When Seniors Paint the House

When I was in my 30s and 40s, even in my 50s it would take me one day to paint the whole living and dining areas. Last week it took me two days to do a small bedroom that serves as my study/prayer room.

It took three hours to prepare the room. My wife and I had to move all the books systematically onto the bed, and shift the empty bookshelf to the corridor. Then the desks, cabinets, camera cabinet, and chairs into the living room.

Besides that the walls and ceiling had to be wet wiped of dust and dirt. The edges had to be taped up and cardboard and paper arranged on the floor and the paint stirred with brushes and tray all readied for the painting.

The original paint on the walls were lime green and yellow. My grandchildren had stayed in this room for some time. This meant I had to splash on generously and laboriously two coats of white because I wanted a lighter colour, a prayer retreat colour.

After painting two coats, which took about five hours, there was the cleaning up – anther forty minutes of washing, throwing the paint-spotted old newspapers and cardboard, removing the tape, and setting up the bookshelf and cabinets again.

I was tired three quarters of the way, and my wife had to help out. Without her, the project would not have gotten done.

The next day, with some aches from stretching and stooping, using muscles seldom used, this ageing couple had to prepare the other half of the room, removing everything from the bed: the things stored below, and the mattress and other stuff on the bed, and beside it. Then it was the same process all over again. The wet wipes, the stirring of the paint, up and down the ladder, the tapes, the two coats. This time it was more difficult but with God’s strength, when everything was finally done, I had such a good feeling of accomplishment.

There are two more bedrooms and many more ceilings to paint. They will be done at a leisurely pace – at a senior citizens’ pace. There is no hurry. No deadlines. I wonder how long it will take before I embark on the next round of painting and which part of the house will get a new coat.

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Marie Kondo season now

The Marie Kondo season has come. Re-organize, give away, say “Thank you” and “Goodbye” to old stuff. 

This is not because of the approaches of Christmas and Lunar New Year ahead. It is simply that now that I have retired, I have been freed of many of the church ministry “To Do List” priority items, that kept many of the household duties and tasks awaiting my attention. Now that those items at the top have been removed, those at the bottom are nearer the top, and gets my attention. 

Ministry work stretched the intellectual and psychological. Preparing and preaching the sermon and trainings, evaluating and planning the worship services, facilitating meetings for planning, strategizing, reconciling, and supervising have all required the investment of spiritual, mental and emotional energies. 

Therefore, I welcome this Marie Kondo season, this season of mainly physical work with my hands. It moves me towards a wholeness and awareness of things I see, touch, smell and handle. It can be mind-boggling to figure out the best place to store stuff. Yes, sometimes I struggle emotionally to say thank you and goodbye to old pre-loved stuff that served me so well. Yet overall I find a satisfaction in seeing rapid tangible results (in contrast to trying to solve church problems like late-coming worshippers): the room became tidy, the display looked pretty, the cupboards began to breathe, I see the changes and congratulate myself, “Well done!”. 

I had a list of 29 things to do of which 9 have been done. Twenty more awaits my attention. One of them is painting the ceilings of the whole house, and the walls of two or three bedrooms. This will probably take the longest time, as I will do this in stages. I am no longer the 30 year old new house-owner who could paint the living room in half-a-day! And I belong to the generation that would rather save money and do the painting myself, rather than hire professionals to do it. 

Its burdensome when I look at the list. But if I see it as part as my movement towards wholeness, towards development of the under-developed part of my person – the sensory – it helps cast a redemptive light on the strain and load. My mantra is “This is good for me”.

Lord, help me to see you in these mundane and dreary tasks. After all, You once worked with your hands and made things. You did it with pride and an eye to your Father’s praise. Help me to see You in all things, and to find meaning in doing the most uncomfortable, dirty, odious of chores. 

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64th birthday prayer


Jurong Lake Gardens have a few spots for reflection

As is my custom, on my birthday I take off to a solitary place to spend some time with the Lord, reflecting on my journey thus far.


Today I’m 64

Thank you for being with me

For saving me

For guiding me

For using me

For keeping me

For blessing me

For calling me

For giving me peace, meaning and

A hope that is living and lasting.

I want to see You more clearly,

Love You more dearly and

Follow You more closely

For the rest of my life

Till I meet You in glory

Face to face.


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I have been hiking regularly again. It has been a few years since I have been this regular hiking the Bukit Timah Hill.

After the Hill was closed for works for about two years the trekking group continued with hikes all over Singapore. I wasn’t keen on those kind of flat ground and hot sun hikes. I had my eyes turned: cycling. So I cycled in those years when the Bukit Timah was closed for renovations and restoration works.

I was pleased when the Hill was reopened and for a while I hiked there but ministry demands on Saturdays meant my outings there were erratic and occasional.

Hiking on Mondays with my wife and her brother Kenneth Poh

This has however changed recently when my wife and I started doing the hikes on Mondays, the day off for pastors. So I use the Monday mornings and relish these hours of breathing fresh air, under a green canopy, in quiet and with less hikers around. Furthermore, I don’t have to worry about parking as there is free parking in the vicinity of the Hillview MRT.

I usually walk from there to the Dairy Farm trail, along the Jungle Fall path, up the Summit steps, down to Rengas path and circle back to the Hillview MRT, a good two hours of perspiration and sometimes inspiration and thanksgiving.

On my sabbath, it is always good to do something I relish, something that nourishes me.

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The tasks of seniors

People aged 65 to 75 are called the young old and people 75 above are called older old. Throughout the senior years, and indeed while you are in your early or mid-50s you have several tasks you need to begin to navigate if you want to make your senior years meaningful, spiritual and impactful. In my research on ageing and spirituality, I have discovered there are at least seven tasks that have to be processed through. Here they are:

  1. Preparing for retirement
  2. Doing a life review with biblical lenses
  3. Clarifying your life purpose
  4. Developing a healthy sense of self  and community
  5. Deepening your faith in God
  6. Grieving and handling losses well
  7. Preparing to die well

Each of these tasks has to be worked through in a safe, loving and interactive environment. When these are done, the senior years can be adventurous, purposeful and meaningful.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8.

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