Monday, January 31, 2011

A Word From God

I'm back in my dorm and it feels weird to not hear two little boys screaming and playing Nintendo DS downstairs.

Added this cute little fountain water wheel thing to my desk. The sound of running water makes me feel calm and relaxed. I just hope that I don't feel so relaxed that I don't do any homework at all this week.

Today in church, the pastor's message spoke right to me. It was about the importance of reading God's Word daily and just spending quiet time with Him. I feel like after all the questions and guilty prayers I've brought up to the Lord, He's answered me by telling me to simply seek His Word again. Meditate on His Word day and night. I should persevere and not give up on practicing the good I've learnt from my walk with Christ.

Also, as I was walking out of the sanctuary after the service ended, the youth pastor Stretch stopped by and asked me how I was doing. I said "eh" and told him that I've been praying for a year about what to do after college. I mentioned that this was going to be the first major decision in my life that I'm actually consulting God before making any moves, but things just seem to get more and more unclear as the months roll by.

I know that Stretch has the spiritual gift of prophecy. Many years ago, when I moved back to the U.S. for the second time, Stretch came up to me in church the day after I landed and said that God told him to pray for a safe journey for me the night before. I was totally blown away because there was no way Stretch could know that I was flying from Singapore. Nobody on the U.S. side was informed about this, only my Singaporean friends knew that I was leaving for the U.S.. Also, I was shocked that he even knew who I was because I'd only turned up to the youth group about a few times before. I didn't even think that I would be going to church that day, but somehow, Stretch knew to look for me at church that weekend.

Anyway as I was speaking today, I guess Stretch could sense my helplessness and fear, so he lifted me up by telling me that he's seen how God has preserved my life over the years and has blessed me with many gifts. He then said something along the lines of "I believe God could use you in a powerful way". When I heard that, something caught in my throat and I felt a strong tug at my heart. I started turning bleary-eyed and was just really touched in my heart because I truly believed that at that moment, the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through Stretch.

I truly want this week to be drastically different from the one that just ended. I don't want to end up looking back and regretting all the hours I wasted on doing unproductive things. I am going to pray about it and spend some much-needed time with God now.

It may be 01:30 but I really can't go on without God's help this week.

Dear Abba Father, I am coming to You, a little lost, somewhat confused and very unsure about the future. Please help me to leave my feelings of inadequacy, unpreparedness, discouragement and pessimism at Your feet. I leave these burdens with You and instead, take up the yoke which You have prepared for me, for Your burden is light. Your ways are good and Your words bring life to me. I choose life and not death in every matter of my life. I choose wisdom over foolishness and I hold fast to Your statutes. I meditate on Your law day and night. I never let Your precepts leave my mind. At all times Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. You are my shield and my fortress, Your banner over me is love. Mold me and make me a new creation in Christ, filled with the love and power of the Holy Spirit! In Jesus' name I pray with a grateful heart. Amen. Thank You Jesus, soooo much for being there at all times, especially when I needed You most, You never left my side. You are awesome.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Failed Week & Singlish

So I've got to be completely honest about something.

I haven't touched my thesis writing at all ever this week. January is ending in two days and I've only got about a month, or four weeks left to write it. On top of my thesis is a steadily growing pile of regular homework.

Call it lack of discipline, attention deficit disorder, procrastination and what not, I just can't seem to snap out of this lazy holiday mode!

You know what I've really been up to? I've been lying in bed all day for the past few days just watching Korean dramas. Dream High and My Princess. Freshly-subtitled on Youtube.

Isn't it ironic? I tell people all the time about how addicting these things are. I even had a long conversation with my dad this past summer in which I enthusiastically agreed with him saying that these days, some women get so engrossed in watching dramas that it's destroying their daily lives. They just watch dramas from day to night, neglecting their children and husbands, foregoing sleep just to catch the latest episode.

Guess who's doing that right now?

That's right. Yours truly has actually been sleeping at 04:30 in the morning for the past two days just because she couldn't tear herself away from the screen.

Funny thing is, every morning I get up thinking the same thing. I tell myself I'm going to do this, that and this or feel sorry for myself later; but at the end, nothing got accomplished all week. Tomorrow is Sunday, my rest day, but I don't think I'll be enjoying it at all. I'll probably spend Sunday being guilty and restless.

