Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Lay down my life

While I was browsing through CDs at LifeWay bookstores in Austin last September, I came across the debut album of
Sidewalk Prophets on a preview sale for US$5. Went back to the Freeburgs', checked the album out on iTunes and ALL the songs sounded good. So went back the next day to get it. Since then, it's been the most played album on my iPod Nano and almost permanently inserted into my car's disc player, rivalled only recently by WOW Hits 2010. These 7 months or so, "These Simple Truths" has been like a mouthpiece of God to me - with the lyrics of every song speaking into my life, the different melodies ministering to my soul. They were there in September as I walked the McAlpines' neighbourhood in Lubbock, when God gave the Jeremiah 31:21a verse for Charge Up! & Bolt. And they were there today at the end of Passover as I drove back from Penang to PJ, when God reminded me why He laid down His life.

All your pain
Will be made mine
All your troubles
The tears you cry

Give it up
All that binds
I will place it on my shoulders
And up this hill I’ll climb

Father, give me strength
I know there is no other way

I lay down my life for you
This is the moment when all will be made new
I know that you don’t understand
But this is part of a greater plan
So I lay down my life for you

This is love
That had to bleed
To bring you mercy
To set you free

You are mine
I am yours
And I will wear your burdens
Just like this crown of thorns

I will take your place
I know there is no other way

I lay down my life for you
This is the moment when all will be made new
I know that you don’t understand
But this is part of a greater plan
So I lay down my life for you

Give me all your pride
Give me all your fears
Give me all your secrets
Give me all your tears

Give me all you doubt
Give me all your shame
Watch them wash away
Watch them wash away

Give me all your pride
Give me all your fears
Give me all your secrets
Give me all your tears

Give me all you doubt
Give me all your shame
Watch them wash away
In Jesus’ name

I lay down my life for you
This is the moment when all will be made new
Though I know that you don’t understand
These scars are part of a greater plan
And I lay down my life for you

Arms stretched out
Upon this tree
To show true love
To set you free

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
- John 15:13

Monday, March 01, 2010

Savior, please... help me stand

Felt compelled to blog again after quite a while. Plowed through some internal battles over the long weekend and yesterday, a song, a slide & a scripture passage spoke to me.


Savior, please... take my hand
I work so hard, I live so fast
This life begins, and then it ends
And I do the best that I can, but I don't know how long I'll last

I try to be so tough
But I'm just not strong enough
I can't do this alone, God I need You to hold on to me
I try to be good enough
But I'm nothing without Your love
Savior, please... keep saving me

Savior, please... help me stand
I fall so hard, I fade so fast
Will You begin right where I end
And be the God of all I am because You're all I have

Everything You are to me
Is everything I'll ever need
And I am learning to believe
That I don't have to prove a thing
'Cause You're the one who's saving me

-- Josh Wilson --

The first out of the only two blogposts I managed last year was intended to be continued "a little later". Now it's much later but better than never. Anyway, this song also reminded me of those few months I couldn't stand without help. Or walk or do simple things like step over a curb, get through swingback doors or shower. I actually counted how many steps it took to take a shower without getting my cast wet: 42! More if I forgot a step in the process. Being lame (literally) was extremely difficult & painful for someone who's on the goh a lot. I still went for meetings, served on video mix in the visual control room up on 3rd floor, caught my flights to KK and back, organized ChargeUp! in Penang... but having to use crutches really slowed me down & exhausted me fast. So I was forced to learn quite a number of important lessons, a couple of which translated into values to uphold at ChargeUp!

1) Plan: It saved me A LOT of energy & frustration to think way ahead of time about simple things like what do I need to shove into my pockets or pack into my backpack whenever I venture downstairs or upstairs so that I only had to climb up & down just once a day.

