Mar 28, 2013

the earth shall soon dissolve like snow

Aunt Lilian said it was time, because she was eight now, and she would understand. Aunty brought her to the white chapel and she was taken away by the high ceiling and stained glass and resounding song. They taught her that she had another father called God in the sky, and those who believed in Him would see Him when they died. It was a place called Heaven, more beautiful than anything she could ever imagine, and she would never feel lonely or sad. It was full of lovely people who would love her and never make her cry. It was always happy.

Those who did not go to church did not go to this pretty place after they died. They would go to a land of fire and torment. It was called hell, and it was red and black and full of the screams of pain. There, everyone was sad and angry, and there was no way of getting out, forever. Hell made her cry.

She liked the idea of this other Father who loved her, and went home to tell her parents so. They dismissed her, the young girl who didn't know better; they told her she only had one father, and he was here right in front of her. Don't waste your time going to church to play with the kids there, they said. Stay home and do your work.

No, daddy, she said, starting to get fearful. If you don't love God you will go to a bad fiery place called Hell. Hell was not for good people, but in order to get to Heaven you had to believe in God. Daddy, I won't like Heaven without you. The little girl wasn't happy anymore. She was pleading now, pleading, terrified, desperate to know that her parents would follow her to the happy place.

They laughed it off, stroking her hair, holding her close, telling her not to worry about such things; she was only eight and death was far away.

She was scared now. Mummy and daddy weren't listening to her, but she didn't want her parents to go to Hell, because they were nice people and they didn't belong there.

She went back the next week in tears, clinging to Aunt Lilian, pleading for her to make her parents come to church and know her Father, too, but they never came.

She grew in her knowledge and love of the Lord, and every week she tried, she tried with all her might to get her parents to see what she had seen: the simple, pure love of a Father who loved. But they never came. One day they got tired of her persuading and snapped: look, we don't care what you do on Sundays, but if you try and make us go with you one more time, we're throwing you out of the house.

Liddy was ten.

She shut herself away. In school, she sat in class and tearfully looked at the people she counted as her friends one by one: 'she's Christian; she's going to heaven.' 'he's not.' 'she's not.' 'she's really snotty sometimes, but she knows God, too.' 'she doesn't.' 'she doesn't.' 'my best friend doesn't know God.'

She shut herself away. She couldn't deal with the pain of loving people who were going to Hell in the end. Secondary school came and she put herself in a Methodist school; there she made the most beautiful friends, and she knew they would truly last forever. But at home she was a stone. She had to shut herself away. Be a cold as ice and as hard as rock, do not love them, because they won't be with you after they die and they'll break your heart.

She closed herself off from the rest of the world. What else could she do? She was young and full of affection for everyone; she couldn't bear to know that these beautiful people who didn't know God were going to a place of fire and death.

One day, she snapped. God, look at these beautiful people, she said. Look at these lovely people with hearts of gold. They are good, and they have pure hearts, you can't blame them for having hearts that didn't understand You. Only You bring people to You, so why don't you open their hearts? Why is it their fault that they're going to Hell? My parents, Daddy God, I want my parents to be with me forever. You say you created all of us. You love us. If you love my parents why are you sending them to Hell just because You didn't open their hearts to Yourself? I don't understand. I don't understand why you say you love us.

Then try again, a stirring voice in her heart said. Try again; you know My burden now, so go out there and bring My people back to Me.

My only poetic attempt

5. Please write a poem on the theme of mirrors, using the following form: one stanza of 7 lines, each line having exactly 7 syllables, followed by one stanza of 8 lines each of 8 syllables. Do not use any adjectives, and do not spend more than 45 minutes on the exercise. 

I hate myself. A friend is
one you trust, who allows you
to see who you really are.
People think I am a friend,
trust me with all their hearts; they
think I reveal the truth, but
I lie, I lie all the time.

An angel runs over to me
to escape the taunts of witches.
Get away, I only tell lies;
but still she looks into my eyes.
I want to reveal the beauty
inside, but she can't see past her
freckles, the redness of her eyes.
And I curse myself as she cries.

Mar 27, 2013


You can't expect her to know when to stop. They hand them to her and she takes one shot for every guy who has touched her only to leave with a part of her soul. She gives herself away like the worst kind, but she'll never stop; she can't, there's no point, so much of her has been ripped away already. Your soul can't regenerate; once a piece of it is lost it's lost forever, clinging to the feet of yet another, someone you thought would give you warmth that lasted longer than the moment.

She thinks of the six-in-the-mornings; she rolls over, her head nestling against his back, and he's stirred awake and he sees her again, just a stranger asking for more than he paid for in her drink. Walks out the front door, and she sees a little part of herself stuck onto the underside of his shoe; he drags her soul out to the sidewalk.

Him is a thousand hims, a collective; they used to have names and faces and the kind of memories that made your spine chill, shiver with heart-trembling intimacy. But they were too painful to keep, and she realised that the more she remembered each chance at love, the bigger a piece of her soul they tore away. You can't grow it back. It doesn't heal; the rip remains red and raw.

Force herself to be numb to the pain. That's the only way to go on. She's lost too much; there's no point turning back, no point wishing she could be made whole again. Here's another shot for the one who explored the whispers of the bushes with her when she was fifteen. Who smoothed over every rise and filled every crevice. Who moved with her every breath.

Here's a shot for the one who was just waiting for her to knock herself out so that he could have her, and she knew it was what he wanted, and she gave it to him, because he might have been the one not to let go after that, but he left. Another shred of her soul.

Here's the one for the one boy who was good. Who tried to hold her hand and tell her she had more beauty in her than she thought. She thought he was one of the rest, who wanted her before they would look at her seriously, so she gave him what they wanted. He was a good guy. He had run away in the night; she heard his sobs when he woke up and realised it was done. Here's for the one who was good. He still took a piece of her when he left - a bigger piece than the rest.

She knows she's on the floor now, the marble that feels like home. Some of them are bending over to take an amused look. Go on. Look. Look at her, she wants you to come and join her. Show her you won't walk away.

