Onward to thirty-nine and thriving

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I am thirty-nine today.

Some women would prefer to keep their age a secret after the thirties, but I wear my ‘being on the wrong-side-of-thirty’ badge proudly. It has been an eventful 9 years being 30-something, a roller-coaster of a ride, but I can finally say that I have arrived.

The definition of ‘having arrived’ means to be a success and being famous. To be a success is subjective, and being famous is meaningless. There are many successful and famous people who haven’t discovered what their life purpose is, and haven’t found true contentment, despite their wealth and success.

My definition of ‘having arrived’ is the culmination of knowing my life purpose and finally finding peace and contentment.

I think a friend put it so aptly when I met her in Jakarta last week, “There is something about you that is so different from when I first got to know you in March last year. There is now this peace and joy within you.”

Indeed it is this peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace that can only be obtained when my full confidence is placed in a loving God and when I know how to be thankful in all circumstances. I have learnt to LET GO and LET GOD take over for all things.

The changes started when I started telling God, “Not my will anymore Lord, but let your will be done in my life!”

Often we humans have so much good things to say about Him, but our actions prove otherwise. We try to wrestle our own way, have a long list of things that we desire and ask for, and cannot trust that He can do far more abundantly beyond what we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Why are we so afraid to surrender our own will, to let His will take over for our lives?  We may say that we trust God, but in reality, I think most of us don’t. In fact, most of us think we know better for our own lives and will prefer not to surrender that control that we have on our lives, over to God.

All I can testify reaching 39 years of age today, is that God is truly faithful, He is so good and loves His children.

I am filled with thankfulness as I am overwhelmed by the blessings (both spiritually and physically) God has given me since the start of this year. All it took from my end was full surrender and a realisation that I needed to align my life fully with His will for me, and go where He led me to.

He has once again proven that indeed He is an awesome God and I cannot help but to share this testimony of God’s faithfulness and love.

The icing on the ‘my cake’ turning 39 this year….

I have just collected the keys to a new home 2 days ago. Kyle and I will be moving out of my mom’s place, as we have got a new place, albeit temporary for the next 2 years, as hb and I will only be able to purchase a new place in 2017 due to stringent HDB rules. The boy and I are looking forward to more weekends to be spent with hb, as he will coming back to SG more frequently each month.

When dh first suggested that getting our own place last week, I told him that I was content with the current arrangement. But it didn’t take long for him to convinced me that it will be nice to have a new place to come home to. Following the next 3 days, we confirmed a place, then purchased the furnishing and appliances.

I haven’t been praying or expecting for a new home, since we moved out of our rented place in 2012. I just trusted God for things to happen in His perfect time. I didn’t expect our financial turnaround to happen so soon, and the amazing thing is, this is just the beginning of God’s restoration for our lives!

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For quite sometime, I have avoided looking at Interior styling photos on Pinterest and that has been quite challenging especially since I love Interior Decorating. So with this, the passion for Interior decorating is officially re-ignited. So I will likely be blogging about Interior Decorating in the next few weeks 😛

It’s going to be a busy but fun last quarter of 2015 and I look forward to a joyful and content 40s to come. And I am glad that the term ‘mid-life crisis’ will continue to be a foreign term that I will never need to relate to.

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How does your Checklist look like?

Recently while having a conversation with a close relative. This relative asked, “Why don’t you go look for a job teaching in a polytechnic? You are still young, and your skills are still valid. If you don’t work outside in a couple of years, your skills will be redundant.”

Then early this morning, while logging onto Facebook, I chanced upon an ex-surbordinate who is now holds a Director position in her job.

Life often has this way of inundating you with stark reminders how badly you are doing in the eyes of the the world (secularly).

I asked the boy last night, “Do you think mummy should go back to work outside?” His reply was, “Yes, only if when I want you not to be there sometimes, when I feel like doing what I want. But really, no.”

I shared this with boy, “You know so-and-so says that I should go back to work in a company outside, if not I become useless in this world very soon…” The boy’s reply then gave this other perspective. “I think so-and-so only have one to two ticks in the list that God gave to her, while mummy, I think you have at least 10 ticks so far in that list that God gave to you.”

