Valentine’s Day is tomorrow… You’ll never guess who I’m spending it with?!

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CONVERSATION MAKING VDAY PLANS-

Mom: So how come you and your brother are cooking dinner together at home tomorrow?

Me: I asked him to spend it with me and if he wanted to go out and eat, but since it was expensive he said we should cook at home.

Brother: Actually, it’s embarrassing to go out on Vday and not have a girlfriend.

Mom: (laughs)

Brother: But it’s even more embarrassing to go out on Vday and have people think SHE is my girlfriend.

Never mind romance for Valentine’s Day – it’s always a riot with my ever so adoring brother.

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If you’re going to be looking for love this Valentine’s Day, you might be happier finding it in something that will last. Being with family who truly love you (even if they insist they don’t), is always a good way to spend not just Valentine’s – but any other day.

Wishing all of you lovergirls lots of love from me, for tomorrow!

In China, internet addicts get sent to prison. How do I know if I’m addicted to the internet?

The internet can be a hero for quick research and keeping in touch with friends, but in other ways, it is like electronic heroin.

My Mom actually thinks I’m an internet addict because I’m always on all my social media platforms, interacting, reading, researching, watching, learning, emailing, blogging and all sorts of things, day in and day out. Living my life while putting it online sort of goes hand in hand for me. Some days I head out of the house to run errands, have meetings, play sports and such, so I really don’t think I’m such a basket case right?!

The most addictive part of the internet is, I think, YouTube and gaming. One YouTube video can turn into 5 hours of your night. Games on the Playstation/xBox or computer like Sims city can consume lives and spit it back out.

I think some people use the internet way more than others, and there’s nothing wrong or right with individual lifestyle choices. Help should only be called if you’re eating fast food and wearing diapers so that you can sit in front of the computer non-stop for 3 days.

Dramatic situations call for dramatic solutions.

But do you think this approach is evil?

(Mom and Dad, I don’t think I’m an addict, please don’t send me here!)

#firstworldproblems #onlyinasia

6 Basic Tips for Foreigners and Expats spending Traditional Chinese New Year in Singapore

As of right now, every Chinese family in Singapore is preparing for their traditional reunion dinner tonight.

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Yes, I know you think we Chinese girls look cute in our traditional Chinese cheongsams!

It’s no secret that this little Singaporean has many expat and foreigner friends. I wish to include everyone in our traditional festivities, and answer some questions that I usually get. If you’re a foreigner experiencing Chinese New Year in Singapore, here’s a few quick tips of the tradition that goes on behind closed doors for “open house”, and how to prepare if you’re visiting one.

1) SORRY, IT’S NOT A PARTY. My parents probably have too many friends (you can see where I pick up my personality from!) and love to have people over at ours, but please don’t be offended if your Chinese friends haven’t invited you over to their home. Traditionally, no members outside the family are usually invited to reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

After which, the first two days of Chinese New Year is traditionally reserved for visiting or inviting over relatives and members of the extended family. As homes in Singapore tend to be small and families here are a bit more private than Western cultures, not every family holds an “open house” and invites friends over to their home as well.

2) YOU’RE INVITED ANYWAY! WHAT TO BRING? If you’re visiting my home for Chinese New Year, I would probably suggest giving my Dad a bottle of wine, but gifts are optional and most Chinese families are happy for you to bring over two oranges. You need to bring TWO – not one orange – as there’s something about odd numbers symbolizing unhappy occasions and even numbers for a happy occasion. You are also expected to take home two DIFFERENT oranges from the ones that you brought – so the tradition of giving oranges is really more of a swap.

Don’t take home anything else that isn’t yours!

3) TRYING TO IMPRESS A LOCAL GIRL’S FAMILY? YOU BETTER BRING EXTRA AMMO. If you’re feeling generous or want to show some extra effort, bring a bottle of Chinese New Year snacks (Bee Cheng Hiang bak kwa, prawn cracker roll, pineapple tarts, peanut cookies etc), or even better – a pot of plants. Don’t buy us Cactuses, for not any flowers will do – Chinese New Year themed plants are most meaningful.