Because I haven't been running at all since I last twisted my ankle, I've been feeling extremely antsy and lethargic. Hah... if that were possible to feel at the same time. Snowball fights may get my heartrate up a tad but it's certainly nowhere close to the daily high I get off of running. It's like my flesh wants to jump out of my skin all the time but my limbs are just too heavy to move.

On top of that, my ravenous appetite has taken a nosedive into Potatochipsland and it looks as if it's there to stay until ever ever after.

Okay so I may be suffering a withdrawal from not running... Or I may be suffering from the deadly disease of "I'll do it tomorrow". Either way, I'm feeling rather miserable and even worse, far from God.

Because I've been so engrossed in watching dramas, I haven't been reading my Bible before bedtime since Wednesday and I feel like I'm getting further and further off course as a result. My prayers have become quickly-uttered, loosely-stuttered jingles that don't really come from my heart. While talking to Talia this morning about God and stuff, I was really thinking in my head: "wow Mindy, you're great. You're giving people advice when you can't even handle the simple task of doing your work!"

I just don't seem to be able to do anything right these days.

I can't take pride in my school work, find joy on the track or satisfaction in food or Korean dramas.

In an attempt to escape the bedroom this afternoon, I took Alex for a hike on a snow-covered trail nearby.

Alex made a snowboat on the far right. I made snowducks.

Then sent them floating down the river.

They fell into pieces in minutes, reminding me of the countless hairbrained ideas I've ever tried to bring to life- like being a fashion model. Yeah, that one fell apart really quickly.

The river flowed gently... But my thoughts and emotions rumbled deep in my stomach..

Dinner, Korean barbecued beef and pork, which I usually would've enjoyed thoroughly, was eaten for the sake of eating and left no satisfying impression on my tongue.

After dinner I ascended the stairs to my bedroom and once again lost myself in a fantasy land called Korea.

I've been thinking: if Singapore really wanted to boost her tourism industry, she might take a hint from Korea and give Mediacorp a major revamp! Why do people want to visit Korea so badly now? Because they attach the fantasy and romance depicted in dramas with the places they saw on the screen! How many times have we watched a romantic scene played out on Jeju Island which is always shamelessly depicted as a holiday destination in dramas?

They could probably start by dramatising shows in Singlish. If Singaporeans wanted to watch a show spoken in pure English or Chinese, there's plenty of opportunity for us to do so and we do that in theatres anyway. I know the government thinks that we should try to speak proper English and whatnot, but as far as I can see, their countless anti-Singlish policies aren't working very well. Besides, we're not that dumb. People are entertained by good acting- characterised by the words "natural" and "convincing". Give us a break. We all know that NOBODY talks like that in Singapore! Who are you trying to fool?!?! Foreigners?!?! It's bad acting to begin with!

I thought we were Uniquely Singapore? Maybe we can start by embracing what's truly unique- Singlish. You can't tell a nation to take pride in itself and yet tell them that their language is second-class at the same time. It just doesn't make sense. Languages are like storage boxes, richly filled with the cultures and identities of the people who speak and identify with it. Now that the Singapore economy is booming, perhaps we can relax a bit on trying to be like Englishmen?

Lalala way off topic.


When God said to rest on the seventh day, it was only after six days of working. I don't feel like I deserve my day of rest at all.

A while ago, Jay, the young adults' pastor said that the whole week should be in preparation for church on Sunday, not just Sunday morning or even Saturday night. Now I truly understand what that means.

But even as I'm straggling away from God, I feel He's watching over me. Even though my heart is wicked and likes to wander towards things that I know aren't good for me, I know He's right there waiting for me to come to my senses.

I need to return to that time, when my love for Him was fresh and beautiful... and all I wanted was to be in His presence. I have forgotten my first love, but He's ever faithful.

I think about how much it hurts when good friends are unfaithful to me. How much more it must hurt when God sees us turn our eyes away from His face! How much it must sting to watch us want to enslave ourselves to the devil all over again. And all for what?

Lord, I have sinned. I let all these things come between You and me, even though I know nothing can compare to You, but I didn't restrain my eyes and my heart. I put You second to another and because of that, there's a silence between us that's almost deafening. You know I'm lost and helpless without You. My heart is freezing every moment You walk away from me. Please draw near to me again Lord! I don't want to have to walk through life without You by my side. Speak to me again Lord, I want to hear Your voice and see Your face. Nothing else can satisfy by Your love in my life. Lord Jesus Christ will You just break these chains that bind my mind? Loose these bonds of inactivity and fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit. Put to death the fears and doubts I carry with me and renew my heart. Renew my mind. Be with me... In Jesus' name I pray Amen.