Sometimes, we all need to hear some wisdom from 8 year olds.

So which list are we holding on to? Is it a list that the world gave us, or a list that God gave us? If we really sat down and think about it, the two lists will look quite different from one another.

This post is not so much of a scorecard to show to to the world that ‘I am doing better than you are,’ or to make myself feel better even though I am fully aware that I am not faring well in the world’s standards. Rather it is to communicate a different perspective to how we can see life.


The Checklist according to the World – SG Version

Screen Shot 2015 04 10 at 12 26 11 pmLet’s look at the ‘World’s Scorecard – SG Version’. At 38 years old, I should be;

1. Live in a fairly comfortable home, that I have at least paid up to 40% through my CPF so far. If it is a HDB flat, the home should be fully paid.

2. Have at least 2 children

3. If I have some excess money, I should look at keeping a portfolio of investments, either through a second home (which I can rent out for extra income) or through bonds or stocks and shares. And start saving for retirement.

4. Hold a middle management position in a company, salary should be close to 5 figures at my age. Looking forward to bonuses yearly, and hopefully, moving up to senior management level eventually.

5. Have a car that is below 5 years old, doesn’t matter if I am still paying instalments of close to 1k a month. My household should have a second car, 1 each for the husband and wife.

6. Have the disposable income to spend on travel overseas for family vacations, each time school holidays come around.

7. Have a sub-list, on the number of countries I have managed to visit in my lifetime.

8. Be able to spend on clothes, make-up, invest in consumer electronics for the home. And eat in good restaurants every weekend with the family.

9. Go to church every Sunday, tithe 10% of my income to church.

10. If I have extra time weekly, I will be serving on at least one ministry in church.

11. Be charitable and give to charity organisations, either support a child through Unicef, give to local charities.

12. Or be generous enough to extend financial help to needy friends

13. Ensure that the children have a good education, do well academically to get into good schools and courses in the university. And be able to provide for tuition classes or enrichment classes for the children.

14. Have domestic help at home.

15. Each family member should be covered with an insurance policy.


With the ‘World’s Checklist’, if I am able to put a ‘tick’ next to each of these points, I can be considered ‘doing fairly well’ in the world’s eyes, 不抽吃, 不愁穿 (will not go hungry or naked).

There is nothing wrong with following through all of that for a normal, go-getting and hardworking, contributing member in a society in Singapore. After all, most of us been trained to believe that this is an ideal life to have, living in the country like Singapore. And likely peace, joy and contentment can be assumed to be found, having to tick all 15 points listed in the ‘World’s Check-List’.

But, I cannot imagine having to do the same things over and over again to focus on achieving all these points from the World’s Checklist, for the next 20,30 or 40 years.


A Different Checklist

This is how my list looks like, and since the points are for the here and now, I can put a check on every point!

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1. Have a work-at-home job (not necessary in a company) that will allow me to earn some income. I don’t need a status or the world to give me a pat on the back to tell me that I am useful when I am a middle manager at some company.

This job allows me to manage my own time to spend with son and hb. Going down the list, this flexibility of time will be key to achieving all the rest of the other points in my list.

2. I am contented with having 1 child.

3. To be able to spend at least 2 hours of my early morning hours reading the bible and praying, without having to rush in traffic to get to the work place.

4. I do not have to take leave when my child is sick, or when I need to spend time with the family when hb is back in town

5. I can set aside time at least twice weekly to have prayer meetings from 10.30am – 1.30pm. I am available every morning from 9.30am – 1.30pm if ever there is a need to visit anyone to pray together or pray for the sick in the hospital. If there are no prayer opportunities, or prayer meetings, I will be working from home from 10.00am – 6.00p.m. on most days.

6. Not working in company outside, means I spend alot less on clothes and makeup. The boy and I still get to eat good food every weekend at the same places that we frequent weekly, and when hb is back once in 4-8 weeks, we get to visit our favourite restaurants.

7. I have a 7 year old car that has been fully paid by hb recently, so I don’t need to worry about taking public transport.

