Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our God is watching

Dear friends

A lovely colleague shared this with me. Amidst little Joanna arriving anytime, a church play waiting to be rescripted, parents who are struggling with ageing, new work scopes.... so much uncertainty. This story just touched my heart ... that God is watching. Jehovah Jireh...

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared.
Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.

Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.
If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.
The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town.

No luck.

The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive -in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel. When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-- fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.
The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.
One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires!

There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.
Had angels taken up residence in Indiana ? I wondered.
I made a deal with the local service station.
In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office.
I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough.
Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids.
I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.
Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les , Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes.

I quickly opened the driver's side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude.

And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop....

THE POWER OF PRAYER. I believe that God only gives three answers to prayer:
1. "Yes!"
2. "Not yet."
3. "I have something better in mind."
God still sits on the throne, the devil is a liar.
You maybe going through a tough time right now but God is getting ready to bless you in a way that you cannot imagine.
My instructions were to pick four people that I wanted God to bless,
and I picked you.

Let's continue to pray for one another. Here is the prayer:....
Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives and email buddies reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of Your love and power.

On a personal note, I like to thank an angel. Was not sure where I could find a stage manager to assist for the play. Prayed about it. Still lost, an angel from church came forth if she could help. She was the perfect help as she is meticulous and big picture person. Someone I know I can trust and make things happen. A Godly woman. Though none came forth to audition yesterday, I received a call again from my angel. That's God's assurance that He is Jehovah Jireh

God is just so good, and He's good all the time.
Remember, prayer does change things!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A tree with two trunks at Orchard Library

Rambling Libriarian reminded me that Orchard Library is shifting....real soon. Though only been there about 4-5 times, I love the design of the library.

When I first visited the library, I was woo-ed with the music stations by the sides. I am not sure if we are the only library in the world that offers this but, it sure is a very cool idea. Also the very distinct "open" concept of how the space is utilized, how the shelves are so well spaced out, and the huge number of books on art and design is simply just an arts haven.

I dropped by yesterday to look for books on directing plays. Last checked, White Sands library does not offer much of a choice. Yesterday, I picked so many wonderful books I wished I could use my family members' cards to borrow more. (NLB should do a research or test indicator on the "culture of Singapore library users: HOw kiasu are we")

The pleasant treat was, there was a manga awards ceremony -Mangaka (very interesting twist to how the Tekka market is pronounced in hokkien/teochew- very SingApor-ian). Otto Fong, a teacher in RI, was the guest judge. I like his point about how even manga art needs be innovated. He shared on how the girl drew the manga gal version of the merlion, how imagination led this kid to draw a monster manga pic out of a make up artist imagination. I loved the manga in the open category- very beautiful. WOnder if NLB will be showcasing them online too?

Time to meet my wife. Before I left, I dropped my Library books chit in the box that may allow me to win a book. I was certain I got the closing date correct: 30 Nov. Very clever way to engage readers! Along the way out, I asked the librarian at the entrance, "Is the rambling librarian working here today?" Jokingly she replied, "He doesn't ramble on Saturdays!"

I caught the photo of the lovely graffiti on the glass. Can you see the "tree"? Look carefully, a tree with magical white leaves. Can you see the short stumpy blue tree trunk? Look again. Is the trunk blue or is it black and longer?

Einstein said "No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it". Use a different lens to see the creative world around us.

A very lost blogger

Woke up somewhat angry with self for how silly I am in not being able to be more IT savvy (very clearly a digital alien trying to step into zone of at least a digital immigrant) and sad. Sad that I am beginning to love blogging more but not sure how I can better use this to "communicate"

So if there are any kind souls who happen to read this.... please help....

1) how do I created a forum like what you have done for people to "talk" to me?? The reason why I started to blog was to use blog as a platform to continue the friendship with my students. Somehow,,,, after changing the skin, I lost the "code"

2) HOw do I get into a "community of bloggers"? How can pp read and share on my blog or I can do likewise for others?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What I can do during a boring seminar

Though here to get some fresh ideas for Digital Exchange, nothing seems to excit me. Man, its tough to sustain my attention through talks on digital content, standards-compliant courseware, etc.... ONly thing I thought was good was on the alternative of copyrights. COPY LEFT!!! Useful insight and wonder how rapidly the world is changing through the participatory culture. What I like is the idea on how people enjoy sharing, how people find it fulfilling to adapt, modify. or co-create. Altruism. Throughout that segment, I struggle with asking myself.... So should I copyright or copyleft my Emotional Intelligence Game? Tough question...

