Sunday, October 16, 2011

We are fortunate to have met so many beautiful people

It has been an hectic year, and yet I enjoy every minute of it. Frequent travelling does make me lose touch sometimes of the life in Singapore, and yet in the midst of the busyness, I am so grateful God has allowed me to meet so many beautiful couples. The last 3 months have been an enjoyable time for me, I have discovered some of the most loving, most interesting and most generous and sentimental people I have ever met.
I have just finished one wedding at Capella as well as St Regis. The one at St Regis was a huge setup with 16 hours of turn around transformation. I only slept for 1.5hrs from 12.00am to 1.30am, and managed to catch
another morning nap from 5.30am to 7.00am.. Yes, after the event I was really exhausted, wiped out. But I would never forget this lovely wedding. One couple that makes me want to fall in love again and again. The groom was formally working in events management and an ex- producer. Despite that, he was filled with graciousness when he discussed the wedding plan with me. One that consistently exudes charm, sincerity and generosity, and he is marrying someone who is chilled, no fuss and very sentimental. What a pair, and I will tell you, I do really love this pair. It was a night of great laughter, joyful tears, and lots of drinking and dancing. It was the best birthday gift God can ever give me. I can't wait to show you the pix soon, for now I will just show you one pix.

When I looked back, 2011 has been a great year for us. My team has grown, despite the many changes. I have also learnt to let go to have fun. I have been blessed with so many beautiful people given to us - from couples, to my faithful photographers, and to the partners I have grown over the years. Honestly, if I retire now, I am pretty ready.. I think I have achieved what I dreamt to do.. . But I believe God is preparing me for the next phase.. and I can't wait to see what He has in store for me next..
And this coming week, we will be in Bali for another great concept for a beautiful couple... the only difference for this trip is I want to go back to enjoy Bali like a tourist in the midst of planning someone's else wedding... Yeah Bali here we come again..

Monday, September 12, 2011

Discovering new cities in the midst of planning...

I have never travelled so much as a planner. And in the last 3 months, the frequent travel reminded me of my past corporate career life. Yes, I miss travelling, and I can't deny as much as it is hectic, I kinda love the discovery I made in the last 3 months.
Over the past years, we are grateful to be able to get to design and plan weddings in these cities, and in each city, I often wonder what is in store for us and the learnings God will design for us to acquire.

Chennai - a place I have met good people. When I first visited the place, I was apprehensive about the skills and the capacity this city can have. And I must say the last project changed my perspective of Indians. It was a concept that required transformations of the Taj hotel facets from the entrance, to the flooring to every wall panels of the banquet area, including all the furnishings. Yes, it was a transformation that required precision. We met a bride who knows what she wants, and we are so privileged to see our skills been stretched and utilised to the fullest to create the final look. All the precised drawings from us to the
installation delivered by the contractors were unbelievable. The final lightings and the intricate details were the final amazement. And it was a project when my team understood work enjoyment in the midst of stress and pressure.Whenever I looked back, I thank God for the opportunity, it is a project that has brought us to another level of growth. A pity we can't display any picture, but the learnings alone is treasured most.

Bali - I love this island, and I would never stop visiting this place. It is a place filled with beautiful people who loves to serve. Whenever I step into this place, I learn to be chilled, relax and enjoy every moment interacting with the locals here. Looking back from 2007, we may not have planned as many weddings in Bali as in Singapore, but each one is an amazing opportunity to stretch our faith. Delivering the tiered wedding cake down on bumpy road to the villas built on cliff, constructing first ever floating stage and dancefloor on pool in Atas Ombak in the midst of storms during Nyepi, walking down to the altar in the midst of flowers and on waters... yes, crazy concept and constructions, but I love it... just love it. I think my job strengthens my faith. The impossible is perfected in our weakness. Often in every Bali weddings, my couples would ask me : Hannah, what if it rains? And then you would see me looking at the sky and said : Almighty Father, once again, demonstrate Your power... and He never fails once.

Tianjin - It has been 7 years since I last visited China. I was there not for a wedding, but to shoot a story. China has advanced so much, both in works as
well as the attributes of their people there. I met one of the nicest people from Tianjin, well mannered, poised and skilled. I remembered years back in my corporate life, my VP wanted to send me to China to work, and I was apprehensive.. today, I can't wait to do one wedding here.. Time has truly changed. I believe in due time, China will take over many. My prayer for this nation is : May they always remember the One that has made a way for them...

Penang - my new found love. I never thought that I would fall in love with Penang, it has been almost 20 years since I last visited Penang. And a quaint city, a city of great people. I love the food, the people, the friendliness, the historical influence of the Peranakan, the British, the French and the Europeans then..
Amazing architectures, and beautiful people. I love the taxi drivers, we met some of the most friendly and comical people who have given us a glance of the people living here. This may be my next Bali, a place I can imagine retiring, and I believe my family will love this place.