These are the fortunes specific plants signify:
Peach blossom symbolizes luck.
Kumquat symbolizes prosperity.
Narcissus symbolizes prosperity.
Chrysanthemum symbolizes longevity.
Bamboo is a plant good for any time of year.
Sunflower means to have a good year.

4) I HEARD ABOUT ANG PAOS. SHOW ME THE MONEY. People don’t usually give out red packets or “ang paos” in the office, because that’s just kind of awkward – and expensive. However, if you visit a married colleague at his or her home, you might be lucky to receive one!

Generally for Chinese New Year, number significances and amounts in the red packets will avoid the number ‘4’ (pronounced ‘si’ in Mandarin which means death), and celebrate the number ‘8’, including denominations of it (which is pronounced ‘ba’ and usually also referred to as ‘fatt’).

5) RESPECT AND WELL WISHES. With oranges and red packets, always give and receive with two hands and eye contact. You should also insert enthusiasm and a traditional well wishing – “gong xi fa cai”, which literally translates to celebrate (‘gong xi’), and prosper (‘fa cai’).

6) COLOUR CODED. Red is an auspicious colour, and will be the most overused colour of this occasion. Don’t wear black, which symbolizes death – even if your hosts aren’t superstitious, its just rude.
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Here are some pictures from previous celebrations over Chinese New Year – I never live in the past, but I do like looking back at these memories! These pictures are with family and friends from 2010, including an induction for some foreign friends around Chinatown and River Hongbao (a gorgeous carnival we have in Singapore every Chinese New Year period). I look like a baby! Happy Chinese New Year everyone.

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“Her” movie – unexpectedly brilliant and insanely good

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Need a good show to watch tonight or this weekend?

The vague poster makes this movie appear pretty boring, but this is truly one of the best movies – beautiful cinema and brilliant scripts – I’ve ever fallen for.

It’s unexpected, conversational, high tech, and even features a hot girl with a large dose of romance and love letters – if you’ve ever fallen in love or want to fall in love, you must catch this.

There is also a bit of swearing and a whole lot of funny! #scarlettjohansson #joaquinphoenix #incredible

Do you want a great family? Solid friendships? Unlimited travel? Career happiness? High net-worth networks? You can have what I have, right here.

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Once in awhile, I get messages from friends and internet peeps, asking me how I have so many friends, influential contacts, free holidays and travel, cool experiences, vip access, awesome loved ones, and usually why I’m always so positive and deliriously happy…

Thank you for living vicariously through me – I worry that I’m not a good role-model at times to people who may dislike or misunderstand certain parts of my life. Of course, I’m not perfect so be prepared for my mistakes as well. I don’t want to inspire your envy, but instead, I want you to know that you can actually have what I have (seriously).

Let me start from the beginning.

On Christmas Day, sometime long ago and far away, a baby was born from a virgin. Say what? Yes you heard it, born from a virgin, not from lust. This baby was a pure and perfect man – different from any of us. He was holy, sent into this earth to walk among the evil, the sick, and the broken. We all know how f-ed up the world can be. If you have a horrible boss or deal with awful people, you know this already.

GOD almighty in all his glaring glory is too great for any of us earthlings to ever reach, there is no bridge – but His Son Jesus actually came right here, to walk among us sinners. He made HISTORY healing people, I see miracles everyday in the PRESENT, and the bible has proven and clearly documented the events of the FUTURE – some have already happened, other things will.

Jesus died with nails in his bloody hands, pierced by the same people who knew of his eternal glory and power – but were too scared of the selfish consequences from admitting it. He came back to life after death, because after all, He was God’s Son. Life is created from God’s breath.

“Oh this is all just a story,” Some people tell me. And I ask them, “then why is God so real to me?”

Once a year, the world looks for a joyful father figure that gives gifts freely and generously. You’re looking at the wrong man – it’s not Santa. Jesus Christ is this meaning of Christmas, but His love overflows in my life not just on this day, but everyday. It’s such an amazing gift I would even wish it on my worst enemy. It’s life-changing, hey look at me. There was always something missing in my life, until God found me. (I will never forget January 2013, the day I encountered God for the first time.)

Life is basically just incomplete without God (in fact it can even be awful), because HE is the one who breathed life into you. How can you doubt all the awesome things that he wants to do?

