The Walk

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Have you ever took a jog along or stroll through say, MacRitchie reservoir park or Bukit Timah nature reserve? Walks like these usually begins with high spirits and the euphoric hype that “Hey, I’m actually taking this long stroll!” We start off on a high because we could see ourselves setting foot on the finishing line. It’s an accomplishment and it’s gonna be great.

Sometimes however, along the way the paths get narrower, steeper, darker, higher (more uphills), grimmer and, filled with potholes. All of a sudden, the euphoria dies down, pandemonium steps in, the excitement of the moment is gone, the high spirits mellowed into a sour one. Some might even wish they never embarked on that journey altogether. We hope for an easy way out, a shortcut or fast exit out of our circumstance. We tire out, tripped a couple of times, fall to the ground yet hoping somehow it will all end in an instance.

I likened this to that of the ‘Christian walk’, a term so commonly used and ‘defined’ as a set of rules and steps to living the Christian life or the life ‘God has called you to live’.

As a Christian of eight years [now], I believe that God has allowed me to see much, experience much, and sometimes those experiences may not be all that pleasant.

As a believer, for a huge part of my Christian walk I believe in the purpose and the plans [or Callings] that God has for my life. I believed I could not be shaken [in my convictions]. I truly believed that I was [called] to be blessed. If I pray, if I fast, if I gave, if I do this, if I did that, somehow everything will work out, I mean I seek God [for my portion] diligently and He said I will find it right (Mt 7:7)?

That can be further from the truth. Two years have passed, and God has led me through interesting experiences. He led me straight into valleys after valleys.

Some call it the ‘Crisis of faith’, where doubts and fears catches up to our faith, threatening to shipwreck it. First of all, through the valley experiences I’ve come to terms that I am only human (Ps 103:14-16). There were instances that I want to just quit, to end it all, to blame God. That lesson taught me that nothing is certain. We can’t say for sure that “God I will never leave or forsake you!” [Only God says that!]. Rather, we say, “God I cannot guarantee that I will never forsake You, but during times where the rubber meets the road, let me find the courage to come to You, let me find the courage to never forsake You.”

Next, sometimes we subconsciously subscribe to the belief that we have God all ‘figured out’, that we limit God to a box. If I pray and fast, I will get this end product. If I believe and speak, everything will happen as I’ve believed because God will ‘hear all my prayers’. We subconsciously limit God to a set of practices that guarantees 100% success, But God is beyond sets and patterns, measures and success formulas. Once again borrowing from C. S. Lewis’ quote, ‘He is wild but He is good’. Praying is good, fasting is good, giving [of time and finances to Kingdom cause] is also good. All is good, but the anchor of our faith is not based on any of those! Because God isn’t either! Jesus chose Mary over Martha because it is not our act[s] that qualifies and accepts us into the Beloved but our ability to just sit by His feet, and enter into His rest. To enjoy His Presence, that counts for volumes in eternity than all our works combined together.

Sometimes, we just need to breathe in God, into our soul.

And from there, you got to understand that God may work differently from how you have planned for Him to; He is wild, remember? But He is good. He has other plans. And sometimes, those plans may require Him to step aside and watch you pick yourself up from the fall. It hurts Him just as much as it hurts you. And during those moments, that’s the tough part for us to understand; in our natural minds. Sometimes, to be blessed, it comes in forms very different from how we imagined it to be; some to remind us and some to mold us right, some to teach us a lesson and some to straighten our backs.

To breathe in God is to infuse Him into your inner self, to invite the Chief Peace and Rest into your soul. And those moments don’t always come from just praying and fasting alone. It could come from an image that reminds of Him (see Of Lights And Skylines), while jogging on busy streets, while painting on a canvas, while dancing to a routine, etc. Because He created all things, He exists out of an activity, yet He could be found in all activities.

Today, i still believe that I am [called to be] blessed. But I also accept and give God full control and maneuverability in how He does so. Coming to that stage in our faith, I believe that is when our faith has been refined, having arrived at a purer level, more so than before because the initial excitement [of being a believer] has evaporated away. It’s no longer “God, I can do this for You!” or “God I will live [or die] for You!”. It’s not that I am no longer excited [for the things of God], no not at all. I guess that is what it means to mature in love, to simply come before God and say, “God, I just.. want to love You.” What’s left is an old soul, well acquainted with the Creator like that of decade-old friends.