*In need of prayer*

Blah Friday

For a snowday, today turned out to be completely unproductive. I think it's something about being in Pennsylvania; breathing Pennsylvanian air and the like just makes me unable to do anything school-related.

My big box of stuff finally arrived from Singapore!

Yay, finally! No more rain-soaked fake Uggs! My waterproof boots are here!

About time too... I've been walking around with wet boots for the past two months. They've been smelling rather funky as of late.

Spent the evening at Uncle Vic's to say goodbye to my cousin Mikaela who is leaving to London this Sunday.

That's about it.

I hope tomorrow will be more productive than today.

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" (James 4:17). I know I should be writing my senior thesis..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Day Update

After I writing my last post, I happened to read this interview that Christian marathoner Ryan Hall did with Runnersworld.

Here are some excerpts that jumped out at me:

"I have found from my experience that often times what I hear God telling me is, "My grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9)." God has always provided enough strength for me to do what He wants me to do on the race course. It doesn't mean I always win or do something miraculous but I always have enough to accomplish the purpose which God called me to race for."

"There is a transition period where maybe we do have to clean ourselves from unhealthy desires, passions, etc., but in the end we are supposed to have the more fulfilled life here on earth than we could dream of. We are supposed to be alive, fully alive, in Christ."

"God wants me to enjoy my gift of running. He wants me to enjoy the disciplined lifestyle. He created me to be a focused individual that enjoys a disciplined, physically hard-working lifestyle. He created me this way. So when I do it, it feels right. It may appear to be selfish to some but I am doing what God designed me to do and the result will hopefully be exactly what God had in mind when he designed me."

"Yeah, I have gotten some crazy prophetic words that have been right on. One was given to me before the trials when I was in really bad shape and had only a couple months till the [Olympic] trials."

By the end of reading the interview, I don't know why but I was sobbing and feeling so touched that God would answer me so quickly.

Now all that's left for me to do is to hang on, do what I have to do and let God handle the rest. There's no point in worrying about what's to come in four months, so I refuse to let the devil steal my joy in doing work.

These setbacks are only going to make me stronger! Praise God!

No matter what, God's grace is sufficient for me...

Speaking of God's grace... Thursday morning started out with a lovely fresh blanket of snow. Just what I've been waiting for!

Classes went on as usual until they announced school closure at 12:00.

By then, a nice snow shower had started to coat the campus with another layer of white.

The whole place looked simply beautiful, totally unlike the usual mucky city scene.

Seeing that the snow only going to keep on piling up, I called up a bunch of people to see who wanted to Central Park in New York City to play.

Managed to drag Suni, Edwin, Natalia and Khadeen along.

Riding the PATH train into the city.

When we got to Central Park, it had begun to hail a little bit and the ice stung our faces.

The park was nice and empty though.

The city seemed cavernous, with buildings rising like mountains of concrete and steel all around us.

Climbed over a fence to get into the children's playground where we snowballed each other like crazy and built a "snow chair".

There's me rolling the foundation for our "snow chair" and Khadeen getting ready a bunch of snow to fling in my face.

Natalia navigating the snowy steps of our snow fort.

We had a blast, but none of us were adequately dressed and we were drenched by the time we had finished playing.

Went to a nearby cafe for some warm vittles.

Some chicken parmesan panini-thingy that didn't taste so great at all considering it cost me almost 8USD!

After getting some warmth in our stomachs we took the subway back to New Jersey.

Back on campus, it was Cindy's birthday so I dropped by to say "Happy Birthday" but passed up on birthday cake since I was still full from the chicken parmesan panini

Out on the lawn in front of the dorms, a giant snowball fight was in full effect.

Unable to resist, I decided to run back to my dorm to put my wet playing clothes back on so that I could join in the fun.

Dragged roomie to come along with me on the way.

Unfortunately, by the time I returned to the site of the big snowball fight, the security had come and dispersed the crowd because people were throwing snowballs at windows and had broken some window netting.

Natalia was caught in the crossfire and was completely soaked because people were spraying water guns out the windows too. On the one hand, I'm sad that I missed the bulk of the action. On the other, I'm glad that I don't have icicles dripping down my spine.

Sitting on the snow bench!

