George Muller is one of my heroes. Whenever I need inspiration to pray and have faith, I read his biography.

I happen to spot this biography in the church library, and again, I am inspired by Muller’s life and faith.

While we don’t put ourselves in situations where we need to pray for daily provisions (which may or may not be a good thing), there are many areas in our lives where we should be praying desperately, as desperate as if we have no food in the pantry to feed 1000 hungry orphans.

Muller outlined 4 conditions for successful prayer.

1. Our petitions must be according to God’s will.

2. We must not ask on account of our own goodness or merit, but “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”.

3. We must exercise faith in the power and willingness of God to answer our prayers.

4. We have to continue patiently waiting on God till the blessing we seek is granted. “We might as well say there is no need to tell Him once, for He knows beforehand what our need is. He wants us to prove that we have confidence in Him, that we take our place as creatures towards the Creator. ”

I am also inspired how he loved his wife of 40 years. “Every year our happiness increased more and more. I never saw my beloved wife at any time, when I met her unexpectedly anywhere in Bristol, without being delighted to do so.” I believe she was 7 years his senior. After her passing, he remarried a woman about 20 years younger, and traveled with her preaching around the world. He outlived her by a few years. He never retired but served the Lord until the day he died at 93.

I often say I don’t want to live that long, and I don’t want to remarry if my husband dies, but if the Lord wills that He provides another husband and if I can serve him until the day I die, then I’ll be ok with following the example of George Muller.

16
Oct

Trickle-down Evangelism

“Here’s the version you’re most likely to hear: “We have to focus on our people. So many of them are immature and in desperate need of spiritual instruction. If we prioritize the growth and maturity of our people then that will have a trickle-down impact on their passion and ability to live on mission and share the gospel.” And so we design our churches for growth, consciously or unconsciously, through this filter.

This rationale at first-blush seems prudent, but far too often the stated goal never comes to fruition. Rather than passionate, mobilized, mature believers, the church’s efforts end up fostering an inwardly-focused people who are increasingly isolated from the world they are commissioned to reach. Instead of a kingdom warrior, our trickle-down efforts seem only to muster an isolated, insulated, and evangelistically impotent churchman.”

The Courage to be Ordinary 

“And finally, as you embrace your limitations, you will cry out to God in “Jesus only” prayers. My pastor, Geoff Bradford, introduced me to the idea of “Jesus only” prayers. A couple of years ago, he started making a list of things he longed to happen that only Jesus could make happen. And he started to pray for those things every day. I hear the massive problems and start looking for quick fixes. He keeps praying Jesus only prayers, and therefore often getting Jesus only answers.”

 

Preface of the book: Today may be the enemy of your tomorrow. In your business and perhaps your life, the tomorrow that you desire and envision may never come to pass if you do not end some things that you are doing today.

I borrowed this book from the library after Bill Hybels referred to it at GLS (Global Leadership Summit 2017). There are many good principles I want to remember. Since I don’t own this book (don’t want to spend money on another book), I will outline the chapters here so I’ll remember and quote on line from each.

Chapter 1 Endings: The good cannot begin until the bad ends

  • The Universality of Endings – Endings are crucial, but we rarely like them.
  • Why We Avoid Endings – We hang on too long when we should end something now.
  • The Real Reason – Something about the leaders’ personal makeup gets in their way.

Chapter 2 Pruning: Growth depends on getting rid of the unwanted or the superfluous

Necessary Ending Type 1 – healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones; not sick but not best Necessary Ending Type 2 – sick branches that are not going to get well Necessary Ending Type 3 – dead branches that are taking up space needed for the healthy ones to thrive

  • Pruning Your Business And Your Life – The areas of your business and life that require your limited resources – your time, energy, talent, emotions, money – but are not achieving the vision you have for them should be pruned.
  • Gut Check – Reality sometimes makes us face things that hurt, and that can be a very good thing.
  • What Is The Purpose You’re Pruning Toward? – Define what you are shooting for, and then prune against that standard.
  • More Than Cutting Expenses – Don’t just “cut back” and think that you have pruned. Pruning is strategic. It is directional and forward-looking.
  • Subcategory Pruning – The idea here is that it is not just an entire company or life that needs pruning; the devil is in the details as well. If people could learn to say things like, “We only have a little time, let’s stay away from certain issues and focus on what we can do something about,”… (make better use of meetings)
  • In Life As Well – …if you change and become a person capable of executing necessary endings, you will not only have better business performance, but you will also be less likely to … be stuck in some other area of life.

Chapter 3 Normalizing necessary endings: Welcome the seasons of life into your worldview

  • Make Endings Normal -
  1. Accept life cycles and seasons – Am I hanging on to  an activity, product, strategy, or relationship whose season has passed? What tasks do I need to change to enter the new season?
  2. Accept that life produces too much life – So they can cut these ties without feeling that “something is wrong” or that they are “being mean to someone.” They respect the fact that there are limits to what they can do…
  3. Accept that incurable sickness and evil exist – Accept terminal illness and failure as a valid possibility.
  • A Different Universe – They do not want this universe…where some people just don’t change and still others truly want to hurt you. But this is the only universe we have…

Chapter 4 When stuck is the new normal: The difference between pain with a purpose and pain for no good reason

Sometimes we are stuck for reasons that are truly outside of our control. But more times than we realize, we are not executing an ending because of internal factors, not external ones.