Cheju - Strangely I have come to Cheju twice before this recent trip. But I did not have any recollection how it looked like, and esp not the way the Koreans have described this place to be - Serene, beautiful and cherished etc.. It was always
a touch and go visit for me then. The only thing I remembered then was I love the children here when I was teaching them in one of the church camps, they were bubbly, adorable and eager to learn. This time, I grow to love Cheju or rather the new Jeju (they have just changed their name to Jeju 2 years ago). I love the Korean cuisine, local or fine, they are comfort food for me. When I saw the view from the hotels built on cliff overlooking the beaches, I understood why the Koreans love this place - the place of retreat. It was difficult to communicate with the locals due to the language barriers, but there is a sense of trust and willingness I saw in the Koreans. The most amazing things about the Koreans is their cosmetics industry and the K-Pop Cultures. I learnt so much about skincare from them. The way the Koreans has created their own unique cultures that have impacted the world intrigues me.

When I looked back of the places the Lord has opened doors for us from Tokyo, to Bali, to Seychelles, to Chennai, next to Penang & Cheju.. I concluded has it not been Him and His grace and provisions, it would be impossible for us to ever imagine to do what we are called to do. We always look for familiar grounds, but He has opened the unfamiliar ones and brought us to experience the familiarities.. God is awesome, and we are truly blessed.

Yes, 2011 and 2012 is exciting... A year ago, my prayer was - Lord expand my horizons and open the way beyond Singapore, uttering a prayer not knowing what He will lead me to. And a year later, I stand amazed at His provision. He is the lover of my soul, in the midst of me dreaming, He has already pathed the way. Thank you Daddy God... yes, we are blessed...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Hillsong Experience reminded me to believe in my dream...

The last 2 years, I have been to Hillsong conference, and it was always an unbelievable encounter with God, you almost felt that God has tailored this conference just to speak to you.. My first conference was in 2004, when I first started the business, the Lord spoke very clearly the vision I have for my dream and this is my fourth time visiting and enjoying it once again.
The Spirit-inspired words of the speakers, the amazing theatrical works of each night, the friendliness of the volunteers and most of all, the unity of the church is demonstrated again and again each time I gather with the rest of the world for Hillsong conference.

7 years have passed quickly for my journey in Heaven's Gift. This 7 years journey is filled with discovering passion, joys & woes, my strengths and weaknesses, but most importantly realising the graciousness of God and His goodness in my company, or rather I will say His company.. I am a mere steward of His works. Someone asked me : have you ever felt like giving up the works? Of course and for sure, esp when I met setbacks, or having to deal with difficult clients. But whenever I take the position of a third party eye looking at the business, I am grateful for what the Lord has brought me - a journey of understanding grace, favour and excellence in the Lord.

Actually now looking back, it is always interesting to be reminded how and why I started the business. It is certainly different from what many would imagine. I wanted to settle down in my homeland amidst all the travelling, and I figure if I ever get married, I need a job that can be mobile to support my hubby as well as grant me time to look after my kids.. yes wow.. I do plan ahead in an unconscious way :) My youth often asked me : Auntie Hannah, what is that one dream of yrs ??? It is so simple and yet so profound : marry a God-fearing man and serve God with him for the rest of my lives with my kids. And truthfully I really believe God has a big plan for my future family, and every steps of training till now was tailored for that vision and that one dream I have. Way in my young adult years, I literally had a picture of how my future home would be like, the office I would have created with my children, and the ministry of my husband and myself . Interestingly. I have never really written about this part of my life - it is private, sensitive and an area I constantly learn to have faith in. I have never thought I would start a wedding planning business, to me having a business takes a lot of risk, careful planning and perseverance, but I was fortunate to be mentored by all my old bosses, and you learn about vision and passion, and what drives you to do what you do. I am driven by my dream - a dream I cling on to believe , a dream God has planted in my life for Him to unfold...

This time in conference, the Lord spoke once again. Hannah, no dream is coincidence, everything was crafted with my thoughts of you. Today, God spoke again in the service. The Lord loves you, and with God, all things are possible. Yes, I believe in marriage, tho I think getting married is a miracle for a man and a woman. Imagine two different gender with different makeup, different personalities, different upbringing, different habits to be able to stay under one roof, loving and enduring each other in love, raising up children, grandchildren and at times great grandchildren.. it is a miracle of God's love. I always salute couples who have been married for at least 20 years, and recently I stood in awe of one who has married for 40 years... wow, it is a faith journey. I always feel God must have brought me through wedding planning to learn about marriage and families. I have seen a fair share of how families, couples and individuals learn the ropes of submission amidst conflicts, compromising and loving in this past 7 years. Sometimes I have to tell you : I was put off to be married, it could be very intense looking at some case studies. But often I discover love and submission, and esp these past 2 years, I witnessed some of the most beautiful people I have met who willingly give up his or her rights for their partners... to help to fan the passion and strengths of each other, and to learn to love unconditionally.. And next week, I believe I would witness such love and be blessed by another love story... yeah, Tianjin, here I come...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New wine skin is birthing forth...

Can't imagine myself having the time to blog during office hours, and in reality I am doing it right now. I feel really good about it. Just finished a setup for a corporate cocktail event, and I was talking to one of my staff : Did we have everything arranged as planned, I am feeling very relaxed, or did we miss out something?? And as always, our confident Eleanor always replied : No Hannah, everything is in tact, we are ready to go..

