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To Love.To Serve.To Lift


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Why Did God Give Me A Child With Down Syndrome?

A friend asked me, ‘Have you ever wondered why God gave you a child with DS when others have typical children?’ She said she knew all the theoretical answers but wanted to know how I would respond. WAH…..this is a tough one man!!

Actually, to be honest, I’ve never really asked God this question. Ha! Maybe that’s how I should tell my friend and wiggle out of this…hehehe…Ok… I shall not clown around…Perhaps when Li-Ann was first born, the emotional side of me might have asked, ‘Why me?’ a few times but apart from that, I had to handle many issues and the practical side of me told me I had to move on. So I did.

I was seriously stuck with this question. It had set me thinking. It took me many months to organise my thoughts…and also to really ask God and wait for His answer.

God gave me His answer in 2 parts. First, He told me Part 2…

God gave us Li-Ann so that we and others can see how a child will grow up as a result of His unconditional love. This was an amazing revelation for me. Being imperfect, I can never imagine how this is ever possible. However, with the Almighty Father, nothing is impossible.

With our older two, parenting has been a continuous challenge. When LA came along, that stretched us further. Surprisingly, CM and I have found ourselves to be more patient (or lax?) with LA (I’m not sure if we are doing better as parents). Maybe we know she needs more time….or maybe we find her really cute….or maybe we are simply tired….Whatever the reason, she’s a joy to be with and we all treasure her.

We witness God’s Hands in moulding LA into a pretty girl who LOVES horse riding, (and she’s GOOD at it) has a mind of her own and will not hesitate to speak if you grant her audience. She is getting more independent and is eager to do things on her own. Now that she has grown taller, she would tip-toe (good way to strengthen her calf muscles) to reach the toilet light switch. With her gross and fine muscles being worked on, she is now more willing to take risks. Li-Ann recently tied a ponytail all by herself!! YEA!! On that day, she did it at least 5-6 times, further enhancing her fine motor skills. I found out it’s not easy for a child to do that.  As LA was given exposure to different sights and soundspeople and places, flora and fauna,  we see rapid growth and development in her speech her cognitive capabilities, interests and abilities. Many love her dearly and one, Aunty Louise, even experienced love through her. Perhaps she saw a glimpse of the unconditional love of God through Li-Ann…

As I pondered over these, it dawn upon me that if only more of us are willing to accept and experience this unconditional Fatherly love, regardless of our sufferings and sins, our lives will be full and abundant as Jesus promised in John 10.9-11 (KJV)

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

It is my prayer that this little soul will enter into a personal relationship with her Heavenly Father, who had created her in secret and knew her even before she was born. And that in spite of any limitations set by her genetic code, God’s will will be lived out in her life.

So what’s Part 1 of God’s answer? God gave us Li-Ann so that we will continue to experience His perfecting work in us as we humbly rely on Him.

Brother John and sister Rebecca simply adore their little sister. They love to hug, kiss and squeeze her. These two were known to fight over issues like ‘LA likes me better than you!’ or ‘LA wants to play with me.’ or ‘LA is MY dog/cat/horse/etc’ (when they pretended to be one another’s pet).’ While I shake my head over such petty quarrels, I saw their affection for one another and I’m grateful for the love that is holding them together. John thinks LA is The Greatest Blessing while Rebecca tells you All About Li-Ann. Here are pictures of this cherished relationship…

One day, a dear friend shared how upset she and her hubby were when one of her family members was so close to labelling LA. Both of them were frantically racking their brains on how to stop what they anticipated was coming forth. Finally the husband said, ‘Li-Ann is special.’ And that put an end to the conversation. I thank my Lord for this long-time pal from secondary school and am extremely touched by this couple’s love for LA. Thank you, brother and sister.

CM grew as a father. He loves the children and will take time to be with them as much as he can and as best as he knows how. He often obliges in our home therapies and even went for a talk on Raising Good Fathers of Children with Special Needs. Thank you Da Da for all the sacrifices you’ve made. Here are some beautiful shots taken by/with daddy…

With Li-Ann, I come to understand how intricately we are made –  the interconnectedness of our body muscles along with our minds, something a healthy typical person may never realise, until perhaps one is deprived of the normal function of a part of one’s body. With every success, I give thanks for the loving Creator who always guides and protects. With every failure, I give thanks for LA’s motivation and perseverance which has become more spontaneous and sustainable as she grows older.