  • Internal Maps – …productive people did not think in a learned-helplessness way. Their internal software was more optimistic. When the map says that nothing you do matters, then you stop focusing on the things that you do have control over, things that actually do matter and that can make a difference.
  • Examine Your Internal Map. Five Internal Maps -
  1. Having an abnormally high pain threshold – But not until he saw how his software has been written to negate, minimize, put up with, and carry a lot of pain, all the while telling himself it was “not that bad or he “could buckle up and keep on going.”
  2. Covering for others – Some people take too much responsibility for others. I often tell leaders that many of them have a problem just because of who they are: nice and responsible people.
  3. Believing That Ending It Means I Failed – Leaders, like most good people, persevere. There is a toxic version of not quitting. If you quit any one thing, you are a quitter instead of being wise.
  4. Misunderstood loyalty – Some people often feel that they will harm people if they hurt them.Or such a person may feel that she will destroy someone’s life if she makes a decision that is good for her but requires the other person to take some responsibility for the outcome. But loyal love does not mean infinite and/or misplaced responsibility for another’s life, nor does it mean that one forever puts up with mistreatment out of inappropriate loyalty.
  5. Codependent mapping – There is a difference between helping someone who is disabled, incapable, or otherwise infirm versus helping someone who is resisting growing up and taking care of what every adult has to be responsible for: herself or himself.  When you find yourself in any way paying for someone else’s responsibilities, not only are you stuck with a delayed ending, but you are probably harming that person.
  • Past Experiences – Once they become aware that this is an old map in their heads and not the reality that exists around them, they can be given to take action and make the endings needed to construct an entirely new reality, quite different from the one they thought they were stuck with.

Chapter 5 Getting to the pruning moment: Realistic, Hopeless, and Motivated

The awareness of hopelessness is what finally brings people to the reality of the pruning moment.

  • Seeing The Reality Of A Needed Pruning – After the initial shock and discouragement, seeing the bare truth that what we are doing is leading nowhere will get us to change something.
  • The Old Way Must End – Summary of the steps discussed so far:
  1. Do a gut check to see how you feel about pruning in general and identify any potential intellectual or emotional resistance.
  2. Make the concept of endings a normal occurrence and a normal part of business and life, so you expect and look for them instead of seeing them as a problem.
  3. Identify the internal maps that keep you from executing necessary endings.
  • The Big Change Motivator: Get Hopeless – hope is good but false hope is not.
  • Wishing Versus Hoping – Hope is based not only on desire, but also unreal, objective reasons to believe that more time will help.

Chapter 6 Hoping versus wishing: The difference between what’s worth fixing and what should end

  • The Past Is The Best Predictor – Without any new information or actions, the past is the best predictor of the future.
  • The Anatomy Of Hope – What reason is there to have hope that tomorrow is going to be different?
  • Who Deserves My Trust? – Promises by someone who has a history of letting you down in a relationship mean nothing certain in terms of the future.
  • When To Suspend Hopelessness -
  1. Verifiable involvement in a proven change process
  2. Additional structure
  3. New experiences and skills
  4. Self-sustaining motivation
  5. Admission of need
  6. The presence of support
  7. Skilled help
  8. Some success
  • What New Wisdom Is Being Added? – You can have objective hope if you are bringing some new knowledge, wisdom, or know-how to the situation.
  • Hope That Does Not Disappoint – How do you know when to keep trying and when to give up?

Chapter 7 The wise, the foolish, and the evil: identifying which kinds of people deserve your trust

You have concern about how what you do affects others. So doesn’t it make sense that everyone else would be like you and really care? Sure, if you lived on Mars.

  • The Three Kinds of People
  • Wise People – When truth presents itself, the wise person sees the light, takes it in, and makes adjustments.
  • The Foolish Person – The fool tries to adjust the truth so he does not have to adjust to it. Quit talking about the problem and clearly communicate that because talking is not helping, you are going to take steps to protect what is important to you, the mission, or the other people. Give limits that stop the collateral damage of their refusal to change…
  • Evil People – Stay away.

Chapter 8 Creating urgency: Stay motivated and energized for change

We will look at some of the accelerators that will get you moving, and some of the in-the-moment thinking patterns that slow you down and keep you from making the changes you need to make.

  • Creating Urgency
  • Strategies For Creating Urgency
  1. Create “ending alliances”
  2. Create vision – of how things could be better
  3. Set deadlines
  4. Create structure
  5. Stay close to the misery
  6. Measure, measure, measure
  7. Use authority to make an executive decision
  8. Urgent is the new normal

Chapter 9 Resistance: How to tackle internal and external barriers

  • Incompatible Wishes – such as I want to invest my money, and I want that new car. Part of maturity is getting to the place where we can let go of one wish in order to have another.
  • No Attachment To A Certain Outcome
  • Medicating Thoughts
  1. “I’ll do it later”
  2. Selective memory
  • The Paradox Of “Whole Vision” – It is only when a person can see the whole picture and work with it as it is that lasting success happens.
  • External Resistances -
  1. Self-absorbed resisters – Sometimes people put up resistance because your decision is going to affect them in some way and they do not want that change…This type of person can appear friendly, offering “advice” to “help” you, but he is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
  2. Threatened resisters – Whether in business or personal life, when you do something difficult but worthy, if confronts people with their own lives… Ask them also how they feel about the reality of what happens if you don’t make the necessary change…
  3. The NoNos – They often is not open to what we call “assimilations and accommodation,”…His three strategies are to distract them, push them out of the organization, or exposed him to the power of the group…working with a NoNo is not going to help.
  4. Stuff happens when you change – Getting things done is hard, or more people would be doing it. So accept the fact that endings are difficult and hard to implement.

