Archive for June, 2009

Father Knows Best

June 25, 2009

father-knows-bestEver watched the old 1950s sitcom? In 30 short minutes, Betty, Bud and Kathy’s little world could be turned upside down and, almost with the snap of a finger, restored to perfect order…just like that.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t always that simple. Some of our problems don’t have such easy solutions.

Life has a way of handing us disappointments just when we thought things were smooth sailing. Just last week, my own family faced such a disappointment. With one simple email, a life dream was put on hold…indefinitely.

Our faith in God’s goodness could crash. Our hope and joy and peace could collapse under the weight of our sudden and dramatic change in circumstances.

BUT… if God truly loves me with absolute, perfect and unconditional love, and He does; and if He wants only the very best for me, which He does, then I can trust Him to have something better in store for our family—even better than the simple dreams we have for ourselves.

Do I really trust my Heavenly Father to do what is best for me? Can I really be sure that He has my best at heart? Can the foundations of our relationship stand up under the strain of pain and disappointment? Does Father God really know best?

God Himself answers the question for us. Listen to what He says:

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

So, how about it? Are you prepared to trust, to just sit back and rest in the promises that Father truly does know best?

 – Debbie Ong

 photo copyright: estates of Young and producer Eugene Rodney

Teaching Thankfulness To Our Children

June 18, 2009

girlSaying ‘thank you’ isn’t just a matter of good manners. It’s also creating and establishing an attitude and lifestyle. You can help your child to learn gratitude through your example and also through a few simple activities you can try at home.

First, there can never be enough said about teaching by example. Lead the way by saying please and thank you regularly in your conversations. You may be surprised to find your children imitating you and sprinkling their conversations with please and thank you, and it actually took very little conscious effort on your part!

Another simple activity you can do to teach your children gratitude is to give thanks before meals. This teaches your children to be grateful for every day things we often take for granted, like food.

Find times in your daily routine to express your thankfulness to God. At bedtime, play a game taking turns to list all the things you’re thankful for. See who can name the most without repeating any.

Begin a family project and keep a notebook, journal, or scrapbook to record special memories, people and events for which you are thankful. This may be as simple as you want it: simply a list of blessings, or it may be as elaborate as a scrapbook, complete with photos, stickers, souvenirs and mementos.

Help children to appreciate their blessings by exposing them to others less fortunate than you are. Get involved in a community service project, volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, visit a children’s hospital or a nursing home, or even take them on a missions trip. Let them see the blessings they take for granted in a fresh new way by recognizing that there are those who do not have what they enjoy every day.

Let your family enter the ‘secret service’. Have each family member write his or her name on a slip of paper. Put the slips into a hat, and let each person draw a person’s name to shower with secret acts of kindness over the course of a week. At the end of the week, have family members reveal whose name they had, and express their appreciation for the nice things they experienced during the week.

Make a family keepsake to remind your family to be thankful. You may want to purchase a solid-colored tablecloth or bedsheet, and use fabric paints to write your blessings all over the cloth. Use the cloth for special occasions, and add the date and event to your special thanksgiving tablecloth. Another keepsake project might be a blessing tree. Mount a tree branch in a plant pot. Cut leaf shapes from colored paper. Have family members write their blessings, or prayers of thankfulness onto the leaves, and tie them with colorful ribbon all over the branches. Your family can add or change the leaves regularly. The ideas are only as limited as your imagination!

An attitude of gratitude can be both taught and caught. Your children will follow your lead. It’s never too late to give thanks, so get started today and begin to cultivate a family culture of thankfulness.  

–  Debbie Ong

My Source of Strength

June 11, 2009

j0438625Last year and early this year I felt so much like Job in the Bible.  Everything suddenly went downhill for me: my marriage, my career, my business, my finances and my child’s health.  It was like being pushed to the corner and receiving one hard blow after another.  I literally spent my days crying and feeling so miserable.  I just could not understand how things suddenly all spiralled out of control.  Life was one miserable existence. The Enemy was having a fiesta seeing me down on the pits  and wallowing in mud.  Where was God and why was I going through all these? I am a good christian girl ( or at least I think I am), and I read the bible and do my devotions everyday.  I even flew all over the region and did missions work. Then why was I punished? What have I done to deserve this?

In the midst of my trials and tribulations, one thing that I found rather intriguing was people and friends were suddenly appearing from nowhere offering help and support.  Someone would appear at my doorstep or in my life at the right moment when I felt so low and dispirited. Then I realised it was when I saw their love and concern that I saw God in action.  I saw God’s concern for me.  I felt Him lifting me up with His pair of steady hands and carried me through the fire of wretchedness. 

