16
Apr
stored in: 2019

Today was my turn to lead staff devotions. Weeks ago I already thought of sharing about the good soil. But this being passion week I am obligated to focus on that instead. I enjoyed my own devo, I hope others did too. I usually enjoy my own lessons, which is a good sign I think. I grow from God’s Word as I study it and then distill it all down to a short lesson. Indeed the teacher gains more than the students, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

In preparation for Good Friday service, here’s my part of sharing the 7 last words of Jesus -

Third Word John 19:25-27

Woman, behold, your son!

Jesus was concerned about others even when he himself was suffering. In this case, he was devoted to care for his mother.

When Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” and to John the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”, the new relationship between Mary and John illustrates for us that He is creating the new covenant community—an expanded family that transcends earthly human bonds of blood and kinship. That family is the church.

Christ “purchased the church of God with his own blood (Acts 20:28) Jesus gave us a loving, caring, sustaining, encouraging church family.

Our church is a community of 5 congregations purchased by the blood of Christ, all represented here tonight – English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Youth and Children.

How are you embracing this new community bond by salvation? How can you reach across the aisle and care for someone in another congregation?

Take a moment now to greet those around you – and say “God’s peace be with you!”

14
Apr

Another joyful Sunday!

Our Perspectives speaker was great. He already learned Gujarati, and now he wants to learn Japanese. He’s only a few years younger than me. Yet he wants to learn the language because he has a heart to reach the Japanese with the gospel.

I have a hard time with language. I can barely speak English. I always think I’m too old to learn another language. I don’t even want to learn Chinese. I gave up the idea of being a cross-cultural missionary.

The speaker today gave me hope. He has 5 adopted children, homeschooled them, tutors at a mosque in order to reach Muslims, became a vegetarian in order to reach out to Indian International students, has a ministry to Chinese scholars at Caltech, just finished his doctorate, and now he wants to learn Japanese.

He gave me hope. If God wants you to do something, he will enable you. I have found this to be true in my life, but I’ve never experienced this with learning a language. But then maybe I never asked God to help me. I’ve never tried. There are always more urgent things to do. Maybe it’s a matter of priority and intentional effort. Maybe it’s having the confidence to lean on God to help me if I really believe this is what he wants me to do.

 

10
Apr

I honestly can’t remember what I do each day. Each day rolls into the next. All I know is I’m busy, I’m reading Perspectives, I’m doing church stuff which is my job.

Is this what life is? Is it like this for everyone? Before you know it, the year is gone, and you wonder, what did I do last year? I’m sure I did some good stuff, but I guess it doesn’t matter, it’s gone and life moves on to the next thing. Whatever I did that made a difference would have integrated into a part of life. It’s like a good meal, you enjoy it and it made you fat. But a year later, you don’t remember what that meal was, but it was a part of your life.

I am clearing out space in my email and saw attachments of pictures from almost 10 years ago of kids from my former church. I can’t point to anything specific where I’ve made a difference in their lives. It’s over, but the journey was fun. It was a part of life.

Maybe that’s one reason I want to write a book. Not to leave a legacy for people to remember me. A book is a tangible product that I can look and say, I did this last year.

05
Apr
stored in: 2019

Is it coincidence or God ordained?

I wanted to talk to one of the parents today. Usually I’ll just try to find people at church if I need to talk to them. This time I just thought thought I’d text him to give him a heads up. Later he told me he was just about to text me to tell me he wanted to talk to me when he got my text. He wanted to talk about the same thing.

He wanted to talk to me about his interest in volunteering, and it sounded like his skill-set is exactly what we need.

Another problem solved today regarding helping with a special needs child. I wanted to arrange a way to get a closer parking space for the family on Sundays so the child would be safer walking in. When I asked our Security volunteer about it, he said he already had in place a space where people can park temporarily to walk in children or the elderly. My problem solved without extra effort. So thankful.

God’s work done in God’s way is never short of God’s supply.

04
Apr

Perspectives reading this week focused on adapting cross-culturally. All the difficulties involved, issues I’ve never considered, made me appreciate long term missionaries much more.

And I feel like, I can’t be a long term cross-cultural missionary!

I read missionary biographies of their sacrifices, even when they are older like me. I always thought I want to give it a try. I guess my enthusiasm was all based on romantic notions. Now that I’m reading about the difficult barriers that have to be overcome, I’ve come to the sad truth that I’m just not made for that.

I know there are many other ways to contribute to the Great Commission and to reach the unreached. So now that I know I won’t go long term, I will focus on challenging myself to do what I can. The key word here is Challenge. I don’t want to stay within what I can do, I do still want to exercise faith to stretch, but just not long term cross-culturally.