Chapter 10 No more Mr. Bad Guy: The magic of self-selection

  • Self-Selection – …Set a standard for what you want, regardless of what particular individual you are dealing with. Then the person gets to choose whether or not she wants to meet that standard.
  • Self-Selection For Your Own Attachments – …it is a good idea to know how much of your life or resources you want to spend on something before you lose them all.
  • Chapter 11 Having the conversation: Strategies for ending things well
  • Begin With The End In Mind – such as “I want to leave the conversation having said that I care about the person.” “I want to leave the conversation with the person knowing that although the project is over, I want to relationship to continue.”
  • Integrate Care And Truth Inside Yourself – Remind yourself that you care about the person and truly want the best for him.
  • Practice And Role-Play If Necessary
  • Get The Tone Right
  • Validate The Person And The Relationship
  • Get Agreement
  • Deal With Defensiveness and Reactions – Whether or not she gets it is not in your control. But remaining empathetic and clear is in your control.
  • You May Need Others
  • Often, The Outcome Is Good
  • Except In Rare Cases, Don’t Burn Bridges
  • Above All, Don’t Be Squishy

Chapter 12 Embrace the Grief: The importance of Metabolizing Necessary Endings

The danger when people do not face their grief is twofold. First, to keep from facing it, they sometimes continue to beat a dead horse, hanging onto false hope or staying angry at what is past. Second, denying the grief often leads people to do strange things on the rebound, which are really attempts to keep from feeling the grief involving letting go. It is a defense mechanism…The reason is that the new whatever is chosen out of need, not merit. The person rushes to something new to avoid feeling grief, disappointment, and loss. Example: have a funeral, a symbol, closure.

  • Metabolize The Ending To Your Benefit – You have to look at the experience and break it apart. What was good about it? The relationships? The learnings?…Take all of that and consciously make it a part of you, savor it, remember it,… build on it, focus on it so it is not lost. And on the negative side, there are some things that you will want to eliminate, You saw some things, did some things… Take the wisdom out of it, learn from it, and then eliminate what is not useful to you. The pain, the bitterness, the feelings of failure, the loss in the grief, and the resentment all need to be eliminated and left behind.
  • Team Metabolizing
  • Personal Endings
  • The Bottom Line – Facing your grief, working through, and letting it equip you is a significant part of a good necessary ending.

Chapter 13 Sustainability: Taking inventory of what is depleting your resources

If you were doing anything that by definition cannot continue because the source itself is being depleted or damaged, and ending is not only necessary, it is vital and urgent…”Are you in a physical state right now that is not sustainable? To much travel? Too little sleep? To much “on the go”? To much taxing of your physical system? For a prolonged period of time with no end in sight?

Chapter 14 Conclusion: It’s all about the future

Your next step always depends on two ingredients: how well you’re maximizing where you are right now and how ready you are to do what is necessary to get to the next place. And sometimes that depends on ending some of what is happening today.

 

07
Aug

In Children Worship today, a 3rd grader asked me about my Taiwan short term ministry trip:

Boy: How many people did you lead to Christ?

Me: Our team led 10 people to Christ!

Boy: Wow, that’s great, you were able to harvest.

That was the best conversation I had about the STM.

I love that boy!

Before I left for Taiwan short term ministry, I told my husband to don’t let me go again: Too much stress, I hate the plane ride and I am too old to do more work.

But at the end of the trip, I told my husband I want to go back next year!

Why?

1. The believers there need a boost. I can see that we encouraged the believers there, just to let them know they are not alone. The pastor we know there has a small church, and it was great to fellowship together.

2. The gospel is shared. Sure, local believers can share the gospel there, but having more people there, more seeds are planted. If our church had 8 extra people come for 2 weeks to do a special program to share the gospel, it would be great. Even for a church of 1000, a special outreach for 2 weeks will add to our ministry. How much more so if our team of 8 can help a church of 30?

3. People are open. I believe God is opening a door in Taiwan. I don’t hear many objections to the gospel. People may not receive it right away, but they do not object. That’s because we have the truth and Good News! People in America have baggage from the past that turned them off to the church and Christ, but Taiwanese do not have that baggage.

4. We can acclimate to Taiwan much easier than nonAsians. We already like the food, we don’t mind the traffic, we are used to crowds, we’ve vacationed there, we expect the heat and humidity, and we already know the culture and its sensitivities. While we do not have the “face credibility” of a white person to teach English, once they hear us speak English without an accent, we do have credibility. And for those on our team who speak perfect English and some Chinese, it’s a huge advantage to be able to have deeper conversations in Chinese, while also being able to teach English as a door to get in.

5. For those like me who do not speak Chinese, I was able to make connections with some of the locals just the same, just not as deep. If we work with college students, they all speak some English and are happy to try to talk to me. I was also useful in directing our team, helping them debrief and taking care of logistics while they handle the deeper conversations.

6. All team members grow in faith in God as we are out of our comfort zones. I don’t agree that STM is primarily for the growth of the team members. You can run a marathon to get out of your comfort zone and grow in faith. Team member’s growth is a side benefit, if they go with the right attitude. They cannot merely come back with “big bug stories”, but if they are focused on what God is doing, then spiritual growth is sure to occur.

