I Can Do It!

To Love.To Serve.To Lift

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I Don’t Like My Sister

Ever since Li-Ann was born, I’ve been reading up and teaching my older 2 about their sister – how they should view their sister and handle verbal or non-verbal views of their sister. It’s a constant teaching as all of them are growing up and maturing. I find that I have to explain many things as simply as I can because, until they are more able, bombastic terms will just fly past them. My husband and I often assure them of our love for each of them and also explain that we love them differently because they are different. I frequently discourage them from comparing among themselves and bicker about stuff. Afterall, they are at different stages of growth with different needs. Sometimes, I suggest to them that if they want to be ‘babied’ and fed, then perhaps they should return to  wearing diapers or it’s wonderful that they can read and draw so well and Li-Ann is still learning etc.

Below are some things I tell my older two:
-Love your sister and see your sister as a blessing and a unique individual made by God (just like you), who makes no mistakes.
-See your sister as the same as you, who likes to play and have fun and gets upset and cries at times too.
-Love/forgive your sister because she will learn to love/forgive you too. Do to others what you have them do unto you.
-Help/teach/encourage your sister as we all need help in different ways, just like you need help when you were her age too. She will learn/improve and be able to play or help you when she’s older.
-Speak nicely and kindly to your sister. Ask her permission if you want something from her and not take away her things. While she does not retaliate now, she may do so in the future, following your bad example
-Pray for your sister’s growth and relationship with you.



I Am Special

I have friends who have children with special needs, other than Down syndrome, and have asked me for suggestions on how to help their children. I cannot claim to know how to help specifically but here are some general suggestions (I’ve used ‘she’ to simply denote the child and not specifically to refer to the gender):

-Love your child LOTS – express it verbally, visually and physically so she is SURE of your love and feels secure.
-Say ‘no’ firmly and with love. As parents, we can’t always give our children what they want. We need to train our children to accept ‘no’ as one of the answers they will hear from us or anyone. Depending on the age of the child and the situation, I may or may not explain my rationale. Regardless, I still expect my children to obey me.
-Read up about her condition as much as possible so that you know how to help her coz if you are home with her, you know her best. It will also help you to understand what the teacher/medical professional is saying.
-Don’t put her in a mould/box – while there may be similar characteristics shared by children with the same condition as her, she is unique and different.  Hence, find out what works or doesn’t work for her while keeping in mind what you have read. That’s the beauty of homeschooling.
-See your child as normal and expect high of her while you set realistic short and long term goals.  Breaking these into smaller steps will help her, yourself and those around her. Gradually you will see her rising up to your expectations.
-Don’t compare her with others coz that will discourage you and her more. Be aware of the milestones she has to achieve and work towards them, giving her the time she needs.
-Know a few moms who have children of similar conditions so you can share and exchange notes. But beware of falling into the trap of comparing your child with their children.
-Give PLENTY of praises and encouragement – an essential for any child to grow and develop and make it a BIG deal. Many times, even I myself am stingy with this…so I am also constantly reminding myself to speak positively to help and edify.
-Don’t help your child if she can do it herself so she will learn how to help herself and work towards independence.
-Involve your child in the household chores at home. Afterall, they all need to learn as they grow up and it’s easier to start young and earlier. This is another step towards picking up self-help skills in the Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Personally I feel that once my children are able to take care of themselves, that’s a big load off my mind. I am constantly working towards this goal on a daily basis.
-Look for people (teachers/therapists/medical professionals) who share similar goals as you for helping your child – they will love her, want to help her do her best and push her when necessary.
-Pray for your child. Being a Christian, I believe that’s the BEST way to help my child. I’ve seen how God works in her countless of times. I also know that in spite of what I may be unable to do, the Lord will see to ALL her needs, now or in the future. That comforts me and frees me to love her and my other children.

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YES! To Go…Running With Horses

Hi Everyone!!!

Thank you for praying for us. We are back from church camp – each one still in ONE piece – well, probably with some added mass from all that buffet meals we ate 😉 Oh ya, except for my glasses – one of the legs of my glasses came off as the screw had dropped. I really thank God it was on the day we were due to come home and that I had my prescription sunglasses with me. Otherwise I would be as blind as a bat. Now with my glasses fixed, more light enters my eyes and I see everything undarkened (if there’s such a word…).