And so, continuing from where we left off about the story of the walk, we fall from the walk and the hike, hoping that someone [like God] will pick us up and tell us everything is going to be alright. But when no one does, what we need to do is simply to get back up on our own two feet, lift our bruised left heel up, plunge it down in front, lift the bruised right heel up, plunge that down in front too, and walk. The Christian walk is a walk after all.

I know that the walk is going to be tough, our calling may be entirely different from what we’d expect, but I also know that as long as I’m within His plans, I am good. God is at the end of the journey together with the Saints, cheering me on. I will make it, I will step across the line, embrace Him and hear His whispering “Well done, My good and faithful servant. Enter into My joy.”

This is what the walk is all about, this is what our walk is all about.

May the same Hands that move the hands of time, move and have Your way in me. Soli Deo Gloria.

Recognizing Beauty

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Above one of the gates in the ancient city wall is a lantern, and Samil explains its significance to us.
This is the origin of one of the most famous Arabic proverbs: “The light falls only on the stranger”.’
The proverb, he says is very apt for the situation we’re in now. Samil wants to be a writer and is fighting to gain recognition in his own country, whereas I, a Brazilian author, am already known here.
I tell him that we have a similar saying: “No one is a prophet in his own land.’ We always tend to value what comes from afar, never recognizing the beauty around us.
‘Although sometimes,’ I go on, ‘we need to be strangers to ourselves. Then the hidden light in our soul will illuminate what we need to see.’

An abstract from Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s novel, Aleph (p42)

Sometimes familiarity may cause us to take what we already have [access to] for granted. Our family who showers us with love, our job, our religious family, our close friends, our spouses and loved ones. They say it breeds contempt. We want that which we don’t have, we want that which others have and suddenly the grass becomes greener on the other side.

Perhaps the pasture may really be greener on the other side of the fence, otherwise we need to re-position ourselves, to be a stranger to ourselves so that we can recognize how blessed we are, to recognize what we have, to recognize the beauty that exists all around us in the form of a loving family, awesome friends, the best spouse [or boyfriend/girlfriend] one could ever ask for, a great job, a [pretty comfortable] roof over our head, blankets to keep us warm on windy nights, a loved one whom we can pour out our woes to, etc. Actually, our lawn isn’t that bad at all.

A note to the future me and the you who will walk beside me: I will cherish you and the days that we have together.

Walk a mile in my shoes and I in yours, and we will realize, actually we are quite blessed after all.

Oceans

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Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

– Oceans, Hillsong United

 

When I have You, I could walk on water, 

The great unknown shall devour me not.

So walk I shall through this narrow way,

Through hell or high water,

My trust is in the Name of the Lord.

世界那么大

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7.02 AM, 6 MAY 2012

Sunrise watching: taking in one of nature’s greatest marvels. Vast endless skies, clouds that stretches for miles on end and the Sun that rises to its place at the start of each coming day like phoenix from the ashes, I feel like I can do anything and everything. The sky’s the limit.

At the same time, I can’t help but feel so small and insignificant in this great big world. Where do I fit in this picture?

Singapore Seen: Old is Gold

And so I set off to look for an affordable, good condition and vintage typewriter that I may acquire in the future. As I look up on the internet and walk the ground, I realized there’s still much about this island state that I don’t know and have yet to discover. Sometimes we dream all day of traveling to a foreign country to live the city nomad dream without first knowing our own country. Sometimes we dream of stepping out to a foreign land when there’s a whole wide adventure just waiting for us right at our backyard. For the remaining time that I have for 2013, I am determined to know my own country better. This country has many hidden gems, and its secrets are only revealed to those who proactively search them out.

In this episode, I explore all things old in Singapore. Everything has a story to tell, especially all the old stuff. In a modern society where we are repeatedly fed with half truths such as the need to keep having ‘new’ in our lives – new technology, new gadgets, new vehicles, new everything, I find much comfort in feeling the wood and metal of all things old with my fingertips. It’s through the things of time past that we discover the cultures and strength of the country. Old is not outdated, old is not second grade to new. Old is gold. Without the old, there won’t be the new anyway. And remember, the old were once new too. (Both OT and NT are important, one can’t do without the other.)

Here are some images of the antique shops and its surroundings that I took on my trip, and oh joy it was such a great blast from the past. If you’re a backpacker, you should absolutely put these places under your radar. If you’re a tourist and am looking for a Uniquely Singapore experience and am game for quite a bit of walking, do come along too.

