Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I need a new car

Dear husband, this is NOT a hint. You can always buy the lower model, spray it white and add a spoiler, change the stickers and all.

Then we sell the house!

Popquiz: why does my husband know when the car sounds funny and needs attention...but can't seem to tell when I need attention? It's called the power of selective hearing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Benny Hinn : The Good, Bad and Ugly

On Saturday night, I had the opportunity to attend the Benny Hinn Miracle Healing Service at Expo. Having read Hinn’s “Welcome Holy Spirit”, I was excited to experience what God had groomed this evangelist for the Ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The good?

The power of the Holy Spirit was present in the Hall. Tears streaming down my face, I felt strongly the presence of the Holy One. And for Hinn, he didn’t take credit for this, he was humble to acknowledge the power of the Holy Ghost. Thousands went for the altar call to be saved. We judge not by what evangelists do or say; we judge by their fruits. People stood up from wheelchairs, removed crutches, threw away hearing aids…some completely healed, some on their road to recovery.

The bad?

A highly controversial message about tithing. Yes, people should be challenged to tithe by faith and according to what they believe God puts in their hearts. But seriously, why challenge people to give US$1000 in one offering? At the same time, why say “Within 7 days, God will break your debt, God will give back to you more than you can imagine.” Why limit God to 7 days? Why make God sound like an ATM machine? I don’t blame anyone for saying Hinn is into prosperity teaching. It’s just too weird to be hearing this if I’m a new Christian!

The Ugly?

The crowd at Expo was uncivilized. Makes me think I got back into China again. From the MRT to the expo hall, I can’t believe Christians have no manners. Look, there are 30,000 people crammed into 4 huge halls. Give way lah. It’s not like you will DIE doing so. In entering the MRT, some shouted “CHONG AH!”, pushing and shoving their way into the train. When youngsters get into the train, they run to the chairs and pretend to fall asleep, ignoring the old folks who need the seats more than they do. They even run to the priority seats and do the same-even if the seats are marked out for the handicapped/elderly. If Christians are like this, I don’t ever want to be called a Christian. Gracious living? What a joke!

I don’t know what is happening to Christians of this world. If this was the first time I came to this conference, I wouldn’t want to become a Christian. We lead by example and our fruits.

I know people are hungry for the touch of God. I know God wants to bless and to heal. I know that God is good all the time. But many Christians – God’s ambassadors - are doing a terrible job.

I hope that by the grace of God, more will come to know of this good God who takes care of us. That this God cannot be limited even on a corrupt generation. A God that can touch lives that are hungry for Him.

For me?

No more crowded conferences like this. They take a toll on my mental well-being and threaten to destroy my rose-tinted glasses. I’m going to keep my optimism up and continue to look on the bright side of the human race.

We as Christians are still corrupt and are all still on the way to being more gracious. That’s why we need God more.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Schedule for delivery

Hello I'm back. Latest update : C-section scheduled on 9 Dec 2008. That is if all goes well and I don't go into spontaneous labour at anytime.

The chain of events as scheduled by Doctor:
5th Dec 2008 (Fri) - Afternoon, 1st steroid injection to boost baby's lung development.
6th Dec 2008 (Sat) - Morning, 2nd steroid injection to boost baby's lung development.
8th Dec 2008 (Mon) - Morning, check into hospital to arrange for C-section and for operating theatre to be set up with specialists on-site.
9th Dec 2008 (Tue) - Baby's delivery

Some of mother's friends have told me the steroid jabs are painful and cause bruises on the bum. But let's not think about that now. And of course horrible stories of Caesarean sections. Aiyah, bo pian mah. Ma says she has a great threshold of pain and has never used drugs for delivery (what the!!). Let's hope i'm at least somewhat similar. However, i have an EXTREME FEAR of needles.

My stomach is the size of a basketball, having put on 14+ kilos to date. The walk up along the stairs to our 4-storey apartment now requires 1 stop before i get to the front door.

The complaints are common: swollen ankles, tiredness, reflux! And a sweet tooth for everything fattening. Oh no.

But enough of complaining lah. I'm glad everything is normal, I'm still able to be mobile and walking around, sleep like a piglet. And husband came down for 1 day! We had great fun just hanging out. And him feeling Baby's karate chops and crazy kicks at night.

So doc only wants to see me fortnightly and he's happy with the progress..that's good. By the time I deliver i will be at 39 weeks... ya and hopefully by then the renovation to the foodcourt at KK Hospital is complete and can enjoy nice hawker food there again...

So anytime now...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Job 28

20 "Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?

21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds of the air.

22 Destruction and Death say,
'Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.'

23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,

24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.

25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,

26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,

27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.