And tomorrow will be another spectacular gala... in the same period, while we are busy with these 2 events, we decided to do our spring cleaning... sounds crazy, yes we are .. 2 days of packing into boxes, and half a day of fumigation, but within a day, we rearranged our library, our filing, our shelving again. In the midst of projects deliverables, we managed to do much housekeeping. I am so very proud of my gals. Somehow I knew they all have grown up, and they have taken ownership of their roles as planners and designers.
I looked back, for the past 1 month, I
have witnessed ourselves being chilled, steadfast in the midst of crazy project timeline and deliverables.. I thought for a while, what has happened to us, did we miss out something... Just like in Chennai, my team was so ready in every stage of the construction and transformations. Against crazy timelines, surrounded by the mass of raw materials and limited resources, we actually had a great time working with the local team, and there was a sense of inner peace which we have rediscovered in the midst of working against all odds..and today, the Lord reminded me something : You have always prayed for favour and transformation, and I am answering your prayers.Yes, the team is still the same team as in the past years.. but the heart has been renewed. As planners and designers, we know we need to be precise in perfecting the concept, but we have also discovered over the years, the works of our hands will only be perfected with the works of the Almighty. He provides us the favour, the impossibilities to do the possible. Just like He has always
provide us the perfect weather... an element I always marvel - the right time to rain, the right time to shine.. even the perfect breeze that you sometimes do not ask for.. We have learnt to work hard, as well as have fun...
Lord, thank you for everything.. let the next 2 years to be the years of empowerment beyond our imagination and beyond our asking.. Above all, to You be all glory...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Spring Cleaning & Happy Father's Day!!!

Yesterday was hilarious, my entire team had a dramatic office spring cleaning experience, we threw away many many past copies of wedding stationeries, old magazines and raw materials (we really have accumulated so much materials). Next we have our office fumigated literally for 4 hrs to drive away any possibility of pests... and soon we will have all our cabinets organised once again to be ready for our 8th year of operations.

As our level 2 office was fumigated, we ended up sitting at level 1 showroom on the rug & sofa to continue our work. I can't wait to finish the unloading and packing of materials, 7 years of past materials, there are so much to clean up. Yet at the same time in our cozy corner, myself and team were kinda enjoying rolling up the beads, cutting the ribbons for next week's wedding...Somehow, this whole spring cleaning is a good exercise, I looked through some of the past works and designs and saw how we have evolved. I started as a planner who loves floral arrangement and handicraft to now a company that loves concepts and enjoys designing sets. I still miss those intricate handwork, and maybe this is why we are still designing our own wedding stationery.. We have grown and evolved.. but somethings within us still have not changed - as we were chatting briefly what inspired us to be in this job, we came to a conclusion : there's a part in us just really love weddings and be a helper in weddings.. and being ladies, we still love to roll up our sleeve and do the girlish thing - sewing, tying, and packing can sometimes be therapeutic haha...

After part 1 of spring cleaning, I have a good dinner with family celebrating Father's Day.. We had Taiwanese porridge at Oasis.. munching the
good old dishes with sweet potato porridge brought back much memories - the good old times, and finally ended the night with my family for a movie - KungFu Panda 2. Pastor was right, our family and the people around us are God's sent, God's gift from Heaven. They make us who we are. No matter how different we are, how time has changed us, our family will always be God's tools to mold us, to shape us. Thank God for all our parents, and particularly today, for our fathers. Thank you all daddies out there, you help us to catch a glimpse of who our Heavenly Father is. Happy Father's Day...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Learning to laugh it off....

We just got back from India, and for past 3 months, we were either flying for overseas projects every week or we were busying preparing for events , and only these 2 weeks, we managed to have some time in the office for the day to day work. In the midst of our preparation for another upcoming events, I received a nasty and uncalled email today from a publisher in Bali, being angry with us for not responding to his emailed requests to us to advertise with their magazines.

I couldn't help but went back tonight and dug up all the emails he has sent to me specifically. First email from him, our company name was spelt wrongly - Heaven's Gift suddenly became Heaven's Gate, and a lengthy email of all the praises he had for our company and what we do. Following email was an email of the magazine distribution and circulation. And before we took time to even wonder the origin of the communications linkage, the same person gave us a thrashing of what he thought of me and my faith I professed in my blog.

Words were unkind - "Sadly, the faith you passionately preach online, it seems, doesn't extend to reciprocity of simple courtesies" and " I find your methods and practices disturbing, galling, and apologetically rude. Considering everyone I've met speaks highly of you, I trust I've just encountered an aberrant side of you. I wish you nothing but the best though I would have severe reservations about referring anyone to your services." And I looked back, all we did not do was we did not respond to his sales calls. In my final email, I decided to thank him for his kind words, and simply mentioned we would not foresee any possible partnership in the coming future.

I hesitated to post this new entry, but I eventually decided I would be as real to my readers, in what I have gone through as an entrepreneur even in our normal day to day business matters. What would you have done if you were in my shoes? Imagine a publisher wanting your business, speaks highly of you in one email, then next because you have not responded promptly to his sales calls, he sent you a final email of what he thinks of you... Is this the new tactics of sales calls? Is this the way a managing director of publication will react to your potential clients ? Where has the old, sincere professional way of selling gone to?