She wants you to touch her. She wants it. Look at her eyes. Touch her, give her the electricity that tells her there's hope. Stop refusing, she's scared, like they don't want even the least of her anymore. You're making her worried. You're making her cry.

What's right might not be right

Had a short lesson on erroneous faith teachings, and here are a few good points: (will keep it short)

1. Even if it seems like a good thing, if it isn't in the will of God, it shouldn't be done.

Do you realise that out of all the sick people by the pool of Bethesda, Jesus only healed one man? That He didn't heal the lame man at the gate of the temple? Jesus went according to what the Father moved Him to do. When God remained silent, Jesus didn't presume that the time was perfect for the work.

In 2 Kings 20, when God told the godly king Hezekiah, who was sick and dying, that his time on Earth was almost up, he didn't want to die so he prayed to God in tears that he would live longer. God did hear his prayer and decided to grant him fifteen more years, but they were bad years, years of mistakes that only made him a more sinful man.

Always remember that we act in faith in response to God's own INITIATIVE. Something that seems logically good might not be in the will of God. Not everything in the Bible given to individuals is also specifically for you and me.

Exodus 33:15 If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.

(Also, a point to note: Good, godly men who are honoured by God can also get sick to the point of death. God heals, but He's also sovereign over what happens to our lives. Timothy was sick (1 Tim 5:23). Paul was sick (Gal 4:13). Even Elisha died of sickness (2 Kings 13:14). I once heard a pastor (of a certain church that I really respected and loved) talk about how this guy had fallen ill with cancer, and how if he had been a Christian, he might not have gotten it. I was like WOAH. Christians do fall sick too, and more often than not, it has nothing to do with lack of faith or deviance from God.)

2. Just because God can do it for you, it doesn't mean He will.
He is still sovereign. He has the ability to make 'all grace' abound towards us, but maybe He has something better in store for the development of our character. So? Does it mean we stop trusting in Him? Do we have faith in the healing, or in the God who heals?

The last one is something I've always believed, and I'm so glad he brought it up:

3. If anyone is fully, entirely certain about his theology, he's probably wrong.
One simple reason. How can a limited, finite man fully comprehend an unlimited, infinite God?

With a lot of things regarding theology, people are extremely aggressive or defensive regarding what they believe. Every theology or concept - all human ways of understanding God - is made up of a zillion major and minor parts. Maybe we're all partly right. Maybe we're all totally wrong. Just because a few minor points are errant (to someone else), it doesn't make the entire concept invalid.

I believe in both evolution and intelligent design. If each were a circle in a Venn diagram, I believe they  are more overlapped than separate. I'm not going to bother explaining it now, but in Genesis, God created the sea creatures, then birds, then land animals, then man - why can't he have formed them all from a single process? Are we limiting His ability? Are we trying to comprehend His own reasoning, and then dismissing the idea when we can't seem to read His mind?

I'm probably wrong. It's okay. I'm open to people's viewpoints, and each person's opinion opens up a whole range of new possibilities. We don't know. It's okay. We have to come to a point where we acknowledge, and are comfortable with, the fact that we don't know it all.

Is God really all that good?

I put up my post on God in the face of tragedy on the Yale-NUS blog, and someone asked:

Why should we allow the possibility that a “good” God exists is greater than the possibility that an “evil” God exists?

Here's my extremely long-winded answer. It probably went off-track somewhere, but it's 2am and I'm in no mood to look at it again and make edits, so here goes.
(Anyway, a lot of other great points to ponder about were raised by other readers. Check them out!)

I assume you mean ‘why should we believe that God is good more than bad?’ and not ‘why should we believe that Jesus is more powerful than Satan?’ It’s pretty obvious in the New Testament that He’s a God of love and compassion, who heals, hears and provides, and who wants us to love, and who rewards those who seek good, and will allow bad things in measured amounts to happen to good people to shape their character, with the reassurance that the true reward lies in Heaven when we return to Him. (I can provide verses for each characteristic I named, if you’d like, but it’s pretty obvious.) So I guess the question is more applicable when looking at the Old Testament, because with the wrath He brings upon people in the Old Testament, and all the deaths recorded, sometimes it’s easy to question.

Firstly, I’d like to reiterate my firm belief that death is nothing but a transition into a different kind of life.

I don’t know why God did some of the things He did in the Old Testament, and I’ve never been to the ‘other side of life’. I’ve have no idea why He killed armies in protection of this one special group of people, and what would’ve happened to the Gentiles in the armies He killed back then – are we not all His children and His creation?

I believe that for people who’ve never heard the gospel, God judges according to their conscience and how they deal with struggles and temptations to do what is right. Perhaps it was that way for the Gentiles of that time, too. I’ve no idea. And sometimes, in the Old Testament, He does seem like this wrathful, ‘evil’ God. I don’t know what happened to the people He killed, especially those in armies opposing ‘His people’, but I think it just goes to show how much God is willing to do protect and bring to victory those who belong to Him.

From what I’ve gathered from the covenant of the Old Testament and the covenant of the New Testament, and keeping in mind that He is ‘the same yesterday, today and forever’, all I can conclude for now is that God has always been a God of justice and judgement; He loves people, because He created them in His image, but He also hates sin. If God is good (and Xi Min introduced me to a new way of seeing that phrase: by making ‘good’ a noun, not just an adjective), and God gives life – physical, spiritual or eternal, then the opposite of God is evil, which translates into death – physical, spiritual or eternal.

And so, for a good God of justice who hated evil, He brought judgement against those who deviated from Him – and therefore, life, in any one of the three forms, or all. I definitely wouldn’t count the people He killed as those He judged, because, again, death is just a transition. And at the same time, the great men recorded in the Old Testament also had their own times of sin, but God forgave those on account of their love for Him.