28 And he said to man,
'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.' "

Dear friends and family,

I start off this letter with the verses above because I believe we can confidently walk with Him who is wise and knows all things. We worship God simply because He is God and not for what he provides. To accord Him the glory is more important than wishing for anything.

Praise God today the ultrasound scan was all normal! Doctors have reduced the ultrasound scans from weekly to fortnightly! We give God all the glory and honour because without Him, last week would have been tough to get through. So thank you for all your prayers and encouragement that has been flooding through our mailboxes. I’m sorry if I haven’t got to some of you yet – I will do my best to reply!

Today, I don’t want to talk about the baby. Instead, here’s what I learned from the book of Job over the past 2 days. If you are interested, read on!

Best friend June invited me to 2 evenings on expositions from the book of Job under Project Timothy at ORPC (Orchard Rd Presbyterian church). I love the answers presented by Christopher Ash, Director of the Cornhill Training Centre, UK.

1. Does Jesus want you to be rich (and healthy, successful and powerful)?

- Most certainly, but probably NOT YET. In this world, yours and my faith will be tested, and refined like gold. Our reward is certainly in heaven.

2. The mark of a true believer : Everything is stripped away but still trusts in God.

3. A believer can be terribly alone in suffering because only he/she knows what it feels like.

4. The search for wisdom is costly because this is a valuable and inaccessible object. So stop looking for it with our limited human minds. Instead we must confidently walk with Him who knows all things; thus we will be wise.

5. God is God. We are not. God is all-mighty; he did everything in creation, controls the wild animals and beasts. We are unworthy to question Him.

6. So our sovereign faithfulness should be to God; even in our darkest moments. Likewise, we cannot deal and overcome evil in this world alone, we need God.

7. UNDESERVED suffering DOES exist. Of course, sometimes we suffer the consequences of our own sin, thus we search our hearts to see where suffering comes from. However, Christianity is not about ‘karma’ – ie. Suffering happens to bad people (that’s what Job’s friends said). Just remember our reward is in heaven.

Correct me if I'm wrong, for I know this is all rather simplistic and you’ll probably have many questions and bombard me with different levels of argument. Despite this, I want to let you know I found comfort in the reminder that God knows all things and sometimes things don’t work out the way we plan it to.
I leave here with a hymn that touched me yesterday, for I know that God is with us.

It Is Well with My Soul

1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

when sorrows like sea billows roll;

whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.


It is well with my soul,

it is well, it is well with my soul.

2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

let this blest assurance control,

that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

and hath shed his own blood for my soul.


3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


4. And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

even so, it is well with my soul.


With love,

Marcus and Charlene

Friday, October 17, 2008

taking things in perspective

I've posted 3 letters to all of you that were sent out recently. It's for all to view and pass it on to encourage your friends.

There are up and down days. Down when I get hit with unfavourable news - after a good cry, God puts my mind to rest. We humans are resilient and bounce back quite easily. I'm not going to lie and say that it's all a bed of roses or that I'm super-happy.

Praise God for friends like you who treat me like family. I'm so grateful that you all support us all the way, pray and encourage us no matter what.

In all my life I've not been lacking in love department and I count myself blessed! There are millions of things to be grateful for and I don't want to dwell on the nasties because God has his plan in all things.

I've realised some things:
1. It's ok to grieve. Just place urself in God's arms, get up and walk again.
2. It's ok to ask for the priority seat in the MRT; even when students pretend to be sleeping on it(becoz now i look heavily pregnant). Just smile gratefully after they get up and say 'thank u very much'.
3. It's ok to tell people you're lonely.
4. It's ok to tell God you're sad.
5. My job is to let others know that God is good, all the time.
6. God has his perfect timing - in all things and don't forget that. In the grand scheme of things, our suffering is so transient, so insignificant. So put our trust in Him.
7. Don't let fear drive us to do silly things. But let perfect love motivate us to do even better things.

So let me stop procrastinating about things. I dedicate this time to honing my writing again and falling in love with my first love - reading.

baby's development part 3-17 oct 08

“My grace is sufficient for your, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor 9.

“For you created my innermost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Ps139: 13-16

Dear friends & family

Thank you for your prayers and concern. We really appreciate your petitions to our Father, our all-powerful God. Marcus and I know that He who has brought us this child will continue to carry his work to completion!

The diagnostic during my ultrasound scan yesterday was not too positive. The sonographer took an awful long time – in silence – to take photographs and write the report. My mother and I proceeded to the counseling room where we spoke to another doctor. Doctor said the baby’s heart had water around it possibly due to the stomach pushing upwards, causing pressure in the chest area where the heart is located. She wanted me to come back for weekly ultrasounds from now on; and keep monitoring progress.

