Money Matters

We frequently get asked about how we have been able to walk in faith in our service to God as missionaries, and I often get asked how I have managed to adapt from a comfortable lifestyle & upbringing to a much simpler one.

And since money is such a big issue in many marriages and families, I thought it would be interesting to pen a few thoughts here, as well as the lessons I have learnt being a missionary and Nick’s wife. 🙂

I remember the first few months being married to Nick. It was tough on the both of us! I was blessed to be raised in a well-to-do family, and my parents provided the best for us in every way. I never had to worry about paying any bills, and when I worked as a piano teacher for 10 years, the money I earned was the money I got to spend and save. While I believe I was not materialistic and extravagant in my spending, I still enjoyed eating out and buying meals for others, as well as shopping for nice clothes and items. I also loved buying and giving gifts. These were pleasurable ways for me to spend my money. Nick, on the other hand, is my five ringgit guy. Five ringgit on his haircut, five ringgit on his slippers. 😍😂 He does not buy new clothes unless they are really torn and beyond redemption, and ate very simply as a bachelor. He he. He’s been trained in the school of hard knocks, and his nett value really, is in his heart of gold. I love him so much for that.

But all these romantic thoughts aside, practically, it was a challenge for us at first as a married couple. I remember vividly the time we went shopping at a sleepy, old supermarket for some kitchenware. Nick forbade me from buying two bowls. He said one was enough 😂 the bowls cost less than five ringgit each! He reasoned that he was used to having his noodle soups from plates and we just needed one bowl. But in Chinese cooking, we often prepare stews and dishes with gravy. I found this man so absurd and unreasonable! We ended up leaving the store without purchasing anything and having a tiff at home thereafter. 😅

But by God’s grace, we slowly learnt to accommodate one another. As Nick slowly became a little more domesticated because of the presence of a woman in the home, he began to recall again the comfort of having home-cooked meals and then slowly understood the need for different kitchen utensils. 🤭

Living by faith and being married to Nick has taught me to be more frugal and prudent. These words that he said to me at the early stages of our marriage will always stick with me – “Sometimes the people who give to our ministry are really regular people making a living; school teachers, university students and even widows. They are not necessarily rich people. This is their hard earned money and we must be accountable for every cent.”. That was quite a humbling thing for me to hear but truly that’s the honest reality. The people who have supported us thus far are ones who have given out of love and obedience to God. We believe that they have not been compelled or pressured in any way. It takes humility to learn to accept such gifts with a grateful heart, knowing that you will never be able to repay their kindness, but trusting the Lord that He blesses those who give out of obedience unto Him.

As a couple, we have also agreed to have only joint bank accounts and ‘one wallet’. There is no ‘my money’ , or ‘your money’. Each large purchase (above a certain amount, say above rm 100) is made together. I believe this contributes greatly to the oneness and unity we have as a couple. It takes trust and courage, at first. But I believe it is the biblical way of approaching finances in marriage. Two becoming one.

I have learned to live simpler and it is actually so enjoyable and rewarding to save every cent we can. Previously, I would not have cared if items were priced a few ringgit differently, but now every cent counts. We compare prices at every supermarket and know which is cheap where. 🙂 I have also been trained to remember and note how much I’ve spent on groceries, parking, snacks and the like. This helps us keep our spending in check.

Lastly, I must say that Nick has been very kind to me all these years. He makes a lot of personal sacrifices and does not spend much on himself, but encourages me to get pretty clothes and offers to take me out for a treat every so often. I’m really blessed with a husband who really tries to give his best. Love you darling!

Hope this short sharing can be somewhat an encouragement for couples who are about to get married or whom are newly married. 😊

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Parenting Little Imitators 

I’ve read and heard of accounts of children at the tender ages of less than a year or so, who show ‘spiritual aptitude’, especially in actions that reflect worship (eyes closing, swaying of the body, hand-raising and clapping during worship sessions). Their parents are obviously and understandably  proud and happy that their children are demonstrating signs of godly influence upon their lives. 

The responsibility of raising a child in the ways of God is no flighty matter. We are often more  careful with our language and actions once we become parents (well, I certainly hope so!). For example, I’ve always loved junk food (crisps especially!), and I’ve already had a plan to keep my unhealthy habit under wraps now that David is beginning to start on solids. Hah! We also avoid cursing, rude language and other unhealthy habits in front of our children. But really, the main motivation most of the time in doing so is for the preservation of our image and our dignity as parents. It wouldn’t really reflect well on us, would it, if our year old baby’s first words were @#%#! Rather than papa or mama 🙂 

Also, when a child grows up in a Christian environment (yes, praise the Lord, that we have all the resources from above and from the church to raise him/her up to be Bible-reading, Scripture – memorising and Sunday-schooled kids), we often take their salvation for granted because they have shown outward signs of Christianity (the Christianese of amen, God bless you, praise the Lord etc, the hand raising, they know the Bible stories at the tip of their fingers). We assume almost quite readily that they know God and are known by Him. 