8. The boy and I have no lack of opportunities of travelling to places that we need to go to. Every school vacation in June and December, we spend 70% of our time out of Singapore. Travelling comes with a different perspective for us. We spend meaningful and quality time with the family, so it doesn’t matter even means spending most of our time in hb’s apartment in Makati City. The other travel opportunities that we have in a year are mostly to spend time with fellow Christian sisters and brothers in Indonesia in fellowship and prayer.


Since all the points in my list are for the here and now. I did not mention about having a home, investments, my child’s education, financials, a career. I am very thrifty person, eat simple food, do not covert after things, have little desire towards luxury goods or experiences. In fact, I think I am a very very blessed person, as I never have to worry about money, food or having a roof over my head.

How about the points about church, tithing and serving in church? I am not a conventional christian, who might even be frowned upon by regular Christians. But I know what God calls each and every one of His children to do is not limited within the church walls.

It will be a great blessing, if the family can eventually have our own home and be able to stay together as a family. But I do not want to focus on just achieving that and missing out on the big picture of things.


Seeing Life through Different Lens

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People can judge me if they want for being unwise for not planning for the future, but all I can say is that I see life through a very different set of lens than others.

I am certain that this is the Checklist that revolves around what the God has led me to do at this point of my life. As I progress in my walk with Him, I believe there are more which will be added to this checklist, and I am prepared for the changes that He allows.

I have already missed out giving God the best years of my life in my 20s, so I want to give Him my best years now or whatever that is left of my time and energy. I don’t want to wait till I am in my 50s or 60s, and then leave God with whatever time I have left, after pursuing what I wanted for most of the time in my life.

So even I am look upon as a failure or a loser in the world’s eyes. All I can say is this, I don’t think God sees me the same way as the world does.

Faith is often hobbled by our reluctance to believe God can bring about great changes if He is taken at His word.

So, I take Him at His word when He says this;

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things…

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And the continuation of the verse in Matthew 6:33, ‘…and all these things shall be added unto you.”

So like what I told the boy after he shared with me that he thinks “Mummy, I think you have at least 10 ticks so far in that list that God gave to you”. I hope it is so, as my eye is on the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).

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Even if there are 50 points on the Checklist that God has for me, I will be looking at getting as many ticks I can from that Checklist.


If you are a Christian, which Checklist are you using?

If your version of God’s checklist looks very similar to the ‘World’s Checklist’, I would be concerned for you, spiritually. However, if you have already started on a ‘God’s Checklist’, I am very happy for you!

As for others reading this who are keen to build a ‘Checklist’ according to what God has planned for you, but don’t know how to start. Do drop me a mail and I will be glad if I can be of help, to help you start on this ‘God’s Checklist’. To discover the purpose and destiny that God has for you in the days ahead. 

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15 Things I will Do Differently in 2015

I don’t do resolutions.

I haven’t been much of a resolution setter or keeper the last 5 years, so this post is not so much of setting resolutions. Rather, it is to re-align the changes to reflect the values that matter most to me for my life. My attitude towards these changes that I am planning to take is not about doing things to justify my self-worth, to give myself significance or create a sense of security.

Instead, these changes that I am planning to make revolves around two keywords that God have highlighted to me for 2015.


These two keywords of Love and Redeem the Time will be the ‘fuel’ for the things that I am planning to do differently this year:

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1. Meet an old or new friend at least once a month.

These old or new friends will not include those that I meet weekly.

You might wonder why this is a big deal for me. Many friends noticed that I retreated into my ‘cave’ for the whole of 2014, and wondered what happened to me. Well, I am back! But it’s not the same Rachel anymore. This Rachel is back with renewed vigor, enthusiasm and hope. If you feeling down in the dumps and need a boost, you know who to call to meet 😛


2. Make a point to talk to my parents on regular basis, to continue to show them respect and care.

I stay with my mom on the weekdays, so its easy to sit down to have a chat with her. However, with my dad, (whom I am not living with), I have to make that call regularly to meet for a meal or for coffee, just to find out how are things with him. The first half of 2013, I did not call him or speak to him for 6 months, so this has to change!