Poor Nutella... Snow all over her already wet head.

Oh wait, I did that.

And that's just because she threw a handful at my neck first.

Ended up spending a few hours hanging out in Telly's dorm with Khadeen and Nutella, just yakking away about stuff.

Around 01:20, I trudged back to my dorm in the midst of the roaring blizzard. At one point I found it easier to walk backwards so that the snow wouldn't blind me. This morning we awoke to find almost a foot of snow on top of the four or five inches that already lay on the ground.

It was superduper marvellous!

So although I've been hopping around a lot on my right foot yesterday, the pain is starting to subside. I also feel a lot better now after playing all day yesterday in the snow. That's a form of exercise too I suppose.

I know I won't stay injured forever and that miracles can happen when you just keep praying and believing in God's healing power. Instead of focusing on running a sub-20min 5k, I shall just focus on doing what I have to do at any given moment. The rest, I shall simply entrust to God, understanding that His ways are higher than mine and His thoughts higher than mine.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ankle, Please Get Well Soon

It's an hour to midnight and I'm sitting here at my desk wolfing down, not sipping, hot chocolate. Outside, it's zero degree weather but there are beads of sweat forming on my forehead. My room feels like a sauna but I don't want to keep the windows cranked open because I can smell the rubbish bins around the corner downstairs.

Yesterday something really bad happened to me.

At practice, I felt unusually good while sprinting, like I was back in good shape to train. Not only was I keeping up with Telly who was usually in front of me, I was also passing her by the second-to-last 800m interval. Things were great and my spirits were soaring. The dull pain in my stomach even felt pleasant because I knew I was getting better.

However, with 100m to go on the last interval, I suddenly felt my right foot give way under me and sharp pain ensued from my ankle. I didn't trip over anything... my shins just couldn't stand the stress from the sharp turns of the indoor track.

As I fell to the side, yelping in pain and crying angry tears, I sensed a sort of bitterness come over me.


The sound of that question rang hard in my ears, like a morning alarm that would not go off.

That thought was quickly followed by "it's not fair" and "I'll never be able to get a personal record this outdoor season I guess".

I sat there and I wept hard.

Tears of self-pity, helplessness, loss and futility rolled down my cheeks like I was five years old again. My teammates gathered around me to give me sympathy pats but that just made me more upset. I don't want sympathy, I WANT TO RUN!

When I finally stood up and felt throbbing pain shoot through my ankle and shins, I realised that I probably wouldn't be running for the whole week to come.

Night fell and I was thinking about how bad things come in multiples when I happened to read this:

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:17-18)

What struck me most was that these faithful men of God- Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing to obey God not just in the face of certain death but even in the presence of doubt.

"Even if He does not [save us]... we will not serve your gods". What a statement to make!

For those who do not know, what happens later is that the men are indeed thrown into the furnace but God comes to their rescue and the king, amazed at God's saving power, decrees that if anyone says bad things against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that person will be destroyed "for no other god can save in this way." (Daniel 3:29)

I realised that the reason I was so upset about spraining my ankle again was because I seriously doubted that God would fully heal me in time to run a sub-20 minute 5k race for outdoor season. This doubt has been making me shortchange what I do at practice because it seems as if there's no point to work hard since I won't be able to reap the full benefits by May anyway.

Doing all that I need to be doing, rehabilitation, daily workouts and cross training in the pool and on the bike takes up a lot of time daily. I could be spending close to 5 hours per day just doing track stuff and that's a lot of sacrifice for me this semester.

It's times like now when I seriously question, what's the point of running track?

But I sense now a question being asked back to me... "are you going to trust in Me even with the possibility of failure?"

I want to say yes, because I know that God is good all the time and that no matter what, as long as I cling on to His Word, He will fulfill His promises to me. Faithfulness is just who He is.

But God never promised that He would help me run a sub-20min 5k... Yet that is what I really want. I could cry just thinking about it right now. All four years of running and now that I'm finally physically able to do it, I just can't!

My dad and Eileen have told me recently that I need to start praying specifically but that scares me because the more specific my prayers get, the more I doubt and wonder about whether it's really God's will, or just me being selfish.

I mean, what could me running a sub-20min 5k have anything to do with God's will?


If you read this please pray for me. I'm tired and I've got more homework to do now before I head to bed.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vermont Meet & Work & Missing Church

What a ridiculously long weekend! Since Thursday, it's been nothing but non-stop activity.

