Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Shine a light for 2021

Some people believe covid is a punishment from God for all the evil humans have done. But as Lesley-Anne once told me wisely, people often confuse punishment with consequence. If you don't study for an exam and fail it, that's the consequence of your own actions. It's not God punishing you for your laziness.
Some Christians believe if we pray hard enough or live a good enough life, we'll have a trouble-free life. That's why they're so quick to judge others when calamity befalls them, as if God is punishing them for not being good enough. This is self-directed faith - it's not biblical. Christians are not spared suffering. Because people are so imperfect, we often suffer the negative conquences of not just our own actions, but also other people's actions. Dishonest and incompetent governments come to mind.
What is true, however, is that even amidst trouble and suffering, we can intentionally choose be a blessing to others, in whatever way God has enabled us to - with our gifts, resources and presence. I was just recently reminded that something I wrote long ago (and long forgotten) had made an impact on someone. The clicking of jigsaw pieces in this interconnectedness of life never fails to amaze me - there's a grand plan in God's epic picture, we just have to work on our little pieces and it will all fall into place in time.
I pray for 2021 to be brighter than 2020, but regardless, know that light shines brightest in the darkness - and I wish for each of you to be a light to someone this coming year.


Saturday, September 5, 2020

Revealing the beauty of God's creatures in art

This is the latest pet commission I completed. 

For some reason, I really struggled with this one. Halfway through and still unable to get the fur to look right (I’d never actually drawn a short-haired dog), I was seriously thinking I might need to issue a refund.After lots of panicky prayers and many hours of reworking later, it miraculously came together and now it’s one of my favourites. 
When people see my art, they like to tell me it’s a gift, which makes me a little uncomfortable and here’s why: often, I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing. I don’t have a secret formula or a special technique. Sure, I watch a lot of YouTube videos but it’s not like you can become an artist from watching YouTube. It’s not paint-by-numbers. Every drawing is different with different considerations. Even if they’re similar, I often don’t remember how I achieved a certain effect. So when I tell people I’m not sure if I can draw something, I’m not trying to being modest. I really have no idea if I can.
Part of this uncertainty is because I’ve only been drawing for three months (animals for two). Sure, I didn't start from ground zero, but it still sounds pretty improbable, even to me. I wouldn’t blame you if you suspect that I’ve been secretly drawing for years. (I haven’t). So how did I do it? Short answer: It’s not me.
When I embarked on this art project to raise funds for charity, I told God I really wanted to do this to benefit others and could he please help me. That’s when I found my skills improving exponentially. When I started drawing animals two months ago, I was just experimenting. I wasn’t even that keen on realism. So many times, I felt hopelessly stuck and asked God for help. Inexplicably, I would find myself trying something that to my amazement, ended up looking great. (Sometimes, I’m so mystified I actually ask my kids to confirm if it looks as good as it does to me).

I remember drawing a golden retriever and telling God, “God, I’ve never drawn tongue or teeth, that looks impossible.” I just copied the reference photo as best as I could, stepped back and was shocked to discover that it looked realistic. No one was more excited than I was! I’m convinced God’s hand was guiding mine.

After successfully drawing ONE dog and ONE cat, I audaciously decided to offer pet portrait services to fund-raise. That’s pretty reckless, if you think about it – I guess I kinda assumed God would come through for me. “God, I offer my service, you bring the customers, k?”
I got my first commission almost right away, from a complete stranger. She didn’t want a cat or a dog. She wanted two rabbits. “God, I’ve never drawn rabbits!” I prayed. “Someone’s paying good money for this. You gotta help me.” Yes, me trying to emotionally blackmail God. And he was gracious enough to acquiesce as the drawing turned out well. 

Next commission was a hibiscus. A hibiscus!! I’ve never been good with plants (both artistically and in real life). I sweat a bit over this one, yet it also turned out ok and the customer was so pleased she commissioned another piece. And then another first – a poodle with curly fur. Which also turned out fine.
You might think this means I’m very confident. On the contrary, whenever I start a drawing a commissioned piece, I get a little nervous because I really have no idea how it will turn out. In EVERY single drawing, there’s a moment when I think I’ve ruined it. So when it turns out well later, I’m always grateful (and relieved). It’s teaching me how to trust and surrender.
Sometimes I watch Youtube videos of fantastic artists who say, “I’ve been painting for 20 years”. I would squirm and think, shouldn’t I need to put in my 20 years? Then last week, I suddenly remembered that the speaker at our 2018 church camp, Pastor Tsukahira from Israel, had spoken about using our gifts for God. I was so inspired then that I had told God I wanted to dedicate my gifts to him (and promptly forgotten). I went back to read my notes, and this was what he said, verbatim: “When God sees you using your gift for Him, it pleases God so much He reaches out and every now and then, touches it with supernatural power. You dedicate yourself to using your gift and find that someone gets touched or inspired by your gift, that you know didn’t come from you. That’s the anointing and the pleasure of heaven.”