Had an interesting conversation earlier with one participant on need to continue learning....even til old. As a son, I often feel a little uncomfortable when my dad starts talking.... is it just bad attitude on my side or is he not conscious of how others feel about what or how he talks. Mum complains of his bad temper but a son, I know that he needs to talk... is he really falling "sick" mentally? What can I do? Talk more with him? Tough. Encourage him to take courses.... perhaps. Perhaps hooking him up to a computer course would be useful.

The unfilial son...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gift to be Simple

Its odd why I felt delighted this afternoon with just barely half an hour cleaning up the Level 12 pantry. As the SWAT chair, how can I not lead by example. Initially I thought it was silly to clean up while there were tons of more serious work to be done at my workstation. But as I started filling up the glass bottles with biscuits, I could see in my mind the happy faces on colleagues when they walk into the pantry and see it sparkling clean with biscuits all filled to the brim. I wanted people to be proud of entering into a special place that they could feel a personal touch. Someone who made it special just for them. That made me happy.

Sometimes, greatness is not in the acts of doing big things, but just the simple act of making someone else smile. I know that cos I know from the weary face of the cleaning uncles and aunties in food courts who I heard are only paid $2 per hour to clean the table. It doesn't take much to just do our small parts and always lend a "thank you" or a "xie xie" to show our appreciation. Sadly, these are the good folks that many take for granted.

I want to make the world a better place. It doesn't have to be a big move. Just start with a smile! :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The 7 Cs by Cresswell

To the heavy hearted,

I met a friend recently at the Facilitator's Network and we were engaged in good thoughtful exchanges. Cresswell shared the following with me and I like to share with you. I hope it encourages you. Cress angled his 7 Cs from an organisational point of view. Here, I pened (typed) my thoughts on the wisdom from a more personal perspective. ANyway, my inspiration for my songs has always been drawn from looking out to the sea. Yes, I really love the analogy of C to sea.... all aboard!

The 7 "C" Success Factors behind Extra-ordinary business:

1. COURSE: Ship-wide alignment to a common course

  • Before you embark on your noble journey, helps with clarifying your personal vision. "Course" alignment is essential especially in personal leadership.
  • Greatness of a leader may then be measured then subsequently by your vision and values.
  • Exploration of your inner territory
  • Finding the strength through your style. For example, if people know that your ability to charm others through your personality, and your credible charisma simply makes things happen, synergise that to become your charming charisma to stir new directions in your life.
  • "I am driven by concerns for the legacy I am leaving for my children." Gail Mayville

2. CHOICE: Everyone acts as a 'captain' of their own ship

  • Outstanding individuals all share a common trait: they live and die by their initiative and creative capacity that flow from th proactive engagement of everyone.
  • Choice shifts an individual from reactive to proactive stance, from passive to response-able voice, from delegation to others to trusting others and trusting self.

3. COURAGE: Go to sea, despite your fear, risk and do right things, right

  • Courage carries the day in crisis, floods work with passion and purpose
  • Amidst heightened uncertainty, take the right risks
  • Do the right things!

4. CAPACITY: Keep ship-shape and build sea-worthiness in all 4 compass quandrants

  • Maintainance of equilibrium- health (body), learning (mind), culture (emotion) and higher purpose (spirit)
  • Growth requires reaching beyond current limits, expending energy, then resting and building

5. COMPANION: Get the right crew onboard, in the right relationships

  • Success of your leadership is highly dependent on the sum of the people you build and the relationship between those people.
  • Get them into the position that employs their gifts and the creating and sustaining empowering, co-creative relationships.
  • People first! Its worth making the first connection... then soon, compassion and collaboration.

6. CURIOSITY: Cast off, explore new territory, learn and renew continuously

  • Continous learning and renewal keeps you afloat in the sea of change.
  • It is the key to inner transformation i order to adapt and expand your capacity to produce results

7. COMPASSION: Sail for the king and country

  • How do you build a heart that will woo your people to buy-in and give their best and stay by your side.
  • the unspoken code that drives good to extraordinary.

