Friday, December 23, 2011

merry twistmas!

A joyous, blessed Christmas to you and yours!

and if you really don't know what a Moshi Monster is, find out here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

loving today: book 7

The seventh literary Loving Today inspired by this post.
* * *
The smile that flitted across Arthur's face was a faint one, and instead of following Mr Irwine's playful lead, he said, quite seriously – "Yes, that's the worst of it. It's a desperately vexatious thing, that after all one's reflections and quiet determinations, we should be ruled by moods that one can't calculate on beforehand. I don't think a man ought to be blamed so much if he is betrayed into doing things in that way, in spite of his resolutions".

extract from Adam Bede, by George Eliot


Friday, December 16, 2011

on trains, and thanking God


This past Thursday, the railway system here suffered a massive breakdown during rush hour, affecting over a hundred thousand passengers, and trapping some one thousand passengers in the four trains that had stalled. The trapped commuters were stuck in the carriages for hours, with neither sufficient light nor ventilation; some even broke the train windows with a fire extinguisher to let air in. Passengers reported the heat, stuffiness and chaos, the crying of uncomfortable babies -- all of which one can easily imagine with dismay.

The wondrous part for me is that the kids and I were actually heading home on the train that day, exactly during that time. I remember standing with B, pressed in by the crowd, thinking, "O fine, it's rush hour" (thankfully, a kind man had given up his seat to Ro, who had fallen asleep).

But miraculously, our train ran fine, and, except for one hard, sudden lurch, we got home safely. It wasn't till the next morning that I learnt of what had happened and how narrowly we had escaped it.

Naturally, the breakdown has been a hot topic in the news, and this morning it was a topic of discussion at our family breakfast too. As my mother left the table, still marvelling at how we'd avoided that situation, she repeated what she had said to me the day before: "Thank God He took care of you. We really have a lot to be thankful for".

Of course I agreed, and was about to leave the table too, when my cousin -- who isn't a Christian, or might perhaps best be described as agnostic -- said, "Why do you all say things like that? So, 'too bad' for those other people? You thank God for taking care of you; the 'flip side' of that would be that God did not take care of them".

"That's not what it's about," I started to say.

"No of course it's not," he snorted. "It always comes to that. But you know me, I think logically first" (the obvious inference being that we God-followers don't).

I was so perturbed by what he said, or the very fact that he was saying it, that I couldn't seem to decently organise my thoughts and words. "God uses different situations to teach us different things," was sort of what I feebly came up with. "His care for us doesn't always show in the obvious ways we immediately think of".

I realise I don't have the eloquence even now, away from the source of perturbation, to properly explain God's hand in our lives. And I realise that delving into this could lead to profound, unanswerable questions about evil and suffering and so forth, which I won't, and can't, get into.

But to thoughtlessly, contemptuously, say that God is uncaring -- based on superficial evidence, and without any in-depth knowledge or experience of God -- is simply too much for a Christian to ignore. "Why thank God for some random, meaningless circumstance?" he was in essence saying. "Why thank God for anything really?"

What my cousin said reflects the views of many secular people I think; the belief that God doesn't really exist, and if He did, He's distant and indifferent; that it all really boils down to luck or fortune or whatever it is you want to call it.

Well, I think that there is some degree of randomness in life -- stuff happens -- but God's character, His goodness and love, are certain and unchanging.

I don't know that God actually caused the breakdown (in this case I'd be more inclined to blame human error), but I believe He used it, as He does all trials and tribulations, to some good purpose.

How can our small, finite minds ever fully comprehend God's purposes and plans? We can't, but we can trust to His goodness and His love. Romans 8:28 says, "We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labour] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose" (italics mine).

Perhaps there were people that day who got a lesson in patience, or fortitude, or kindness, or facing their fears. Perhaps there were people whose faith needed to be strengthened, or whose pride needed to be humbled. Perhaps human flaws like carelessness, irresponsibility or greed had to be exposed. Perhaps it was all for the good of just a hundred people out of the thousands, or perhaps it was just a handful, or perhaps just one.

I'm not talking only about the people who were actually there that day, taking, or working on, the trains -- I'm talking about anyone at all connected to the situation, however remote; anyone who has any sort of knowledge at all about what happened, like people who watch it on the news in another country for instance, even if it's a week from now, or a decade. Who can grasp how far God's reach is?

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa 55:8-9).