I had many doubts about spending so much money on STM. Finally this year, I am more convinced that STM do serve a Kingdom purpose. I still have some reservations if people do not go with the right attitude and if the team leader – more accurately the mission mentor – is not equipped to lead the team. I am still learning, and trust that God will work despite our shortcomings.

Pastor W lend me this book as I prepare to go to Short Term Mission in a couple of weeks.

I learned a lot from this book. A few highlights:

p.71-76 The incident of servanthood

Chapter 5 Short terms with a long term view

p.150 Don’t make the focus of your trip eliminating or managing risk. What a boring trip. Don’t make it to focus when you return either. We’ve endured too many short term reports that focus entirely on how bad or dangerous are disgusting things were with no hint of God’s work.

 

 

I am getting ready to go to Taiwan for a Short-Term Mission trip! This will be my second time, helping the same missionary as last year.

My daughter is going to Japan for STM for the first time with Grace Community Church. She told me about this book and of course, since I love books, I had to get it. Clint was on staff at GCC. I wanted to read this before my trip in case there’s anything I can apply. After reading this book, I would like to read more written by him, mainly because he tells good stories.

Even though I believe in sending out STMs, I still have questions about it’s effectiveness, especially after articles like this. This book answers some of my questions, but not all. I suppose no book can answer all questions.

Just the title itself actually answers some of my concerns whether or not STMs are worth it.

In 1793 Andrew Fuller asked for volunteers to go to India, a gold mine for lost souls. William Carey famously said, “I will go down to the pit, but remember that you must hold the ropes.” There are many strands of that rope that keeps our long term missionaries on the field. One of them is a visit from home via STM.

This book is only 112 pages, but I think it could’ve been shorter because it was a bit repetitive. The last 2 chapters on travel and culture shock, and re-entry and follow-through seemed like it was a last minute add on.  If it’s meant to be a guide for STMs, it’s not comprehensive enough even though it had a few useful pointers. I had very good training from OMF that helped me understand the entry and re-entry process, so maybe I was expecting more.

I do recommend this book, it’s an easy read.

Whenever I hear or read something I like and want to refer to it later, I don’t know how to put it in a place where I can access it.

In the old days we use index cards. But it’s not very searchable; you’d have to look at every card to find what you’re looking for.  Or write it in my journal, but again, not searchable.

With technology now, what is the best way to dump things from my mind that I want to remember for future reference?

I started a new category – stuff to remember. And maybe I’ll be able to find it here on my site.

Stuff to remember from today:

https://blog.efca.org/blog/disciplemaking-compassion/truth-about-loving-our-neighbors   Every church should get this wake up call. I shared it with my senior pastor. He always says, “Would our neighbors miss us if we closed down?” At this point, I don’t think so.  I don’t think there are many churches that nonChristians would miss.

Heard Charles Stanley on the radio: His grandfather told him, “If God told you to run your head through a brick wall, you head to the wall and when you get there, God will make a hole for it.” The point is, Obey God and leave all the consequences to him. God assumes full responsibility for what happens to you when you obey him.

http://blog.mops.org/the-case-for-a-quiet-life/

Somewhere along the line, we’ve convinced ourselves that simply living our lives, caring for our people and doing what we can for those outside our circles is not enough. That following the command Jesus gave to love our neighbors has to mean something more elaborate than just loving our family or baking cupcakes for our actual neighbors. We forget that God gave us these people … that we are where we are for a reason, and we can change lives by the very act of reaching out to those in our lives.”

Loving your neighbor is no small thing. If everyone – everyone in the world – followed Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, it would change the world. Jesus is always right.

 

What! There’s more? (The story starts here.)

The health food and supplements industry continues to grow because it’s people like me who keeps them in business.

Manuka honey –  I think this was the first health thing I bought. I was reading about intestinal infections as it relates to acid reflux. The way it’s described, manuka honey could prevent cancer! It is a natural antibiotic with a host of good vitamins and minerals in it. It’s expensive so it must be good, right? Well, it tastes good at least! Did it work? I don’t know but it didn’t hurt…but after a teaspoon a day using up 250 grams and $40+, it didn’t solve my problem. And to be fair, I haven’t taken any of these supplements enough to make a difference. I mean I really shouldn’t expect to be cured after 1 month. Supplements are for restoring your health so your body can heal itself and use its natural defenses to fight germs. I should probably continue with manuka honey, but I can’t justify the spending. Maybe later I will take it again, especially if it’s on sale. A friend told me Costco sells it. I didn’t see it at our local Costco though.

Slippery elm bark powder, organic – never heard of it? Neither have I until now. I read in a forum that it coats and soothes the throat. People also said it’s slimy and tastes awful, you have to just chug it down. I don’t think it’s bad at all. It’s bland which I don’t mind, and yes it’s slimy, but maybe being Chinese has its benefits – I’m accustomed to strange foods. From everything I read, it won’t hurt you and you can’t overdose on it. I take about 1 teaspoon in half cup of water after a meal. It is very soothing, and I will continue with this for a while.