Which comes to my final point… 

I still do believe that we should and ought to teach our children the ways of God through His word, through the church and through our example. Scripture has placed this severe responsibility on our shoulders, and we must be faithful to doing that. We should keep up with the Bible reading, the praying, the singing and the service we extend unto others in love.

But let not all these outwardly signs be a guarantee that we become lax in our parenting, leaving the preaching of the gospel to the church. We must, again and again, show by example and preach the gospel to our children. Do they see repentance lived out daily in your life? Do they see you striving to live a life of purity and holiness? Or have they caught you doing something that you have taught them not to do? 

What a weight. Lord help us. 

His Word Comforts 

Psalm 27 has always been a familiar Psalm for both Nick and I. But it has not ministered to me in such a way as it did this morning.

It was kind of coincidental actually, to be reading this Psalm. But our loving God has His ways of reaching out to us in our despondency and sadness. 

It was actually my beloved son that inspired me to turn to this Psalm as we had our morning routine of Sunday school songs and Bible stories together, our special mother and son bonding time everyday. Since it was the 27th of the month, I decided to read to him the 27th Psalm. As I read, I felt tears falling freely from my eyes. Every verse just seemed to jump out from the Bible and I felt the loving and assuring hug of God through His promises.

When I first started this blog, it was mainly for me to chronicle my journey through heartbreak and illness, and to remind myself of God’s faithfulness and grace through the difficult seasons in my life. 

But over the years, even as my blog has gained steady followers and readers from near and far, I’ve found it harder to write from my heart as I was afraid to be ‘venting’ instead of expressing, and complaining instead of inspiring. 

But I am reminded today that this is no smooth and perfect journey, I am just a sojourner in this life. 
I pray that as you read this blog, you will not only catch or see the struggles and challenges I go through, but see the hand of God and His grace in my life. 

Baby David’s Testimony 

Baby David’s Testimony 

What do you do when things don’t go according to plan? 

There were two things very specifically that I wanted and prayed for in regards to David’s delivery and birth. 

1. I wanted to deliver naturally, and kept the option of an epidural open, depending on my threshold of pain on the day of labour. 

2. I wanted to breastfeed David immediately. Hence, I reminded my husband more than once (3987 times, to be exact), that I wanted immediate skin to skin contact with my son once he was born. I read that having immediate skin to skin contact not only allows mother and child to bond immediately as well as promote a sense of well-being for the baby; it also helps the baby breastfeed quicker and more easily. 

Both did not go according to plan. 

Due to my SLE condition, my doctors (both in the government and private hospital) advised me not to prolong my pregnancy to the 40th week (full term) as it would carry risks to the baby. 

So at week 38 on the 20th of July at 1am, I was induced. Barely an hour after I was given the medication, I started cramping really badly and initially did not realise them as contractions. But 6am the pain had grew intense and by 9am I was already dilated to 7cm. I really wanted an epidural by then because I didn’t want to fight the contraction pains anymore, but it was not possible due to the baby’s weak heartbeat. By then baby D had pooped in my womb which signalled distress. At 11am I was fully dilated but somehow could not push little David out, even with the help of vacuum extraction. I was then wheeled in for an emergency C-section. 

I was fully conscious during the surgery, but had no sensation waist down from the spinal anaesthetic. It was not long after that, when someone came over to me, started cleaning me up and told me that the surgery was over. 

“What do you mean, my surgery is over??”, a warning sign came up in my head right away.  

“Where’s my son?”, I asked the lady. She promptly turned and walked away. 

Again, I turned to the other man on my left and asked if my son was alright. They all ignored me and avoided eye contact. 

It was then, I knew something was wrong. I slowly turned my head to look around the room and saw in a corner, a medical team huddled over my baby. My baby. 

Before I knew it, I was wheeled into the recovery room. I hadn’t the faintest idea if baby D was alright, and neither could I see my husband. I just wanted to be wheeled out pronto! 

Finally when they did wheel me to the corridor, Nick got to come to the hallway and meet me. As he held my hand and kissed me, I could tell that he wasn’t quite alright. With a slight tremble in his voice, he told me that baby David was not doing well and was being attended to immediately. 

Thankfully I had family there to accompany me post-surgery in the ward while Nick waited anxiously outside the NICU. Four excruciating hours passed before he could speak to the doctors in there. David had suffered from meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), where the baby has passed meconium (stool) into the amniotic fluid during labor or delivery. MAS may occur if the baby breathes in (aspirates) this fluid into the lungs.