Everyone of us works hard to sell our services or our products. Regardless how many times we do a sales call, we must always remember it is part of a sales job. I remembered when I was a sales person, I was always taught : customers are not obligated to respond to us, it is our job as sales person to keep trying and persevere to make someone believe in our products. No matter what their response is, we have no rights to scream or call them names to get their attention.

If I am not affected by this uncalled email from the publisher, I would be lying. I am affected because someone who does not know me well, has judged my faith unprofessionally. Interestingly, last night my leader was reminding me, Hannah whatever you do, people will always have something to say, be it good or bad. What is most important is you live life clear to your conscience, and honest before God. And yes, not every day is filled with happy occurrence, but every day is a day you can choose to be happy. Learn to laugh it off, the Almighty One is the best judge that will weigh all words and actions.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Entering into the 8th year....

Time really flies, and half a year will soon pass, and I have just entered into the 8th year of Heaven's Gift. This morning, while I was listening to Pastor preaching, I was reminded I needed to continue to blog my journey again and serve as a reminder to myself how the Lord has been faithful in my business journey and personal walk... I have not be consistent in my blogging, shame on me...

Before I begin to blog again, I asked myself, "Hannah, why do you blog" and "what do you really want to leave for the readers to remember"... "is
blogging for them or for yourself.. ??" Finally I concluded, it is first for myself - to record the journey I have taken as an entrepreneur, a visionary and me being a woman, and at the same time, it is my short story unfold for others.. Pastor once asked me, what is the legacy you would leave for your next generation.. and my answer is : My testimony of His faithfulness in the midst of my humanity... Blogging was never meant for business publicity, hence you would realise you hardly see any inspiration boards about my wedding ideas. Instead, it is filled with my thoughts and journey I have gone through as a business woman and as an individual. And I intend to keep it that way, it is a window where the readers can begin to see the real Hannah behind all the creations.
2011 is a very special year to me, because other than the fact that Senior Pastor declared that it is a year of empowerment, I heard specifically from the Lord, that it would be a year I cross borders to create events and touch lives, and it would also be a year that He will surprise me with a gift I thought He has forgotten about providing me. Interestingly, before 2011 was dawned, I have had no idea nor seen any visible possibilities of how the above could happen. We did not have any overseas deal then, and at that time, I was somewhat tired of working so hard, and having to deal with some of my personal struggles.

6 months have passed in 2011, and looking back, God's words are pure, and every word of His is true and steadfast. In Feb 2011, I did not have any weddings from April onwards, and I assumed that maybe this was a year I could rest. And when March 2011 came to a close, we closed 5 deals, and 2 overseas project for 2011- Chennai & Bali. Chennai's experience was a straining 3 months of conceptualising and detailing, but the final outcome was a true blessing. My team has witnessed how the Lord enabled our mind to be quickened and be creative in the shortest turnaround time. The meticulous side of us was even stretched and sharpened, we have never thought we would ever detailed platings down to the cutleries and equipments used for every 60 items of food used in an event. Now looking back, I am very proud of my team, everyone is a gift from God. Everyone had a great time and experience in Chennai, a project I am now thankful...

And during this period, Penang & Cheju opportunities were opened, and I saw a new wave of new clients that came into our lives. Clients that are so loving to each other, clients that believe in our professionalism and precision, clients that have become lifelong friends after the events.
And this is the very reason I entered into weddings, and do what I do. Beyond profits and dollars, I want to be passionate to touch lives. I don't profess I could help the world, but my heart is to see life in different light, and be touched in the midst of serving others, and in return be a blessing to others. And in the midst of all my works and creations, I hope to discover the meaning of true love and steadfast faith. May this post mark a renewed expression of blogging and journalling ...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What does it mean when you rest in the Lord...

I was searching for an answer, started to type the phrase "resting in the Lord" on Google search, and I was very very touched and blessed to find this from a site "inspiration for singles". My God truly knows my need...

What does it mean to 'rest in God'?

Sometimes, all you can do is rest in God.
The single life can be maddeningly frustrating at times. You can feel discouraged, lonely, and so soul-tired that you don't know what to do.That's when it's time to rest in God. It's not giving up. It's not giving in to despair. Rather, it's turning your messed up life over to God to let him fix it. He promised to do just that:
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest." (Mt. 11:28)
We were never meant to go it alone anyway. Jesus found that out firsthand when he became a human being. He depended heavily on his heavenly Father for support and guidance. When he was exhausted, he went off by himself to rest in God.

And just do nothing?
We're not used to handing control over to anyone else. We want to do it our way, on our timing. We don't trust other people to do things exactly the way we want them, and we have a darn hard time trusting God, either. But can you think of anyone more competent than God? Can't the all-powerful being who created the universe and who keeps it running take care of your problem? When you rest in God, you don't tell him what to do or how to do it. You take a break from your trouble. You sit on God's lap and take a nap.