I want to share my thanksgiving and my joy with you. Rejoice with me as we give God the glory. It is my prayer that in this brightly lit festive season, you will see and experience the True Light – who will guide you and give you His joy and peace.

The Message

*Dr Alex Tang was our speaker. Soft-spoken yet firm, he was excellent in his focus on the Bible, relating stories and personal anecdotes and the use of multimedia to share on the theme – ‘Lights That Cannot Be Hidden’ – how do we let our lights shine amidst the darkness in our society? Lessons were drawn from the book of Jeremiah (Chp 1, 12, 35). Dr Tang first gave us the background of the book. Then he shared about God’s response to Jeremiah when Jeremiah brought his concerns before Him. In Jeremiah 12.5, God said

“If you have raced with men on foot
and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses?
If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?

Immediately, I understood that God wanted my family and I to run with the horses – it started at the camp (yes, God worked fast) when I had to handle the children by myself, relying only on God’s strength. And God gave me assurance that we will win, because He will empower us. Although we will run in the face of wild and windy challenges, God impressed upon my heart that it will be a time of receiving. Huh? I couldn’t understand how that’s possible but I will take God’s word by faith. I’m really excited and am eagerly awaiting another adventure with the Lord – God knows how the adrenaline rush motivates me. “HOLD your horses!! Remember this…” God gave me a timely reminder. I see the familiar image of a huge guy holding the hands of a little girl in ponytails – that’s my Abba Father and me 😀

Psalm 16.8

I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

*In order to compete with the horses, I must first die to self. My devotion (My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers) on 9 December spoke directly on this

“It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence and my self-assertiveness, and this is where the battle has to be fought. It is the things that are right and noble and good from the natural standpoint that keep us back from God’s best…Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.”

I know I had been smothering God’s flame with my excuses, complaints, good intentions, naggings, personal interests etc. As I repent, I have to intentionally surrender myself to Jesus daily.

*God affirmed this through Pastor Christopher Creech, who preached on Sunday in our church. His realistic and theatrical description of Mary and Joseph’s dilemma and their seemingly ‘disgraceful situation’ when they believed and obeyed God about Jesus’ conception had helped me to see their utterly helpless state. Their only hope was God, who gave them a stable for the birth of their firstborn, our Saviour, Jesus. In addition, Pastor Christopher also shared that although he said ‘no’ to God twice, when he responded as Mary did – ‘Let it be to me according to your word’, God provided specifically for his needs when he had to raise more support for his missionary work.  ‘Let it be to me according to your word’ – I pray to say this often, with courage and humility.

*Dr Tang also gave some very good suggestions on how we can do our own study of the Bible –  a) aim to read the whole Bible in 2-3 years (reasonable time frame) b) pick a topic/book and study that for 1 year (eg. baptism, book of Psalms etc). I probably will have a go at them and catch up with the children (I really feel very ashamed when they told me they have finished reading the Bible 😦 ). I thoroughly enjoyed the gem-filled sessions 😀 Read more about how the Lord is leading Dr Tang in his blog Random Musings from a Doctor’s Chair

The Relationships

*While CM is precious to us, we are very precious to him too. To be separated in this way –  having all of us out of safe Singapore, is really stretching us beyond our comfort zones. God showed me that He MUST be our First Love and when we surrender our most treasured possessions to Him, we will be most effective vessels for His use.

*As I took the step of faith to go for the church camp, God saw to ALL our needs and gave me His perspective about things. Strangely enough, even when the hotel staff didn’t fix the shower hose that burst, I didn’t complain and just tried to work around it.

*Dr Tang was very kind to allow me to seek his advice on relationships and medical issues. He reminded me that because God made CM and I differently, He will also speak to us differently. To be a good helpmate is to listen without judgement. And unless help is asked for, it may be better to wait and pray and not jump in and mess things up (I am guilty 😦 ). Dr Tang also shared openly as he answered my queries on certain medical conditions. God answered my prayers – He sent the perfect person to address my concerns. Furthermore, Dr Tang made a point to tell me he read my blog. Thank you for your encouragement, doctor.

