THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU

My eldest started Primary 1 this year. As an avid user of social media, I've been bombarded by countless articles about effective education strategies, primary school transition, opinions about enrichment programmes, enrichment programmes, habits of a good student, and the list goes on and on. I'm usually very selective of the things that I read but just scanning through the titles in my feed gives me stress. And then my husband tells me to join the Parents' chat group. Just 2 weeks into the chat group, parents were constantly asking if there was homework almost everyday, and many administrative concerns. 

The funny thing is that checking on his homework was the last thing on my mind. My number one concern was: is he going to cry? And then I worried about his snack time and late lunches. I was getting worried if he was making friends or if he was alone all the time or he was going to get bullied. Heck the homework, I was more worried about him adjusting to a large class size and to the class activities. My son's number 1 concern? He expressed much disappointment almost everyday about raising his hand to answer questions, to be the class monitor, to be the subject representative but the teacher did not choose him. He also asked me why couldn't they just take turns to be the leader. He even rationalised that it was okay that he didn't get chosen, or get a 'star' for answering a question, because at least he didn't get disciplined for misbehaving. 

My heart ached slightly when I had to explain to him the 'workings' and 'culture' of a primary school. And I encouraged him to try his best in whatever circumstances. I felt sad about how his enthusiasm for learning and leadership was getting dampened so quickly just in the first 2 weeks of school. The most logical response I guess nowadays is to give feedback or 'complain' to the teacher, so as to stand up for one's rights or to try to make a change in the system. WX and I decided that some battles are for fighting while some are not. 

During a devotion, I was reminded that "The Kingdom of God is within you". Yes, the Kingdom of God is in my dear son. It's the start of us letting go gradually, not getting distracted by all that's happening around and letting God mould him in his primary school life. My prayer for him is that he sees the abundance in himself because of Jesus and he experiences the abundance as he transits to primary school. That his confidence comes from God and his wanting to do his best is for Jesus. This is my hope for my children. 

the kingdom of God is within you

LOOK UP AND COUNT THE STARS

When God gave Abraham the promise that he will have many children, He didn't just tell him, He also showed him a picture: to look at the stars in the sky and he would 'see' all his children. 

There are many ways to connect with God. One main way is listening to His word through reading, through listening to sermons or songs, or even listening to His voice personally. But I feel there's one way that we are lacking in - seeing. 

Recently I read a book, "The Art Spirit", by Robert Henri. Here's an excerpt from the book that inspired me: 

I heard another student spoke of as "one who saw colour beautifully"... So one has not only to see colour but he must see it beautifully, meaningfully, constructively! - as a factor in the making of something, a concept, something that is not exactly that thing before him which the school has said he should copy." 

This year I'm challenging myself to not only listen to His word but also to see Him - to see Him as a person, to see His word in my life , to see His creation in the world beautifully, meaningfully, constructively - looking beyond the surface, discovering the process and embracing the journey. And at the end of it all, to keep these pictures I've collected in my heart. 

look up

YOUR GIFT IS A PRECIOUS STONE

I started working when I was 19 in part time jobs like being a private tutor, service crew at the zoo and telemarketer. Coming out to the working world at 23 then was led by a desire to meet a need in society or to help a certain group of people and of course just for economic reasons. In about 10 years, I changed industry 3 times and switched from full-time, to part-time, to freelance, and then to working from home part-time. 

And in these 10 years, I've felt disillusioned with the work sometimes, frustrated with things I want to see a change in but cannot change, much confusion in the direction to head in and the constant dilemma between staying at home and going back to work. Maybe it was those endless nights of breastfeeding which had me reflecting on my life's purpose and destiny, or maybe it is just the coming of age and the approaching 'mid-life crisis'. 

Recently I also have been hearing friends lamenting about being stuck in the same industry since they graduated and they don't know what else they can do with their lives if they quit. Some have experienced burned out, while some have been rather despondent about still not being able to fulfil their dreams. I've had these thoughts too, and sometimes on some bad days when I'm pulling my hair out with the kids, still wallow in them. 

Then God started showing me my gifts. Gifts that I've left behind or forgotten due to the worries and cares of the world, and now which I'm starting to rediscover one by one, day by day. I know some of the gifts cannot 'earn' me a living. But one thing for sure is that the gifts that God has given me, have an eternal purpose.

This Christmas, my wish for everyone is that God will reveal to you your gifts, God will give you wisdom regarding your gift and this gift will become a precious stone which will give you a clear direction in your career and life. Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

A SEASON OF BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS

A few months ago, I blogged about giving away some postcards that I made (read "Jesus in my beginning and ending). Only a handful of people responded, so I asked some of my close friends if the cards weren't nice enough for people to want them. Interestingly, they said that people might feel 'pai sei' (embarassed) to ask for free things especially if they're not close to me. I really didn't expect that. I thought I was just having a 'giveway' :) 

So hence, upon encouragement from friends, I decided to sell the postcards, even though it was not my initial intention at all. . So a few friends have bought them and perhaps Carousell is not a good platform for selling postcards too. If you're interested in purchasing them as Christmas cards instead of the usual Christmasy looking ones, do drop me an email at jarfulofplenty@gmail.com :) They're now going for $7 for 10 pieces. 

jarful of plenty postcards

A brief background of these cards, they were birthed from a season of beginnings and endings - periods of disappointments, disillusionment and grief but ultimately God's love, peace, faith and hope prevailed. 

More information: 

  • Size: A6
  • Front artwork is from my original ink pen and watercolour drawing. 
  • Postcard with blank reverse side and printed on 215GSM paper, one-sided glossy with UV varnish by professionals. 
  • All postcards are wrapped and sent in a sturdy envelope

EXPLORE & CREATE SOMETHING TODAY

I had the wonderful opportunity to be part of the Create Collective Worship Nights organised by Godly Womanhood Ministries. In the September and October, part of the session included a time of crafting before worship and I was the facilitator for the craft corner. It actually wasn't about crafting but we couldn't really think of an appropriate title so "Craft Station" it is for now. My intention wasn't really for people to make another pencil holder or tote bag or sock puppet. Nowadays, there are plenty of workshops around for people to learn the skills of crafting and painting. But I still find there is something lacking, something more we need in our lives. 

I've been trying to get my children and other children to engage in more sensory and loose parts activities to create art, because I know that once they 'grow up', such opportunities are going to gradually decrease. I like how children freely explore simple materials given to them and create meaningful fantastic art. And then I realised as adults, we don't engage in exploring and creating too because we're always so busy with getting on in our lives. God has given us materials to create, we've his creative DNA. My hope is that we just pause for a moment and create something, anything, even with the simplest materials given to us, no need for anything fancy, expensive or skills needed.

So I wondered, if adults will be able to benefit from such sensory and loose parts art activities as well? Both activities were conducted with children before. In September, we made a sun catcher just using paper plates, contact paper, dried and fresh plant parts, yarn, coloured paper, markers. In October, we made a "quilt". No sewing involved but a replica of a "quilt" with cardboard, fabric scraps and yarn. At each session, I just introduced the "craft" to be created and the materials to the participants. Just before they start, I always tell them to just rest, bask in the presence of God, explore the materials and just let their hands flow. Initially, people were shy, modest about their creative abilities and skills but after that they just took off naturally. Amazingly some could spend more than an hour in creating even though they seemed hesitant at the beginning and I myself was so blessed by the sharing of their creations. 

explore and create
explore and create
explore and create
explore and create

So let's start to spend some time alone or with friends, to pause, explore, create something and express ourselves through art. I hope that as we approach the end of the year, we find some time to rest and relax, refresh and recharge.