2) Peace: Not being able to accomplish a lot without getting very tired required quite a bit of peace on my part. Needing to need people & allowing them to help me was surprisingly a tough lesson too in peace. Poh, who got stuck with me in KK working on a project for the 1st 2 weeks of my fractured ankle, probably got the worst end of the stick. I must say she was by far the most thoughtful and considerate friend God could've blessed me with... from setting up & setting down the 2 stools I needed in the bathroom, adjusting the position of my 1 slipper so that it was easier to slip into, figuring out where to drop me off with minimum hobble distance, picking me up when I fell flat on my face, putting together a makeshift wheelchair to wheel me around Skyline & out to the harbourfront at sunset and many other things that escape my memory after a whole year... which brings me to...

3) Patience: I imagine Poh & others around me had to have quite a considerable amount of it to deal with what Karen calls my "par-pai-ness". Regrettably, my unique blend of sanguine, melancholy & choleric traits just doesn't make an easy patient. So I appreciated the patience I was shown. I myself had lots of exercise in being patient, despite not being allowed to drive a car, where my patience is usually & continues to be tested. By the time my car curfew was lifted (though I was still on one leg & crutches), my patience had reached an all-time & rare high. That first time I got to drive again after 2 months...

I happily drove out all by myself - thank God for automatic gears & a good right leg - and had an in-car meeting with Cindee in KL. On the way back, however, while I was halfway up the ramp into Jalan Duta, my car just totally died. I couldn't start the car up again. Neither could the hazard lights come on. So while I waited for the tow truck that Andrew helped me to contact through my insurance, all the cars that passed me honked and glared at me. But since I was so used by then to just being at peace & being patient, I didn't feel at all perturbed. I remember instead being really thankful that...

i. ...somehow, there was enough power when the car first stalled to bring down the window halfway. So I had air for the 1 & a half hours I was stuck in my car! =)

ii. ...I had on the cool-fit LiveWire! t-shirt - it did make a difference in the exceptionally blazing hot sun that afternoon.

iii. ...Cindee had bought me a bottle of 100plus earlier even though I had asked for a Coke. It really was a blessing to have an isotonic drink to replenish all the water I was losing through my pores.

iv. ...the bottle of 100plus came in a red plastic bag. After quite a bit of honks, glares, & even shouts to put on my hazard lights, I decided to be considerate and give some warning that my car was stopped on the incline. I grabbed the red plastic bag and started waving it out through my halfway-up window. After a while though, I realized my arm wasn't long enough plus it was beginning to get really tired. So I grabbed a crutch, tied the bag to the end of it, stuck it high out the window and started waving the crutch which was less tiring an effort. Although the honkings & glares didn't disappear completely, it reduced the frequency quite effectively. A motorcyclist & a driver even pulled over in front of me, walked down to my window and asked if I was ok and if I needed help. (They were both Malays, I must add, while the ones who slowed down specially to glare at me were all Chinese! =P)

v. ...Liston & I had scheduled to set up the multicam for PC & Kel's wedding rehearsal that afternoon. I called him to say I was late and when he found out why, he made his way to where I was and arrived just before the tow truck did. This turned out to be a huge help as the procedure to get my car onto and off the back of the truck required someone other than the truck driver to be behind the wheel it & then jump off while he operated the pulley system. No way I could have been able to pull that off with one leg & crutches. So God sent Liston who did what I couldn't in getting my car (& me) home.

There were of course so many more lessons, like in prayer & in perseverance but I think I'll close this post on a lighter note - perks: the major one would be developing three very strong limbs!

Actually, I'm not sure whether the smiley images on this page are somewhat misleading... I mean, I don't quite wish a fractured or broken limb on anyone, but Poh discovered one perk of being handicapped - discounted movie tickets at GSC 1 Borneo, KK. They even cleared & stopped the escalator for me so I can hobble safely on before getting it to move again, then stopping it so I can hop off! =)

It was really weird how most of the movies & tv shows I watched during that span of time seemed to have characters in wheelchairs or using crutches! =S


I still take time these days to appreciate the ability to walk, run, cross over curbs & climb stairs. I'm still amazed that I'm provided with enough strength & help, in more ways than the obvious, to just stand.

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour... who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies.... Therefore... that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends."
- Philippians 3:20-4:1

Photo credits: Alice Chong, Bernice Voon, Eric Foo, Saw Poh Sim, my Sony K550i hp & whoever took those pictures at ChargeUp!09.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'm walking on sunshine...