Omega-3 krill oil – I bought this for my husband a while back for his high blood pressure. I’ve forgotten to remind him to take it (unlike me the hypochondriac, he never thinks he’s sick and would not take supplement on his own volition). I’m taking it now, and telling the hubby to take it again too, because my friend told me 4 things helped her health – fiber, omega-3, digestive enzymes, and probiotics. I am pretty sure I am getting enough fiber with veggies and oatmeal. I take digestive enzymes occasionally if I am anticipating a big meal with meat. So I added the omega-3.

Now regarding probiotics, I was taking a capsule a day. However, I stopped because I read that the prebiotic in most probiotic capsules is counterproductive when I’m trying to cut down on carbs. The rationale is that probiotics need to feed on carbs to grow in your intestines. I’m not sure about all that, and I think I will add back probiotics soon. But for some reason that makes no sense to me…I just decided to take a break from it. That’s probably not the right approach to these supplements. There is something about consistency that is good for you. But I’m swallowing so many pills that I just want to stop probiotics due to conflicting info by health gurus.

Gaviscon – Not sure if this is considered a natural supplement, but it’s made with seaweed or something. My ENT told me to take this before bed to coat my esophagus and throat from acid reflux at night. I googled it (yeah, I don’t believe my doctor), and found that the Gaviscon sold in the U.S. contains antacid with aluminum. However, Gaviscon sold in the U.K. does not contain the antacid. It is just the seaweed stuff for coating. Well, it’s a good thing google was invented because I am against taking antacids, for now anyway. So I bought the U.K. Gaviscon on Amazon for like 3x the price of the U.S. brand. Has it helped? I do think so! I take about half a tablespoon before bed, and in the morning my throat feels good. I will continue with this for a while. But I do need to read more about the long term use.

Interesting observation – I just came back from our church’s women’s retreat where for 2 days I ate regular food and did not take any supplements except chewing on a bit of ginger that I brought with me and Gaviscon at night. In fact, I felt pretty good! I attribute that being distracted by the activities and the conversations that I was enjoying, leaving no time for me to think about myself or my symptoms. That was a good thing. I just need more distractions!

Two more things to document here because I end this series of supplements – I stopped eating 3 hours before sleeping at night. Every single website I’ve read says to do that, so it must be right :) Has it helped? It hasn’t hurt and it’s not much effort. It makes logical sense not to lie down after eating. I was eating a small protein snack before sleeping because I read that it helps with balancing your blood sugar. So I eating a bit of cheese before bed, I love cheese. I stopped doing that and maybe it’s helping.

I also raised the head of my bed with blocks by 5-6 inches. Using extra pillows to raise your head is counterproductive to acid reflux. You must raise the bed so your body is more “upright”. Has it helped? Every single website I’ve read says to do this, so must be right :) It hasn’t hurt and it doesn’t cost anything, so why not.

This is the end of my long list. If I add more, I’ll post again!

I hope this will help someone with LPR. And I hope I hear from people with LPR to give me more ideas of supplements I should take.

18
May
Continue from my list of supplements I’m taking -

I know it seems like I’m taking a lot of stuff, yet to me it just seems like 3-4 pills. But I guess you wouldn’t have to take even one pill if you are perfectly healthy. Nowadays though, it is not unusual to take some supplement – a probiotic, a vitamin, an antioxidant or omega-3 seems to be well-accepted. In modern living we want “quality of life” and possibly “extend our life” by the use of supplements to prop up our physical body. Sometimes I wonder if that’s really the best for us. I spend so much time and energy with health concerns recently that it’s been a big distraction. God is telling me to focus on him, not on solutions without him. To be a good steward of the body that God has given us, and to trust him no matter what is the proper balance of perspective.

With that said, here’s continuing with my list of supplements:

Turmeric – This is probably the superfood of the year. Every year there is a superfood that everyone takes. There was omega 3 fish oil, and green tea, and gingko nuts. I am jumping on the turmeric bandwagon. It’s an anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the culprit of a lot of illnesses, they say.  My MIL said her friend’s got her high blood sugar under control when she took organic turmeric. I bought both the powder and the capsule. I tried “golden milk” with turmeric and coconut milk, but it didn’t seem to agree with me. So I make it with water like tea, and drink about a cup a day. I also take one capsule a few times a week. My friend takes 2 capsules a day for her arthritis. If I have any inflammation in my digestive system, including throat inflammation from LPR, I figured the turmeric would help. As with all natural supplements, you cannot expect to see immediate results. I was discouraged when I first started with these supplements. I thought it’d be like medicine, when you take a Tylenol, your headache immediately goes away. But natural supplements promotes a slow healing process. It’s not a lot of money to spend and I figured, it can’t hurt…and maybe in the long run, I’ll feel better.

Evamor alkaline water – I read that our modern diet tends to be acidic – fast food, red meat, fried foods, soda, etc. and we don’t eat enough alkaline food such as veggies. So drinking alkaline water will bring down the acidity in our body. Now, I have a B.S. degree in nutrition…and my diet is healthier than the average American. I never drank soda, alcohol, or coffee. I don’t eat out a lot, and I don’t even like fried foods that much. I hardly ever snack, and never buy chips for our home. I eat a good amount of veggies, especially leafy green chinese veggies. So is my body acidic? I don’t know, but since I have symptoms of acid reflux, it wouldn’t hurt to drink alkaline water. I also read that LPR is caused by pepsin (a stomach acid) refluxed in the throat that shouldn’t be there, thereby causing damage typical of LPR. While you can’t get rid of the pepsin, alkaline water can deactivate it.