Matthew 18.10
See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Perhaps, when the Lord brought me through my breast cancer surgeries and treatment, He was preparing me for the long haul with my family, including LA. I find the perfectionist me more willing to accept imperfections, interruptions, spontaniety and adjustments. Afterall, nothing is constant except our good Lord and the changes we need to cope with every now and then. Thankfully, He is also the Lord over any change and that’s an important reminder for me when I feel insecure.

James 1.17(NIV)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Daniel 2.21(NIV)
He changes times and seasons;
   he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
   and knowledge to the discerning.

Recently, we were at the hair salon when our family hairdresser and another of her regular customer unanimously agreed that I must be a very patient mom since I homeschool my children. I thanked them humbly but the truth is I can be demanding with my children at times. I am grateful for that testimony, for how God has worked in my heart and would not give up on me. Each day, I thank Him for His grace, without which I would not be where I am now.

Do you have someone who require your special and dedicated attention? It is my prayer that as you plod on each day, tired with the mundane, frustrated with your unproductive labour and can’t help but ask ‘Why?’, that God will give you many reasons to give thanks for and that your perseverance will bear fruit.

1 Corinthians 15.57-58
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.


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Li-Ann,”Wah! So Cool!”

Of late, I’ve been pretty amazed at some of the things that Li-
Ann say. It showed her curiosity and also what went on in her mind. Some are very interesting and thoughtful while others are childlike and funny. She is likely to have picked them up from her siblings. I want to share some of them here…

Mommy: We are going to River Hongbao.
LA: Do we take hong bao from the river?
Mommy: (Hahaha…trying not to laugh out loud…) No, we don’t. There’s no hongbao in the river.

Mommy: Did you enjoy the stage performance at River Hongbao?
LA: Not really.
Mommy: (And I thought the songs and items were rather interesting as some were artistes from China…Perhaps it was too loud?) Why?
LA: They (Some lady performers) were not wearing appropriately. You can see their armpits.
Mommy: (Marvelling at her observations…) I see…

LA: Aunty XXX’s baby is very chubby.
Mommy: (Knowing that she’s right but curious to know how she came to the conclusion, I asked…) How do you know?
LA: You can feel it.
Mommy: (Wah…I was expecting such an answer. Maybe she saw me touching the baby’s cheeks – she liked to do that too. Can’t fault her for that. I can only say…) That’s quite true.

One day while we were at a park…
John: Why are you collecting rubbish (Referring to the leaves LA collected)?
LA: Just for fun.
Mommy: (Yes! Recalling my childhood days, it can be fun.) Ya! It’s fun.

When looking at John’s photos of grey herons taken at Sungei Buloh…
LA: Wah! So cool!
Mommy: (Don’t know what to say to that. She’s right. The photos are cool.)

One day when their helmets were out lying around…
Mommy: John please help to keep LA’s helmet.
John: Ask LA to keep her helmet.
LA: I can’t. My hands are full…of porridge. (She was eating porridge.)
Mommy: (What a way to get away with it!!)

Sometimes, not wanting LA to dirty her water bottle (The bottle and water), I will pour a little water down her mouth/throat a bit at a time.
LA:Got waterfall in my mouth. (Then she smiled her sweetest smile 🙂 )
Mommy: That’s right!! (I thought that was such an apt description of what was happening.)

LA’s toys were not kept and I asked daddy to remind her to keep them…
Daddy: Please keep your toys.
LA: Don’t force me to keep.
Daddy: Should we throw away the toys?
LA: But mommy don’t want to throw away the toys.
Daddy: Alright, obey Papa now and keep the toys.
Mommy: (Marvelling at how she tried to wiggle out of the situation yet realising she needs to be taught how to obey her parents.)

LA: Why does Glow always look down like this (Looking down) and is scratching her legs?
Mommy: (Still thinking of how to answer and thinking to myself: that’s how horses are made and they are not like us right? And before I can answer…)
LA: I know, mommy, I know.
Mommy: Yes?
LA: Because Glow has a mosquito bite and it’s itchy.
Mommy: Really? I see. (Very amusing logic but I see her thinking and relating to what she knows. So funny…)

When I was in the shower one day, LA ran into the bathroom panicking…

LA: Mom, the computer anyhow blackout!
Mommy: (Amazed at her correct singlish, sniggering in my heart) You mean something happened and the computer screen is black?
LA: (Frustrated) Yes. And kor kor say cannot turn on.
Mommy: It’s ok LA. I think it’s time to let the computer rest. I will help you later.
LA: OK

 


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RDA Flag Day III – How to Get More Donations