Hit bottom yet?
Some of us need to hit bottom before we're willing to surrender to God's care and protection. We still have the stubborn notion that somehow we can pull it out, somehow we can salvage the situation on our own.
We're not smart enough yet to turn things over to the Professional Problem Solver. We think of God only as a last resort. Amazingly, he doesn't get offended by that. He watches us bang our head into this wall and that, looking with compassion on our foolishness. We run around like hyperactive two year-olds until we can't run any more. He knows what's coming. He knows we'll eventually crumple, exhausted, then ask him if he could help.
He doesn't even seem to mind that we've botched things so badly that they look impossible. For nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)

Can I help? Please?
Even then, we still can't keep our fingers out of it. We don't completely get what it means to rest in God. It means trusting. Surrendering. Not interfering. It means having so much faith in him that we can finally have some peace. Again, by losing our life--turning it over to him completely--we gain it. We finally get it through our thick skull that he always wants what's best for us, and no matter what happens, that's what we'll get. It may not appear so at the time, but he'll make it right. He never welches on his promises.

'Hey, this really works'
To our surprise, we're calm. Our anxiety is gone. This resting in God business means exactly that, resting. We're relaxed again. Stress-free. We have this unexplainable assurance that everything's going to turn out all right, even if it does mean a loss. He'll be with us after the loss and will take us into his rest again, anytime we want.
We could kick ourselves for not coming to him sooner. Finally, though, we're safe in the Master's hands. We've learned how to let go and rest in God.

When yr mind is transformed...

I wrote a note on facebook while I was in Seattle, and today I was reading again. It once again blessed my heart, so I decided to repost it on my blog :

Transformation of mind by the Holy Spirit :
Woke up early this morning, turned on TV and Joyce Meyer was sharing : Everyday, I tell myself I am blessed, I expect the abundance of blessings from the Lord. There are many people in this world, who thinks that waiting upon God is simple passive, awaiting for blessings to just fall from Heaven, and they do nothing but wait aimlessly.. But the true waiting of the Lord is aggressive, it is believing with action that what the Lord promises will come true. It is like a pregnant lady, she prepares for the baby to be birthed, she gets her body ready, she gets the baby room ready, she doesn't expect the baby to be gone.. she expects the baby to be birthed.
Instead of saying : I don't want to wish too much, just in case my dreams never come true and I am hurt. Every Christian should be saying : I pray for my dreams to come true, and even if the dreams do not come the way I perceive, in my spirit, i know God is good, and it will still be fulfilled, in ways beyond me, and when it happens, often we look back, God actually answers our prayer, sometimes more than just according to our desire, He perfects the process of us receiving and eventually be in awe of it,
Lord, let 2011 be the year I understand this truth even in greater measures.. I know you have given me a good dream, and when people or even myself sometimes wonder have you forgotten that specific dream, I knew You have already answered that dream, and you are preparing me to receive that in full blessings without any flaws.. I am getting my ready for it.. 2011 - the transformation of the mind by the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

After 7 years....God is still faithful.

Today, we had a wedding at White Rabbit, and it was another beautiful wedding. Unlike our usual weddings, it was a design that was created with no frills, rustic white and green table centrepieces with interesting ingredients - herbs. Handmade placecards, no coloured lightings, but simply the ambience lightings from the restaurant. And when I was seated outside at the courtyard, I was reminded simplicity is truly beauty at times.. sometimes the most simple things created by God is the most beautiful things discovered.
I never felt so relaxed in a wedding, since Jas was the assigned planner for this couple, and I was here just to ensure all is as planned. Interesting it was one wedding party with many familiar faces - my old clients and friends. I have much thoughts in my mind and heart, and I will be flying again tomorrow.

The sound engineer came to me, and asked me : Hannah, how's business? Long time no see...
Honestly this year is a very special year for me. I was reminded that God will surprise me this year, with fulfillments of childhood dreams I thought He has forgotten. Our financial year ends in March, and a new financial year starts in April of each year. In Feb, I have no single deals for the new FY, my other planner has about 4 weddings, and we were wondering what has happened. My heart panicked a while, but then somehow because of what He has spoken, I was certain this year may be the
year I learn to rest in Him. We just passed March, and when I looked back unconsciously the deals I have just recently closed on my end, I realised God has blessed me with 5 weddings within a month... what can I say : After 7 years, God is still faithful.

Lord, thank you for being so faithful always... forgive me that at times, my little faith and doubts have failed to see Your wonderful blessings.. Teach me O Lord, never to doubt what You have promised.. in your time, You truly make all things beautiful.. Amen

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Be Like an Eagle....

This year, I finally managed to find time to attend G12 conference, for the past 2 years, I was either travelling for projects, or I have to manage weddings. The theme for this year conference was "The Power of A Dream". This is so appropriate and I don't think it was a coincidence. When I was in Seattle and Phoenix, God spoke so clearly about a childhood dream He will revive.. and He spoke 3 times while I was in States. I knew this year my dream will come to pass :) Today, I was reminded about Eagle by one of the youngest speakers in the conference. When I was a youth, I was always inspired about the life of eagles, how they grow and how they live since young. There are spiritual insights about an eagle life, and I would love to share with you.