 


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The Heritage Shop

#01-01, 93 Jalan Sultan, 6223-7982. Open daily noon-7pm

Undoubtedly one of the few remaining antique stores, this place is a treasure trove of antiques (or junk). The Heritage Shop fits the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” to the tee. It’s the latter for me. In it you can find vintage food containers that the Chinese use back in the 70s, your favorite Coke bottles (Coke included) from the 80s, antique fans of all sizes, antique suitcases, rusty old keys, old tiles, vintage film cameras, preserved news articles of important events that rocked Singapore and more. I could take all day just trying to list everything from the store. But because this is one of the more publicized and few remaining antique shops still hanging around, prices here are pretty steep. Coke bottles go at $15+/ a-piece and film cameras go at between $200-$300. Typewriters here sets you back at around $200+/ onwards. And the condition is questionable though it is definitely old no doubt. Still, you could acquire some of the smaller items without burning a hole in your pocket. Do consider. Oh did I mention that you can rent their items at 30% it’s nett price?

 

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World Savage by Stevie General Store

70 Bussorah Street
Singapore 199483

This place sells one of the largest collection of best-condition antique items under one roof. The folks at World Savage take pride in selling people pristine, mint-condition and authentic antiques, and I really do mean antiques. Hence, be prepared to spend if you are looking for quality antiques. The store run by two ladies probably not older than 30 are really passionate about what they do, they have been running the store for a decade or more! The typewriters they carry are made from a special type of plastic instead of metal, making them more durable. They aren’t light too. And they cost a bomb. But then again, you are paying for quality and durability. Be prepared to spend more than $800 for their typewriters. If you’re looking for a really good antique typewriter, head on down to World Savage with gusto, their antique typewriters appreciate even more over time.

 

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Spoil Market

I like the puns intended. This shop run by some younger Singaporean sells very limited decent vintage stuff. Much of it is commercialized vintage. What made me like this store though is the operational and super good-condition old phones they have. Be it mass-produced or not, they look to be a fine buy to me, costing between $150 to $250. Plus they have the Mickey Mouse phone too. Oh, and the big ‘water bottle’ or ‘big brother’ phones too. This is not the place to go looking for a functional typewriter. They only carry pristine-looking non-operational typewriters. What’s the point of getting a typewriter if it doesn’t work? But I must say, the shop help is quite pretty. Good phones, air conditioner and pretty girl has it working for Spoilt Market.

 

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The Antique Shop at Landmark Village Hotel (Opposite Raffles Hospital)

390 Victoria Street
Singapore 188061

The messy insides of antiques and vintage stuff piling on top of one another in the antique shop open for public viewing is an eye feast for all antique collectors. Just by standing outside, I have a good idea of what I did like to bring home if I have the spending power. I’m drooling over the Yashica Mat 124. Although I’ve been in there before some time back, the past both times I dropped by this week have been futile in gaining access into the shop. The owner doesn’t seem to be in good health of late, hence unable to man the shop as regular as before. Last time I checked, the film cameras here were around $80 if memory doesn’t fail me. So, the typewriters if they do have some here should be cheaper… right?

 

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Goods of Desire Singapore

6 Eu Tong Sen Street #02-08 The Central
Singapore 059817

This is an over-commercialized store that sells Hong Kong themed products. Sure there are some pretty cool vintage looking stuff, but nah the vintage stuff is all mass-produced and made to emulate some objects and symbols of old. I prefer the real deal anytime. What worked for them is its prime location (located just beside Central at Clarke Quay) and the amazing lightings that draw me in like moth to white lights. I liked the Hong Kong decorated bed and decorations for the married couples which they set up in the middle of the store. Now you can be a Hong Konger too and emulate their wedding experience. This place is pass-able, come only when you have time or are dying from the Singaporean heat.

 

More images from the surrounding.

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Places I am heading to next…

Roccoco Kent // Past Image // The Little Dröm Store // Artsyfact // View Point Trading & Collectibles

Stay tuned!

P.S. I took the routes less traveled so that you can too.

Making The Right Investment

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Don’t be so busy trying to be politically right with the world and everyone else that we neglects being right with the most important sort – our family & loved ones.

We all withdraw 86,400 credits from the Bank of Time daily, make the right investment such that there will be a bountiful return of investment when time is ripe.