A funeral yesterday is a reminder of how flitting life is.

When I was younger, I thought I had all the time in the world. Now I feel like I have no time at all. A year goes by and I wonder what I accomplished. Did I do the things that matter? Should I spend my time doing something else? Should I pursue writing a book before I die?

There is more expectation in today’s world to accomplish something noteworthy, to be YouTube famous, have a million followers on Instagram, or something like that. Our identity and our satisfaction is tied to something outside of us.

In the old days, in the American society generally rooted in Judeo-Christian values that is, people were satisfied to live a life pleasing to God and fellow man. Our identity and our satisfaction is tied to a general sense of God’s expectations (not that everyone was a Christian). I was a part of the end of that era before the age of the internet that changed life dramatically. Now we are in post-post-modern times, I don’t even know what that means really.

My point here is, how do I want to live? What do I pursue? I resist the cultural norms of the American dream of retiring to play golf in Palm Springs. No gathering seashells on the beach. Then what do I want? Specifically that is. Is writing a book the best use of my life?

 

I’m always excited to start a new book, but the excitement wanes usually about 3/4 of the way through. I usually get enough of what the author is saying that I don’t want to read anymore.

This book was no exception.

I was given this book by HL for Christmas. It was really good in the beginning. The description of our current culture of distractions was something I identify with and Noble dissected it accurately. I like it when authors diagnose clearly what I feel but cannot articulate. However, his solutions were thin and not very insightful. I was hoping for more. I do like his ideas of personal habits that disrupts this distracted age, particularly the section on “Living Allusively”. By that he means to live aesthetically with beauty and art that points our focus to God.

The part I don’t like is Disruptive Church Practices. Nobles says to bring back tradition liturgy, which I don’t agree. They do not mean the same to people now as they did in the past. Churches should practice what currently draws people to God as a disruptive witness. Churches should critically look at their church practices and remove the ones that feed into the culture of quick fixes and consumerism, and replace them with practices that encourage contemplation and away from self. It doesn’t have to look like traditional liturgy.

I recommend this book even though I struggle with reading it to the end. With all the Perspectives reading, it took me 3 months to read this book!

31
Mar
stored in: 2019

It’s not easy to process thoughts everyday and write it down in a post. But it’s good exercise that makes me think.

Here’s what I’m encouraged by today:

I was encouraged by my talk with SS today. He told me God is teaching him humility, he recognized and admitted his arrogance. I am encouraged because he was vulnerable and able to tell what God is doing in his life. I like conversations like that. I like to hear about what God is doing in people’s lives. I am going to be more intentional about telling others about what God is doing in my life, admit where I need to grow and how God is working on it.

I went into the 12th grade Sunday School class because their teacher wasn’t there. “Teach us something, Auntie Katy.” How about I tell you something about how to deal with your relationship with your parents when you go to college? They all nodded enthusiastically.

Then I asked them, what is a challenge you think you will face? A boy said, “Laziness and lust.” I am encouraged by his honesty. He also said he has people who keep him accountable. I am very encouraged by that.

 

30
Mar

The thought of a meeting on Saturday morning is not very appealing. However, today’s meeting was good! We ended on time! As it always happens, I felt I should’ve spoken up about an issue – but didn’t know what to say until AFTER the meeting. Oh well, it wasn’t a big thing and maybe if it comes up again, I’ll have my response ready.

Took a short walk with my husband on the Grand Avenue trail, our first time there. It went under Grand Avenue through a creepy tunnel. I would be scared to go there alone! I promised next time I’ll push myself a bit more to go further on the trail before turning  back. I hardly broke a sweat. But then, it usually takes quite a bit to make me sweat. A Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor diagnosed me with low qi and told me to exercise and sweat more. He’s right. I’ll try.

Came back to do Perspectives homework! This whole class of 15 weeks focusing on cross-cultural strategy has a lot of applications for children ministry. Working with children is like communicating with people with a different language, a different worldview, different value system! One section of this week’s reading about strategies to oral learners is particularly relevant. All children are oral learners! They are illiterate! It’s all about telling stories, but in a way that conveys truth, not a fairy tale.

 

I made this a few weeks ago, thought it was pretty good. Posting this so I’ll remember:

Beef shank

Beef tendon

Daikon

large piece of ginger, smashed

about 6 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 onion, into wedges

1 tomato, cut, highly recommend

2 dried chilies, or more if you want

1 T ketchup, optional

1/4-1/2 cup soy sauce

2 T chu hou sauce (comes in a jar), a game changer

chinese cooking wine

star anise, a must

1 small cinnamon stick, a must

1 T fennel seeds, a must

2 T peppercorns

1/2 tsp 5-spice powder

3 bay leaves

some cumin and coriander seeds, I used powder because I didn’t have any seeds

dried mandarin peel, optional

Instantpot 40 mins, add daikon, cook another 20 mins.

