What I studied to study better

I couldn’t have chosen a better local course (a Master of Public Policy with the Institute of Public Policy and Management) to learn how governments and societies function. And because I’m the sort who learns better by understanding history, I would often seek out external material for answers. It’s kinda like how you look for the meaning of the meaning of the word you are looking for in the dictionary.

These courses were extremely helpful to understand topics on development and sustainable development, public management and social theories, inequality and society.

Continue reading “What I studied to study better”

Advertisements

my life hacks – personal management


When I was about 15, my family got the Internet.

I meddled around with things like GeoCities and later on got a blog for myself at 19. Apart from MIRC and ICQ, the Internet was also about exploring margin widths, hex code colours (and still is, sometimes for certain things). At that time I would think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could customise my own desktop and make it like a personalised dashboard?” And I arranged my blog page (Xanga, Blogspot then) in that hugely limited linear way – as a little dashboard for me to whizz around cyberspace. But it was far, far away from what my mind imagined.

15 years later, the Internet has boomed and more so with the smart mobile devices – which is probably one of the best modern things ever created. Life has never been more interesting with the smorgasbord of apps available to help one handle life in a fast-paced and globalised world.

Continue reading “my life hacks – personal management”

Why I’m taking a break from Instagram

Simple. I started to think in pictures.

To the point where I couldn’t articulate myself in words as eloquently as I would if I wasn’t forced.

Back then, I would describe the sky with words, forcing me to use my imagination and vocabulary to conjure up images in your mind.

With picture apps, I snap a pic and add a filter to enhance the experience of viewing it. And if I wanted to share it with you, I wouldn’t bother describing it – I’d snap a pic and send it across the internet. Saves time, saves energy, you get the picture. And my ability to write deteriorates in time.

It came to the point where I would be trying to describe something, wishing instead that I had taken a picture. Shock horror!

So I’m going to get out of my writers’ lethargy and slothfulness, and begin to write again like it was my second nature. And that means getting myself off the euphoria of snapping pictures for now.

Well but how could you tell if I was writing the truth without a proof of a picture? Well that’s the whole mystery that comes with reading isn’t it?

The mystery of words is the mystery of how one processes them.

The Mussaenda

Mussaenda

I grew up surrounded with flowers.

Having a mother with a passion for gardening and green fingers, I felt at home with flowers and greens. We had sunflowers, zinnias, petunias, cannas, ferns, ficus trees when I was younger, and in more recently times, all of the mentioned, the drunken sailor, passion fruit and more ferns.

So while I drink in nature like how water is to people, it is oftentimes rare to find something that makes my heart leap with curiosity and joy.

A year ago, in New Zealand, I was captivated by a flower called Queen Anne’s lace, which grew wild in the open. More of that in another entry.

Yesterday, in the garden of a family friend’s, I came upon this sweet discovery – a pale pink cluster of petals, hanging on the ends of slender, drooping branches. They hung upon a shrub sort of a tree and towered high above me – maybe 7 feet or more. Upon touching them, they felt like the skin of peaches. I immediately fell in love :)

I learned from a friend that this variety was called the Mussaenda, which comes from the family of Rubiacea. It is cousins with the ixora and coffee. Interestingly, it hails from South East Asia, and is also widely grown in Thailand, apparently.

What I liked about its qualities was its almost languid character, but one that was easily propped up and moved by the wind. There was a sense of beauty in its meekness and humility, and it seemed not to be affected or conscious of its own beauty.

Really beautiful.

Ancillary Readings

It is without a shadow of doubt that all the 66 books of the Bible are books that the Christian must read, study and return to time and again for the building of our faith and the nurturing of our relationship with God.

However, I also believe in seeking out mentors who are strong and proven in their character to inspire, revive and teach us with their writings and thoughts. In terms of ancillary readings–literature that I read in addition to the Bible–I deliberately consider mentors who have fought the good fight and whose lives are reasonable proof that they have liven a life worthy of their calling in Christ.

These are my personal mentors and the books that have taught me:

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. (childhood to early teens)
2. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. (late teens)
3. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. (campus years)
4. The Character of God’s Worker by Watchman Nee. (campus years to current)
5. Remain Hidden by Susan Tang. (fresh graduate)
6. Pursuing Peace by Joyce Meyer. (mid-20’s)
7. Book of Martyrs by John Foxe. (late 20’s)

There are other books, but none have impacted my life such as these.

Here is a brief note about each of these books / authors.

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. (childhood to early teens)
It was CS Lewis who crafted out deep in my sub-conscious the nature of God with his character, Aslan. Aslan as I recall is sovereign, all-loving, all-powerful, and walks with his people–Emmanuel. His wisdom is beyond measure and he is at once terrifying and fearsome just as he is tender and loving.

2. The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. (late teens)
Kempis taught me that when we come face to face with Christ, we cannot but be ever humble, contrite and adoring of Him. It is this humble adoration that transforms us to be more like Jesus, relying fully on His grace on never on our merit.

3. The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. (campus years)
Watchman Nee draws wonderful illustrations on what God’s grace is through Jesus Christ and talks about His finish work, touching on imputed righteousness as well as sanctification. Extremely practical teaching, compared to more intellectual journeys through Mere Christianity (by CS Lewis) or Basic Christianity (by John Stott). Definitely the Christianity 101-type book that impacted me the most.

4. The Character of God’s Worker by Watchman Nee. (campus years to current)
This book, whilst not be taken word for word, is a series of lectures (naggings?) from Uncle Watchman Nee about being a hardworking worker in God’s Kingdom. It is funny but sometimes I want to do a facepalm, or bang the table when I read how extreme he can be in working super duper hard to extend God’s Kingdom. I don’t take him literally, but I am always inspired by how much he is willing to lay his life down and how he disciplines himself. Yes, this book teaches me to be moderate, not to be indulgent, to be selfless and to lay myself down for my friends. It is from this book that I have viewed Watchman Nee as a very necessary and naggy Uncle.

5. Remain Hidden by Susan Tang. (fresh graduate)
Life changing, this book has done much to tone down my fieriness to a disposition of listening, waiting and leaning upon the Lord whilst laying down my plans, my skills, my zealous-ness to be replaced by Obedience.

6. Pursuing Peace by Joyce Meyer. (mid-20’s)
Another book which has done so much in settling my opinionated and frank self, putting in place a higher priority of peace. This has opened forth a channel in my life for tact, wisdom, quietness, reservedness and restrain in the words I say, and the intentions in my heart. It is more important for peace with others than to be right. It is more important for peace than to achieve my goals.

7. Book of Martyrs by John Foxe. (late 20’s)
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is the second book after Imitation and Remain Hidden which has thrown me off course towards (hopefully) a right direction. With this book, I questioned my Christian walk. It challenged my comfort zone, my ambitions, my desires and my motives. I did a few big things after reading this book, including leaving a ministry that I was very comfortably attached to.