So this long post is a testimony and explanation of sorts for my art ability. People tell me it’s a gift and I agree, but not in the way they think. It’s a gift not as in a talent, but a present. I’m finding this art journey incredibly fulfilling, and I believe that because I dedicated the gift to God to bless others, he’s blessing me in ways that I cannot fathom. As another famous pastor, Edmund Chan, once said, “You can’t outgive God.”
This latest pet portrait is a gentle reminder that it’s not by my strength but his. Incidentally, drawing animals has given me new appreciation of the sheer beauty of God’s creatures. I can see their souls through their eyes, which I try to capture in my drawings. “I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.” – Psalm 50:11
Afternote: The funny thing is I always thought the “gift” I was dedicating would be writing. I never imagined it would be art! 

If you wish to follow my art journey of faith, please go to my new blog and follow me there. You may also commission a pet portrait or buy art pieces to support charitable causes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Pet Portrait Services

In what has been a daily surprise in my art adventure, I have since discovered that I love drawing animals and they're not half bad (I think lah!) Hence, I have decided to go out on a limb and offer pet portrait services.

I know it sounds somewhat audacious but since I've been asking God to open up channels for me to bless others, things have been developing in such a crazy way and speed. I'm just going with the flow and seeing what happens.

Here are a couple of animal drawings I did in the past few days. 

80% of proceeds go to charity, so here's a great way to have a pic of your pet and support a good cause! If you're interested, please check out details here.

I also write reviews on my new blog, and the latest post is on the difference between $4 and $400 coloured pencils.



Tuesday, August 4, 2020

New art site

It's been almost three months since I accidentally launched headlong into art, and it's turned out to be a meaningful venture for me. So I decided to create a new blog for the purpose of chronicling my art journey, and also as a platform for me to sell my artworks to benefit migrant workers, the poor and the marginalised.

I'm no professional artist with no art training, so please don't expect super high standards! I'm improving with each drawing though, and I'm doing this because I believe in the cause and feel blessed to be able to contribute in this manner.

If you feel led or like the idea of buying art to support charitable causes, please do head over to my new blog, the Art Pandemic, to have a look. There, you can read the posts on how I progressed, as well as the background behind how this project came about and the artworks for sale.

Thank you and do support if you can!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Raising funds for charity through art

My Spain art project received a lot of positive responses among friends on FB. As much as that was fun and gratifying, I felt that to continue just amassing drawings was a little self-indulgent. Not that drawing for yourself is wrong, but I had this urge to do something more with it, if I could.

During this pandemic, people have stepped up. Some serve on the frontline, some volunteer their services, others give blood, etc. I’ve done none of these. All I’ve done is donate to charities but that felt inadequate. Then I had this idea: what if I were to sell my art for charity? That would raise more funds than what I can give as an individual.

So over the past month, I put up 5 lots of drawings for sale, each with a minimum donation sum.  All proceeds went to one of 4 charities, of the buyer's choice:
1) TWC2
2) HealthServe
3) Willing Hearts

In all, I drew 31 pictures, sold 22 and raised almost $2,600 for charity.

The outcome was way more than I expected. When I first came up with the idea to do this, I was filled with self-doubt. Was I being overly ambitious? How many pictures would I be able to draw in a month? What if they’re crap? What if nobody buys? Or worse, what if people buy only out of pity??
But as I prayed about it, I realised the questions were all wrong because they were focused on me. Surely if I want to help the poor and the marginalised, the focus should be on them. I believe that if the heart is right, God will make all things possible.

So I told God, “Ok, I’ll draw whatever I feel led to, with no targets, no strings attached. You bring the buyers. Let each of the drawings speak to someone special.”