People in the Old Testament could atone for their sins with animal sacrifices, but it wasn’t a perfect substitution for sin, and so when His own Son died and He put all His judgement and wrath on His own sinless Son, He made a perfect way for us – imperfect, sinful – to reach out to God as His own children. He still hates sin, but with the mark of His son’s blood on our heads, He remembers the stuff He made His son go through for us who are willing to accept the mark of the cross, and lets His own love for Jesus fall upon us who carry His mark.

My point is basically that now that Jesus has died, the God who hates sin is now able to see us sinful men as flawless and righteous, because we have the mark of that perfect sacrifice of a sinless Son. That’s why now, He seems so much less ‘wrathful’ than in the Old Testament times. In the Old Testament, there wasn’t that sacrifice yet, so perhaps, when sinlessness was coupled with deviating away from God’s love, God was less able to see past man’s iniquities. But do remember again that I don’t see death as His judgement!

Then again… Exodus 33:19 ‘Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”‘ and Exodus 34:6-7 ”The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty…”
- how does He choose who to be gracious to? What’s the difference between the ‘guilty’ and those who have ‘iniquity and transgression and sin’? The only difference I can think of is that those He forgives are those who love Him and try to keep a clean life. But I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll learn in time to come.

I hope this helped somewhat! This is just my personal point of view, so don’t hold it against all Christians Anyway, I think a lot of what we can gather about God personally has to come through how He reveals Himself to us personally. I’m a very strong believer in spiritual encounters, and so much of how we see God has to come from what he reveals of Himself to us in these encounters. After all, through the centuries, God has been portrayed as so many different things – from a tough king to a merciful father. We have to find a balance, based on everything we read of His word.

Mar 26, 2013

Take me higher; draw me deeper

- edit: I'm usually not very comfortable with blogging about my personal encounters with God, but I just felt like I should document this - it might help someone, someone like the younger me, and I want to talk about this truthfully, to share it with my Christian friends, just a genuine, open sharing. I might take it down later on if I feel it's too personal to post. God is my own private hiding place, and I'm not so sure about sharing this with everyone. Makes me wish I had a more private blog sometimes. - 

Standing at my seat, hands lifted. My legs are already feeling it, and my mind gets the better of me as usual, imagining a forceful blow to the back of my knees that would send me into a kneeling position, or pain. I discipline my mind. Lord, I know you're a good God, and you won't hurt me, I reason. Be gentle. Be gentle like you are. And I receive the image: He lifts me up, right arm lifting me from the back of my knees, His left arm supporting my back. And I am cradled like a daughter against His chest.

I look at the screen and see people I know and love. It always touches me deeply, sometimes to tears, to see people I'm close to worshipping God and loving Him. Look at this God, not just my God but the God of those I love. And He knows us each intimately, privately, and we all worship Him in the private spaces of our own heart, in a realm only known by Him and each of us individually. Thank you, God, that each of us knows You personally.

Standing in the aisles, a double anointing waiting. God, take away my fear. I tend to have this weird apprehension every time I walk to the front to be laid hands upon, and it results in me not being able to receive much. Lord, look at these anointed people. Let me encounter You today. Let this be my best encounter. Don't draw back. I stare at the edge of the stage, willing my fear away. I don't want this experience to be taken away from me this time. I close my eyes. Feel that strong something in the air. It's not the strong something of His atmosphere that I'm familiar with - the fire - and this seems foreign, but there's something strong there. Soak it in.

Her hand over my wrist, such a woman of love. His hand on my head - was it there? It must have been - but barely, before I seem to trip backward over my own stationary feet and fall. Someone catches me from behind and lets me down slowly, and I curl up on my side and the tears come forcefully, suddenly, inexplicably.

Hello, Jesus.

Usually, I just happen to fall forward on my knees, or kind of trip backward a bit but regain myself before I fall. This is the first time I have fully fallen in the presence and power of the Spirit. But it's only physical. I don't feel it in my spirit, I don't feel the bursting of my soul, the sudden burst of worship, like the most impactful of encounters do.

Lord, an encounter that's only physical isn't as powerful; it doesn't grip my spirit or my heart. But I trust that You're working something within me. Let its effects last longer than the moment. Anoint me. Let others feel You through me, whether it's in my words, my prayer or my love. In the future, I will pray, and Your presence will fill the room, tangible. Let the others know what it means to be in Your Spirit.

And I realise my best encounters were not at church or at a large zone gathering, where a powerful pastor laid hands upon us. My best encounters were always at cell group meetings. Cell meetings - where our leader isn't a powerful pastor or renowned miracle worker - but God is the same and He works through them all. It doesn't matter who imparts the Spirit; He works through every broken vessel, and no one's works mean anything without Him.

I also happen to remember the two times I got pins and needles so bad while worshipping that it even got to my mouth, my forearms, etc. The first time was during the Exco Retreat at Telunas, while I was leading praise and worship at night. It was just a small thing, with Alex on the guitar, but I started to get these insane pins and needles. When they got to my mouth I couldn't open my mouth to sing properly. I probably looked like a fish. The second time was when the congregation was standing and praying. I got pins and needles so bad it spread to my upper arm. I had no idea why. I wonder if it means anything. I mean, who gets pins and needles on their lips while singing?!

Mar 25, 2013


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. 
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover.

I was just looking at pictures of Cotswolds online and felt such a longing to go back to Oxfordshire. I only spent a few hours there when I was in the UK, and didn't take many photos, but shucks, look at these.

I mean, is there anyone living in these places who don't feel like they're in the most beautiful place on Earth? 

So yeah, I started looking back at the trips I made last year. I'm really fortunate to have been able to make three trips to places I've never visited before - what's a gap year for, after all? 

In August, I went to Penang with Maddie to visit Fang Jiunn before he left for the States. I fell in love with their char kuay teow. I mean, my favourite Singapore food was char kuay teow, but visiting Penang ruined Singapore's char kuay teow for me. 
And I also fell in love with their walls. And architecture. 



Oh, and we also tried jetskiing and parasailing!!

Anyway, my Penang album can be viewed HERE. A lot of photos of old pretty walls and buildings and Maddie's back lol.

And then, in October, I went to the UK on my own. 