Thursday afternoon, our track team started on a long bus ride up north to Vermont University for a track meet.

Everyone was really thrilled about having to sit on a bus for six hours.

After quickly checking into the hotel, we went to a restaurant next door for dinner. By then it was already dark outside.

The place was decorated in a way that made me feel rather warm and toasty inside. It also made me think of Cape Cod.

By then, most of us were quite famished and couldn't wait to eat our food.

This basket of tiny bread rolls smelled insanely buttery.

In an effort to not eat like a pig before the track meet, I had Rocket Salad for dinner.

I am now definitely a fan of Vermont!

After dinner, Shona, Stefanny and I weren't feeling too great from sitting in a bus all day so we went out onto the snowy sidewalks for a stroll.

When we got back, we slipped into the hotel's hot tub and swimming pool for a relaxing session.

Fun and shenanigans later in Janice's room.

Shona's crazy jumps.

Friday dawned bright and early. We zoomed downstairs to catch the complementary breakfast before it ran out.

More snowfall from the night before.

Temperatures weren't that bad outside, hovering around minus five Celsius.

We arrived at Vermont University in a whirl of snow flurries.

Can't believe they have an actual ice skating rink in the recreational centre! I wish our school had one too...

The meet wasn't good or bad for me. It just was what it was...

My 3k time didn't improve much. I ran it in 11:55:38, slightly over a second faster than last week.

Obviously, that time landed me in last place as usual. The Vermont Catamounts are quite accomplished distance runners and the top place finisher in the 3k smoked me by over a minute. Haha...

I didn't mind though. The girls were soooo nice and friendly about it and even gave me tips about training for long distance. I made two new friends and learnt a lot from the meet. Not to mention, it also really boosted my morale to know that I'm not running these sucky times due to my physical inability, but rather due to a lack in expertise.

Hopefully following their advice will land me in some cosy times come outdoor season in May!

Speaking of cosy times...

The bus ride back from Vermont to New Jersey was horrible. We got home around 03:00 in the morning.

Saturday, I barely got up in time for a quick run before I had to dash off to New York City for work. It was a Bar Mitzvah event held a block away from Wall Street.

The parents definitely spared no expense in trying to impress the other millionaires that were invited. I'm sure renting the venue itself must have costed a bomb. Check out the artsy fartsy ceiling! Word is they dropped closed to six million for their thirteen year old's birthday party.

If I had six million dollars, man, throwing it on my kid's thirteenth birthday party would not be it! There are WAY too many other good uses for all that money than to buy tonnes of food and party stuff that ends up being thrown out into the garbage at the end of the night!

By the time work ended around 02:30 on Sunday, I had already been working for twelve hours straight. My mind was close to delirious and the frigid temperatures (minus 11 Celsius) didn't help either. I didn't anticipate the cold snap and wore just two flimsy layers under a warm sweater. I didn't even have my coat with me.

The night ended on a horrible note. It took me almost an hour to get back to school when it usually should have taken fifteen minutes. A bloody fight broke out between two drunk men in my train car on the way back and scared the daylights out of all the other drunk people in the car.

When I got out of the train, I had called the school shuttle to come pick me up from the train station. Standing by the street corner, unable to even feel my toes, I silently prayed that the shuttle would come in the next few minutes. This was one night I really didn't want to wait a whole fifteen minutes for it to arrive.

And JUST LIKE THAT, the shuttle arrived when I stopped praying!

If you could water a garden with the symbolic tears of relief that sprang to my eyes at that moment, it would bloom full of crocuses and lilies.

I crawled into bed around 03:00 but didn't sleep till I've had my fill of God's Word.

Set my alarm for 06:30 so that I could get to church in Pennsylvania at 09:30 but that didn't happen. I got up to see "09:48" blinking on my phone and realised that at some point during my deep sleep, I had also somehow moved my clothes around.

I cleared the snow off my car anyway and made it back to Pennsylvania, but alas, not in time for church. I was really disappointed because it just felt like such a long week that I was just looking forward to Sunday.

I hope things will calm down soon, especially since there won't be a track meet this Saturday. There is Bible study tomorrow at school so I'm looking forward to THAT now. Somehow, with all this hullabaloo in my life, I really don't feel as close to God because I haven't been able to just sit quietly and spend time with Him. It stinks and I miss that.

I must remember not to let the world crowd out what's really important!