Feb 28, 2011

Mending Lil Hearts

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart by The Bee Gees

My good friend AV and I shared many things. Friendship, good food, recipes of our family and prayers. We are both Christians, and though the miles separates us, we kept each other in prayer. For good things, and for bad. She lives in California, USA now. With her husband, her daughter and her family. Over the past year, she shared with me of the tears she has wept silently for her daughter and her grand children. Because her daughter is going through divorce and breaking the family.

I remembered some years back she told me that she is packing up to move to USA. To live with her daughter, her son-in-law and the children. Because she hopes to help them to take care of the kids while they go out to work. AV has an apartment in Singapore where she lives with her husband. She comes back to Singapore every year and we would find time to meet up, to chit chat and catch up too.

Of late, she tells me about things at home. Moving house, moving out of the home that her daughter and ex-husband used to live together..making it perfect for their children. Now, its broken. Left, right and center.

While many would pray for the families and helping them to cope in a foreign country, I said my prayers for her grand children instead. As it reminded me of the many little hearts I had to help to mend.

The children suffered more when parents are divorced. Before Kitchen Capers and even before Benny, I use to be a counsellor with my church..to kids from broken homes, broken families. Its painful to see them. They don’t cry, because they don’t understand what is happening. And if they cry, their tears are not wiped from their hearts. Its a life long trauma for some of them which they carry with them all through their lives. Some do get healed, some don’t. In their broken-ness, some of them found God. Only He can healed them. Some didn’t.

My church send me for a professional Counselling course at The Singapore Bible College. Although I was trained to be one, I dabbled on the side when I used to serve in Sunday School as a teacher there. I have always loved children. Broken or whole. The word "Broken" here means Hurt emotionally, not physically.

I find children between 2 to 5 years of age are the most difficult age to 'mend'. They are too young to understand the adult world and why things happen and why their parents argue all the time. Not that when they are older, they understand better. But explaining to them even in layman or kid's tone, its very difficult. Each child is unique. Each child mends in a different way.

Some will take alot of soul searching, some look like they already healed. No one knows till their character shows up.

And if they cry, you know they are starting to heal. Its only when they don't, the pain seems un-mendable. If there is ever such a word "un-mendable". I have seen a boy aged 3 going on 4 years old going through his parent's initial stages of divorce. He cannot understand why and what. There are questions he wanted to ask them but afraid to do so. He would hear them shouting at each other all the time. When he comes near them, they kept quiet for a while but chided each other all the time. He went on, not able to understand what is happening and why it was happening.

I remembered he came to my class in Sunday School. He was a bright boy. During class, he listened attentively, and would do all the arts and crafts with so much joy. But when we sat down to pray, he would be silent. And when all the children are supposed to say "AMEN", he would not say it. But I could see the pain in him. Somehow he was trying to reach out to God.

I had time which I took and spent with him. Just him and me. In the garden behind our church. I would tell him things I liked and things I hate just to draw him out of his shell. He wouldn't talk. Sometimes he look like he was thinking of something else. Sometimes he would just sit there, on the swing with me. Quiet, forlorn. I prayed for him all the time. Because I don't know what is wrong. He wouldn't tell me. He wouldn't talk. And it hurts me so much to see him like that.

We spent many Sunday afternoons after church in the garden behind our church. I remembered I used to hum to him that good old Kid's praise by Psalty "Say To the Lord I love you". Then one sunday, I taught the kids to sing a new song..and it was this song

Say to the Lord I love you..

Suddenly from behind, he would dash across the hall and rush up to me at the stage. He snatch the microphone from me and started singing "I love you, I love you, say to the Lord I love you!"

We all clapped for him, because all of us who has been his Sunday School teacher never heard him speak, much less sing. After the praise session, I took him aside. It was then he opened up and pour out all his hurt, his pain and all his tears to me.

And he told me what happen. And in his child like manner he said to me..and those words followed me all my years after that. And every time I hear of someone who is going through divorce and they had little kids at home, my heart goes out to the little ones, than to the adults. This is what he said to me : (his name is Dwayne. He should be in his early 30s now)

"Aunty Gina, my mama and my papa doesn't love me anymore. because Dwayne is naughty. Dwayne go to kindy school and come back and mama and papa fight and shout. mama sleep one room, papa never come home to sleep. Dwayne sometimes sleep with ah ma(granny). Mama never talk to Dwayne anymore. Dwayne try to be a good boy. Aunty Gina pray every Sunday, thank God and say Amen. Dwayne don't want to say Amen because God make mama and papa sad and angry everyday. Dwayne don't want to thank God. God is no good."