David had to be transferred to the neighbouring hospital, a separate building a few blocks down the road from where I was warded. Because of that, I could not see him until the 3rd day after I was discharged. 

David suffered a few episodes of seizures in his first few days and also had to be assisted by a ventilator in his breathing. He was such a fighter! Despite his frail state, he was feisty enough to pull at all his tubes! 

Day 5, some tubes were removed from his body, and I was able to carry David for the first time. 😭

Each day brought different progress and David recovered remarkably, we give all glory to God for sustaining him, and also us throughout the 10 days he was in the NICU. 

Towards the end of our pregnancy, Nick and I had being doing catechism studies together as a couple. The first question we had learnt was – what is our hope in life and death? And the answer is that we are not our own, but belong, in both body and soul, in life and death, to God and to our saviour Jesus Christ. It is this very promise that we were assured that David’s life was in God’s hands. 

When I had suffered a threatened miscarriage earlier in my pregnancy, I had also come across a verse in Psalm 118 that I saw as a promise for David’s life. “I shall not die, but live, and proclaim the wondrous works of the Lord”. 

All these promises that the Lord gave to us prior to the delivery strengthened us for the uncertain days in the NICU where doctors could not give us answers, we rested in the knowledge of Him who is sovereign and in control. 

Over the 10 days in the NICU, we witnessed God’s faithfulness to us in so many ways. Grateful for loved ones who surrounded us with prayer, love and support and for family members who brought us food as well as provided practical help. We had to ‘camp out’ at the hospital each day, spending 7 to 12 hours there to ensure we could spend as much time with baby David there, as we believe strongly that human contact and our voices were vital in his recovery. 

Through all this, we remember and have been strengthened by the devotion that we read during our prayer together just before we went to be admitted to the hospital on July 19. (Devotion to be attached in the following post). We give thanks for the Lord’s wonderful dealings with us; for His working in all this to reveal our weakness and helplessness, and to show to us and through us, the outshinings of His glory.

A week after his birth, we witnessed many miracles. David was very alert and responsive, and opened his eyes clearly for the first time when I called his name. We then tried skin to skin contact with David, and he started suckling almost immediately. We know that this is a remarkable milestone as David has been fed intravenously all these while, and even with his improved condition, been fed by cup or syringe. 

The Lord seemed to answer all our hearts’ desires, for David also cried (very lustily) for the first time. David also had his MRI done and we were so grateful to know that he has suffered no brain damage despite the fits he went through the previous week. 

We are so glad to have David home now. It is both a sacred and joyful time for us, as we savour this humbling process of learning to be parents as well as enjoying our time together as a family.

We would appreciate your continued prayers for us that we may raise David up to be a man after God’s own heart, wholehearted in His pursuit of Christ. 

Climbing Higher

We don’t choose to go to the “end of the earth”. It is not a pleasant place. We don’t belong there. We miss our home. But we go. And yet, if we go, we want to see some fruit while we are there. We want it to be a garden place where many souls find salvation in our Lord. We want it to blossom. While we don’t want to be there, at least let it be changed into something more tolerable for us. Let it be more like home. Don’t let it continue to be the “end of the earth”. And yet, it is the “end of the earth”.

What can we do? Go home?

Was that the prayer of the psalmist? No! He did not ask to go home. He did not ask for a successful ministry. He did not even ask to be happy. What did he ask? The psalmist wrote, “lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I”. He discovered the secret of climbing higher.

Roger Dixon
Climbing Higher

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Beautiful picture taken by my brother, Dave

To the Beautiful Women in My Life

“God has many He wants to embrace and love through us, so amidst our own pain and sadness we have to wipe away our tears and give out of our own broken-heartedness. I’ve realized that running on empty sometimes is the best way to go. Empty of ourselves and filled of Him, we may surprise ourselves at the outcome of our abundance from which we give out of.”

This is an excerpt of what mummy wrote me a few months into my life as a missionary and wife last year.

Her words carry weight because she has lived a life of incredible courage, sacrifice and love.

I am so grateful for both my mums, who have undoubtedly sacrificed so much for us and our families. They are people whose prayers I covet and know I can depend on. I can’t remember the many times I’ve sent SOS prayer requests to them. They have always, always, been there for me.

I miss you both so much this mothers’ day.
Love you both.

When the Punch Comes

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“Even when life seems to punch holes in our hearts, God pieces us back together with some fine handiwork that beautifies the hole; making us whole again and somehow more beautiful.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Remember when the punch comes, it will only more beautify your life and glorify your Lord.”

Thank you, aunty carolyn for the beautifully crocheted journal and wise, loving words.