And so I drew. Every day, I would surf the internet looking for photos that inspired me or got me excited about drawing. It sounds odd but my feelings changed daily. Sometimes, I see a nice photo and set it aside, only to feel cold about it the next day. I don’t know why. Many of the drawings were experimental – the Eiffel Tower came about because I was curious if I could pull off the architectural lines and proportions. I played around with different types of paper, style and subjects (animals are hard, gosh).

31 pictures in under a month sounds like a frenetic pace even to me. I can be a tad obsessive (ok a lot) but honestly, it wasn’t like I rushed to churn out as many drawings as possible for the sake of sales. I looked forward to drawing every day, so I just did. And because I only drew what I felt like, it was FUN. Some drawings turned out more successful than others, but you know the strange thing? Some of the drawings I liked didn’t sell, while others that I didn’t think would sell, did. A few buyers told me a specific drawing called out to them which I thought was pretty amazing.

In the beginning, the hardest part about this project was not the work, but parting with the drawings. Especially since I don’t think I can ever replicate some of the drawings, so I did feel a pang letting go of them. I asked God, “Remove my attachment to the drawings and let my heart for the needy be bigger.” And remarkably, he did. Now when I finish a drawing that I think turned out well, I no longer feel the urge to keep it for myself. I’m honestly happy to give it away. (Well, except for one which I loved so much I actually did another so I could keep the original.)

It’s such a cliché to say it’s more blessed to give than to receive, but I really did feel happy every time I sold a drawing and donated to a charity. And the payoff that I hadn’t counted on was that my skills improved. I was most aware of this when redoing a picture I did 2 months ago – I’m more confident about what works and what doesn’t, and shading, which I used to struggle with, comes much more intuitively now.

I'm posting this to record and share the project with blog readers, even though I know hardly anyone comes here now is 😆 Here are some of the drawings I sold:

Monday, June 15, 2020

Covid art project

Back in the day, I used to sketch quite a lot, especially during my undergraduate years. But with less time, I haven't done so for oh, maybe 2 decades. Then last year, I attempted to draw a simple cartoon hedgehog and failed dismally. It was very demoralising and I chucked the pen aside. It's true that what you don't use, you lose.

Then a month ago when the Circuit Breaker hit, I thought perhaps it's an opportunity to try and hone the skill again since I had time. I aimed to draw building sketches using markers of places I visited in Spain last year and hoped to see some improvement.

My first drawing on Alhambra was done on 17 May and it was quite crappy especially when I added the colour, since my limited number of markers were mostly in gaudy hues and older than Lesley-Anne :P BUT let's not blame the tools, it's totally the workman's fault here.

Pic 1: Alhambra, Granada

I posted my drawings on FB so that my FB community would keep me acocuntable and  force me to keep at it. Anyway, I figured if the first one was terok, the only way I can go was up 😆

Well, it's now been exactly a month and I've drawn 16 pictures in total. For the final picture on my Spain holiday, I decided to redraw the very first picture I did to see how far I’ve come. The visual results don't lie.
When I first started, I thought I would draw a few pictures and then leave it at that. I honestly did not expect it to take a life of its own. Not only did I improve way quicker than I thought I would, it’s FUN. So fun that I can’t stop drawing. Seeing a creation take shape on paper is incredibly satisfying. If any of you are considering picking up art, hope this serves as an encouragement.

Pic 2: Plaza de toros, Seville

Pic 3: City of Girona, watercolour pencils

Pic 4: Cafe scene, Madrid
Pic 5: Takos al Pastor, Madrid
Pic 6: Sagrada Familia (ordered new markers!)

Pic 7: Sagrada Familia, cartoon style

Pic 8: My church's stained glass
Pic 9: Dali Theatre-Museum, Figueres
Pic 10: Plaza Mayor, Madrid

Pic 11: Coffee counter
Pic 12: Spice rack

Pic 13: Parque de Maria Luisa, Seville

Pic 14: Sagrada Familia (interior)

Pic 15: Park Guell, Barcelona

Pic 16: Alhambra

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

A season to slow down

The other day, a friend told me he was feeling edgy staying at home and didn’t understand why because he’s been a homebody for years. I understood completely because I felt the same. I’m an introvert, working from home for the last 18 years. I shouldn’t have a problem with the Circuit Breaker. Yet, I was feeling restless.

