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.

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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.

LoveRTT

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!

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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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Learning to Simplify Life

It’s been 4 months since K and I have been spending most of our weekends without dh. Do we miss not having dh around spending more family time together? For sure, but K and I are managing really well.

So what helped us?

Life can easily get cluttered living in fast-paced Singapore. Most of us tend to want buy more or just do more. Doing more makes us feel productive and ‘its always nice to own more.’ It gets even more challenging when friends seem to have the best lives, have nice things, are able to do plenty of exciting activities with the family, acquire good things for their children and are always planning for their next family vacation round the corner.

Surrounded by many friends who seemed to be living their best lives now, I wondered, is that all life is? It is all about what we have and what we seem to be striving for?

I took a step back to evaluate where we are now as a family and what we want out of life. And I decided that I wanted to live a simple, uncluttered life. This helped tremendously to manage the adjustments and to put things into perspective.

 

3 Steps that I took to simplify life: 

1. Get Rid of the Physical Clutter 

Screen Shot 2014 09 02 at 12 33 07 PMIt starts with clearing physical clutter of possessions. I have sold my home a while back and had to downsize my possessions to fit into a much smaller space. I gave/threw away more than 3/4 of what I possessed. Furnishings, clothing, books, toys, stuff. The things that I am left with now can be kept in 4 closets and some boxes in a storeroom.

I am now tempted to further downsize things in my storeroom. So I try not to visit this storeroom too often, as I will likely end up purging what I see and haven’t used for the past 1 year.

Only buy what you need. This also relates to your debt and finances too, don’t live beyond your means.

 

2. Spend Quiet time at Home

As a blogger, to get invites to experiences for my child is commonplace. It has been 1.5 years, and I have stopped accepting invitations to bring K along for a free ride, free meal or experience in exchange for a writeup on my blog. Besides wanting full control over what I share on this blog, I do not wish to be obligated to write.

Also I  prefer not to over-indulge K, who might start to develop expectations for things. Besides I want to avoid being burdened with the obligation of having to plan for some interesting activity every other weekend.

So exciting outings and activities are kept for the school holiday, and I prefer to plan and pay for my own way, thank you very much :P.

We spend the weekends relaxing and doing the things we enjoy at home, watching DVDs together or playing board games. K gets to scoot, while we run our errands around the neighborhood. Or he plays his video games for a couple of hours, while I catch up on my reading or listen to Christian sermons online while crafting.

Simplelife

Once a month, we catch a movie together, or eat out in a nice place together, when hb comes back for the weekend.

Holidays are not on our top of our list, as I detest traveling. Travelling disrupts my routines, especially when it comes to my quiet time with God and puts me in a state of complacency spiritually, and I prefer to avoid that.

Having the discipline to set aside time to do this daily, means that it makes no difference when I don’t attend a physical church.

The last time K and I visited Manila for 2 weeks, I had to spend a few days getting used to doing my devotional time in the bathroom for 2 hours. So that’s why going on vacations do not appeal to me at all.

 

3. Don’t Schedule too many things

I made a deliberate effort to shift the focus from activity and accumulation, to just simply spending time together. It meant that I had to schedule less activities daily, have less extra classes to go to weekly. Already having to go for Chinese Enrichment, Judo and Art Class weekly keeps us rather busy on some days.

When I have less things planned mean that we will have less chances of wasting time commuting from place to place, also less probability of having to lose my cool when the boy takes his slow and leisure pace to get ready to leave the house.

 

Simplifying my life comes from my desire to live life from an uncluttered heart and it stems from my hope to align my life to what God wants for me.

It calls for a radical change in lifestyle from what most of us are used to, it is more than just eliminating things from your life that you don’t need, but it also a mindset change to re-direct my time and money into ways that will enrich my life and hopefully, the lives of others around me.

Interesting, when one don’t crave for possessions or experiences, I seem to be blessed with many things and I am never in need. It is like experiencing this verse coming to life, ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33’

The concept of ‘Selling all my possessions, give to the poor and follow Christ (Matthew 19:21)’ is still difficult to follow, since I have a child who is fully dependent on me and I still have bills to pay.

Maybe. one day, when K grows up and becomes independent, that will be a possibility. So no plans for a comfortable retirement for me 😛

Goodlives

‘A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is a life of greed;

it requires more and more.

The life of the spirit required less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet.’ – Anne Dillard

 

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