The Children

*Since young, I never liked to take coaches. I always felt it was a hassle, going up and down. It’ll be extra tiring bringing the children, especially to the public toilets, and then dragging the luggage around for security checks at the immigration. However, this coach ride to Malacca was the most pleasant one I’ve ever had. It was a smooth journey via the Second Link. There was NO queue. There was NO crowd. There was NO hassle. My job was to manage Li-Ann and the stroller. John and Rebecca took care of themselves and helped me with the luggage. While I suspect there was minimal inconvenience because we were sitting in the front of the bus, I believe we had guardian angels looking out for us and were extremely gracious to give us priority. This is such a wonderful reflection of The Light 😉

*CM was concerned about how I would keep the children occupied during the bus ride. So was I. But since I didn’t want to worry about this, I decided to leave it in God’s hands. The girls had versatile props (plastic bags and my shawl) and their animated playmates – Yue Heng, Mui Ee and Josephine Loo, were roped into their business of buying and selling of sea cucumbers, fruits and blankets. It was a good time for Li-Ann to learn turn taking and negotiation and for Rebecca, to practise her mental calculation. It was HILARIOUS! They had so much fun. I wish I had recorded their witty exchange and contagious laughter. By the way, their duty free shops were opened on the way to Malacca and also on our way back to Singapore.

*I deeply appreciate all who willingly spent time with my children so I could let my hair down  – I did, quite a bit 😉 I had time to eat my meals and the kuehs kuehs, go for the prayer stations, attend and learn from the teaching sessions and fellowship with others. I’m also grateful to the aunties, uncles, jie jies and kor kors who loved Li-Ann (and wanted so much to hug her but she was rather unwilling; I was very amused when I quietly witnessed all these. In fact, she only hugged Selina. Ok…ok…don’t be envious…), were patient with her and gave of themselves as they conversed and played with her. She had so much fun getting to know all of you. In case you didn’t know, those times of interaction were perfect therapy sessions for her 😀 John and Rebecca also learnt a lot with your encouragement and generosity. Rebecca didn’t want to go home and John wanted a 1-week church camp. I told him he can propose when he’s in the church camp committee. Thank you for being the lights that brightened up their lives.

*I give thanks that the children were obedient, took care of themselves and were helpful and responsible throughout the trip. They helped me with the packing and unpacking and looked out for one another and others – both adults and children. They were keenly aware of the schedule and consistently reminded me to be punctual (now you know why we were on time). I praise God for helping these little lights shine.

The Fellowship

*I had opportunities to get to know more people and chat with them – along corridors, at mealtimes, while waiting, even in the toilet – sharing about ourselves, our families and also about our views of the teaching sessions. For those whom I wasn’t able to spend time in fellowship, let’s meet up in church on Sunday at the Tea Area. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your sharing. Thank you for your friendship.

*When we came back from shopping at Mahkota, Susan shouted out, “Where were you Apple? You didn’t board the bus with the children. We were so worried that maybe the taxi driver had taken you somewhere else.” I was so so touched by that love. I thanked her for her concern and explained that we were with Josephine and Gaby, eating our fill at a Teppanyaki buffet (as all Singaporeans would) and we decided to take a cab back instead. Thank you for looking out for us. Thank you for praying for us.

*When I asked Tapas if he’ll show ‘Chariots of Fire’ even though not many were keen to watch, he promptly obliged. Tapas and Amudha helped us set it up, made it really comfortable for us and joined us in the movie. We had an enjoyable experience of first class seats with leg rests (FOC), exclusive viewing and yummy snacks (not going to elaborate in case you start to drool buckets). It is a superb movie!! I highly recommend it. Thank you Tapas and Amudha!

😉 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉


Apple Hamburger

Have you heard of an ‘apple hamburger’ before? No? Neither have I. But sweet Li-Ann came up with this.

Li-Ann wanted an apple after dinner so I let her eat one, although I knew she won’t be able to finish. Usually, I would insist she share with either one of us. But not tonight.

For the FIRST time, she kind of gnawed (I know I made her sound like a rabbit) around on a WHOLE apple ALL BY HERSELF and then told us, about 5 minutes later, “This is apple hamburger.” I’m not sure about hubby but I was EXTREMELY surprised. And it did look like a hamburger of sorts. I quickly grab my camera to take some photos.