I’m currently reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer, one of my favourite Christian writers and I’m only just realising how relevant it is to the situation today. The book talks about our addiction to hurry in the modern world. We fill our time with so many activities (much of it mindless), that we have lost our ability to be still. We’re constantly distracted and we’re unable to focus. “All our worst moments are when we’re in a hurry.” 

During this period, many of us have been forced to slow down. We’re spending more time with family, taking time to do stuff that we never time to before—cooking, sewing, exercising, playtime with kids, etc. We’re rediscovering what’s really important in life.

Yet, many friends have told me they can’t wait till things get back to the way they were. Why? If things were so hectic and stressful before, why are we so eager to return to what was before? (btw I’m not referring to those who need to get back to making a living).

I suspect one of the reasons is that we’re being forced to reexamine the values in our lives and the glare of the spotlight unnerves us. It’s easier to return to our mindless busyness because that leaves us no time for uncomfortable reflection. The daily grind—the mad rush from 8.30am to 6pm each day, which makes us too tired to relax on weekends—even though we complain about it, lulls us into believing that our lives have worth because we’re “doing something”.

Busyness is an addiction and like all addictions, even though we know it’s bad for us, it’s hard to shed. It dawned on me that what I was feeling could be withdrawal. Right now, many of my projects are at a standstill, so there’s just a lot of waiting. And waiting makes me antsy because I feel like I’m not doing anything.

Many people are waiting for things to get back to “normal”. We view this pandemic as merely a blip in the earthly timeline. And so, we while away the hours, binge-watching Netflix until it passes.

But what if it’s not a blip? What if it’s in fact, a season? A season is not an anomaly. A season is precious because it has great potential for growth and prepares us for the next. Also, the season that follows need not be the same as the one before. For example, for someone who has a near fatal car crash, therapy is not something to do just to get him back to “normal” because he will never be the same. Scars will remain and some injuries will never heal. Therapy is to strengthen not just his body but his mental and his emotional state, to prepare him for a different sort of life to come.

Churches have been forced to take unprecedented measures like live streaming of services and Zoom CG meetings. However, I feel too many of them view this as a temporary stop-gap measure, to be discarded once the pandemic ends. Why? Why can’t this be a rehearsal of what’s possible in the future instead—that technology can help connect with others previously unreached? It should hammer home the message that the church was never about the building in the first place, but the people.

Instead of hankering for things to return to the way it was, perhaps we should view this as a season of opportunity, and therefore shouldn’t be wasted. An opportunity to reevaluate our values. An opportunity to connect, to make time for conversations—with family, with friends, with others, with God. Connecting sometimes means just enjoying being in someone’s presence and not doing anything. That’s what Jesus called “abiding”. It’s the joy of an unhurried life.

And maybe when Covid-19 is over, we can say that this is how we want to live life. This is the new normal.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

University acceptance for Andre

Last week, Andre received an offer to pursue his undergrad studies at SIT.

This was pretty momentous for him. If you've ollowed my (now defunct) blog, you would know that academics is not in Andre's DNA. His two favourite periods in primary school were recess and PE. This continued all the way to poly, where he aced his practical modules and bombed the theory ones. If he's ever held hostage for information, all the kidnappers have to do is threaten to make him write an essay. He will cave.

In his final semester, he poured his energy into his internship at Changi Airport. Despite the crazy shift hours, the irregular meals and covid-19 scare, his enthusiasm bubbled over. He loved the work so much he told me this was what he wanted to do as a career.

The snag was that he discovered the career path and pay of poly grads were significantly limited compared to those of degree holders. It's an antiquated system but an unfortunate reality of working in SG. So I advised him to look at uni courses.

But what? Reading the synopses of programmes in NUS, NTU and SMU bored him to tears. He declared rather dramatically, "I will DIE there. Three years of HELL." So we prayed. God, show the way to something he will enjoy and not expire from boredom.

Then one day in the car, Kenneth heard an ad about a pop-up Open House for SIT at Suntec City. Coincidentally, it was on a Saturday when Andre wasn't working (which was rare). We went down to take a look and the very first person I ran into was an ex-colleague from SMU whom I hadn't seen in more than a decade. When she heard that Andre was looking at the Hospitality programme, she replied, "oh, I'm in charge of that! Let me know if you have any questions at all."