I went to Oxford first (album HERE), where I stayed with my parent's friends and their family in the countryside. They own a vineyard. I plucked grapes and labelled wine bottles and walked around thatched-roof houses and marvelled at 12th-century churches. The fields were never-ending. I managed to meet Sarah for a while, and she showed me around a few of the Oxford colleges in the city. Oxfordshire's still the most beautiful place I've ever seen, and probably will always be the most beautiful place in my heart. AND I'VE GOTTA SPEND SOME TIME IN COTSWOLDS WHEN I GO BACK.


And when she asked if I'd like to walk the dog around her place with her...


Sorry the photos are so small and annoying; this new Blogger photos thing totally isn't working for me. 

And then I moved on to central London (album HERE), where I stayed with Geraldine for a couple of days - she showed me around, complete budget tourist style - and then in an apartment with Theo when he came! Fed swans with Jia, visited museums (the British Museum is CRAZY) and a few churches and universities, walked and walked, caught One Man, Two Guvnors, caught a Hillsong service with Geri and Jia. But anyway, I've blogged about London before, so I won't spend a lot of time on it here.

Anyway, I think it was during my return to London at the end of the trip that I spent my days more fruitfully. Theo and I spent a lot of time walking around confusedly in search of guitar shops / studios / Abbey Road etc., and we spent too much time at Oxford Street, so I made sure I planned my days well when I spent my last couple of days there. But yeah, I really liked Camden Market and Kensington Gardens. And Hamley's atmosphere was terrific.

And then Theo and I went to Edinburgh (album's the same as the London one), where we stayed at Budget Backpackers (great place! Definitely recommend it) and met Christabel, who graciously spent a lot of time taking us around :). Her Halloween party was fun - Edinburgh dungons oooh - and we sneaked in for a lecture at the University of Edinburgh (I had previously almost accepted their offer for Lit!) and stuff. Oh, and Christabel took us to Livingston, where we went mad at THE designer outlet shopping centre. That's where I got my $50 Fred Perrys. (Oops, now my cheapskate secret's been leaked) We also went for a little jazz performance thingy at St. Giles' Cathedral. Edinburgh's such a lovely place, so much dark history too haha, but gosh, the WIND. 

Oh, and we didn't try haggis / black pudding.


And thennnn Theo left to go back to Singapore since army boys can't take that much leave, and I headed back down to Coventry to visit Jaslyn at my (initial) dream school, the University of Warwick! (album HERE

Two weeks before the A's, I went into panic mode because I hadn't studied at all because of depression rubbish and like I suddenly sprang back up and went WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING. So I printed photos of Warwick and put the paper beside my desk whenever I was doing my essays, to motivate myself. I mean, the pictures of the place were beautiful. And it definitely didn't disappoint. I did a lot of walking in the woods here. And fell. In mud. In the middle of nowhere (actually thankful for that, because no one saw me fall / I hid behind a building to strip). And I started getting this crazy craving for potato chips. Like, I'd finish a big twelve-pack in three days, max.


We also went to Birmingham, but only to shop, and to Royal Leamington Spa to walk around a bit. And I took a six-pound bus ride to Stratford-upon-Avon, because I obviously had to go, being a Lit student who did a Renaissance paper and all! It's a beautiful, quaint place, but extremely Shakeapeareanised.  

And my last stop: back to Barnet (Greater London) and central London itself! (Album HERE)
Okay. Must-visit: Hampstead Heath. The National Gallery was great too! And I managed to catch Phantom of the Opera, which was fantastic.

I stayed with my friend Andrew's godparents. They're pastors, and they conducted street healing at Trafalgar Square when I was there! Because Andrew's godfather used to have imbalanced leg lengths and it got healed on the spot one day when he was prayed for, he was really excited when someone else came up to him with the same problem that day. And you could actually see the leg growing on the spot. He left jumping and praising God.


 Hand of God - Lorenzo Quinn 


My third trip was to Australia with my family and Ivan, because my dad had just finished his Master's at ANU. I've been to Australia before, but never to Canberra and Sydney. We rented a car and drove from Canberra to Sydney, stopping at little places along the way, like Katoomba, Kiama and Wollongong. 
ALBUM HERE (Canberra and Blue Mountains) and HERE (Kiama etc. and Sydney)!

 So we found a random flight of steps leading to dense foresty nothingness and we decided to explore it. And it led to this beautiful little field!

 And my personal favourite part of the trip: the Kiama Blow Hole. Amazing rocks, man. And that's where my blog's header picture was taken!

Okay! Long post! Finally blogged about my holidays, albeit in brief. But it was fantastic. I'm very, very glad I took a gap year - it gave me time to try out different jobs, go to bible school, and travel to new places. I was hoping to travel more on my gap year, but I'm out of cash. Will do a lot more travelling in university!


Mar 24, 2013


Flesh and bone wrapped up in skin
Kept alive by oxygen
But right now breathing is so tough

They say they know what I can feel
And time will find a way to heal
But right now time is not enough 

But then I feel you soaking in; I can feel the blood rushing again 

When it’s too hard and too late
When I’m too tired to run away
When it can't stay the way it was
I need you ‘cause
You smash the trouble I can’t take
And all the pieces of the break

I don’t know how the words you say
Hold a thousands times more weight
Than any word I’ve heard before

But then I feel you soaking in; I can feel the blood rushing again
Through my veins, I can feel the pulse begin to race

When it’s too hard and too late
When I’m too tired to run away
When it can’t stay the way it was
I need you ‘cause
You smash the trouble I can’t take
And all the pieces of the break

Run, run, watch them run away
Fly, fly, make them fly away 

Alone in a crowded room?

So I'm at Jollin's book launch. Her first poetry collection, Bursting Seams, will be available at BooksActually on 19 April. She was reciting her poems and I was just sitting there listening to them and it was so painfully raw and honest I was almost tearing up. Can't wait for the release of the book. It made me really want to sit down and think and look back and hurt and write out of the blood gushing out of me again. I don't know. I don't know if I'll be able to go back there. If I'll ever be anything like Jollin. I read her stuff and I just go shucks she's so beautiful it's crazy. I wonder if anyone will ever look at the things I write and feel the things I feel when I read her stuff.