After the flag day, we brainstormed some ideas on how to get more donations. Maybe you will find it useful too 🙂

1. Be cute and smile.
2. Be warm and polite in your greeting – eg. Happy New Year, Good morning, Hello, Hi.
3. Choose a good location where human traffic is high.
4. Ask the important question – Would like to donate some money?
5. Be confident.
6. Maintain eye contact.
7. Speak audibly and clearly.
8. Walk up to potential donor.
9. Get donor’s attention.
10. Have good body language – stand straight, no hands in pocket, don’t fiddle around, make sure there’s nothing/no one between you and donor, don’t use fillers such as ‘er’, ‘um’.
11. Rehearse what you want to say.
12. Explain the purpose for seeking donation.
13. Keep what you want to say short and sweet – eg. This association uses horse riding therapy to help children with disabilities.
14. Keep scanning for potential donors.
15. Attract attention – eg. wear bright coloured clothes, wear a hat, use props such as puppets, make placards.
16. Thank the people even if they don’t wish to donate – say ‘Thank you’, ‘Bye’, ‘Have a nice day’, Bless you’, ‘Thank you for encouraging my children’, ‘Thank you for being generous’.
17. Bring water.


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RDA Flag Day II – The ‘Most…’ Moments

Most innocent…
We had this little preschooler put some coins into our tin. When we thanked him, he kept thanking us too. Such a sweet boy!

Most heartwarming…
When we asked this Korean family, the mom said she didn’t have small change. I told her it’s alright and she can put her change into any of the tins that day. An hour later, we saw her, with her groceries, making her way towards us and putting money into our tin. So nice of her to remember us.

Most grateful…
When we first approached this elderly man, he didn’t give. After some time, he did. Subsequently, he came by again to make a second donation. Thank you uncle.

Most heartwarming…
After explaining what RDA does, this bus driver donated some money. Later on, he returned and gave a ten dollar note. Thank you for your generosity!

Most ‘Chinese’…
When two men told me they didn’t understand what I was saying in English, I quickly began my usual script in Mandarin. After inquiring how much they should give, they considered and made their donation. I’m thankful that they took time to listen and give.

Most surprising…
While trying to attract the crowd’s attention, I would explain in a louder voice, our purpose in seeking donations. Many who walked by, heard, turned back and made their donation. I wasn’t expecting that as many people were rushing to their next destination. I’m grateful for their giving hearts.

Most perceptive…
An Indian couple who stopped to contribute to our tin, after asking if the three children were mine, commented that it was wonderful that we can sell flags and spend time together as a family on a Saturday morning. I give thanks for God’s affirmation through them.


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RDA Flag Day I – A Family Project

I have wondered for a long time whether I should get all of us involved in a Flag Day. I wanted the children to experience the hard work required in raising funds. So after discussing with CM, I signed up for RDA’s Flag Day on 28 January 2012. Li-Ann has been blessed by opportunities to ride at the Riding For Disabled Association (RDA) and has benefited a great deal from this form of therapy. I thought this would be a wonderful way to give back to RDA.

After the whole event, I found out that I was the only one who had previous experiences with such an activity during my school days! So it was a family project afterall.

While some might shun anyone carrying a tin like a plague, I realised that Singaporeans can be generous when they know where their money is going to. That meant non-stop talking and relentless persuading.

Here are our thoughts (I interviewed them)…

CM: The children can do it. They can participate in a flag day. They just need to build up their confidence. I see their confidence grow during the day. They got better and better and more confident so I’m very proud of them. (How about daddy? What did you learn?) I learn that it’s not so easy to sell flags. There are some kind people who’ll donate and I thank God for them. (John asked – When you were young, did you sell flags?) No.

Apple: The Flag Day was fun for everybody because it was a family thing that we can do together. I think the children really tried their best and they know how it is like to raise funds for a non-profit organisation. It requires a lot of perseverance and also coming up with resourceful ways to persuade people to give.

Li-Ann: I think that…ermmm…flag day…eermmm….want to help special needs children. (What did you do?) I go and…eermm…go and…I don’t know…(What did you ask the people to do?) To put the sticker…(To donate some money right?) Ya…

Rebecca: I think flag day is very tiring but it is also a good experience. (What did you learn?) I learn that you have to be patient, have eye contact and be friendly.

Rebecca drew a pretty picture about the flag day.

John: I learn that even though flag day is tiring, I must persevere even if people say ‘no’.

John came up with an interesting comic strip for flag day.