This is a story of the Eagle’s life. Eagle has long life up to 70 years. It has patience to survive.To live till 70 years, he has to pass though a hard decision. It’s talons works properly till 30 years After 30 years, it’s talons becomes weak and they can’t grab prey. It’s long and sharp beak also becomes bent. It’s thick feathers become stuck to chest due to heavy wings and can’t fly freely. Then Eagle has left only two options: either die or pass through a painful process of the changes, which lasts 5 months.When Eagle reaches near 30, it’s beak,talon and feathers becomes weak. For new life, eagle makes one hard decision. Eagle flies on top of a mountain and sits on nest. Then Eagle strikes its beak against a rock and pull it out. After that it waits for new beak to grow. Then it starts plucking out it’s talons. New talons grow back. Then it plucks its old and thick feathers.Now the painful process completed and it has to wait for 5 month to recover. After that it can make its fly to sky and can enjoy new birth. Now it can live 40 years more.

The speaker was sharing about how we could continue to live for our dreams, and I was brought back to the memories how I started Heaven's Gift. I was a Group Manager/ Group Account Director for a company. Life in the corporate was great and I have had many travel opportunities especially in Asia in that particular 4 years. Indonesia was one country I chose to visit regularly and support my local team, though my bosses never expected me to do so, as none of my predecessors have ever gone there. When I worked, I could be very absorbed in my job. Yet one life changing incident in Indonesia changed my destiny. I was in the Marriott Hotel when the first terrorist bomb took place in Jakarta in 2003. I could still remember that day, I was having meeting at the lobby with my colleague, and we ordered lunch. Then I went up to my room to make a few calls, my colleague was calling me 3 times to chase me to come down for lunch. I hanged up his first 2 calls as I was stuck in an overseas call with another vendor , and finally I answered his third call and advised him to bring up the food to my room instead. Now, he was not a hotel guest, would not have any access to the guest room, so eventually we decided to meet in the business centre so we could print all the documents for the next client's meeting we would be heading to. Imagine me coming down from my room fr 22nd to 5th level of Marriott Jakarta, and he coming up from lobby to the 5th level - business centre. 5 min later, the building shook, guests started screaming "bomb bomb" and all we knew was we needed to run down through the fire escape and get out of the building, not knowing what had had happened. When I finally saw the devastation of the ruins and the death of so many people at level 1 in that night, my heart sank.

I realised, life is indeed unpredictable, and I asked myself : Hannah, what do you really want to do for the rest of your life...I wanted to be near home, I wanted to have a lifestyle career when I can be mobile and yet be close to my family. And somehow, wedding planning naturally came to mind, since I have helped so many of my friends in the weddings. The detailed story of how I started this business can be found in my first blog. But what I did not share was : God was the one who inspired me to start a business, and He gave me the name "Heaven's Gift". I started the business at the age of 30, I was reminded always that this company is a gift from God. It was a steep learning curve, just like the eagle who needs a rebirth, I learnt to be humble, and re-learnt the rope of doing business from a corporate world perspective to a lifestyle career understanding. It was a good 7 years of learnings and relearnings. Initially some of my pals could not agreed with my move from a director role to a wedding planner. The good remuneration and perks I used to receive, how could I forgo all.. My boss was surprised why would I gave up a job that had 25 subordinates , to be a planner who serves the bride and her entire family. But I wanted something more than a job can offer, I want to see the impossible becoming possible. I wanted to experience the extraordinary in a very ordinary life.

And now looking back, not once has God ever failed me. I saw how He has stretched, blessed me and my team, I saw how He has blessed my couples with good weather, the creativity that He inspired in us, and the actual day deployment, everything was provided timely and sometimes supernaturally beyond my imaginations.
The last 7 years I felt I went through what the eagle went through. I have removed my old beak, old talons, old feathers, to growing new beak, new talons, new feathers. And I am ready to soar another 40 years... I am excited about what God has in store for me. Heaven's Gift is renewed for a greater purpose. It began as a gift from God to me, but I believe the last 7 years has prepared us to be an organisation that He could use to bless more. I want to see more lives be touched, and more couples be blessed with our creations. To God be the glory.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

One more month before a new face lift of Heaven's Gift

2010 was an amazing year of creations for us. And many of our lovely couples have been asking : Hannah, when will you upload your website with new images? Yes, we have been holding back some of our updates for a while, due to project and travel schedules, and the other real reason is : we will be launching a new look on our website, in a month's time.. So look out for new "face lift" of Heaven's Gift.

Having said that, our passion and philosophy in creating your special events will always remain the same. We still strongly believe that every event is a reflection of the host, besides the planner. Every wedding we created regardless how creative and thematic it can be, it should always exude beauty and elegance, but most importantly, it should always tell Your Story..
And we look forward for more amazing stories and inspiring projects for 2011 and 2012.. Stay in touch.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The other passion of mine...other than wedding planning...

Today marks the last time where my kids band get to play and worship with the children in Singapore expo.. It has been 5 years in Expo, time really flies.. and for me, it has been almost a decade since I last joined the children ministry... from sunday school teacher, to a team leader, to a worship leader. Been with the children is always so refreshing and heartwarming, they show you how sovereign God is and He can do all things through you if you believe (like the way the children will believe in God)...

Yes, I am their Auntie Hannah...
the Seniority Title I have learnt to accept and be thankful..