...and don't it feel good! To be taking planes and being in airports without worrying about the many different stresses that come with having a cast and crutches. I actually spent some time remembering how different it was the last time I flew and relishing the fact that I was pushing my own stuff around instead of getting pushed around (in a wheelchair).

A few more images I snapped during my transit at the Hong Kong International Airport....

Was quite fascinated with the reflections all the glass windows & shiny floors provided.

Thought it interesting that there was a taxi waiting for a plane while the plane was waiting to taxi.

I spy. Also a double thing going on here.

Had to put my feet up after a while since my ankle isn't a 100% healed. Still need to wear an airbrace which praise God, fits snugly into my new pair of Rainwalkers - and I didn't even know it could when I bought it. =) Used the time to glance through the Top 10 NYC book and journal down all the things I felt thankful for in the frenzied 24 hours leading up to catching my plane in KL. Was feeling quite amazed at how God was looking into my needs and desires even to the most trivial of details. Two examples other than the roomy Rainwalkers:

1) Was wanting to get some sort of mutivitamin thing but put it down as one of the things I didn't have time to find. Without knowing this, a friend suddenly offered to bless me with a 30-day multivitamin fix the night before I left. And it even catered to my idiosyncracies like not being able to swallow pills and wanting it to be a nice fruity flavour.

2) Was also wishing for a small notepad in which I could pen down my thoughts and as I was throwing things into my luggage, my eye caught an unopened Christmas present from a cell member which only got to me a few days before. I don't know what made me stop and unwrap it but when I did I felt really watched over cause it was exactly what I was wishing for and it even had a really nice colour and texture! =)

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.
--James 1:17, MSG

Friday, February 20, 2009

I wanna run

Not too sure about the hiding bit but I definitely wanna tear down the walls that hold me inside. Or at least the fiber-glass cast that holds my fractured ankle inside.

It's been 3 weeks since I made that 90-degree turn that the just-rained-on tiles in front of church topped up to a 270-degree one. Hardly 3 seconds and it cost me my full walking rights for about 3 months.

Have gone through quite a bit and learnt a great deal from the experience, a lot of which I've written down in my journal but really haven't had enough energy to transfer to my blog. So for now, will just put up an image that reflects the essence of the time (disorienting yet er... dramatic) and come back to update this post a little later.

Photo credit: Saw Poh Sim

Song reference: U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

When I'm home...

...everything seems to be ri-ight.

Except that it feels funny not to be walking, even if it IS raining... heck, I DID walk for miles through much windy-er & rainy-er weather in Amsterdam and London, after all! And I can't find stuff in my room, one of the reasons being I now have more than one suitcase of it! And my sleeping time is all messed up, although a friend pointed out that it usually is anyway!

Only comparatively trivial things that I face coming home. But before I jump into deeper waters of things that really matter, or goh off in a tirade of factors John & Paul really didn't look into when they wrote that line, or before I just simply plain forget - I should spend some time logging down some of the experiences & memories from this past month that I don't want to forget.

(Note: This post was mainly written on Nov 19 but it got stuck as a draft mostly because there were just too many photos to goh through. Decided in the end to not need to post too many shots here - an extended selection can be viewed in Facebook instead.)

In no particularly-special order:

#1: Seeing how creativity is nurtured & expressed

Being in a culture that encourages art & creative expression as well as the appreciation for it has been most inspiring. Not just in museums & galleries but also on the streets & in the tube stations. Was telling a friend that there are 2 things the time there has made me dream about, and the first thing, which I also mentioned in a comment under the "Goh-ing dutch" post, is to set up an art gallery in Malaysia. One that will pay tribute to the works of south east asian artists of old, encourage current talents and nurture future ones.

Two British artists I met whose work particularly intrigued me go by interesting pseudonyms:

1. Delicate Mayhem - her intricately sketched prints of London sky & tube scapes were on display in Portobello Market. My camera put away & forgotten in awe of her work, I didn't take any photos. She has low-res files in her online gallery but really, they need to be seen up close & personal.