To make this story long, I will go into the details of looking for alkaline water. With our pH kit to test our pool water, I tested the reverse osmosis filter water that we usually drink at home. It was about 7.4. Then I tested our tap water and it was a little over 8! But I read that Evamor is all natural, no added chemicals or ions to make it alkaline, it naturally has a pH of between 8.8-9.1. I searched Amazon for the cheapest seller, and it still comes out to .069 cents an ounce. If I drank that exclusively I’ll be spending about $5 a day for water. That’s too expensive to keep up. I drank it exclusively for 4 days to give it a chance to work on me. That’s already close to $20! Now I only drink Evamor in the morning and sometimes after meals. Mostly I am drinking boiled tap water now (boiling takes out some of the chlorine).

To be continued.

17
May

Continuing my list of supplements to help relieve LPR:

Calcium with Magnesium and Zinc – I read that calcium citrate can help heal the LES (lower esophageal sphincter), so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have some calcium anyway. It’s a huge pill, so I let it sit in my mouth with a little water and then just swallow after the pill is dissolved. It doesn’t taste like anything other than a little gritty, I don’t mind it. I read that the calcium citrate should touch the LES so dissolving it this way helps it come in direct contact better than if I swallowed the pill – that’s my theory. The blog post I read did say this is not proven, but it doesn’t hurt to try. This is the attitude I take on all these supplements. It won’t hurt and maybe it’ll help, even a little would be worth it. I also read that if you are acidic your body will draw calcium to balance the pH. In case if this is happening, the supplement will help. I only take 1 tablet instead of the 2 recommended a day. So it gives me 50% of the recommended daily value, so it won’t be anywhere near toxic levels. There isn’t much magnesium or zinc, but it’s there to help calcium absorption.

Magnesium – For a couple weeks I was experiencing heavy anxiety especially at night time. I read that magnesium helps you to sleep, so I had to try that. Stress draws magnesium from you, so I am taking a little extra just in case. I take 1 tablet instead of the recommended 2 a day, so I am getting 50% of the recommended daily value, and I won’t overdose on it. Including the amount of magnesium in the calcium supplement I’m probably getting about 70%. Like the calcium, it is a huge pill. It is so hard that I couldn’t even dissolve it in my mouth. So I soak it in a little water to dissolve it and it tastes yucky! Kind of like oyster fishy flavor! It’s the price I pay for taking it this way. Has it helped? Well, I am able to sleep a lot better now, and I only feel anxiety once in a while. However, I attribute the improvement to God’s help, that I am learning to deal with my emotions with prayer. God is my heavenly Father who cares for me, so I am putting my trust in Him, not on these supplements. It may be that He is using these supplements to help me, so I just do my part in using wisdom to take the supplements and see what God will do. It is the attitude I take with all health related issues. We do our part in taking the appropriate meds and caring for our body the way God intends, and we trust Him for the rest.

Ginger – I chew on a small piece of raw ginger after meals and whenever I feel any symptoms. This is probably the best thing I’ve done and really helps with minimizing symptoms. I read that it’s safe to chew up to 4-5 grams a day. I weighed it out to see how much that is, and it’s probably about an inch and a half. I don’t come near to chewing that much, so I’m safe to continue this. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, so that’s another reason to eat ginger. It was very spicy when I first started on this, but I’ve gotten used to the taste. A friend bought me the dried ginger coated with sugar. That actually is more spicy because it’s concentrated when it’s dried. Plus I don’t want the extra sugar. I buy the organic ginger available at a farmer’s market near me and carry a little bit of it in my purse whenever I go out to eat.

One thing that has also noticeably helped is changing a habit of drinking liquid during a meal. I read that drinking liquid during a meal washes down all the stomach acids needed to digest the food. Since I stopped drinking during a meal, bloating and burping has definitely decreased. I drink about 15 minutes before and after eating. In the old days when I was young, I used to love drinking milk with my meals. Those days are gone…but I can still enjoy life without milk :)

To be continued.

15
May

UPDATE from my previous post – The biopsy came back benign – Thank you, God! Some minor irritation of gastritis in the stomachs is the official result.

In an effort to relieve my symptoms of LPR, I’ve been taking various natural supplements since April, but diligently since May 1, 2017. Now I will begin to track progress in my symptoms, if any. It’s so convenient to buy these from Amazon, with Prime I can get just about anything within 2 days! And if I don’t like it I can return it. I love Amazon!

Here we go:

Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) – this is suppose to be chewed 20-30 minutes before a meal to coat  and promote healing of the esophagus. I often forget to take it and end up chewing it 5 minutes before eating. I bought the no-frustose version, it doesn’t taste bad. I’ve gotten through 2 bottles of 100 tablets each. Has it helped? I don’t know, but I figured it won’t hurt. But I do not plan on buying anymore when the bottle is finished since my endoscopy did not show damage in my esophagus. I don’t want to take anything long term if I don’t need it.

B-complex – I’ve never taken vitamins regularly because I think I eat healthy enough to get enough nutrients for my body size. I generally don’t believe in taking in extra stuff into your body…however, as I get older and with stress, I figured my body may not be as efficient in absorption. And I’m not eating as much as I used to. I’ve also cut down on eating beef, which is a good source of all kinds of vitamins and minerals. In the past I’ve not been able to tolerate multi-vitamins, I get mouth sores as a result. This time I’m taking just B-complex without Vitamin C or other minerals. I’ve not had any reactions from this.