 

 

 

28
Mar
stored in: 2019

I tend to look at things with an eye to improve it. Which makes me critical and not content.

Let me focus on what I am grateful for today:

Denise, who does an excellent job with whatever I ask her to do. She says, “Just tell me what to do, I’ll do it.” No questions asked.

Able to get up late with no set time to get to the office. I got in at 9:30am today, I know, what a luxury.

Long phone conversation with Stephanie until her phone ran out of battery. She said she came to Children Worship on Sunday for my message because she couldn’t follow the sermon in adult service :)

My MIL washed all the dishes. My husband’s brother, her youngest son, is here visiting, but instead of enjoying time with him and her grandkids, she washed dishes. That’s the kind of person she is.

Watching my husband work on Perspectives homework. He has a lot on his mind, and it’s hard for him to keep up, but he’s trying. I nag him, but he did it today without my prompting :)

My son and DIL enjoying their time in Japan. They invited us to follow them on their private Twitter to see their pictures. I’m blessed with a good relationship with my children.

Hand me downs from my sister. She has excellent taste in clothes. I’m always excited to get a bag from her, it’s better than shopping, and it’s free!

Niece and nephew that are maintenance free. They are here for a week, and they are really nice kids. They keep themselves occupied with no demands. Ice cream makes them super happy.

At the end of every day, I am sooo thankful for my bed. I love my routine of showering, then sit on my bed to read and pray.

 

 

I know the church belongs to God, but since I’m invested in it, I can’t help but have desires for what I hope would happen. And God has accomplished a few of those desires! It doesn’t happen immediately in my timing, but God’s time is always the right time. Here’s what God has done for me:

New water fountains – I know this seems like a small detail, but when I first asked for them, the response was not enthusiastic. Now, several years later, we have new water fountains! Recently a children’s pastor from a nearby church came to visit. I showed him our new water refill fountain. “This is what I want for our church! How did you get this done?” he asked. Very slowly, I told him. In God’s time, miracles do happen. And it wasn’t anything I did to make it happen. I know this sounds crazy, but this water fountain is to me a symbol that God is at work, but in his time and in his way.

A Family Pastor – when I was interviewing for my position, I told the committee my passion was parenting. The church sees a strong children ministry as foundational for growth of the church. But without intentional help for parents, children’s ministry can only go so far. Since then I’ve been reading up on family ministry, attended a couple of conferences, did a few things in our children’s department to forward FM. But honestly, I didn’t get very far. While the staff was supportive, there was not a sense of movement towards FM. I didn’t know how to move it either. Now, a few years later, intergenerational ministry is in our vision statement, and we called a Family Pastor on staff! And not only that, he and I see eye to eye on almost everything. He is doing a much better job than I could’ve imagined or could’ve done myself. He says he is here to accomplish all my dreams. And it’s true. God is giving me my desires.

A graphic designer on staff – I want the children ministry material to look good! Good design is effective communication, not distracting to the message. I am not artistic, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. My daughter would do the design stuff I need for church, but there’s a limit to what she can do. And now, we have a part-time designer on staff! That just doesn’t happen in a Chinese church! And not only that, we’ve been hoping for this exact person to become available (who may be reading this post right now!) God opened what I thought was impossible door to crack.

No white hair – When I first came on staff, I was 52. I saw a few white hairs starting to show. My sisters started coloring their hair in their 40′s. I don’t want to color my hair. I asked God to hold back the white hairs for a couple of years so I don’t look so old to the kids. Eight years later, I still only have a few white hairs. I see a few more coming in just recently, but I’m ok with it. God already gave me more years than I expected. People are amazed that I’ve never colored my hair. It’s a miracle, it’s God’s grace to me. I hadn’t thought of this recently until I happen to tell someone today in conversation why I don’t need to color my hair. That reminder prompted this post.

I give glory to God for all He’s done. When I’m tired, I think back on these and more, and am grateful and humbled to be here today.

 

25
Mar

I missed Costco today.

Instead of our usual date to Costco, my husband and I spent our day preparing our house for a week’s visit from his brother and 2 children.

When I say prepare the house, I don’t mean clean the house. I mean just get one room ready, and take stuff off our dining room table. Fortunately, the bathrooms were clean already. We tend to wait the last hours to clean up before people come over. And just in time, the room was ready by the time they arrived at 5:30pm.