He knows the differences between what you want and what you need, the thoughts in your head, and the secrets in your heart. He also knows better than you, because He created you.

I’m not promising things will be perfect, but God promised good things to those who truly love and follow Him. Do I get stressed? Sure. Do I worry about things sometimes? I guess I do. Do I have challenges that stumble me? Wa lau eh of course lah. But I’m quite possibly, living the happiest and fulfilling life – I may not be the richest kid around, but I know I have riches far beyond (and better than) money.

“ALL, GOOD things come from The Lord” – This means, nothing bad is from God. Everything good is from God. It’s totally none of my business if you don’t believe, but hey it just means that you’re blocking yourself from the blessings that he wants to pour on your life. Why refuse something good that someone wants to give you?

Life is good not because I was good enough to deserve it, but because God is great. I’m just an ordinary girl living an extraordinary life.

Ask me or a Christian friend about Jesus. I’m not hard to find online, visit New Creation Church sometime, or you can even just Google “Jesus”. Give some meaning to your Christmas. Give God a chance to show you His love today. The sooner you realize it, you actually receive it.

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Merry Christmas everyone. What an incredible 2013 I’ve had since I decided to pursue God first and all other good things have started to chase me. Thanks to everyone who has brought joy to my life. May you all have a blessed 2014!

 

– CHRISTMAS 2013 –

Christmas has always been undisputedly my favourite time of the year. I countdown the months to this very day, but this year’s Christmas celebrations has been the stuff of sweet dreams. Maybe I’m just in high(er) spirits. It was a month filled with family, good friends, excellent food, lots of catch ups and the obligatory hugs and laughs.

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2013 has significantly been the first year that I’ve ever been officially unemployed and ventured out into starting my own business. It’s really bewildering that this has also been the first year where I’ve been able to afford brand name gifts for loved ones, and have also likewise received some really incredible, undeservedly amazing gifts. (Most of the time, I’m already happy to receive gifts like iPhone pouches and coffee mugs.)

I’m not very brand-conscious and wouldn’t care less, but for a new and struggling entrepreneur, this is really quite ironical?! I feel blessed to bless, I guess.

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I’m very thankful to my Mom and Dad who always give me a Christmas with a meaning – we went to St Andrews Community Hospital this year on Christmas Eve with their church group, spreading some joy to the sick, young, and elderly.

I hope the patients liked our red-themed team love, as I try to croon out some rusty Christmas carols!

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What a heartbreaking but amazing day, don’t think I will forget this Christmas Eve for a while. Sometimes, Singapore gets so comfortable that it’s easy to forget how many under privileged and less fortunate people there are around us. Everyone could do with a bit of love and a whole lot of Jesus. Grateful to my parents who continually remind me of compassion, especially this Christmas. Where do we start? With the elderly and sick who were so thrilled to see us, that they couldn’t stop clapping? The young girl in pink who followed us in her wheelchair all around the wards, squealing with excitement everytime we sing? The 5 year old who spasmed or couldn’t look at me straight, and yet she’s so beautiful?

Loving people is tiring, but I’m glad we did it. Thanks to Mom and her amazing church peeps.

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That’s a wrap! Couldn’t wait to unwrap presents with some of my dearest friends, and some much needed turkey time to total up my Christmas celebration coma.

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Thank you, Christmas 2013. Looking forward to the next.

Child-like happiness and family time bubbles

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To be a child, is a lovely thing.

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How incredible it must be, to be able to rest in the knowledge, knowing that you are provided for? Not having to worry about what lies ahead, for your every step is watched?

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A child is never bored of the same toys, and she finds delight in exploring simple things.

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Every day springs forth a freshness. Curiosity begets experiences.

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A child can teach you more about happiness than what you can imagine.

I hope to always have a child-like sense of wonder, for there is so much to learn from children.

(A tribute to the young ones around me, my beautiful niece Keira Rose and our ever-loving family, the stars in my life).

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“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” —Henri Nouwen

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” -Abraham Lincoln

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
~Matthew 18: 1-4

A Love Letter from God to a Single Singaporean Christian Girl

It’s been a while. My future husband must be lost, and he must be too stubborn to ask for directions.

