Sunday, April 30, 2006

Highly-strung anybody?

My wife has reminded me on more than one occasion that my blog is titled 'Perspectives' but is mainly anecdotes. She know it's easier to write anecdotes since I already keep a journal. But she's right.

Just as well that I've been wondering if perhaps I'm highly-strung. Like sometimes I startle too easily. I can be overwhelmed by bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens close by. Some days I can feel more highly-strung than usual, more likely to snap. If you are a laid back person, you may not relate to this.

Highly-strung people worry about details, can be emotional even nervous and often want to be in control. They tend to be on edge, over-sensitive, irritable and can jump at people. Many animals are highly strung too. They are easily excitable.

Here's a definition. Adj. 1. Being in a tense state, edgy, in suspense, jittery, jumpy, nervy, over-strung, restive, uptight, tense, in or of a state of physical or nervous tension.

Know any one like that? Sometimes I wonder if this the national psyche. We are often reminded in the media that we lack natural resources, that neighbours are catching up economically and that we must leap frog the region. This creates a siege mentality with paranoia all-round.

Dinah and I used to be involved in family ministry. I remember we got the moms to go out for ice cream while husbands stayed home with kids. There would always be one or two moms who kept calling every few minutes to ask how the kids were doing. I thought this was chronic. Then I saw them before school exams.

Many who commute on the MRT are typically highly-strung, stressed-out Singaporeans. Some think it's a duty to irritate them even more by walking really slowly, standing on the wrong side of the escalator and so on. However the wiser amongst us will not want to be snapped at.

How do we calm the highly-strung? If you exhibit some of these traits, how do you avoid going over the deep-end to become certifiably obsessive compulsive?

For starters I make it a point to avoid horror movies. It's not good for the nervy heart. Positive comedies and feel-good dramas are much more therapeutic.

Reframing is a useful technique. This is to think different. Like some who refer to their overstrung state as having 'a heightened sense of awareness'. This is so well put.

To reframe is important because, like it or not, there are bound to be things that annoy us to no end. Like I can get worked up when people stare at me in lifts, in restaurants or in public places. I've also read that fights have started from staring incidents. Lives have been lost. So I had to quickly learn to reframe.

Eventually I figured it out: "Perhaps I do have an interesting face. I must have presence. Maybe that's why heads turn every time I step onto the scene." It's probably true as well.

Life and ministry can get tense at times. Relax, chill out. I'm learning. Lying on the lounge with our twins is fun. So is listening to good music. Or a catch up with friends over coffee. Try it. You'll like it.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Down Under

It's Tue the 11th Apr. We do errands, swim and pack. Our new modem arrives on Wed. Tonight our family has dinner at the airport. On the flight to Down Under, the Aussie couple next to me is surprised they have the exact wedding date as me.

We arrive in Brisbane at 7:30 am Thur. Wilson pick us up for breakfast at the motel and we are off for meetings. The Vietnamese dinner is good. Otherwise it's a sleepy affair for me. My room mate is Prackich. It's the first time we're room mates.

The convention starts Friday night and ends late. Then I conduct a workshop on Sat and later there is a Multicultural night where we don national costumes.

Easter Sunday is eventful. It starts with breakfast with 7 Singaporeans from Hope Sydney. Later it's lunch with Alan and Jessie. Alan and I were both from St Andrew's boarding house. Jessie is Albert's sister. Later it's dinner with 12 young Africans from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Ethiopia. Then I give a missions presentation at the convention.

After the Convention ends on Monday, we spend 2 hours at Sunshine Coast. Here I catch up with Peter Truong. He was in our church during 1996. Next we are at the pastors dinner at an Aussie steak house. Tonight I bunk in a ministry house. Lead Tao, Han, Pei Xiong are from Singapore. They are an interesting and inquisitive bunch.

Tuesday is breakfast with with Han, Pei Xiong, Ming Hang (from Indonesia) and Sunny (from Macao). Later Ming Hang gives me a lift to the airport. It's good to get an empty row on the flight but it's a day flight. It's great to see Dinah and the twins at the airport.

Wed is when I finalise the leadership lesson. At night I teach 'Spearheading A Spiritual Revolution'. Thur is time at the lawyer's office. Fri is just tonnes of follow up matters. It rains on Fri so there is no swimming.

Sat is interesting. I call for taxi and the automated voice says one will arrive in 15-18 min. Normally it's 5-8 min. So I try to hail a taxi to no avail. The booked taxi arrives in 10 min. But the taxi driver takes a wrong turn. When we do get on the highway, it's congested. I'm praying I won't be late. We finally arrive and I do not ask for discount on the fare. He discounts $1 and I responded by asking him to keep the change. I go right in to preach at our student services.

The next day sees two more sermons on the greatest secret ever revealed to the minds of human beings. I have been touched by developing this message. Later we manage to swim in the evening. I haven't moved in the water for a long time.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A really big bed

Wed the 29th Mar is good. Our old friend joins care group again. At devotion time, the twins ask about Solomon with 700 wives and 300 concubines. They say he must have had a really big bed. I have never thought of his sleeping arrangements before.

Thu is breakfast with pastor friends. Later I reply a question on yoga. The rain means no evening swim. But the twins give us a special massage in their room. They call the place the Lee Twins Spa. Deb shows Dan the right moves. Dinah and I agree to bunk in their room tonight.

Fri is their school Founders Day holiday. Dinah and I are on leave today & tomorrow. We plan a seaside picnic but the forecast is for thunder storms. Instead we enjoy a leisurely breakfast followed by a swim. Next we renew passports before going to The Cathay Cineplex. This is the first week of its opening and we catch 'Ice Age II' here. We try the couples seats - meaning the arm rest can be raised.

Sat is when Dinah and I have a traditional breakfast. Then its errands and a special lunch. We go to Punggol Park for the first time but it rains. Just then my brother calls with really big news. Next Vivien bumps into us. Then Chien Meng, Choon Yam and the whole leadership team shows up. It's pouring leaders.

Sun lunch is with Pastor Richmond from Ghana and Sunny. Next is a roaring good time at the leadership rally. Then Dinah and I spend time with Quan, Imy and Sarah at the airport. Later we discover our home modem dies (so I will post when I get a chance).

Mon is full of surprises. We lunch with colleagues when they spring a surprise birthday gift. This is one month after my birthday. Three other colleagues join in this gift. Later I reply a question on New Age music. There is another surprise as the Filipino guys come to our home quite early for our appointment.

Tue is when we book airtickets to Sabah. Dinah files our tax returns before we swim. Wed is a long day like last week. It's a really wet day too. The day becomes longer as a tree falls on the highway. We are stuck for 30 mins in crawling traffic. Thur is meetings galore. It's raining meetings. The kids like the cookout of sandwich dinner.

Fri starts with a really big surprise. A long lost friend calls after getting our office number from the website. She came to church when there were 10 people in 1991. After 15 years comes this call. She said God spoke to her last night to call. She reminded me how I used to encourage her to know God. What a week.

Sat sees a pre-Easter preaching slot at the tertiary service. This is followed by 3 more sermons on Palm Sunday. Dinah convinces me to swim in between the morning and evening sermons. I go along and it turns out well in the end.

We spend time with counsellor and pastor friends on Mon morn. I spend the rest of preparing for the upcoming trip. Tonight there is more men mentoring.