3. Message hb more regularly

Having a spouse that works overseas is not the easiest for me to maintain regular contact with. I don’t like to do Skype or talk on the phone (see point 2). So using phone chat apps are the best thing to have to maintain communication. This might come natural to others, but I do need to make a mental note to message or communicate with hb daily. Weird I know, but I have always been very independent, and before I got married, rather introverted. Probably would have remained an ‘old maid’ if I didn’t get stuck with him in my late teens.


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The Christian life is ever changing. A Christian has to be ever willing to make improvements in their character and attitudes, but never compromise their convictions or character.

4. Be a good example.

Live a life like a true Christian and not like a hypocrite, to always practice what I preach.


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One of the best paths to making changes in life, I believe, is to focus on self. Don’t focus on thinking that I can change my parents, my friend who is full of trouble or even my hb. How about the naysayers who gossip about me or have nothing good to say? Forget about changing what people think of me. I will just focus on becoming a better person.

5. Lay aside all malice, hypocrisy, envy and gossip.

Watch what comes out from my mouth. I can make the choice to say encouraging things to build up, or condemning words to tear down. Only speak about others with truth and love. I can be a very straight-forward person and I am aware that truth can sometimes hurt, so I need to be gentler and more cautious with the words I use.


6. Don’t crave for what others have or own, either through experience or through possessions.


7. Be friendly and smile more!

I used to have this frown in my face as I am deep in thought most of the time, but have started making this effort to smile or have this somewhat ‘gentler’ expression. So if eye contact is made, with a stranger, more than 80% of the time, I get a smile back, while 20% of the time I get a quizzical expression 😛


8. Be Giving.  

Not just with money or things, but give my time to anyone who needs a listening ear, some advice or just be a friend.


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9. Write More!

My focus this year is to write more, starting with this blog. Less haphazardly, but with more focused topics that are in line with the mission statement of this blog; ‘Living Life with Meaning and Inspiration.’


10. Craft More!

The second half of 2014, I started crafting again, from where I left off a few years ago. This year I will have more reasons to craft 😉 It will not just be sewing craft, but fuse beads and paper craft .


11. Draw and paint

I took up some lessons on watercolor painting last year and stopped after 10 lessons, due to the lack of time. I don’t plan to continue the lessons but I will spend some time experimenting on my own. Been longingly looking at the jar of watercolor brushes on my desk the last 8 months, and even went to Artfriend last week to buy some new brushes.  So it is time that I do something about it.


12. Write some more!

Not just through emails, FB messages or the phone. I will be spending more time writing to friends through snail mail, but not in the penpal sort of way. Maybe the hb will also get some snail mail coming his way 😛 I will be sharing more on #InHisLoveMail initiative on this blog soon.


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13. To be more consistent, especially when it comes to guiding the little boy with his schoolwork

I was not the most effective mom last year when it comes to guiding K in his studies. By December, his assessment books were barely 1/4 completed, and he only managed to complete another 1/4 of the assessment books during the school holidays, and the books ended up being thrown down the rubbish chute.


14. To be more disciplined to continue my sessions with K for the Ancient History curriculum, and also start on Creative Writing with him at home.


15.  To finally update this blog with more of the Home-Learning articles that was written in 2011-2013 from the old Home-Learning website.

Myplayschool.net, which is now defunct, is a trove of Home-Learning articles accumulated from the 3 years of maintaining the site. There was so much time spent writing these timeless tutorials and ideas, which I believe will be very beneficial for moms who are looking out for Home-Learning ideas to coach their preschoolers.


It’s a good thing I place a cap on the number of things that I want to do differently this year, if not, I think I could probably squeeze in at least 10 more! There is so much to do this year, albeit differently from last year. So here’s to a productive, meaningful and inspirational 2015 ahead!



Next on the ’15 Things I will Do Differently in 2015′ Blog Train will be Irene of Singapore Mom Blogs

IreneSMBA former Flight Attendant who swapped wings for kids. This skinny mom of 3 proudly declares her addiction for food and refuses rehabilitation. She loves taking photos of food and believes that good food are meant to be shared. Even with her wings clipped, and kids in tow, she travels and writes about her family travel adventures. Irene is a professionally trained make up and nail artist who loves sharing tips on how to be a sassy mom.

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