Sunday, August 23, 2009

Life and Truth

At some point in life, everyone struggles with their identity – who am I? With importance – do I matter? And with impact – what is my place in life?

I’m turning 16 in 3 weeks. I’m wondering what God has in store for me. While most of my friends are thinking about getting into a uni to study something that will secure them well-paying job in the future, I’m thinking, will the world even last till then? Haha, I know, what a sombre thought! But really, I’m being honest. Like I said to myself before, this world is surely crumbling on all sides.

Is there any hope? Are we gonna’ simply hope that things will get better?

In a world where nothing is firm and the ground underneath is shifty, what security do I have? Who can I trust? I know that no matter where I go, I will never truly “settle in”. I see every new destination as another temporary stopover. So then again, what is my security in this life? What matters most? Perhaps I’m asking too many questions. I must give myself some answers.

Once again, I find myself turning to my Bible. If you’ve been following my posts, I certainly hope that you’ve somehow been encouraged to read God’s Word! I struggle with so many distractions that stop me from reading my Bible. We study all sorts of textbooks, read countless novels, mags and newspapers, read blogs online, and yet so often we miss reading and hiding in our hearts the truth of all truths, found in God-inspired pages! Admittedly, no matter how much I know that God’s Word is life to my soul, I still sometimes pick up a novel instead.

The Psalmist David prayed in his longest psalm, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your words.” Psalm 119:37 Psalm 119 is about the importance of seeking God’s word, meditating on it, hiding it in our hearts, and obeying it – amazingly, Psalm 119 is placed right smack in the middle of the Bible!

Now back to my first question. Is there hope? Are we simply gonna’ hope that this world will eventually straighten out? That will most like not happen. Thankfully, we do have a reason to hope and live. Not that the world will get any better, but that our hope is secure in Jesus Christ, who lives in those who abide in Him and his word and helps us live out our purpose for His glory in these treacherous times.

“Remember the word to Your servant [David prays], upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.” Psalm 119:49-50

We are all starved of God’s Word. Physically, we have plenty. But spiritually, we are “skin and bones”. We are constantly bombarded with so many distractions each day – it is no wonder that we find no time to read the Bible. Sadly, that only shows that we don’t see its importance. As much as I’m telling you, I am also screaming to myself: above all things, you need to make time to seek God’s word! How can it be that I spend 8 hours sleeping, 6 hours at school, 1 hour travelling, 4 hours on music, 1 hour on meal time, and barely have 30 minutes to read my Bible and pray?

I've come to realize that I can’t do this on my own. With my human “strength” I can’t. It is God who can only stir up my heart and give me to thirst to keep coming back to His word. But how can God do that if I do not first ask of Him and purposefully set aside time to meditate on His word?

“I cry out with my whole heart;

Hear me, O Lord!
I will keep Your statutes.
I cry out to You,
Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.
My eyes are awake through the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.
Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
O LORD, revive me according to Your justice.
They draw near who follow after wickedness;
They are far from Your word.
You are near, O LORD,
And all Your commandments are truth.”

Psalm 119:145-151

I love the last two lines! God is near. That answers for me all my questions. Somehow, Psalm 119 just speaks to me so much tonight. I hope whoever reads it will find life and truth in God, too! =)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So Much in One Year

You know, I never like reading my archives, or “old posts”. I know that if I do, I’ll always have this weird feeling that’s makes me all squirmy on the inside. The writing, the events I wrote about and even the pictures, remind me of how much my life has somehow changed – and perhaps how much I myself have changed. Sometimes it’s a good feeling; sometimes it’s a bittersweet one.

A moment ago, I decided to read posts that I posted a year ago. You can bet that I felt bittersweet this time. Looking at the pictures, I just couldn’t believe that a year ago, that was me. I can’t believe I’ve now been living in Australia for nearly a year. I wonder if I’ve realized the changes that have been going through in my mind after a year.

A year ago, I was wondering where our family would end up in 2009. Now here we are. Do I miss home? Well, I don’t really. I can’t really think of anything that I miss about KL! If anything, I only miss people. The only thing that I think I do not like about being here is that nobody knows me. Not in school, not in church, only at home. Haha. Okay, let me express that more clearly. Yes, people do know me, but they don’t truly know me. Not yet, at least.

So many times I am grateful to know that at least God knows who I am. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone or try so hard to fit into any group. Sometimes it’s hard to not try. You notice I seldom talk about school other the music I learn in school. It’s hard because I just don’t mix with anyone. It’s like trying to mix oil and water – the idea just came to me a while ago. I don’t talk about they things they talk about, I don’t listen to the songs they listen to, I don’t speak the way they speak, I don’t laugh at the things they laugh at, I don’t think swearing is cool. I’m just not into the things they’re into.