2. Stanza - he had an exhibit as part of the Cold War late-night open at the V&A Museum. He let loose about 10 little robots onto a large white paper within a rectangular parameter of police-lines. Each robot had a coloured pen stuck to its back which drew patterns on the paper as it moved within the parameter. Meanwhile, the remote cams on top of some of the robots sent video signals to a cctv unit and a VHS recorder. So by the end of the night, the robots had created art on paper and on video. And Stanza had made a statement about Control inside the Panopticon. The 20 shots I took of the robots are posted up for him on my picasaweb.

#2: Walking & train-ing

Two good points from travelling extensively by foot and by trains: 1. You see more of what's around you. 2. You lose more of what's around you. (i.e. fats =P) ANyway, the following are miscellaneous shots of what I spotted while on foot and from trains. The first shot is simply the sidewalk to my bro's flat... I simply love the way the ground glistens after the rain. Although photographing was rather difficult WHILE it rained, especially if you're also holding an umbrella.

Shot on foot:

Shot on train:

#3: Browsing through 2nd-hand shops

I must have gone into at least 30 2nd-hand bookstores, charity shops and road market stalls to leaf & scan through books, music, movies, games & knick-knacks.

There's something addictive about the anticipation of wondering what treasures you're gonna find among other people's junk. I must say the English really take good care of their stuff. My bro and I found Cranium for £3 and Scene It for £7! Both board games were in mint condition. I picked up a couple of books for £1 each. One was a pristine hardcovered copy of The Rhyming History of Britain which comes to the 2nd thing I wondered if I could do - write a rhyming history of Malaysia!

#4: Window watching, etc.

If you've travelled with me before, you'd know that one of the things I can't help collecting on camera are windows. Well, and doors. And flowers. And bikes. And bridges. And chairs. And shadows. And silhouettes. And skies. Hhaha... here are just a few of the above that got added to my collection.

One sad thing that I only realized when I got back: I somehow lost a whole batch of windows and doors as well as Portobello street shots from a walk on 18 Oct 2008. =(

Just remembered a 3rd thing I felt inspired to do: Stereography. This may actually be more achieveable than setting up an art gallery and writing a rhyming history!

#5: Watching Wicked

Since I'm on a "W" roll, thought I'd mention this next. It took me quite long to decide on the one west-end show I had budgeted to watch. I had been in NYC when Wicked had started its 2nd season on Broadway but I had opted instead for Jewtopia, a play that I knew I wouldn't be able to catch anywhere else. Incidentally, after the play, my buddy Michelle was mistaken for the Chinese actress in it and actually got compliments for her acting!

Anyway, when I knew I was going to be in London this year, I aimed to watch Wicked. But then I heard from my brother that the London cast was not as good as the Sydney cast which made me think maybe I should wait till I get to either the latter or NYC again. Then again, what if I don't make it there? So after scanning repeatedly through the promo posters of countless shows as I rode up & down the tube escalators and doing online research on my narrowed down list of 3, it was only on the 4th week that I finally decided on Wicked.

I declared my decision to my brother and he told me that everyday at 10am, the Apollo Victoria box office released 24 front row stall tickets for just £25 (as opposed to £50-£60). The next day, I was there at 9am, ready to join a queue that usually starts by that time. I was the 1st in line! So I whipped out my Rhyming History of Britain and read away the hour. That night I was sitting right in front and right in the middle and right behind the orchestra conductor! Wicked seat & wicked show!! A superb must-watch if one gets the chance! Even if the guy playing the male lead couldn't really dance. But er... definitely much easier to take than Pierce Brosnan singing. This is the pre-show view from where I was sitting:

#6: Ordering & receiving things by post

I took opportunity to order stuff online while I was in a country where access to discounted hard to-find-goods is a-plenty (like the Back to the Future 4-Disc set which I got for £8 instead of RM169), & where delivery of the goods is fast and cheap or free. I already blogged about the arrival of my PDA's new battery. As time went on, I received a few more padded envelopes and that gave a rather nice feeling - getting things through a postman. Hhaha, even if I did initiate the sending myself.