I cried when he said that. And when he saw my tears, he started to cry too. And he said to me :

"Aunty Gina love Dwayne or not? Dwayne don't say AMEN but Dwayne keep the colour pencils and the art book. Dwayne help Aunty Gina to keep the bible and the chairs. Dwayne has no friend. "

I spend many Sundays mending him. Reassuring him that God loves us all. And got the help from our church pastors we went to see his parents. We didn't fix the divorce but his parents came to an understanding and kept their cool and pretended to be happy with each other just to put him back on track. But deep down, his parents still hate each other. But for their son to heal, they have to work together for him.

Dearest Dwayne,
I do not know what becomes of you now. I knew after the church spoke to your parents and they make good of things for you. You did well in school, became 'normal' and happy again. You have taught me so much about understanding, about loving someone and caring for someone. Aunty Gina is still the same person. Maybe older. But wiser. And all the years, I have not stopped praying for you. And if you are reading my blog by chance, I hope to meet you again.

In many ways, I never ask that my girls follow my footsteps or do what I do. But God spoke to Natasha somehow..and now Natasha reaches out the little hearts in the church she worships at. And she now studies Psychology in the university. She hopes to graduate and practice that...to mend hearts..and to renew someone's soul.

on the side note, I have met the little hearts I mended over the years. Young ladies, young men. Aspiring youths. I quit counselling after my girls went to school. And when I started Kitchen Capers, I continue to share. Not just recipes of food lost in time but also love for the lost.

May you find comfort knowing God hears you from where you are. And when you thought to yourself "Where is God when it hurts?". He's there...He never push His way into you, but silently behind you, supporting and waiting for you. Sending Angels in your way in things you do every day. Dropping love in places and things you never thought would appear.

God Bless you..AMEN!

Feb 20, 2011

Just You & Me...

Tea for Two, sung by Doris Day.

Yesterday I had a class at home. It was a class on Baking of American Carrot Cupcakes and Ice Cream Cupcakes. I had intended to start early and end early so that I could share a 10 minute cooking session with one of the students. She lives near my home and a delight to know her as she would often help me when I had classes. Its my way of saying "Thank you" and to appreciate the time she took to come early and help me with my classes.

She is newly married, a young and dutiful wife. Living in her first matrimony home with her hubby. On a separate email she briefly told me she was struggling to cook a curry chicken dish to please her hubby. But failed terribly. The chicken had more taste of curry powder and something doesn't seem right. She said she followed the recipe to the dot and couldn't figure out what went wrong.

So I decided to teach her how to do a quick 5 minute curry chicken with the curry paste I made recently. Claire was pleasantly surprised and didn't expected that I had plan this for her. I also taught her a trick or two how choosing the best cut of chicken for this.

Then she tells me that ever since she started cooking at home, her hubby has gained weight. Ever since she started her first baking class with me last year, it started a sudden interest and love in cooking too. Because I tend to side track sometimes if I see a student who wants to learn to cook. I get all too eager to share the knowledge.

When her hubby came by to pick her up, we talk a fair bit. They shared with me that they are intending to get a dog for their home. And I shared with them on basic dog training too. Claire was impressed with the way I trained and raised my dog, Jing Jing to be well behaved and obedient.

When they left my place, it reminded me of the early days with just Benny and me. Just him and me. When I first got married, when we had our first home. Just the two of us. And soon after, Benny bought me a puppy, a male shetland sheepdog named Fable. Mainly it was to keep me company when I come home each night to an empty house. As he often worked late. I have Fable to keep my company. To play with and to watch sad movies with.

Just like my student, Claire and her hubby. Just starting out..a home build on love. A puppy to fill up the void of days when one is away on work or duties outside.

I remembered so much on the days I struggled to cook. I had no one to tell me how and what. My mom was a phone call away. I learnt mostly by trial and error. So to hear what Claire had to share with me of her cooking adventures at home, it reminded me of my early days as Mrs Lim.