But anyway, now I'm sitting in the room and Lixin's book launch is 1.5h after Jollin's and I just don't know what to do. It's terribly awkward when everyone is her friend and everyone's with their own group of friends because they all came in groups (or at least pairs) and they're laughing and taking photos and now her mum wants us all to take a group shot and I'm alone here nervously texting people about how awkward it is. HHHHEEELLLPPPPPP and there's this whole mix of emotions after hearing her painfully beautiful striking poetry and then sitting alone here twiddling my thumbs while everyone is laughing along with everyone else and walking around and I don't want to get caught in anyone's photos and like gah this is so awkward

To the words I used to breathe

I was in that computer room, moving on to my second hour of driving theory practices, when the memories started flooding back again. A crazy tide without warning. The sweet memories, before everything turned sour. Every breath of your words, every millisecond of your touch. Your eyes so close they whispered to me. So immature, so annoyingly immature, yet so beautiful, mixed with so much hurt. And I dwelled in these memories for some time, and wondered if it was possible to write them out, but the words didn't come like they used to. They didn't want to come, either. They just remained beautiful flashbacks in my head.

My Crescent half-classmate, Jollin Tan, is getting her book launched at the Arts House tomorrow. And so is my other half-classmate, Lixin, who was also my Creative Writing Circle president in AC. And they're fantastic writers and I'm so excited for them. Jollin's still the only writer whose pieces move me to tears. I don't even cry when I read actual professional writers' books and stuff. It's pretty amazing, isn't it, getting published at 20.

And then a small part of me cries out with a pang: and you, Karen? You used to write. What happened?

I mean, I'm far from anywhere near the standards of people like Jollin or Lixin - I feel bad even putting myself and them in the same sentence - but I used to write, at least. I used to spend my mornings drifting and dreaming and hurting, noisy birds flapping around in the cage of my mind, demanding to be written out, and then after school I'd head back home to a computer to set them free. I also don't like to talk about myself writing, like as if I'm good at it, or think I am so. My standard of writing was (and is, of course) terribly far from ideal, but writing was all I could do. It was all I had to do. Now...there's nothing. The birds have all flown away. I can't conjure up anything anymore.

Maybe I used to hurt more. And dream more. And those dreams needed a way out of my head, so I wrote them away. Right now, even if you asked me to write a creative piece, I wouldn't be able to produce anything. Nothing comes. I don't know what that's supposed to mean. I'm happier these days, which is good. When I look back now at my 2011 writings and the portfolio I put together when I was applying for Lit and creative writing courses in the UK, I feel quite disgusted at the way I wrote. Can't stand the way I used to write. The things I write about and my style of writing has changed a lot, from, like, this to this - for the better, or not? I've no idea - but I just don't really care. I want inspiration again, and I haven't been able to find it. That spark of ideas and words doesn't come anymore. I'm scared.

Like, once, I just went about my day, and random things would hit me by the hour. I only had to chance upon a line in a song that went 'you just keep tuggin', pushin', pullin' / on my little heartstrings'. Or to look at a friend who seemed a little mysterious. Or for my friend to talk about saga seeds. Or to have 'Diabolical' thrown at me at a Creative Writing Circle meeting. Or to be at a bus stop and catch sight of a quaint block of apartments. Or even just to hurt, without any inspiration.

If anyone's interested, I first found an interest in writing in Sec 4 - August 2009 or something, after I broke up with my first ex. Previously, I enjoyed writing narratives for English Paper 1 essays, but never put my heart into them, and my friend called my compositions "the kind of essays you find in model essay books - fine grammatically, but with boring plots". That was fine. I didn't really care. And then the first compo Mrs Rupa gave us after my break-up was to be entitled 'Mirrors'. It was the first time I wrote with my heart. It was just a fictional story, but because I was in a lot of pain, it came out on everything, including the compo. When we got our papers back, Mrs Rupa asked me to read it out to the class, and that same friend said "maybe breaking up did something good for you". That was how it began.

I just hope it doesn't die. Maybe my imagination, and the words that come with it, is lying dormant now, but I hope it'll come back soon. I don't want it to be nothing more than something I enjoyed doing in JC. It's only the start. A couple of years is nothing.

Mar 20, 2013

This is all I know

“Simon, son of John, do you love [agape: unconditional love] me more than these?” 
 “Yes, Lord; you know that I love [phileo: brotherly love] you.” 

 “Simon, son of John, do you love [agape] me?” 
 He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love [phileo] you.” 

 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love [phileo] me?” 

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love [phileo] me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love [phileo] you.” 

 John 21:15-17 (extracts)


Like Peter, I can't say I love You unconditionally. I'm not sure if I really know what it means to love You. Respecting and obeying and trusting and worshipping I can do, because they're actions, but love - especially a love that's unconditional - means so much more. I find myself bursting into thoughts that scream 'I love You, I love You' occasionally, but that's only when I know the Holy Spirit is filling me and speaking on my behalf.

I can't really understand Your love either. I just don't get it. I know it in my head, but it's just hard to understand. Your mercy, Your good plans for us, sure, but love... love is so different. I remember the times I saw your arms wrap round my head as You brought me close to You, though. I remember the soft, the calm image. Was that Your tenderness? Was that Your love? I don't understand, I don't know in my heart - ginosko - I don't understand what they always call the Father's unconditional love. You're a just God, you hate lukewarmness, and yet You're a loving Father. I really want to know it in my heart; help me understand.

And I know I've got so much to work on every single day. I'm still young in the faith. I've learnt a lot, but it's nothing, only the very tiniest tip of the iceberg You have in store for every disciple, a treasure trove of information for the head and heart, knowledge of You and Your workings and Your love. It's a bit like where I am in life now - I'm twenty, I've learnt so incredibly much from life, yet it's nothing; I'm still a sheltered daughter and college-student-to-be, still in the wading pool. I'm still such a young believer. Doubts come so easily. I waver a lot. Unstable. I've got so much to work on. I'm so undisciplined.