Many of us are familiar with the story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. One day the sisters sent to Jesus, telling Him that their brother was sick. But although the Bible says Jesus loved the three siblings, He did not go to their aid immediately. In fact, he stayed away until Lazarus finally died.

"When Jesus received the message, He said, This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by) it...

"Therefore [even] when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He still stayed two days longer in the same place where He was...

"Jesus told [the disciples] plainly, Lazarus is dead,

"And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him" (John 11:4-15).

Jesus let Lazarus and his sisters go through their suffering. He did so for a purpose. I suppose He could have rushed to them as soon as he got word of Lazarus' sickness and spared them all a great deal of pain and grief, but He didn't. Instead He actually said "I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me)".

The way Jesus showed His love and caring was not in the overt way we would have immediately expected. But just because He did not answer their prayers in the patently obvious way they wanted Him to, does not mean He did not hear or answer them, or care.

We all go through different things at different times -- sometimes we're home free, but yes, sometimes we're stuck in a stuffy, miserable train. I think how we respond to those times, how we learn from them, how we use our faith, determines the quality and outcome of our lives, our levels of peace and joy.

Sometimes we have to go through the trials, like Mary and Martha, to see God’s glory, His power and goodness at work in our lives.

I don't think it's the natural "flip side" that God wasn't caring for the people who were caught in the breakdown. Besides the obvious care -- along the "thank God it was no worse" line, or "thank God we even have a transport system to complain about" -- there are often things which God delivers us from, which are never apparent at the time, of which we never know till later (or perhaps never at all in this lifetime). How often have we heard people say things like, "Thank goodness such and such happened, or I would have so on and so forth. I hated it at the time, but I'm so grateful for it now".

I think His providence is also manifest in the grace and strength He gives us to endure, to press on and press through. We live in a sinful, imperfect world; if our faith and hope are in Him, we can go through our trials peacefully, and with confidence.

His lovingkindness toward each of us is personal, and we are called to "thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]" (1 Thess 5:18, italics mine).

Becky came in soon after my cousin had left, and saw me sitting alone, looking troubled. She asked what the matter was, so I told her. And she said, "Never mind, he doesn't understand. Even if we had been the ones who had gotten stuck on the train, we would still have thanked God, and God would still have taken care of us".

wintering at the cottage


Thursday, December 15, 2011

wheee it's a

bring me home!
Just enter code JOYFUL11 to get 15% off shopwide! Happy shopping :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

holiday fun!

Shopping fun!
Outside Shanghai Tang. But we prefer the bookstore next door.

Hotel fun!
Lavender, tea and jasmine-scented pillows. Bubble baths. Room service. Gigantic mirror. Which I forgot to clean first.

Food fun!
Endless sausages, bacon and other greasy things we don't have at home.

Fountain fun!
Who doesn't wanna get completely drenched in a fountain.

Bonding fun!
The best part of being out in the big wide world with the people who love you.

Thursday, December 8, 2011



Ro comes running up from downstairs. B's in her room, writing.

B: What's lunch?
Ro: Something.
B: Yes, but what is it?
Ro: Food.

On another note, we're off on a little holiday!
Have a super lovely week, see you soon!



From Milli Millu. They're gorgeous, but at 295 to 425 pounds a pop, I think I'm filing them under my hm.. ok.. category.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

just a dog

Am I the only who loves this scene from Finding Neverland (from the start till about 03:20)? "That's not a diamond; it's just a rock"... wonderful... And that dog...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sailor Ghost says


A new Sailor Ghost is in the shop!
Sailor Ghost is very much loved for his gentle nature and infectious smile :)


Friday, December 2, 2011

stream of consciousness (narrative mode)


I find this email from B to my husband, who was away on a business trip (the whole thing was underlined, italicised, and in bold, by the way).

To: Daddy
Subject: Dear Dad

Dear Daddy, how is your trip? Oh, he-he.
Nothing! You sure... just look weird in those old Army pants that Mom shortened.
(Ha-ha!) Boy, do you look weird!
I have changed my name from Rebecca to THE Rebecca or THE Rock.
Ooh... waffle coming up! (Gobble gobble)
I was wondering what's going on in that... place.
What's the place called?
I have decided to not use Skype and start using the Internet to E-Mail u more!
Dear Daddy, I am going to find out... oh, never mind!
Hope you have a great time!
Signed, THE Rock.


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