anyone. Lead people into that secret world, golden hues, still veiled but not too cautiously. To have words so beautiful they make a heart bleed.


I wonder what you get out of writing. I wonder what writers get out of writing. For me, it's what I need to express myself. It untangles the grey rainy mess of emotions into coherent threads, turns it into something pretty, and when I see it as such my burden is lifted. All the weight in my heart has become that pretty thing, a colourful little bird with a melody, and I can click "Publish" and see it fly off into cyberspace, and it brings closure to the pain of the moment. That's why I need to write.

Why do you write?

Nov 27, 2016

when you're gone

whenever i walk past the place, i always look up and imagine you falling, falling, stopped. once i counted the floors. today i remembered your mum saying that the wind carried you, that God was merciful, because you'd have landed on the concrete otherwise. sarah told me that a few days ago mannie left a flower where you died. i miss you. and i hope you are well, that a heaven exists so that it can exist for you.

Nov 12, 2016

天冷就回来



i push open the window.
the wind plays at my ankles, it tickles my feet
as i behold the world below.

a breath. a leap. i go
i fall, i fall, i fall
and then i soar, i soar,
flying towards the arms of my Father
my fate sealed forevermore.

my gaze transfixed on the glorious heaven, it requires strength to look away
but i steal a gaze backward, back on the once-me lying in a bush.
people are gathered over the body. they are crying, one's hand is over his mouth and my mother is wailing but i don't understand,
don't they know, can't they see, how happy i am now?
look, ma, look! look i'm soaring, my body is made new. no grazes, no cuts.
the dishevelled me you are sobbing over, the hand unnaturally twisted and the eyes rolled back,
that is not me. that you once knew, but now i am here, i am flying to the Father, ma.
I am safe now. I am loved. In this place there is freedom and joy.



Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallow'd in, a score?
When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And, having done that, thou hast done;
I fear no more.

- A Hymn to God the Father, John Donne