I like to add to Cress list 2 more Cs:


- Need for reflection, journey out to the sea as a way to express separation from the environment;

- A renewal process that will require opening the doors you shut previously, or walking in dark spaces that are frightening, or touching the flames that will burn. BUT the end is, truth.

- from looking within then to looking out before moving on.- A practice is finding greater resonance within self and the activities you set forth (for e.g. Peter Senges book - [The Fifth Discipline]:The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation)


- Ability to modify your self imposed constraints and to make connections where none existed before.

- Enjoy the imagination that drives that need to change and seek that desire to experience self fulfilling success!

- Creative people would enjoy a sense of ownership, empowerment and spirit

Monday, October 08, 2007

The broken heart of a teacher

The best gift that a teacher can ever receive is when they know that they have made a difference in the lives of their students. One of those most memorable program that I facilitated was produced into a video and uploaded on youtube. Each time I revisit this video, dust gets in my eye.

1. A Service Learning project that went through so much from conceptualisation to preparation and 'painfully' implemented. Yet, it reaped many sweet returns with intangible lessons learnt. It really made such a big difference in many, including mine. I enjoyed seeing how a class of very intelligent students driven to get the As transformed to be caring, creative and responsible individuals. This too was one reason that held me back from resigning in Oct 2005.

2. A reflection of much heart break: these two videos were mostly filmed, edited and produced by one single kid. Yet, in 2006 this kid was sent to a home for thief and several other crimes. In one instance, he had even stolen a laptop from school and had it sold at the cash-mart. I know him. A clever boy. A kind hearted child deeply gentle within. A very tech savvy boy. Yet, it saddened me tremendously to hear of his misdeeds. I counselled him when his parents broke up in 2005. His dad abused him. His mum from a foreign land knew not how to manage him further but to eventually report him to the police... because she loved him. He knew not her love for him. While he left school and ran about doing odd jobs, I tried to look for him. Each time he promised to turn over a new leave, it became yet another broken promise. I too was at my wits ends. I pondered, how can society give this 17 year old boy another chance. Can't we use his talents and make him a better man... Pehaps I failed him as a teacher.
Perhaps I did.

The broken hearted teacher,

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Saturday was a good morning.
Good becos Joshua and I went to Lim Choo Kang jetty to do our part to clean the beach. International Coastal Cleanup 2007 for SWAT. Initially was worried for the low turn up but surprise surprise when we got there, it was a good number that came forth including other volunteers who lent a hand.
Whats more meaningful was a morning where people mingled together for a common cause. TO rid the beach of stuff that are not eco-friendly. Stuff like rubber materials (we dug out a wheel of a truck), metal( rid of some screw drivers and shovel), glass and plastic stuff (plently of plastic bags, broken glass bottles, ball, etc) and plenty of interesting stuff like wheel can, clothings, fishing nets, styroform boxes that perhaps dropped off from fishing boats, etc.
Personally I always wish that I could start little Joshua off on some community projects and what better way then to get in touch with good old Mother Nature. We got really "stuck" and became the swamp thing when Josh and I ended up in the sticky gluey mud that trapped our sandals. Thank GOd for good old Oliver who came to our rescue. O, Oliver is one of the coolest people I knew way back in NUS Biological Sciences dept where he was also my tutor for some modules. I missed the days we went to Malaysia for field trips where he showed us how wonderful nature has to offer with his shapr senses and expert knowledge. Then we met again last year where I helped to review the Bio textbooks for CPDD. And guess where I ended up after that! LOL

I am proud of little Joshua who constantly asked to wash his muddy feet; helped me pull up stuck fishing nets (and almost pulled down my pants too) as well as did his little part in digging up the huge wheel.
Check out more photos of the event:

GAMING generation 2.0

Well, Joshua is so into guns and arcade games that I have decided to just purchase a FUNStation for him to enter "officially" into what marc prensky calls the age of digital natives. Man, how he loves the shooting and fighting. We started playing yesterday and I just love how he ask me "We both die already?" Thank God I "died" with him else he will start having teary eyes again.

Than again, wonder who will be th one who will be hooked onto gaming. At least I knew the last time I play tetris, I played it all night looooooooooooooooooong.

Lets change that from the start. Least what I did was to set an alarm clock that will remind us 15 min is up. LOL. Ya right, I say to myelf.