But today I remember how much I just wish that other people would feel what I've felt. Experience what I've experienced. You've given me a lot of amazing experiences and revelations and encounters and I feel so blessed, yet I can't stand knowing that I belong to a great minority. It's something fantastic that You've just really got to give to other people. It's like education. Something so fantastic and beneficial and that everyone needs to have. People need to know You. Look at this world, a heap of ashes of confusion and pride and ignorance and of running into walls. They need to experience You. They need to know Your presence and spirit.

It's just, it's something so amazing that You've given to so few. Don't hold it back anymore. Let everyone else experience the amazing things You've let me experience. And my experiences are nothing when I look at that of my leaders, my friends, testimonies I've heard. Let everyone know what Your encounters are. Show them what You've shown me.

You need to. You need to let everyone encounter You. And if You want to use me as a means by which You'll reveal Yourself and Your presence, so be it. I'm willing to be used if that's what You want to do. It's a lot of sacrifice. It's a lot. But if it's what will make Your presence known to people, so be it. Just do whatever it takes to let people experience Your Spirit and power, too. For them to know without a doubt in their hearts - ginosko - that You are Lord, and You are close.

Don't let me go. I'm scared of losing You. I know what spiritual dryness feels like and I'm so afraid of feeling dry. I really want to be able to be Your vessel as You reveal Your spirit to others. I want my friends to experience You. I want my friends to go into a deeper relationship with You. As I pray for them, anoint my hands and words. Have Your power flow through me if that's what You want to do. Do it, so that I will be touched by You too. Help me discipline myself. Help me get into a deeper relationship with You. Help me in my walk with You. Reveal Yourself to me every day. Your revelations, Your convictions, that inexplicable stirring of joy beyond words in my heart, don't keep those from me.

I'm only such a young, immature believer. Walk with me. Anoint me. Give me Your power, so that I can help others experience Your presence. I want others to feel what I've felt. Don't hold back any longer, Jesus. Let this be the day of Your power.

'And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?'
Esther 4:14


There's been a whole wave of online furore over how governments deal with situations, the media reports things and stuff, from rape in India or the States to how our own government deals with dissidents, foreign and local.

It's appalling to know that even when it seems like society has advanced and we're more transparent in dealings and we are all working together for the common good, things like these are still common, and you wonder whether the authorities have a conscience at all, saying these things without batting an eyelid.

 But I'm very glad these things are being spread online, that we're hearing about them. It shows we're more informed and discerning, that we aren't going to take what the authorities or media say at face value. That society is, in a way, progressing, from the ground up. I'm very glad, in fact.

Mar 13, 2013

And upon this rock I will build My church

“Simon, Simon, listen! 
Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, 
but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; 
and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32 (NLT)

So the trial will begin in mid-May - a few days before my birthday - and the prosecution will take place over a week or more. And then there'll be a three-month-long break before the defence makes its case.

Who would even wait three months before fully accepting the prosecutor's side of the story - and the media's fire? Who would even bother waiting for the truth? Who cares enough to do more than point fingers of accusation, cynicism, mockery and dismissal, and find out the full picture?

Almost one mission trip every day, 47 affiliate churches, 12,786 conversions in 2011 - who even bothers reading the good stuff? No one wants to read the news about how a church is changing lives - it's like reading about a doctor doing his job, versus one that might have caused a patient's death. Of course, the good stuff doesn't make allowance for the bad; I'm just saying. No one knows the truth, but it's so easy to criticise a big church. But why? Why would you want to dismiss and laugh at an organisation that has saved tens of thousands of souls, a vast proportion of whom came from non-Christian backgrounds, and transformed the individuals' lives in ways incomprehensible? Why would you so easily dismiss as lawless money-sucking an organisation that conducts mission relief in devastated regions, that sends teams out to places destroyed by tsunamis, earthquakes and famine alike; that sets up private schools for wayward youth and conducts church services, home visitations and other support activities for children, the elderly, the mentally disabled and more?

No one knows the truth about the case just yet. But if I were from a different church, I wouldn't mock and criticise. I would pray. I would pray that the souls whose lives have been transformed for Christ would not waver in their faith. I'd pray for the Lord to keep each of His children safe in His hands.

I look up at the hall of people crying out to the Lord in the Spirit with passion and determination, and I see Anatoly and Sean on the big screen, fervent in prayer. Look at that. Coming to Singapore, all the way from Kazakhstan and New York respectively, to attend a seven-month theology course in a church that's got all this bad press going on, and here they are, praying for the church. And then the camera focuses on Andrew and Carmen. Look at that, with all that God has brought them through, and all the talent and big-heartedness He placed in them.

And then it hits me. I love these people. It's hard to call a big church your family and absolutely mean it, but it hits me when the camera focused on these faces. I know the people in the church. I admire and love them. They are strong in the faith, powerful in the Spirit, grounded in their understanding, vessels of love.

What are you doing with us, God, is it going to be yet another excruciating, testing year for the church? Hasn't the furnace been heated enough? 15 May, followed by three months of waiting while the public takes the negative sensationalised reports as truth and assume us churchgoers don't have half a brain to discern for ourselves?

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. 
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? 
The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. 

All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 
They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down... 
I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. 
The Lord is my strength and my defence; he has become my salvation. 

 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. 
The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 
Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 
This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 
I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.

Psalm 118 (extracts)

Mar 11, 2013

Why can't God just do His Old Testament Miracles now?

It's a great question, and something we must all have wondered at one point or another in our lives. I was talking to my junior, Tricia, an amazing love-filled sister in Christ, and she posed me that question. Why doesn't God part the Red Sea or do the whole throw-down-your-staff-and-it'll-become-a-serpent thing anymore? Why is the Old Testament full of these crazy miracles that we find hard to fathom now? If God is the God of yesterday, today and forever, why has the magnitude of His miracles changed?