I had been through so many dramas in my life, and every single drama that occurred, I felt that God was always there for me and giving me strength to carry on.  It was no accident during one trying period that every morning when I flipped through the Bible the first verse that would always speak to my heart was God telling me not to fear. He had His reasons why I had to go through the tough times.  I didn’t understand why but all I had to do was trust Him. Trust Him when my human emotions were all crying in pain. However, succeeding events later did prove how true was His word of assurance – that there was nothing to fear at all, after all! God never wastes a hurt.

I received a Tweety soft toy with a funny and yet poignant note from a couple who are dear friends of mine.  The handwritten note said “Just as Sylvester can never get Tweety, the Enemy will not be able to get you as the LORD is with you.”  Tweety suddenly has a new meaning in my life.

– nkw

Thanks for the Little Things

June 11, 2009

kissI woke up this morning, snuggled deeper into my nice cozy bed, and rolled over for one last kiss and cuddle with my husband before getting up to face the day. Thank You, Lord.

I climbed into a nice, hot shower and washed the sleep from my eyes. I wrapped myself in a soft, thick towel and opened my closet to choose my clothes and dress. Thank You, Lord.

A steaming cup of coffee in my favorite mug waited in the kitchen to clear away any remaining drowsiness. Thank You, Lord.

I curled up in my favorite chair with my well-worn Bible to spend some time with God. The morning birds sang outside my window. The earthy green fragrance of the early morning rain lightly scented the air. Thank You, Lord.

Soon, I heard the children stirring. My daughter bounced into the room, already chattering away, full of her plans for the day. My son sidled over and squeezed into the oversized chair beside me, offering one of those rare moments for a morning hug. My husband joined us, smelling of soap and aftershave. Thank You, Lord.

As we gathered around the breakfast table, steaming bowls of oatmeal, platters of crispy toast and fresh fruit spread across the table, ready to fill our stomachs and give us the energy we needed for the day ahead. Thank You, Lord.

A whirlwind of backpacks, lunchbags, briefcases, umbrellas and good-bye kisses, and the house settles into a deafening silence, both sudden and tangible. Thank You, Lord.

As I rinsed the breakfast dishes and loaded the dishwasher, I delighted in the potted geraniums on the kitchen window sill. I listen to the thunder and the patter of the falling rain outside. Thank You, Lord.

I wandered through the house, gathering dirty clothes from the hampers. I sorted them and threw a load into the washer. How does one family go through so many clothes so quickly? Thank You, Lord.

A friend called and invited me to lunch. What a treat! I vacuumed the living room floor and picked up a few toys, quickly restoring the house to tidiness. I put the clothes in the dryer, popping another load into the wash, looking forward to my lunch date all the while. Thank You, Lord.

Then I freshened up, grabbed an umbrella, hopped in the car, and headed out. There’s nothing quite like a nice lunch with a good friend. Thank You, Lord.

Later, when I got home, I found that the washing machine had overflowed, spilling soapy water all over the kitchen floor. What a mess! I quickly mopped up the suds and called the repair man. Thank You, Lord, that You are there, even when things go wrong. I know You will somehow provide the money for these unexpected repairs.

The door slams and the kids come trooping through the kitchen. Not on my freshly mopped floor! “Sorry, Mom. I’ll mop it up. Just let me drop my things in my room and get changed first.” Thank You, Lord.

Oh, no! I forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner. I pop a package of hamburger into the microwave and spin the dial to defrost. Thank You, Lord.

The dryer buzzes. I fold a load of clothes and put them away. I head to the kitchen and begin to peel and chop vegetables. A hearty stew will be just the thing for this dreary, gray day. Thank You, Lord.

Before I know it, I hear my husband’s car in the drive. The savory smells of dinner fill the house. He saunters into the kitchen, whistling, and bends down to give me a quick kiss. “Must have been a good day,” I say. “Yep, a great day,” he agrees. “Dinner smells fantastic. I’m starving,” he calls over his shoulder as he heads to our room to shower and change. Thank You, Lord.

An evening with a rented movie and popcorn entertained the whole family. Thank You, Lord.

Another day is gone. It’s time for bed, and I’m asleep almost as soon as my head hits the pillow. But not before I take a moment to say, “Thank You, Lord, for all the varied moments of my day. Thank You for being with me, and reminding me of Your constant presence through the good and the bad. Thank You for all Your blessings in my life, both big and small. Help me not to take them for granted. Thank You for times of rest. Give me a good night’s sleep so I can wake up refreshed and ready for a new day tomorrow. Amen.”

– Debbie Ong