We also had an appointment with the warm and friendly neo-natal specialist, Dr Bhavani. She explained that after delivery, specialists would stabilize the baby’s heart & breathing for 5-7 days before surgery. So far, the hospital has not lost any babies AFTER surgery – that was great news. The crucial period, however, was the 5-7 days after delivery where the baby would be in NICU, hooked up to machines and administered medication to aid breathing.

The baby probably will need to stay in hospital 4-6 weeks after delivery. After being stable for 2-3 months, scheduled check-ups will be arranged. Post-surgery, the lungs should be fully functional a year after, as lung tissue develops very well. In the first year, it is expected that the baby may be in and out of hospital for respiratory conditions / infections.

Right now, the baby’s condition:

1. Left sided diaphragmatic hernia where the bowels are pushed to the chest area.

2. The stomach has pushed the heart to the right, which would possibly strain the heart muscles and restrict blood flow during development.

3. Left lung growth OK. Right lung tissue underdeveloped as squeezed to the right by the heart. The baby’s lungs form last during development and lungs are used only when baby emerges from the womb. Therefore doctors are unable to ascertain the extent to which the lungs are working.

To pray for:

1. Full-term delivery. Ie. Delivery after 34 weeks would be best because a term baby would be more stable than a premature one. We pray that the situation will improve from now on so as the baby will be able to be well.

2. A positive mindset, looking to God because He is our creator. He has supplied us with the grace to overcome all things.

3. Wisdom by doctors, sound advice and the ability to know when to take action, if necessary.

In the meantime, we place our trust in our God; for He has great plans for this STAR that shines brightly for Him. Esther of the bible had all odds stacked against her but yet she overcame all things – although this baby’s struggle started earlier, we are sure she will overcome everything to emerge victorious!

Praise God that He has arranged for things to be well so far and placed baby’s case in the right hands of experienced doctors and surgeons.

I will be in Singapore from now until delivery because doctors have advised me to be near the hospital in case of an emergency.

God bless you all,

Charlene and Marcus

baby's development - part 2-30 sep 08

ear friends,

thanks for all your concern and prayers. We certainly see God's hand in everything these 2 days.

Just to update, we have decided to deliver the baby in KKH in singapore. Docs have recommended to deliver at term - or near term as possible. Unless the baby suffers distress and needs to come out earlier. That is why I will need to be here from 16 October until delivery. They don't want me to be too far from the hospital in case of an emergency.

For now, I am in Singapore and will return to KL only on 4th or 5th Oct as I have another appointment with the Dr.

Monday - saw Dr Tan who arranged an immediate ultrasound. Didn't wait long! Sonographer said come back next day at 9.30am when the senior director & team comes to view complicated cases.

Tuesday - went for ultrasound again. A/Prof George Yeo was at the ultrasound confirming where all the baby's organs were. Straight afterward, proceeded to the counselling room where 2 docs talked me through and advised me that I need to come back to see the baby doc & surgeon. Set a date for further ultrasound and appointments with baby surgeon. Senior director talked us through the technicalities of the case.

They all advised me to come back every 2 weeks for monitoring and be nearby in case of emergency. Cost-wise they advised me to refer to my first dr to find how to obtain subsidies when I deliver.

The cost of neo-natal care may rack up a high bill. We will need to find out more how to get subsidies. Anyway neo-natal care does not have different classes (subsidised vs private class) so it doesn't matter anyway.

Praise God for:
1. Cutting all lines, getting immediate priority and treatment! Eg. see doctor on monday morning, ultrasound immediate (usually got to set another date !), see Sr Director immediately next morning.

2. Immediately setting up of appointment with priority on the dates for both baby doc and surgeon on the next date of ultrasound (16 Oct).

We were highly impressed with the speedy service and priority given. It is so difficult to skip the long lines at the hospital.

3. Oh yah, after half a day with consultation with 3 docs+ultrasoundx2 today, it was FOC. Of course i paid on the first day lah- but not as much as I would in KL at a private hospital.

Things to pray for:

1. to find out the best way to get subsidised rates on delivery & neo-natal care. NICU (neonatal icu) prices are high, paediatric dr & surgeon bills may go up the roof. The system to get subsidised rates is pretty strict.

-I need to report first to a govt clinic, then wait in line for a panel dr at the hospital, then get referred to the same specialist doctors. I can't downgrade from within the hospital system since now I am a private patient (had to pay private rates to cut all the lines to the experts). Cos i need to show that my whole immediate family earns less than $3200/mth! Unfortunately my father still works!

2. That the baby will turn out fine. The right lung is compressed near the heart. we need to gauge the development of heart and lungs. Heart failure is the worst thing that can happen because of the pressure of all the organs growing within the baby's chest.

3. Wisdom and guidance for all the drs to give good advice and look into the case.

Other than that, marcus and I heave a sigh of relief. It's good to know that the doctors have the experience and are able to assure me the next course of action. It's all in God's hands now.

God bless