The Hospitality programme appears to be tailor-made for Andre. It's heavily practicum-oriented, with two 6-month long work attachments, and Andre will likely get advanced standing for some of the theory modules as he's already taken them in poly. Later at the Admissions booth, Andre struck up a conversation with a current undergrad and they got along so well that the student started surreptitiously sharing tips on what to do at the interview.

We were there only about an hour or so, but Andre told me with all certainty that this was the degree he wanted to pursue. All the doors seemed to open in this direction, so he applied. And in faith, he decided not to even apply to other universities as back up.

He got called up for an interview and due to covid-19, it wasn't a face-to-face but an automated video interview, which doesn't play to his strengths as he's best when interacting with people. Clearly it didn't matter anyway, since he eventually got the offer ☺️

I often call Andre a big sparrow because he lives a carefree life and doesn't worry too much about tomorrow, which has in the past, given me many moments of angst. Yet looking back, I see that God has always provided for him. Grateful for the blessings and for the timely reminder. Hence this post of thanksgiving.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" - Matt 6:26

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Words' Worth

This post was first published on the Hedgehog Communications microsite.

When I was eight years old, a cousin saw me engrossed in an Enid Blyton book and told me, “You should become an author when you grow up.” My greedy little heart thought, “Yeah, writing’s great and all, but I really want to be a cashier because they collect all the money.” 

I have since repented from my mercenary ways. (Besides, I know now that cashiers don’t get to keep the money. It’s the bookstores).

But the idea of being an author was planted in my impressionable mind, and it was not an unappealing one. I learned from an early age that words have power. It wasn’t just that they could transport me to worlds unimaginable. It was the seemingly infinite ways in which they could be used to express a multitude of things. And I had endless opinions. On everything.

I fed my appetite for words with books from the library, ten at a go. I borrowed words and phrases liberally, and used them with wild abandon in my compositions, writing reams of stories—sometimes true, sometimes a romanticised version of the truth, other times existing only in my alternate fantasy universe. But they were virtually always funny. Humour is an effective facade for tortured souls and teenage angst, and it came naturally to me, almost frighteningly so.

English was by far, my favourite subject in school and I aced it without breaking a sweat. If there was such a thing as Teacher’s Pet for Writing Compositions and Grammar Nazi Tendencies, that would be me (which did nothing for my popularity, but that’s another story).

However, the easy confidence I had in my creative writing abilities faded as I transitioned into adulthood. The more I read, the more I realised how handicapped I was in my expression. After I wept over Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, raged over Alex Haley’s Roots, and had many sleepless nights over Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, I despaired that I would never be able to write like these giants. Becoming an author was stowed away in the Impossible Dream drawer, the same one as being a tall supermodel.

Life went on and by sheer chance, I was thrust into a career in communications, of which writing played a big role. Once again, the words flowed through me with familiar ease like an old friend and I grew comfortable with this shift in voice: from creative to corporate writing. When I decided to step out and start my own business ten years later, copywriting was a natural choice. It was the only tangible skill that I trusted enough to anchor me in the big, scary world of enterprise.

For some inexplicable reason, people really liked my writing. “Do your magic, Monica!” a client told me. I waited for someone to tell me that I was really a fraud, that all I did was string buzzwords together in pretty sentences, but it never came. The business blossomed.

And yet, I had an itch waiting to be scratched. Each time it resurfaced, I would poke at it distractedly or try to ignore it, but it didn’t go away. 

I wanted to tell stories. 

I started a blog, mostly to tell stories of my kids, and also to share my opinions (yeah, still had them by the truckload). Some of the posts went viral. Suddenly, my words had teeth. Whether I was talking about parenting, the education system or 377A, people were reading, agreeing, disagreeing, arguing, dissecting, sharing. It was no longer just about me and my opinions. The words brought people together…and divided them.

And then it happened—through the blog, I received a book offer. The dream that I had so neatly kept in the discard pile was revived. I grasped the opportunity with both hands, but couldn’t rid my mind of this niggling self-doubt: “You’re a copywriter, not an author. Are you sure you can do this?"

The book was published in 2013. Then in quick succession, another 14 children’s books followed in 6 years, co-written with my daughter. Not only were the books not panned as I’d feared, we received compliments from kids who couldn’t seem to get enough of our stories. The one that moved me most came from a mother who said her special needs child son to read but read our books from cover to cover. It unnerved me a little—that our words carried so much weight.