Am I normal? Maybe I’m not in the eyes of this world. Am I ordinary? Maybe I’m not by the standards of this world. But really, I don’t want to be just like everyone else. I want to be who God wants me to be. Does that sound weird or funny? Or do you agree that it’s the best thing I should want to be?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Musical Escapades

Musical Escapades – is my second site which serves as a "music blog". It is a journal of my progress in my musical endeavours in piano, violin, oboe and a tad bit of guitar. The idea to create such a blog came to me when I was playing Chopin’s Impromptu No. 1 at the piano on August 12th. Nothing fancy, but I did think it was a good idea!

Musical Escapades is an avenue for me to write about the never-ending hidden treasures that I discover in the music pieces I play. I do not want these instances of “enlightenment” to be forgotten! It is also for me to keep a record of the pieces that I am learning from 2009 onwards.

Apart from this site For A Purpose, Musical Escapades is another place for me to post videos of my performances in music events from school or in competitions (whether solo, in bands, or in orchestras) and write about my experiences. I will also post videos of my compositions, my sisters, Janna & Jirene, and music students.

I decided to create a music blog so that I can look back and reflect on the inspirational lessons I have learned over time and by patience and practice. And of course, by God’s grace and guidance. I want to also write about the people whom God has and will send along my path to equip and mentor me in pursuing my music aspirations. All these are worth remembering!

Someday it will be a memoir of the significant leaps and falls that I make in the musical side of my life. Although I have completed Grade 8, I have just discovered that the completion of grade 8 is only the BEGINNING of this musical roller coaster ride!
I am only beginning to savour the music I'm making and the notes I'm hitting. It's funny how I used to wonder when will I finally reach Grade 8. Now it is rather bittersweet to finally arrive at this point and discover that all that was only an "introduction" to the real thing. =)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Unleashing the Music Within

We need people in our lives to spur us forward without us even realizing it. By God's grace I have found such gems in my life. Best of all are my dad & mum, who’ve invested in me more than money and time. Another person who has helped me wiggle out of my “cocoon” to bloom in my expression of music is Sandra Birze. Though it’s only been half a year, with her passion for music & teaching, Janna and I have greatly improved.

Recently, I asked Sandra if she could prepare for a Grade 8 exam, and she shot me a surprised look. “Oh, I thought we were aiming higher than just Grade 8? You’re certainly above it already!” It was only then that I discovered that she has actually been giving me pieces that are above grade 8 and near diploma level!

We need people in our lives that will have faith in us; people that’ll fix our eyes on a higher goal and equip us to attain it. Many can envision the goal, but do not have the right contact or doors of opportunity to equip them to reach it. I believe that’s where God HAS to come into the picture. Only God will know the best people to send along our way – those that will fit perfectly into the jumbo puzzle of our lives.

Ms. Birze totally fits the puzzle in my music life at this point. I find us alike in many ways. We converse a fair bit during lessons. I also do that all the time when I teach my students. It becomes a rare friendship that the student appreciates. I pick up many of her teaching methods and find that they work well for me, too. I have learned from her that being a teacher, you must give loads of encouragement, be a live example to your student, show your passion for music, and make it count by caring.

We need people in our lives that can see the potential in us and UNLEASH it. A piano teacher will just teach you the music and be ignorant of your potential. But a teacher who’s PASSIONATE about music will teach you the music AND unleash the potential in you. Now when I see my students, I try to see the potential and talent in them. It may not surface instantly, but it can be released with perseverance and practice.

Ms. Sandra has made her life count in mine by helping me to outwardly express the music in me. Before this, I struggled to play with emotion. My previous teacher did not teach by being a live example. She never played any of the pieces for me. As a result, I kept my expression in my head, and I played stiff as a board. Now, after seeing and hearing Ms. Sandra play for me, I have grown bold enough to allow the music in me to bloom on the outside.

The 3 points I’m simply making are “we need people in our lives that will…”

- Spur us forward without us even realizing it.

- Have faith in us by fixing our eyes on a higher goal and equipping us to attain it.

- See the potential in us and UNLEASH it.

But most important of all, we need GOD, who is the only one who can align & fit ALL THESE PEOPLE into each crossroad of our life’s journey.

“A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?” Proverbs 20:24

Friday, August 7, 2009

By the Grace of God

It is easy to forget how far I’ve come from where I used to be. I wonder, if my parents didn’t take this step, I never would experience and learn all the things that I have over these 9 months. But of course, sometimes it’s not easy to be here cause’ well, it takes quite a lot of effort to catch up with a thousand and one changes going on!