The more I love God, the more my perspective of romance and relationships change. I wouldn’t date some of the guys I used to date, and I definitely don’t look for the same qualities that I looked for 5 years ago. Morals and maturity are more important than money, men with holy hearts suddenly appear on the attractiveness scale more than handsome ones, BMWs and bottle-popping have a much lower importance than biblical values… Please don’t faint, I don’t think anyone ever expected a Singaporean girl to talk like that!

#gonearethestereotypes

Will other real Jesus girls please stand up so I don’t feel so alien and strange?

Keeping my first love for God is hard, but most days I couldn’t be happier at the emotional space and time I have to spend with family, helping out friends, playing with other people’s kids, traveling, sorting out my business projects, trying to be a blessing and all-round making myself a better person. Sometimes I’m sharing so much on Facebook that it looks like my social media is on steroids. I have gone a bit crazy on Instagram (@estellekiora)!

A few of the days though, it feels unfair and lonely. The world is cold and cruel without someone to cuddle you. You flick through your Facebook feed and it looks like your friends have got a nicer car or cooler boyfriend. You wish you had more money and shiny things. You watch some stupid movie’s ridiculous love story and you feel vulnerable and inedequate.

“What do they deserve that I don’t? When is it my turn?”

“Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
It’s only human of us to compare, envy, and look at others when we should just really be looking at God. Don’t look down on yourself – look UP.

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In need of some encouragement, I spent some time with God and wrote a letter to myself. If God sent snail mails/emails/Tweets/Facebook messages, this would be it. This is what I imagine God would say to me – and to you – if you’re a single Jesus girl like me.

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Dear child,

It is so great to hear from you. I’ve missed you so much. I love you and I am saddened to see that you feel alone. It breaks my heart that you miss having someone hold, or even to stroke your hair. I understand that while I am with you always, but you may not feel my presence. I assure you that I am with you always – I was with you while you were rushing around Raffles Place yesterday, while you grabbed that coffee at Starbucks, and even when you were sleeping on that plane to Hong Kong. When you quiet the things around you, you will hear my voice. Talk to me often, for I always want to hear from you.

It makes me glad that you are spending your time in worthy and wise ways, in your quest to become stronger, sweeter, smarter, and everything else that I have laid out in Proverbs 31. I have a wonderful man that I am preparing for you, the same way you are preparing yourself for him. He will be attracted to you not for your body, but because you are beautiful inside out. “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. Proverbs 31:30.” He will pursue you with a passion, as I loved the church. Chivalry is not dead and he will be a gentleman, romancing you the way you desire in your heart. He will challenge you, travel with you, grow with you and he will most certainly make you laugh.

“Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the wellsprings of life. ”
Your heart is the wellbeing of your life. How you treat your heart, will translate into everything in your life. So keep guarding your heart, so that someone would have to come to me for it. I created you and I want the best for you, please don’t throw your purity and values away. You are far too precious to waste it, and such fleeting situations will not give you the happiness and satisfaction that you seek – only I can. I know you crave physical intimacy, and fear that you will not find something emotionally deeper. Come to me first to fill you up with love, because I am the only one who will never run dry or disappoint you. You feel something or someone missing in your heart, but it’s not what – or whom – you think.

It has taken you and your future husband time to learn these things.

He is not ready for you yet, but he will be. He will be the best man he can, but are you ready to compromise some things to be the ideal partner for him, too?

My princess, you may not presently understand my plan for you, but trust me for it. I have died and rose again for you. I sit with my angels in the heavens and watch you. Your heart is so precious to me, and only a man who treasures it will be worthy of it. I know you are in a haste, but I do not work within the constraint of time, so you are still young and you still have plenty. Don’t forget to enjoy your freedom now, I want you to have fun and fill your life with fulfilling things. Singleness is a desirable gift (1 Corinthians 7), so enjoy and embrace it. Remember Ruth, and I will give to you as I have given her Boaz.

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Don’t give up on me yet. I’m here and I love you.

LOVE,
GOD

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Singlehood doesn’t have to suck – let’s all try to enjoy the Jesus journey we are on.

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