I began to accept that the title of “author” might legitimately apply to me after all. Copywriter, creative writer, is there really a distinct line separating them? Perhaps it’s the same voice, just one that has learned to speak different languages.

I had become a sharper writer, simply from the sheer amount of time I had spent writing over more than four decades. The words came easier and more freely. I knew intuitively that a sentence was more accurately described as “pedestrian” instead of just “ordinary”. I became better at assigning words to my thoughts and emotions, giving substance and credence to what’s immaterial.

As much as I used words to shape my reality, the words shaped me. With each blog post and book, I was telling a story, but they in turn, shaped my narrative as a writer, as a person. I look back at my earliest blog posts and cringe at the bright, brash tone. It was me from a different time, without the temperance that comes with maturity.

It’s easy to lapse into complacency when words become a familiar tool. “Don’t write on auto-pilot,” I tell my copywriters. The acute awareness of the power of words convinced me that they needed to be treated with respect and mindfulness. “Say what you mean.” 

Recently, I received an unexpected thank you email from the daughter of my late piano teacher, whom I’d written a tribute to on my blog. “You cannot imagine how much comfort it has brought to me and my family,” the daughter wrote. “It's so real.” My piano teacher had passed on 15 years ago in 2005. The blog post was written in 2015. Words matter. And on the Internet, words live forever. 

It struck me that perhaps the spotlight on words needed to swing from power to responsibility, especially on the web (all puns intended). Instead of focusing on what words can do, we should be focusing on what they ought to. With social media, it’s all too easy to wield words as ammunition to cut, to mock, to disparage. And for someone who works with words day in and out, words are potentially as lethal in my hands as a rifle for a sniper.

Perhaps it’s the sentimentality of age, or the growing cognisance that one day, my words might come back to haunt me. But more and more, I’m seeing that words used to encourage, affirm, delight and inspire, even if done without much thought, can have enduring impact. Sometimes, if I’m fortunate enough, they ricochet back to me. And they remind me that what I do is a gift and a privilege.

Monica is head hedgehog which makes her the prickliest of them all, especially before her morning coffee. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A decade of growth

Seems like the done thing to take stock of the past decade, and why not. 2020 has such a symmetrical ring to it.

My business grew. I went from having 2 writers to 14.

My kids grew. In 2010, Lesley-Anne had just started secondary school and Andre was in p4. They will be graduating from university and polytechnic respectively this year.

I grew. I became a published author (15 books!), even gathering some awards along the way. If you’d told me this in 2010, I would have spat out my coffee.

Most importantly, my faith grew. I’ve been a Christian for a long time, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts and questions. In 2010, my business was fulfilling but since its primary objective was to pay the bills, it came with its fair share of anxiety and stress. My kids were doing ok in school (one more ok than the other) but the education system seemed like a necessary evil we had to soldier through (I say “we” because all parents know it’s a shared pain) more than a process of discovery. School, homework, CCA, piano lessons, ballet lessons, badminton training sessions. Certainly, all good to have, but keeping up with the routine was a chore. I had started a blog on kids and education with a good number of followers but it was directionless. I often thought despairingly, “What’s the point of all this?”

But over the last decade, I saw God’s wisdom and guiding hand in life events that seemed random at the time. If not for the blog, I would not have published a book. Early ballet lessons led Lesley-Anne to discover and share her passion in dance. Being a social butterfly in school showed Andre his gift in hospitality, which led to his choice of study and internship. Little pieces fit in a larger puzzle now and it gives me confidence that others will too, in time. Nothing’s wasted in God’s economy.

And through various personal encounters, my eyes were opened to this fact: we’re not on earth killing time until we can get to heaven (hopefully). It’s about experiencing bits of God’s kingdom every day, through the people we meet, the process of living out who God meant us to be. Like how I started Hedgehog as a means to earn a living and I later learned that it’s been a channel of blessing for some writers. To be used by God as a conduit to bless others - that’s a privilege.

This is my belief: It really isn’t about our “accomplishments” which is a fallacy anyway, since by themselves, they mean nothing. Rather, there is a point to our lives on earth, which is to prepare us for the next chapter. Ironically, there is freedom in surrender, and as I’ve experienced, freedom comes with much joy and peace.

As we move into 2020, I wish for all of you God’s love, joy and peace, that you might see how precious and special you are. Your life matters.

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