Stress tabs – I was at Kaiser the other day, and of course I had to browse the vitamins and minerals section. I picked up a bottle of stress tabs because it contains niacin (B-3) and I read that it’s good for me…It also has a lot of zinc which I read is good for me…I know, I’m a sucker and believe everything I read. The B-complex has niacin but I figured I can use more zinc. It also has vitamin C that the B-complex does not. So once a week I take the stress tab and not the B-complex to give myself a boost once a week. I don’t know if it actually works that way, but it seems reasonable to me.

Before I continue, I digress and let you know I’ve been using essential oils. My friend V got me onto this because she swears her family never gets sick, and if they do, a few drops of the right essential oils cures them in 1-2 days. Of course I have to give it a try, it won’t hurt. I am fairly certain that a large part of acid reflux is due to anxiety and stress. Everyone in the 21st century modern living has that, right? As I get older, I am not able to handle stress as well. I’ve never considered myself a nervous person. But again, with age, and changes in life stage and changes in hormones, things do get to me, and manifests itself in anxiety. I am mostly using lavender to help me relax. I rub it on before I sleep – V says the bottom of the foot is where it absorbs best. Recently I got myself an essential oil necklace so I sniff it all day. V says she has an essential oil diffuser in her car. I am not going to get that…yet. Has it helped? I don’t know, but I figured it won’t hurt…

To be continued.

 

These are the things I’m doing to alleviate my digestion symptoms of LPR:

Yesterday, I did an endoscopy. I want to rule out any serious damage that’s been done to my system since I think I’ve had LPR for some time without realizing it.

In February, I did a colonoscopy. I figured I better check both ends. An endoscopy is much easier than a colonoscopy. I only had to fast overnight, and the procedure was maybe 5-10 minutes. I was under “twilight” anesthesia so I really don’t know how long it was, but that’s what I was told.

The nurse told me afterwards that everything was fine. But I asked to talk to the doctor for further clarification. I am pretty good at asking questions. I’ve learned that over the years that you have to ask.

The doctor said:

1. He took out polyps for biopsy. Now here I forgot to ask – how many polyps? Is it common to have polyps? I was still a bit dizzy from the anesthesia so I wasn’t as good with questions under the circumstances. I was tempted afterwards to email him to ask more questions, but my husband told me, and God convicted me, to trust God and not get myself all worked up. I’ll just wait for the biopsy results. Can’t do anything about it anyway. If I have cancer, I’ll know soon enough. UPDATE: biopsy is benign! Praise God!

2. The esophagus looks normal, a little irritated but not bad.

3. I don’t have hiatal hernia (I asked him to specifically check).

4. My LES looks normal as far as he can tell. However, from what I’ve read, you can’t really evaluate the LES with an endoscopy. But I’ll let it go at that. At least there is no observable damage.

5. Irritation of the throat is caused by constant clearing the throat. My husband said the doctor did not say my throat was irritated, but I thought he said it was a little irritated. However, I did remember him saying there’s nothing bad.

Well, that gave me some peace of mind, and I’ll know for sure when I receive the biopsy report of the polyps. I feel a little happier knowing that my esophagus is not damaged and that maybe my LPR isn’t that bad.

In the meantime, I still have a cough that I hope is a separate issue from LPR. It’s going on 3 weeks that I’ve had a cough with a weak voice. But I know coughs can linger.

To be continued….

 

 

I don’t know if I’m feeling better or worst, or just that I’m more aware of my symptoms.

In December 2016 when I experienced pain in my stomach area, I went to see my doctor. She did blood work and ultrasound on my pancreas and everything was normal. I self-diagnosis that it was some digestion issues.

When I started googling about that, I realize many symptoms that I experience as “normal” were actually indications of LPR or Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease. I’ve probably had LPR for a long time and didn’t recognize it. It’s the silent reflux disease.

The most evident symptom is the feeling of lump in my throat that doesn’t go away. It doesn’t hinder my daily activities. It doesn’t obstruct swallowing. So I ignore it and it became “normal” to me. I used to try to gag myself to get it out, and of course it doesn’t work. Now I know it’s really bad to gag yourself. Now I know the constant feeling of a lump in my throat is a LPR symptom.

Another symptom is post nasal drip and sore throat. I thought post nasal drip is the normal effect of allergies or being in a dry climate area. In fact, I thought it was weird that my husband doesn’t have post nasal drip. I thought everyone has it. Now I know: along with the lump in throat feeling, the constant post nasal drip and sore throat are LPR symptoms.

These symptoms were brought to the forefront because since December I’ve had discomfort after eating – bloating, more apparent feeling of a lump in my throat, and indigestion. I’ve tried Prilosec both prescription and OTC. But I’ve never taken a full course because it makes me nauseous. After reading more about LPR, I am pretty convinced I don’t want to take any more meds.

I know, I know, a little information from forums and WebMD is a dangerous thing. Yet I am relieved to find that I’m not alone, that a lot, I mean A LOT of people have symptoms like mine. Now I don’t have to go to my doctor, go through my list of nebulous symptoms and have her think I’m crazy.

But of course, the more stuff I read, the more conflicting info I get. I totally understand that what worked for some people may not work on others or on me. But I can’t help but feel such hope when someone says on a forum, “My symptoms were gone within 3 months of taking this [insert the nonGMO, organic, free-range, superfood supplement].” And of course with one click on Amazon I buy that supplement hoping that my symptoms will too magically disappear. And of course that hasn’t happened.

