It’s time for my annual In Focus blog – my personal version of the Oscar moment. Before I go on to name the winners, I just wanted to say that this year has been a rather uneventful year for me in many areas. There weren’t any major event in my life worthy of being named Event of the Year. Nevertheless, a few of them deserve some mention. So I am going to do that right now before I present my list. 

There were a few setbacks and disappointments. This is the first time I am writing about some unhappiness at work. I have always loved my job and my workplace. But for some unknown reason I seem to have less favor with a few people this year. As someone who has had a record of good relations with co-workers and bosses most of her working life, I am a little concerned. Let’s just say that I feel the need to constantly remind that I have to learn to stand up for myself sometimes and not allow people to run all over me. I wouldn’t say it’s a major issue but it does piss me off when it happens.

This is also the year my son sat for his first major exam, the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination). I know it’s not a big deal to most of you but among Singaporean parents, it’s a big milestone for their children because it determines the path the child will take in his secondary education and so on. My son did not do as well as we’ve hoped for. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. While I take my children’s education seriously, I also constantly remind myself that education encompasses more than just academic excellence. The education system here is rigorous and very competitive but from the onset I have endeavored not to get sucked into the mad race. My disappointment was not due to his ranking lower than others. It has never been my vision for him to chase after awards and medals. What I want is for him to challenge himself; pushing his own boundaries so he can reach his full potential. This is where I felt he could have done better. Anyway, we have accepted the results and moved on, continuing to trust God will work all things for good and has good plans and purposes for him in this less popular route. I strongly believe that His destiny is in God’s hands and not determined by his academic achievement alone. The next stage of our prayer is that God will bless him with good teachers and classmates who will have a positive influence in his life and that he will grow healthily not just in his academics but most importantly in his character. Already, I could see God’s grace. Because of his normal results we have decided it’s best for him to continue his secondary education in his affiliate school. It turns out to be a very good choice. I’ve just attended a whole day’s worth of briefing and presentation by the school’s principal and his team the other day. They spoke with passion and resolve about providing a holistic education, built upon strong Christian values for the children. But what impresses me the most is their sincerity and love for the children. It concluded with a moving, God honoring ceremony to welcome and integrate the new cohorts into the “family”. By the end of the event, I am convinced this is the best school for him!

Moving along, it has been a pretty dry season spiritually as well. I am ashamed to admit that I have not invested much in this area this year, so the dry spell is no surprise. Truly what we invest in, in terms of our time, energy and focus will reap it’s harvest eventually. A little slumber, a dash self-indulgence and emptiness and frustration is brewing in the pot. I find myself more carnal this year than I have ever been. It is a year I am not very pleased with myself in terms of spiritual growth.

It has also been a year of escalating financial challenge. Due in part to lack of good financial stewardship but mostly due to increasing financial burden. My husband’s continuing financial dilemma and obsession with the stock market naturally affected us as well. It is difficult and unnerving to live from one paycheck to another. But thanks be to God at least I am not in debt. Due to these financial woes I struggled to understand certain doctrine and to reconcile them with the reality I was facing. Nevertheless, I will say, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Right now I need to reassess my finances and make some changes which will have to include letting go of certain comfort things. I told God that I really wanted to start tithing on a regular basis again. My past 2 year record had been spotty. If you are a personal friend of mine, please do not worry about me. It is not as bad as it sounds. You know how we tend to assume the worst. It will make me feel awkward and I will have reservations sharing them in my blog in the future. When we do meet, you need not feel obliged to discuss it unless of course I initiated it. The best thing you can do for me is to relate to me the way you normally would and if I had to decline certain get-togethers, I hope I you will understand. Don’t assume it’s always a financial issue. More often than not, it’s because of family commitments. And no, I will not be comfortable accepting treats from you during this period. You will know when I am back on track. This doesn’t mean I can’t do anything with you guys anymore. It’s more like, lets go to the local kopitiam instead of a fancier venue. Ultimately, it is the human bonding that makes the difference. I feel a burden lifted already. Thank you.

Oh dear, sounds like it’s mostly bad news. Don’t know why I’m sounding so gloomy when I am not even feeling that way right now! My mom once told my brother that I am not the sort to wallow in depression. ( really think so Mom?) I didn’t know exactly what she meant until I heard my pastor preach one day; that there is a certain buoyancy in our inner man that keeps us from drowning in utter hopelessness. It sounds a lot like 2 Corinthians 4 – “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” And for this I owe my gratitude to God. Thank you for the hope and promise that is in Christ. Thank you also for moments of refreshing and grace in my journey this year. They make it less arduous than it would otherwise be.

And now, my list for 07.

Music/Song of the Year
Everything on Justified, my church’s first Hokkien.Mandarin album.
Dr Mr President – Pink

Film of the Year
These are films I’ve watched this year. They are not necessary produced this year. All of them deserve my 5/5 rating!
The Talented Mr Ripley
Life Is Beautiful
The Amistad
The Pianist

Book of the Year
I have not read that many books this year. Will try to catch up in 08. To read my comments on these books please refer to the Site Index under the catergory, Books.
Silence by Shusaku Endo
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Jewish History and Culture by Rabbi Benjamin Blech
Anne Frank: Beyond The Diary
Heroes of the Holocaust – Arnold Geier

Event of the Year

People of the Year

Sermon of the Year
This is a surely a year of good sermons! Unfortunately I am unable to share them here this year because there were simply too many and to add to that, most of them were all pretty lengthy. They all have this amazing ability to refocus my mind, settle my heart and reignite the fire of hope in me. In the coming year, I am considering keeping a record of the title of such sermons so that those who are interested could at least visit the ministry’s on-line store to find out more. It will come in handy if I need to listen to them again in the future.

Blog of the Year

Lesson of the Year
I think I’ve learned something about choosing priorities and how the results of misplaced priorities is not always immediately evident. This year’s setbacks, some of which I’ve mentioned above, has also taught me a thing or two about humility and gratitude.


To read past year’s In Focus, please refer to the Site Index unter the category: In Focus