I used to think it was because in this day and age, the amount of faith we have proportional to our doubt when it comes to this kind of things is.......not exactly in our favour, or God's. Like, when Jesus went back to his hometown, he couldn't perform many miracles there simply because of their unbelief - our faith determines how much God is able to give us. But as I was talking to Tricia I realised something else.

In the Old Testament, God Himself was shown to personally interact and be with the people, like, directly connecting with them here on Earth. But when Jesus came, God didn't have that kind of direct contact with us anymore. It was the time of Jesus! There was only one instance where God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit appeared all together: when Jesus was water-baptised. And then, before Jesus ascended into Heaven, he said "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). In Acts 1:4-8, it's "He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father...'you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now'...'you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you'. 

Jesus explains that the Holy Spirit couldn't come to baptise all believers until He died in John 16:7-15: "...if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you... when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth...". In John 14:26, it says "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name".

So in the Old Testament, it was the age of God's direct contact with men here on Earth. While Jesus was alive, it was the age of Jesus here on Earth. And now, we are in the age of the Holy Spirit. Each time is different and has their own pros and cons.

When Jesus was here, he didn't part the red sea or turn a staff into a snake, but He did multiply food, turn water into wine, and healed a gazillion people. And then He gave His disciples the authority to cast out demons and heal the sick.

Now, in the era of the Holy Spirit, we also don't part the red sea or do crazy things, and we haven't seen insane food multiplication. Oh well. But we have more than that! In those days, you had to be super darn blessed to have seen, heard or had contact with God or Jesus directly. It seems like a lot of people did, but that's only because we're reading about the lives of those special people in the Bible. The other 99.99999% of the people on Earth never had that privilege of direct contact with God / Jesus.

With the Holy Spirit, all believers, from all the countries in the world, are able to experience God. I mean, here in Singapore, if it was still the time of Jesus, I'd never get to witness and experience those healing miracles and deliverances and slaying and everything. But because the Holy Spirit isn't limited by geography and is poured out freely for all who thirst and willingly receive, we have dramatic healings taking place among our church and our own friends; all disciples have the authority to heal the sick and cast out demons; we are all able to experience God moving mightily within ourselves. 

To me, the God-given encounters are essential to my faith. I mean, if we only read about God in the Bible and believe without having had any real inner encounter with God, it could simply be a philosophy. Something people came up with to put the city in order. A 'paper gospel'; meaningless and dead. But because you feel the stirring of the Holy Spirit right inside you, because you know when His voice is there and you can speak in Tongues and experience wonderful things of God, you know He is alive. More than a doctrine, but a relationship that's so alive. And although I haven't seen the parting of a sea or the dramatic multiplication of loaves and fish, I'm thankful I'm leaving in the age of the Holy Spirit.

So, why couldn't the Holy Spirit be given to all until Jesus was ressurected?
John 7:39 "...for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

I don't think my church has spoken about this explicitly yet, but from what I gather, I've come to a conclusion that I find makes sense. The Holy Spirit is something holy, and a holy Spirit can't dwell inside a body that is unclean, tarnished by the stain of sin. After all, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit!

Before Jesus died on the cross, there wasn't a perfect sacrifice to redeem our imperfect selves. When Jesus died, His perfect blood was able to erase the condemnation of our bodies for our imperfection. After Jesus died and His righteous blood was offered to us, when people called on His name and believed that He was our Redeemer, the perfect blood was able to erase the penalty of our shortcomings, so that we could now put on Jesus's blood and be considered righteous, just like Jesus was.

And it's only when we're considered righteous and without blemish that we are pure enough for a Holy Spirit to be able to take residence in our human souls.

Colossians 1:21-22 "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight..."

I hope this makes sense! :)

Just to add on, in case you go one step further to wonder what I wondered (and if you didn't, you should, and I'm giving it to you here): if the Holy Spirit only came after Jesus was ressurected, does it mean that the prophecies and psalms and books written before the age of the Holy Spirit were not God-inspired, or prompted by the Holy Spirit?

That was the main question that kept me doubting everything I just posted, but thankfully, my church brought that up.

Before the death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit influenced certain selected individuals to accomplish God's purposes from time to time - it was only given to a very small handful, and wasn't a permanent indwelling; He came only as He was needed.

After Jesus was resurrected and His blood was able to make us pure, the Holy Spirit could be given to all believers as a personal, permanent indwelling.

:) Cheers! Can't wait to see how much I'll learn and gain in the next 27 weeks.


Okay, I wanted to post this long ago but just never got around to doing it. I've been busy with stuff and you can never rush out a blog post when you've got stuff to do! My blog posts usually take hours to complete. So here's to you, Ami and Hsieh Wen, here's a blog post at long last, even though I just bought that Macbook and haven't even started it up and I've got an English class worksheet to do up and tomorrow I've got that Resorts World interview and tuition class till 9.30 and I'm probably going to sleep at 3am or something tonight. And this is for Sam and Daryl too, because I told you guys I'd post the questions I had but just never got around to doing it!

Okay. For anyone who likes long posts, here we go...

So there's my whole big 1 Timothy 2 question about Paul's point about disallowing the women of that specific church from trying to usurp the authority of the men because they were being disruptive and stuff. I mean, I'm fine with that; I just don't really see the link between that particular command for that particular church, and the reasons he gave that pertain to women in general. Why should the fact that Eve sinned first affect my ability to be in a position of authority now, since Jesus has died and redeemed us all equally already? And why does it say that I will be saved through childbearing? What... what is that?

I raised the question to a few of the awesome pastors of the church before, and to my cell group leader and to dear Mr Fong, and they all gave opinions that were valuable and that I learnt from. They're great inputs, just that the explanations are a little too long to post here, and Daniel talked about the "For Adam was made first, not Eve" bit with me already, so I didn't include it here. And from the responses I received, I think it's pretty much agreed on that women in general are not limited to submissive roles, and that childbearing isn't a "condition" for salvation. But yeah, it's just a bit unsettling a paragraph, and it's hard to see the Bible as a hundred percent flawless and perfect with this and Paul's reasoning given. I'm very open to others' inputs and stuff, so do let me know if you have thought about this question yourself! Oh, and Mr Fong was supposed to show me the notes he had on this chapter that might answer my questions, but I keep forgetting to ask him about it.