I should expect it to be a slow progress to recovering. I heard an encouraging note on a podcast – your body is always trying to heal itself. Help it along with good food and the body will respond. That sounds pretty reasonable.

Next, I’ll record the ways I’m trying to be good to my body.

 

12
Apr

I inherited my mom’s very heavy down comforter. It weighs 14 pounds (yes, I weigh it).

I love that blanket. My elder daughter is in line to inherit it from me.

But that blanket is too hot to use, even in the winter, even without the heater on at night. But I love the way the blanket feels because it’s heavy. It feels like I’m being hugged. Maybe it’s a security thing, like I’m protected.

Apparently I’m not the only one who loves a heavy blanket. There is in fact a researched based explanation. “Deep pressure touch stimulation (or DPTS) is a type of therapy that almost anyone can benefit from. Similar to getting a massage, pressure exerted over the body has physical and psychological advantages.” Now there’s an official name for the reason why I love my mom’s heavy blanket!

For his birthday, my husband bought me a weighed blanket (yes, I got a present on his birthday. Awesome husband.) I’ve been using it for the last couple days and I do love it. It’s not fluffy like the down, but it does have that crushing feel that makes me feel secure.

I don’t know if it’s the blanket, or it’s coincidence, or it’s psychological, or the research is right, but I slept better the last couple of days since I got the blanket :)

P.S. I got a 10 lb blanket which is suppose to be suitable for a 90-100 lb person. I could’ve gotten a 12 lb blanket (the heavier the more expensive), but I went on the cheaper and safer side in case I can’t breathe under the weight.

I borrow this book from HL since I’m interested in the evolution of the Asian American church. I’ve read online articles by DJ Chuang and generally like to read his insights.

I skimmed through this book because I don’t really want or need the details. I have many other books I want to read. And since I am generally familiar with Chuang’s material, I didn’t need to read it in detail again.

The book is basically what I thought it would be. The insights are centered mostly around Asian American churches in California. I grew up in the generation when Asian Americans churches were emerging so I know most of the back stories of churches he talks about. It’s interesting to see what I experienced put on paper by someone else.

If you don’t know much about Asian American churches, this is a good one to read.

 

My son had been talking about living on a farm and recommended this book. After reading it, I want to live on a farm too!

I don’t have cable TV so I’ve not seen Fixer Upper. I love the book – read it in 3 days while other books are waiting in a stack. God worked in their lives in amazing ways. It encourages me that young couples like this put God and family as top values to live by. It also encourages me to go do something crazy – not sure what yet, but I definitely want to re-do my yard now.

The subtitle is “Leading change in the church”. I could’ve used this book when I was at my previous church. Though the results of failing to make the changes we tried to make would not have changed, it would’ve prepared me better. From what I learned from that experience, I did a better job at making changes at my current church.

There are many good principles as well as practical advice in this book. Some may seem obvious, but it’s good have it laid out on paper. There is more that can be said, but for a small readable book, this covers quite a lot.

A few take-aways:

5% eager for change

20% open to change

30% followers of the most convincing voices

25% resistant to change

20% highly resistant to change

The authors says the numbers are not precise, but the proportions are close.

I thought it was just Chinese churches that are resistant to change, but apparently not so.

I am of the 5% who like changes – “Change is not always better, but better always requires change.”

“How much should leaders communicate the vision and the change needed to fulfill the vision? As a rule of thumb, once leaders are sick and tired of hearing themselves say the same thing over and over again, that is the beginning point of effective communication.” – This I have not done!

“Many churches move from a dynamic Great Commission body to a religious country club…That’s the natural state of most churches in America today…change will not happen without intentional outward movement…” – My senior pastor sees this. He says the way to move together is to have an outward focus.

 

06
Feb

I am talking to a friend about where she plays tennis, I’d like to join her.

“What do you wear to play?” she asks.

“T-shirt and shorts, is that ok?” Why does she want to know what I wear??

Then I hear a vibrate noise and I check my phone – but it’s not my phone, no one is calling me.

My friend leaves, annoyed that I checked my phone while talking to her.

Where is that vibrating coming from?

I check my pager – yeah I know, I have a pager, in my pocket. It’s not buzzing.

I check other devices I have, no buzzing on any of them.

Next thing you know, I’m back home in bed and my husband says, “Check the massage bed control.” Nope, massage bed is not on. Wait, I have a massage bed?

Husband says, “Check your alarm.” Oh, my alarm is going off…I’m suppose to wake up…

Ah…time to wake up! LOL

Interesting how reality gets incorporated into a dream.

This book is under the J section of the library – for Juvenile. My friend used this historical fiction in homeschooling her sons. I read it to consider using the book to teach English in Taiwan.

The historical setting is in the days of Jesus. These are a few short conversations between the main characters and Jesus, and I think they are in line with what Jesus might have said. I wouldn’t say it’s heretical to put those words in Jesus’ mouth for the sake of a fictional story.

The story gave me some insight into the Jews’ experience of oppression under the Romans and the hatred they live with daily. I understand more about the Zealots. It even helped me understand more about the ministry of Jesus.

However, I don’t think I can use the book to teach English in Taiwan. It’s too hard to explain all the context with someone with zero background in Christianity and low level English.