At my birthday last year, I remember praying to God and saying “Dear God, bless my 15th year with many new & exciting changes and experiences. Help me to learn many new things and meet new people. Open new doors of opportunity for me and my family. Let this be a very memorable year in my life. Amen!” Truly, He has answered me and still is. This year has been more eventful and memorable for me than I would have expected!

This year has indeed been filled with many challenges and new experiences. New country, new school, new friends, new church, new everything. Doesn’t the word “new” sound weird already? Haha. But thank goodness, God stays unchangeable! He is still guiding our family through everything. How have we made it this far? By God’s grace!

My dad reminds me that we are living only by the grace of God. It’s not like life in Australia has been smooth sailing. We still have many difficulties and challenges to overcome. I often forget that dad and mum aren’t super humans. They constantly have to worry about many things that they probably don’t tell us about. But I know one thing my mum always tells us, “Remember to pray and seek God in everything and pray for us”.

God is our provider. Money doesn’t drop from heaven, but God helps us in ways that we do not even realize. Like when I first joined the Symphony Orchestra, I was very much below the standard. How I even qualified to join is another testimony in itself! But anyway, for a few weeks, I felt hopeless cause’ the pieces were so difficult. Knowing there was no other way, I committed it to God and prayed that He would give me the musical ability to catch up & the diligence to practice till I get it right.

Sure enough, you also know that I’ve made it this far, and God has helped me play far better than when I first started! A year ago, I was a total beginner; at Blackburn High, I started out as a Grade 4 student, and by God’s grace, I had pushed pass Grade 5 (Symphony orchestra standard) and now, I’m doing Grade 6! It all happened in a year! By my own strength, it would have been impossible.

Sometimes, I have to admit, I do forget how bad I had started out. Many times I take the credit for myself and leave God out of the picture. But thankfully I have realized my stupidity. I must use every opportunity to share my testimony with everyone and give God the credit and glory!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

It probably sounds like an over-used verse, but hey, it still comes back to me on many occasions. The same verse may mean something else in another situation because only God can reveal the secret treasures in His word to those who seek it. Amazing, isn’t it? =)

Tonight, there’s another performance going at the Melbourne Strings Festival competition. I’m performing with the Senior Strings Orchestra. Tomorrow morning, its Janna’s turn at the Quattro Strings. Then at night, I’ll be in the Symphony Orchestra. And guess what, I’m down with a terrible cold now. Pray I get well soon! Haha. Have a nice weekend! =)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What A Life!

After what seemed like a very, very long time, I decided to follow Janna and Jirene on a bike trip around the neighbourhood today. Ever since winter invaded our lives, I kinda’ stopped going on evening jogs and bike rides. Yes, I can’t wait for winter to be over!

However, we’ve had some pleasant days when the weather was really just nice. Today it went up to 17 degrees! So anyway, I decided to go along with sisters this evening after we got back from church. Yeah, sounds pretty early to be called “evening”, but if you didn’t know, the sun has been setting at around 5 pm in winter. What a dread, right. In summer it used to last until nearly 9 pm some days!

We cycled to the park. Seeing my sisters goofing around like hooligans, it suddenly came to me that I should go get my camera. Haha. I had a “hunch” that I’ll be capturing some good moments. So I went back and grabbed my cam. My photography “intuition” proved to be pretty accurate, hey! I ended up getting some really memorable close up shots of my sisters. There are times when you just feel like you’ll get a great picture if you’ll just trouble yourself enough to get your camera. It was one of those times that makes me thankful for the life I’m living!

Jirene wanted to show off her flip! Haha, what a goof, right. :P

Whee :D

Trying to fit in both their fat bums.

My gorgeous sisters :)


Yea yea, laugh all you want. I was wearing my pajamas attire. My sisters were poking fun at how fat I looked. I was wearing two layers of pants, 3 thin layers inside and my puffy jumper. Hahaha. And Janna was wearing shorts. =O

Can you believe it, this was actually a shot that was unplanned for. When Jirene spontaneously flashed a smile, I quickly grabbed the moment by clicking the shutter. After that, I tried to get her to smile again, but it didn't turn out as genuine and pure as the original. Haha.

Another winner shot! I love it. I happened to be standing up there, and Jirene looked up at me and struck this pose which looked PERFECT! :DDD

The beautiful moon was visible in the blue skies already!

One of those jolly days where all the best shots seems to just fall from heaven. =)

Have a great week ahead! I think my next post will be about the Melbourne Bands Festival competition next weekend in which Janna and I will perform in our orchestras. Cool, can’t wait! God blesscha’ loads. ;)

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