This is apple hamburger

Then she proceeded to marvel at the teeth marks that she made in the apple and said, “See my molars.” I’m not sure where she got that idea from. We did have discussions about teeth as one of her permanent bottom front tooth is peeping out quite a bit. Or perhaps she has heard Rebecca groused about the pain she has been feeling in her gums due to her molars erupting.

See my molars

Pretending to gnaw on my apple

In another 5 minutes, she told me, “Mama, I don’t want to eat anymore.” By then she had already eaten off the top of her ‘hamburger’. That was FAST!!

Finishing three quarters of the apple!

I praise God for another milestone that Li-Ann has achieved:

1. Her oral motor skill has improved and she is able to eat the apple independently with the skin (the apple is NOT the soft type) and she’s able to finish 3/4 of the apple within a short time of about 10 minutes. That also means that she has to chew and swallow the pieces in her mouth fast enough too.

2. Her fine motor skill has improved as she is able to hold the apple for at least 10 minutes without saying that it’s heavy and also being able to turn the apple in a consistent way to get her hamburger pattern.

3. Her imagination and creativity shows the healthy development of her cognitive ability. She continues to surprise us with her childlike insights to the world around her.


To Go or Not to Go?

That was the question I was prompted to ask myself 2 weeks before registration closed for church camp from 8-11 December in Malacca.

Some pull factors:

-CM won’t be going for the camp as he’ll be overseas for a meeting

-It will be in Malaysia, not Singapore. I have to take a coach with the children. We have not taken a coach with any of the children to Malaysia before. Usually CM drives.

-I will have to take care of the passports and cash myself. Usually, this is CM’s responsibility. Now I gotta be extra alert. I have cold feet just thinking about this.

-I will have to see to the children’s needs, which include the coach ride to and from Malacca, sleeping arrangements and meals.

-Li-Ann has an appointment with her surgeon on 9 December, who will review the health of her anus due to her surgery when she was 10 months old. I didn’t want an alternative date months later, which can happen due to last minute reschedulings of appointments in a public hospital.

The push factors:

-We had planned to go for the church camp. The children wanted to go too.

-It will be a good opportunity to fellowship as all of us will be in the hotel for at least 3 whole days.

-I know God will teach us when we go.

-CM will be in serving in 2 of the committees in church. As he’s unable to go, it is preferable that I represent him as his wife.

As my mind played and replayed these factors over and over, I told God that I would go if 2 conditions were met, in order of priority:

1. The children would be able to take care of themselves, at least John and Rebecca.

2. LA’s doctor’s appointment would not be rescheduled to 2011.

I really felt like Gideon when I told God. But God graciously allowed me to tell Him what my concerns were and He provided for a mother’s heart and met those conditions.

During those 2 weeks while I was struggling, we went for a 1-week holiday with my in-laws and some of CM’s siblings and their children to Longyan and Xiamen for a clan event as well as sightseeing. It was a learning trip for all of us. Living together for 1 week also meant learning about and respecting one another’s habits and views. Generally, the children were very independent and were able to take care of themselves and look out for their cousins and even the adults. Even LA was able to tell us when she needed to use the bathroom, whether it was to pee or poo. I was amazed and overjoyed!! I also witnessed how, most of the time, the children were discerning and know what behaviour is expected of them. Of course, from time to time, we needed to remind them and teach them as we do at home. Suddenly, I realised when I told God about Condition #1, I was in fact hoping for their spiritual discernment more than their physical independence. How well God knew my heart and met my need.

When I came back, I called the clinic to change LA’s appointment. The usual busy appointment line was answered quickly by a kind nurse who told me the doctor would also be away for conference. She gave me another appointment on 21 December – just 11 days after the original appointment and within 2010. So God met Condition #2 as well.

When God gently showed me He was in charge, He was assuring me that He will see to all my needs at the camp. So I signed up by faith, knowing that God will answer my final prayer when I am at the church camp: what is my purpose in going for the church camp?

So, we will be off tomorrow, almost packed and very expectant! Please remember us and CM, who’ll be on business trip in Shenzhen from 9-12 December:

-journey mercies for CM and us as we travel separately this week
-CM to stand firm in his beliefs and not compromise
-CM to thirst and hunger for the Word
-unity for us and the family
-God to teach me and the children during the camp – especially on how we can serve together as a family
-opportunities to encourage others during the camp