I always feel, if I am not a wedding planner, I don't mind being a nursery teacher... Yes, sometimes the children do drive you nuts, they challenge you to manage them, and you are humbled before God to learn to lead them, and yet at the end of the journey, you are amazed how they grow and are transformed to the very persons God want them to be..
I would never have imagined at the age of 38, I have a chance to sing, dance and be crazy with these kids. Yes, they called me Auntie Hannah, and they learn to give me the room to catch up with them, musically, physically and mentally...It is a lifetime experience I would treasure always.

My prayers for this generation will always be :
1) God, make them to be the next generation of godly leaders, who learn to seek Your voice, and stay close to Your hearts. They will be the history makers for You.
2) Teach them to always be bold to be Your voice to their generation. Always excel in what they do and believe, and be the best Artists, Doctors, Lawyers, Entrepreneurs, Politicians and many more in their generations...
3) Finally, teach them to always remember You as their creator, You are the one who put in them the talents to shine, and on the day when they attain the world platforms and achievements, they will always remember to give you back the very glory that is due You.

I can't wait to see the next generation of leaders ... and I pray I will always be a part in building this generation with the others that have pathed the way for them....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

3 important steps to begin your wedding plan...

Met a very nice couple last night, and I could understand the stress they might have gone through to begin their wedding plan. After all, for most couples, it is their first time planning a wedding. At the end of the meeting, when I saw the smiles of the couple, especially from the groom, I knew somehow they understood and knew how to begin the planning, and that itself brings a refreshing joy to my soul.. we have helped them addressed all their concern and worries they have had about their big day.

Now, I thought it would be good for me to share some of my thoughts I have shared with them to couples who are now planning your wedding and may have encountered the same stress level. My prayer is that you would find insights with these little tips I have concluded from my 7 yrs of experiences as a wedding planner.

1) Before you engage anyone in the industry, always start your wedding plan by forecasting your own budget or investment you would allocate for your wedding. You realise I call them "Investment"and not "Cost". To me, a wedding is a celebration where you get to invest your efforts and money to make a day you would share with your loved ones, creating memories you would desire to create and be remembered. A couple once came and told me planning a wedding is a huge waste of money, and I was very surprised to hear that. I differ from that thought. Whenever you create an occasion to celebrate with the people you love, the money spend on such occasions are never regarded as a waste of money. In fact, it is an exchange you give to create the experience you desire. Whether you are planning a birthday, a party or a wedding, you do it for yourself and for the people you love, you spend to celebrate the occasion, you lavish for the fact you want to create memories with whom you cherish. Weddings expenses would only be perceived as wastage when the money incurred are not for people you cherish or value. So be it small or large weddings, as long as you know very clearly your objective of creating an occasion i.e. to celebrate and be remembered, these expenses are never regarded as cost or wastage, they are in fact investments you incur for the people you love.

So allocate reasonable budget for each item. Do not compare your allocated budget with friends who have done their weddings some times ago. The market rates for many wedding vendors and details have changed drastically over the last 2 years. Prices have gone up, and a lot more new intricate details and efforts have been put in by vendors to make today's weddings personalised. Besides, whatever your friends had decided then for their wedding may be of different expectations/dreams compared to yours for your wedding. Every one's dream wedding is different, so understand your desired expectations, and you would manage your budget.

I thought I might as well quote an example of a good estimate of an investment for a wedding. Averagely for 300 guests weddings, even before you allocate details budget into the actual day wedding, you would have easily spent an estimate of S$70K on food & beverages plus your own bridal items such as wedding gowns, suites and accessories... By the time you add in the intricate extras to create a wedding that you can call your own (from staging, floral, lightings, entertainment, DJ, photographer, videographer, stationery etc etc), you would easily reach about S$120K and more for a wedding that is personalised. Nobody knows better the budget you are comfortable more than yourself. So decide between you and your partner, the budget you want to invest, and match them against your desired expectations. Once you know your comfortable investments you want to put in for your wedding, then you can begin your selections of the various venue, artists etc.

2) Now when selecting the vendors you desire to work with, check around their works first on their websites prior to meeting the various players. These days, the Internet is the best media for sourcing and information referencing. In fact, couples would have known much about us as vendors even before you come to visit us. A good vendor or artist should have a decent website to draw you to want to find out more about them. Their good works should be consistently showcased from the websites, to the magazines. You can even gather constructive feedback from vendors they have worked with.
Once you have determined whom you want to explore with, schedule a face to face meeting with the vendors you are keen. Nothing expresses better than a direct encounter with the people you are considering to hire. Emailed quotations alone are never the best way to determine a selection. Finally, you always choose a vendor whom you are confident of their works, and whom you have a chemistry with. I always tell my couple : whatever you do, do it with your heart. Deep within us, we know what we want, and even when everyone advises you otherwise, if your heart decides a plan, follow through with that plan. And at the end of the day, you will discover the joy of following your heart.

3) Finally, after you have determined your investment, after you have selected your desired vendors, the last step and the most important step to do as a couple is to learn to let go and learn to enjoy the planning process. I often remind my couples, planning your wedding is a "catalyst process" (if I may call it), to give both of you a glimpse on how marriage could be liked with each other. You are invited to an experience where both of you make decisions together from major milestones to very minute details. You get to understand how each other think, verbalise or even behave. I always marvel at simply watching my couples respond to each other. Often I discover, when a couple truly loves each other, the wedding planning process will be an illustration to confirm that, and even God above will support their dream. I have witnessed from so many weddings that weathers were altered by God to demonstrate to couple that He is on their side. For those of you who believe in God, let this wedding process be more than mere monetary investment, let it also be an emotional and spiritual investment where you learn to understand the dynamics of love and standing by with each other. If you can see God answering your prayers during your wedding planning stages, I can guarantee you that you will see God present in your marriage and every step in your journey as husband and wife.
My prayer is that more couples will spend the same amount of intensity in their marriage journey as they have done for their weddings.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pray, Live and Love...