Besides that, I've encountered a few questions in the past three weeks. Some have been answered, in which case I probably won't put them up here unless I feel they're really beneficial for others, but I'll post those that are unanswered as of yet here:

Easy one first. When Jesus healed the leper in Matthew 8, he said "See that you tell no one". When he healed the multitudes in Matthew 12, he "warned them not to make Him known" (12:16). In Matthew 16, when Peter said Jesus was the Messiah, "He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ". ...Why did he not want anyone to know? I mean, he was pretty public about healing and miracles and telling people that he was the Son of Man, right?
(This is probably an easy question; do let me know if you know why!)

Second. We all know that the "wages of sin is death", and I thought about the reason for it before, and came to the conclusion that because God is life, and God is perfection and absolute holiness, a life that departs from God... departs from life, so anything that's not good, the opposite of God, is also the opposite of life, aka death. Okay, I spent hours thinking about it and writing it down so there's a lot more to it, and I was thinking about why blood had to be shed as the price for sin and stuff. If you'd like to know more about my reasoning and conclusions, let me know :) But here's my question.

Genesis 2:17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

Of course, we all assume that that death is physical death; we've learnt that from Sunday school. But also, there are three types of death: the physical, the spiritual and the eternal.

I was just considering the diction used in Genesis 2 and 3. After the act of sin, God says in 3:22, "What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!" (NLT).
The NKJV says "And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"
And here's another version, the MSG: "What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never—this cannot happen!

Now, this is after they sinned and death fell upon them, so maybe that's why the wording was as such. Perhaps they were initially designed to live physically forever, but because mortality fell upon them, God couldn't let them become immortal again.

But here's another way of looking at it. Perhaps Man was initially mortal, but the tree of knowledge and the tree of (physical eternal) life were both in the Garden of Eden as things that Man could possibly get, but would not get until Adam had eaten the respective fruits. Since He ate from the tree of knowledge, we all have knowledge of "good and evil". What if he didn't sin, but did not eat from the tree of life, either? Would we still have been mortal by default?

Here's another example of diction to back up my point, although also not concrete and strong:

Genesis 2:17 "Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it':
"Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.

With "for your sake" and "for you", it's easy to conclude that the reason Man has to toil for their livelihoods and suffer the wrath of the earth is that act of sin. But how about "Till you return to the ground"? That sounds like it's already a given, doesn't it? It's like, "Because you sinned, you shall toil for your food and livelihood until the day that you die." It sounds like it was already assumed that life on Earth wasn't meant to be eternal in the first place.

"For our of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return" just sounds like God's reasoning for mortality. And it's completely valid. Man, along with all other creatures, came from dust, and return to dust. It's the cycle of life, and that's what makes life sustainable. If we were meant to multiply, wouldn't there have to be some measure in place to ensure that our population remained sustainable? I mean, if humans were to live eternally, this place would be crowded, man!

So my question is: When God said "you shall surely die", did he just mean the spiritual and eternal death, but not the physical? Was human physical death already a given, just as how everything else on Earth lives and dies?

Phew! Long question, that.

Pretty much all of us say, and believe, that the Bible is infallible, perfect, the absolute authority, etc. I'm okay with infallible; it just means "without error". But I don't think I can agree that it's perfect. I talked about this with Xi Min, and he brought up a good point: it's written in a human language, something that's already imperfect, and unable to express fully the perfection of God.

In addition, maybe the Bible was more perfect in its original versions and when the books were written in Hebrew and Greek, but translations definitely result in the loss of meaning. Like the types of 'love' that are differentiated in Greek, but not in English (and that's why we add "agape", "eros", "philia" and "storge" as a modifier to "love" when we want to be more specific. Okay, usually just "agape"). And, especially, the two types of "gifts": dorea and charisma, which is so important when looking at the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and Tongues in particular (Ask me if you're interested!). My point being, because of translations, so much meaning has been lost or changed. And its 100% literal perfection just can't sustain itself because of so many translations it's been through. I mean, I even get different definitions by reading different English versions.

And then there are the books of the Bible and how they've changed over the years. I mean, for a very long time, Esther wasn't a book in the Bible, and Judith was in the Bible for a very long time, and other books were often considered a part of the Bible too, like Wisdom. Revelation was even considered "spurious" at one point in time! I attended a little workshop called the Canonisation of the Bible during NUS VCF's Annual Teach-In Camp (it was fantastic) and it made me wonder: What makes a book more authoritative than another book, if they're all divinely inspired? There were so many versions of the Bible throughout the years, with various books included and excluded; which was the "perfect" one? We all considered it perfect in our own times.

What is perfect? It's inerrant, sure, but "perfect" is a big word. I can definitely accept that the Bible is faultless and the final authority, but "perfect"... well, we can't use a human language, or even a human mind, to fathom God's perfection!

Okay, this is more like a stream of consciousness than an actual question.

I came across an article, too, that brought up a fantastic point: Confining ourselves to the literal will never bring us much. We have to stop obsessing over which version is "perfect" and "best to read" and "most accurate", because the Holy Spirit reveals what He wants us to see individually! It's the difference between the logos - the entire black-and-white literal words of the Bible - and the rhema, the spoken revelations by the Holy Spirit for a particular situation, where your eyes could be opened to an entirely different way of seeing the verse you've already known all your life.

Mark 5:1-19 talks about "a man with an unclean spirit" (the Legion story). Luke 8:26-39 talks about the same guy, "a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time". These two versions say it's just one man, but Matthew 8:28 talks about the same situation, but with "two demon-possessed men". Has anyone else looked into this before?

Okay, this post is crazy long and I still haven't done my English worksheets. My last point is a question that I've thought about and found a conclusion to, but I still have more to learn about it. But I think it will help some people, so I'll blog it in the next post...