And I assured Claire that the power of Love does wonders to a person. How Love changes me. My mom couldn't change me. Its so obvious that Claire is so much in love. Seeing her and her hubby reminded me everytime how much I have grown from a person who can't boil water to cook instant noodles to one now who cooks and bakes to feed others.

She took this class was because her hubby loves American Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting.

The American Carrot Cupcake..though not the one that Claire did. This was baked/decorated by another student when I first taught this at Robinsons, last December.

And I realised too, in all my years of teaching others to cook or bake, how many young women I have taught, both newly married or single but spoken for. Because I don't just teach them to cook or bake, I also impart my love for my family and how love is spread through the things we do so willingly for the people we love.

In that 30 minutes or so, I taught Claire to cook the dish I made last week for my girls ...this is what I did last week :

Butter Garlic Rice, Grilled Djorn Mustard Chicken, Char-grilled shitake mushrooms..some veggies on the side. Top with Mascaprone Cheese whipped with Mandarin Oranges..

Feb 11, 2011

One Day I will Fly Away...

One Day I will Fly Away sung by Nicole Kidman from the musical "Moulin Rouge"

From as far as I can remember, my mom would tell me 1001 things to relate things I did with life's real examples. So that I can understand and I can learn. She did all that in the ability she knew to make me behave. As a child, I listened to her all the time. Occasionally, I misbehaved and she never fails to spare the rod.

For years I wonder if you could spare the rod and yet not spoil the child? Because it was taught from the earliest of time that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child.

When I became a mother, suddenly all these came back to me. But God has been very good to me and blessed me with an easy kid to care for. Natasha was my first born. And she was a good little kid. And never gave us any trouble. She was easy to train and educate and the easiest kid to feed too. She would eat anything we put in her mouth. At a young tender age, she was found to be lactose intolerant so she went on a soy-based milk formula till she turned 2 years old. By then, she was gamed to try anything.

My mom often talked to Auntie Katherine who lives in CA, USA and ask for tips on what baby food to cook for Natasha. Auntie Katherine raised 2 fussy eaters on her own and shares her tips eagerly.

Natasha had a mix of western and chinese meals in her diet. By noon she had double boil plain porridge served with diced carrots and fish fillets. By dinner, she had pot roast and potaotes all mashed up into baby food. By the time she was old enough to sit at the dinning table with us, she started to have a taste of all kinds of food and a mix of flavours and taste.

She was in many ways my role model...who would have thought that a young child be a role model? I would. She was my role model because I would use her as an example on how you should train your kid and how to feed your child. As I was also serving in our church's Children's Ministry, I shared this with the young parents too.

By the time she was 4 years old, she had her first taste of Spicy Laksa and loved it. Minus the fresh cockles as we do not know how it would react in her. When she was 5 years old, we took her to USA and fed her all kinds of food and drinks. By then she was gamed for anything and everything.

When Melody was born, I use the same method of education on her. It worked..! Although Melody was more of a handful to care for, it did show that the role model's way was still intact.

That you should start them young..before they start tasting how the world is like and be 'pressured' to think that kids are with junk food, adults eat boring stuff.

Food is never boring at home. With Melody, I got her into the kitchen and getting her hands into whipping up dishes the way she likes it. That way she appreciates it and looks forward to meals at home.

But its a different thing when we dine out. Although they will eat anything, they are often looking for new things to try. Its a rule in the family that when our girls are old enough (that's when they are like 4 years old and above) we do not dictate what they should or can eat while we dine out.

However, at home, Benny decides the menu for the week and we just gladly eat what he wants. The whole idea was more for us to dine together as a family. From young, I do not allow my girls to have 'buffet' like meals. Means they pick up their plates, picks and choose the food and dash off to the living room for a TV movie. Meals at home are often a sit-down affair. Its here that we talk about the days' events, share our love across the table and in between that, the family dog gets a nibble of table scraps.

This is an old photo of Melody savouring every last bite from the chicken. This was taken in 2003.

When my shop was opened, I spent less time at home cooking. So if there are days I could be home to cook for the family, its like having Reunion Dinner every time. The family misses these special moments. And now we all treasured these dinner meals at home more often than ever.

May you have a blessed Valentine's Day ahead..!