It has been a while since I last blogged.. and I just have had a great dinner and catch up moments with one of my ex-client/couple. Beyond weddings, we discussed about life goals, dreams and our perceptions in life. Such time of exchange is always treasured, because often we are reminded that life is precious, and life is beyond mere possessions and achievements, it is a journey where one learns to pray, live and love.

This trip back from the US was not only fruitful, but it was enriching. I had much time left alone, reflecting the past 1 year of experiences and learnings, and coming to conclusion of what I really want in life. When one takes time to smell the rose, you really get to discover new outlook at the surroundings, the people around you, the way you even think and behave.. and everything looks different and feels refreshed when you put on a new perspective thru a new pair of lens.
Usually when I come back to the States, I have many agenda Iwant to achieve : looking at the new trends in weddings, looking out for the different vendors, browsing through all the magazines you can find, and this time, I decided to give myself a break from work, simply enjoying the country like a tourist. Instead of spending time working or shopping, I was blessed simply visiting the museums, the library, the markets, and exploring the different eateries we could find in a place. It was like what Juliet Roberts did in the movie, simply eating, praying and loving every bit of life. Hers in Bali, mine in Seattle.
So what did I discover at the end of the trip, here are my conclusive findings / statements :
  1. When your heart is at rest, you will hear the voice from Heaven. On my first day when I woke up in Seattle, instead of experience jet lag, I stood wide awake on my bed, and the first voice I heard was the Lord - and when I wondered did He really speak, He confirmed again and again with signs that blew my minds away. God does speak, my friend...
  2. When you decide to let go all agenda, and take moments to smell the rose, you discover that life is in fact filled with many beautiful roses, and everyone is special, everyone is awesomely created. When you are busy, you often have no time to discover the surroundings around you. This time, I paused to take time to appreciate the beauty and people around me, and I have found new friends and refreshed experiences. All of a sudden, you are convinced : life is never lonely... there are many God has created along the way to bless your heart, and in return you learn to bless others.
  3. Finally, I was encouraged to once again reminded : love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. There are so many who came to the States because of a love for someone, a love for their passions, a love for their dreams... Nothing could stop them from pursuing what they believe, as long as they continue to love and believe in love. I have witnessed some of the most amazing entrepreneurs who stood up for what they love, some of the most amazing couples who stood by each other... and yes, I was encouraged to love again..
Coming back home was a joy, especially coming back home to spend time with families for the Chinese New year. I was reminded I am able to do what I love to do, because I was fortunate to have my loved ones back home who are willing to release me to continue to excel in what I do.
So to all my friends and readers who continue to dream to do what we want to do : Remember - to be able to do what you love, you have to know you are loved. And there is One from Heaven, who loves us all beyond our imaginations.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 - The year of the Holy Spirit : New Creations, New Territories, New Breakthroughs....and I believe a new found Love..

3 Christmas Parties, 2 weddings in 2 weeks, and now preparing myself to leave for States....
Today is my off day, and often off days are days I go about running errands, catching up with some vendors (yup it's my moment of spending time with the partners I have grown to love and embrace) but today, I decided to stay at home and write. How cool....

Looking back 2010, I am amazed at what I have learnt... much in fact. The first half of year, I discovered more about myself, what drives me and makes me happy... and the second half of the year, I learnt to deal with rumours, gossip about me, endured and moving forward in the midst of people watching me.. at the end of the year, I realised every stage in 2o10 existed to prepare me for greater 2011.

When Pastor shared that he felt 2011 is the year of the Holy Spirit, I smiled in my heart, yes Lord, it is.. and I am ready for the plunge. In the last 6 months of 2010, I have had made some fundamental decisions about myself, my choices, and my business... that I know it is for something good, and I have yet to see. Honestly I have no idea what 2011 will entail but I do know it will be an amazing year beyond what my mind can comprehend, because I somehow look forward for 2012. This will be the year where I will see our team crossing borders, and doing more weddings overseas, and creating events with talented vendors all over the world. How do we do that? Remember, it is the year of the Holy Spirit...

I just seen some of the pictures from one of the weddings we did in Nov, and I love it. A couple whom I was first unsure whether they could trust us, whether they understood what we do.. but a couple I have grown to love and adore, one who eventually took the plunge to believe in us, and leave it to us to do what we think is best for them, and the result - it was an enchanted night, with charming people.. today, Aili becomes a dear pal, who never stop to be there to standby us, she in Hong Kong, and we in Singapore. That's the irony of life, you get to discover people the Lord brings, and even when you were unsure, eventually as you be willing to move on, and trust the Lord, He brings you a final pleasant surprise.

So look out for us in 2011, it will be a renewed Heaven's Gift for you...