My 2014 has been a year of great heartaches and great joys. I remember what Rev Edmund Chan said -- that joy and sadness do not exist in isolation. They in fact run in parallel. Because I have experienced pain, I am more able to cherish happiness. Because I have seen brokenness, I treasure little sweet moments of exhilaration. Because I have walked through darkness, I desire light and rainbows with deep desperation. There is a refining, teaching purpose to the downs of our life that too often can only be appreciated on hindsight, in retrospect. My prayer in 2015 is not for less pain, as much as each experience is heart rending, but that God will grant me the added strength, wisdom and capacity to walk through these seasons and periods, and that my growth emerging from this journey will shape me and mould me to be a better instrument of peace for God.
The word that describes my 2014: gratitude.
I am grateful for the opportunity to pursue my studies and passion in social work. Resuming school after a gap of 10 years is not easy, and there are times when I am so fatigued during the weekday evenings' lessons and am weighed down by the pressure of impending deadlines of assignments and projects. Nevertheless, I delight in the expanding vista of knowledge that is opened to me, and really enjoy the learning and the foundation that it grants me.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work in Lakeside, and to manage the Youth Corps project. When one door closes, another opens, and I truly see God at work in my career, leading me in the path of my calling to serve Him on a more intimate and personal level. I would never have expected the department at my previous workplace to wind down; I enjoy the work tremendously and probably would not have left at all otherwise. But it did and here I am. It is my first time working in a Christian environment, and it has brought me closer than ever to God, I feel. I take delight in the morning devotions, where I can start by dedicating my day to our awesome Saviour. And the Youth Corps project was really a gift from Heaven.. An unexpected portfolio that I would not have thought I would be taking up at the start of the year. But... Here I am. I thank God for this chance to work with and mentor a group of passionate, driven youths who each have the heart to contribute and do their best for the community. Truly praying that I will be able to help them discover the purpose and joy of volunteering and come to embrace service as an integral part of life.
I am grateful for the new life growing within me, that God has blessed Calvin and I with... Thank you God for baby Christopher. I have not seen him, but I already love him. Nursing and nurturing a new life within me gives me the sense of responsibility like nothing else can. I believe it is the same for Calvin, which is why I have also witnessed him making personal breakthroughs in his growth and determination to be a better role model for our child. I start to think a lot about life... And death. And it has been a very reflective, introspective time, especially revering the incredible magic and mystery of life, of creation. I also start to think about my mother, my parents, and even Calvin's parents a lot, wondering what it was like for them when Calvin and I were born, and before the family "broke apart". Was there as much joy bubbling within them as they welcome us into the world? In this journey of soon to come parenthood, I really thank God for Calvin. I see the way God is shaping and moulding him to be more and more Christlike, and pray that God will sustain the positive changes within him and continue to lead him in His will and for His glory.
I am grateful for new possibilities. God showed me that He is faithful when He did the almost-impossible and my mother contacted me with the willingness to forgive and reconcile. I know this could be only temporary. As much as it is so, I still embrace this new hope with joy and thanksgiving, trusting in God that He has His perfect plan in place and He will restore all things in His perfect timing. I know that He wants to restore broken relationships and it gives me hope that the other estranged, broken relationships that I have experienced may be mended and renewed too, in time. It gives me hope and renewed patience. It also gives me hope that my family may be united and bonded one day, that the ice between my brother and I may melt and we may come together with love and harmony one day.
I am grateful for new friendships, especially J. It surprises me how close we have grown in the last one year, and I thank God for His goodness that he has brought her into our lives at a time when we need it most. She revives and inspires me to continue to believe, especially when my passion is wavering and things are getting difficult. Her support and presence are like a burst of sunshine bringing immense encouragement to my sometimes tired heart. She inspires me to want to do more, do better, and there is no one else that I would rather have to work alongside me at Lakeside and in Expedition Agape. Truly thankful for J, a new friend who has become like a sister and family to me and Calvin in the short span of time that we know each other.
and there are many other new friendships too. The friends at Lakeside, the friends from Youth Corps, my NUS classmates.... Each and every person reminds me of possibilities and hope and I am thankful for the chance to have the opportunity to cross paths with so many this year, thankful for the exchange and sharing of new experiences and exchange and sharing of life.
I am grateful for where God has led Expedition Agape this year. It is the first time we have two mentoring journeys in the same year, two overseas trips in the same year. It is also the first time Calvin and I did not have to lead and the baton is passed on to S and J. We have been blessed by the new volunteers onboard Expedition Agape, the refreshing and rejuvenating opportunity to meet new like-minded friends who have the compassion and love to contribute to the world. We have also been blessed by new supporters... People who believe in us and who see the heart in the work we do. Thank you... And as much as I received the distressing news of farewell of an esteemed volunteer at the end of 2014, God also encourages me to see the silver lining and to celebrate the memories and experiences and amazing learnings that have been created through Expedition Agape. We received news of the upcoming nuptials of our first (and currently only) couple brought together through Expedition Agape. Seeing how happy they are together is heartening and reminds me to always trust in God, to have faith.
In 2014, I also bade farewell to a dear friend, Uncle J and to our mentoring group. These are the heartaches that hurt most. Even so, I am grateful for Uncle J who has taught me so much. His joy at embracing his illness and his unflagging optimism were inspiring. His love for people and his goodness are amazing. I am also encouraged by D's dedication to serve and minister to Uncle J and his family. These experiences have taught me humility, strength, perseverance and most of all, love. As for the mentoring group, I trust that God is making space and time for the plans that He has for me and truly, it is so because our weekends have been immensely and intensely filled.
I am thankful to C and R, our dear friends who returned from Sri Lanka in September. They have been such a wonderful blessing to Calvin and I in more ways than one, and they really touch us with their care and love. For the first time in our lives, we have had a home cooked meal to celebrate Christmas and Calvin's birthday and I was moved by the incredible effort and thoughtfulness that C took to prepare the meal. Thank God that He brought these lovely Angels into our life. And so many more... Our Care Group has showered love upon us time and again and we are really thankful for each and every couple who took time to share with us their lives, who took time to offer us love and who took time to bless us in small and big ways. The Care Group has really been an anchor of support and a community of friends who have been encouraging us always. Deeply thankful especially to S and M and R and A, these big hearted couples who walk with us through our ups and downs and who always invest their love and patience in us, reminding us to model God's ways and to strive to be better people for each other and others.
The morning breakfasts with Dad have continued and I am grateful for time with him as well as for the Hong Kong trip that we took together this year. It was Taiwan last year and Hong Kong this year. I admit that I never really know exactly what to say to Dad and often there are times of silence when we are together. I never really know how to have a heartfelt conversation and sharing with Dad, to really understand how he is doing and how Calvin and I can be of support to him. Spending time with him is probably the only expression of love I know how. And I am thankful that with the new job at Lakeside, I am able to have dinner on some of the weekday evenings with him too.
Love the overseas trips this year too. Our very first EA volunteers overseas trip to Bangkok, our recce trip with S, J and K to Cambodia, the retreat to Malaca with J and colleagues... And of course EA Thailand in June to Radion, spending two weeks with them in the space of serenity in Khek Noi.
There's also the FiT Staycation over my birthday weekend, L's lovely home made tiramisu cake for me to celebrate my birthday, and being part of Make A Wish's Santa Run and Christmas Party.
That brings the summation of my 2014 to a close. I might not have captured everything, but truly, it has been a good year. Thankful to God and where He has brought me, and looking forward to the year of Jubilee and baby Christopher this year :)