The most interesting item that came through physical mail was an NPW (NasaParaWing) kite from Germany.

It came in a medium-sized box and Kerstin Born, the kite's maker, had attached a note which said, "Hi Choon Ean, I am sending you a liquid greetings from Germany." Now in earlier emails with him, I'd been having trouble fully understanding his translated-from-German English, so this note made me wonder if that was some sort of German expression or proverb. Then I pulled out a bubble-wrapped item from the box, unrolled it and out came a bottle of German lager! I laughed out loud when I realized that Kerstin had meant his greeting to be literally liquid!

#7: Being in the audience of a BBC Radio show

One of the websites I checked often was www.londonisfree.com which lists down all the free things to do in London. From there I got to learn about applying for tickets to watch recordings of BBC radio shows. So one of my nights was spent at the BBC Broadcast House and laughing myself silly, alongside the rest of the (mostly British) audience, at a recording of I've Never Seen Star Wars hosted by Marcus Brigstocke. Every episode he'd challenge a guest star to try things they've never done before, then discuss & rate how much they enjoyed it. That night it was British comedian Barry Cryer, and Marcus got him to watch Friends, read Catcher in the Rye, listen to an ACDC album, try a variety of tofu products and change a real-life baby's nappy. The two of them were just hilarious! And although it was for a radio broadcast, there were parts of it that everyone there, including Barry, wished listeners could see and not just hear. Tune into BBC Radio 4's next season of the show and you may just catch me laughing over the airwaves! =D (Incidentally, I caught Marcus playing the Radio DJ in the film Love Actually when I rewatched it a few days ago.)

#8: Feeling at home away from home

It's always nice to be able to visit with different members of God's family wherever I goh. From Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), where the Alpha course was first developed, to Hillsong London, where I got to observe the workings of their elaborate visual setup in the Dominion Theatre... from dropping in on the Amsterdam Shelter prayer meet to staying with the Ouwerkerks... I was greeted & treated in such ways that made me feel right at home. =)

I also had a splendid 24 hours with my mum's close friend from before I was born, Aunty Pansy & her husband Uncle Dave, who must have fed me the highest number of meals I ever got to eat in just one day throughout the 4 weeks I was there. =D

#9: Goh-ing on Tours

I'm actually the kind of person who hates tour-package-travelling. Besides the fact that they often cost a ridiculous sum of money to move you by the herd and lure you into tourist traps, I like mapping out my own routes & researching about stuff & moving at my own pace & not be rushed through sights that personally interest me. (Not forgetting having the option of stopping to add to my collection of windows, doors, bikes, etc.) I must say however, that many of my memorable experiences have been kinda tour-related, though not of the "package" kind -- looking out of the misty windows of the canal tour boat in Amsterdam, peddling away on Christina's bike-around-Zwijndrecht tour, dashing all over the British Museum to catch as many 40-min free guided tours of different civilizations as I could, catching the 3-hour Royal London Free Walking Tour, following Uncle Dave to the places around his & Aunty Pansy's home in Solihull & enjoying his verbal illustrations of what we saw, and listening to the Windsor Castle audio guide which was supplemented by the wealthy storehouse of British trivia in my brother's head. He actually gives an excellent tour of Cambridge by the way. When he said he needed to find a part-time job, I told him he should consider doing walking tours in London.

To not break my back any further by sorting through the 3000+ photos, for this section I'll only include some of the images I caught on the Royal London Walking tour.

#10: Spending time with my brother

Which was the main reason why I had gone there in the first place. =)

I was nine when I first felt that God could hear my innermost wishes - He gave me a baby brother! I remember I was so thrilled & preoccupied with the wonderful gift that 1st year, that my studies got neglected quite a bit and I think I even dropped to the 2nd class the following year. But that didn't bother me at all - what could compare with a baby brother?! =D

He's no longer a baby of course. He's not even smaller than me anymore. But I'm still thrilled and thankful that I have a brother. So from grocery-shopping & cooking & having typical Goh-family mealtimes (in front of a screen), to walking around London or standing around in a field trying to fly his kite in the crazy wind... it was really great to have time together for a whole month!