I love to cook, but lately I’ve been feeling tired, and don’t feel like taking the extra efforts to cook the food better. I get 6 hours of sleep but 7 or 8 would make me feel better. I think I need a vacation. And in fact, we have one planned.

I can squeeze in one week in May for some time off – after Perspectives and before the next children ministry training workshop. We booked a flight to Hawaii! Reasonable fares before the high season starts in June. We were there over 20 years ago. I don’t love to travel, and the thought of going causes me some anxiety. But it’s easy to maneuver around Hawaii and you can’t go wrong. Even if we don’t do anything but walk around the beach, I’ll be happy. We don’t have to pack our schedule.

We had the opportunity to go to Italy with friends, but it would mean missing 2 sessions of Perspectives. And if I go to another country like that, I’d want to pack the schedule.

24
Mar
stored in: 2019

Another encouraging Sunday: taught in Children Worship. Before I started to speak, one of the girls asked me, “How was your week, Auntie Katy?” So cute. Delivering the message in Children Worship is probably one of my favorite things. I now know how a pastor feels preaching to his congregation.

Was encouraged talking to Andrea about Good News Club. Her and her husband’s obedience to God’s call to serve is affirmation to me that God’s will done in God’s way is never short of God’s supply. I will seriously pray about Good News Club at Ybarra.

Got a quick lunch with my family – wow that’s a first! I usually never see them on Sunday at church. I’m usually busy in a meeting or catching up with people.

Post Perspectives dinner – ramen. I haven’t had that for a long time because I cut out wheat from my diet. But for the fellowship I went. I gave most of my noodles to one of the guys. Got to talk to our speaker, which was a big blessing.

 

23
Mar

I was expecting 40ish people at today’s children ministry training. More than 60 came out! I am so encouraged by their desire to grow and be equipped. I thank God for their partnership in the gospel. Their willingness to come out on a Saturday morning is a sign to me that God is at work in our church. “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

Went Goodwill hunting with my daughters. I didn’t buy anything, but Audrey found maternity pants. They were the 50% off tag on top of the price, perfect condition, good finds!

Face masks & Perspectives homework. Perspectives is taking over my life, but I will truly miss it when it’s over. But will also be glad that I can go back to reading the stack of books waiting next to my bed.

20
Mar

Hudson Taylor was convicted that God wanted him to get more workers to China. But knowing the dangers and difficulties, he feared that it would his responsibility if they break down, and “bitterly reproach me for having encouraged them to undertake an enterprise for which they were unequal.” Their blood would be on his hands.

Finally, after much agonizing, “I told Him that all the consequences must rest with Him, that as His servant, it was mine to obey and follow Him – His, to direct, to care for, and to guide me and those who might labor with me.”

To a lesser degree, I feel this responsibility for those whom I ask to serve with me. Even in small matters, such as asking Sunday School teachers to come early, or come to training on a Saturday, I feel I am taking away their family time, or making them sacrifice, or make them tired if they have to wake up early. I don’t want to put extra burdens on people to help with childcare, or help bring snacks, or come early to set up. They may “bitterly reproach me for having encouraged them to undertake an enterprise for which they were unequal.” And if they don’t want to do it, I don’t want them to feel guilty. That would not set them on a right relationship with God.

Today I learned as Taylor said, all consequences must rest with God. He is in control, let him take care of the people. I do my part to ask for what I believe is right and needs to be done for God’s service. I’ll have to leave the consequences to God.

19
Mar

Delicious corn beef for dinner, so good! I look forward to this every year. Bought a second corn beef for later so I don’t have to wait for next March 17th for another delicious meal.

Another case of me not being a good planner with no mind for details: I planned a training for this Saturday many months ago. The most important part was getting the speaker and get the publicity going. I got that. Thought I was done. Then now, 4 days before the event, I haven’t arranged for the recording, I didn’t ask people to help with setting up the room, I haven’t thought of getting snacks, I didn’t ask for sign ups (I figured people can just come, but then I don’t know how much snacks to buy), I’m scrambling for childcare (though this is optional, it would be a nice service to those with babies). I want a team of people who would love to do this stuff. I promise, I’ll have that team ready for training set for next month! Keeping my fingers crossed that God will provide them.

17
Mar

An ADHD child today at church was a challenge. I have zero experience with special needs children.

In high school I considered being a Special Ed teacher. But after visiting a SPED school, I couldn’t handle facing their disabilities. It was too depressing.

At church now as God brings us a few children with special needs, I still don’t know the proper way to help them. My only concern with the boy with ADHD was to keep him safe, keep him from running out of the room, which was an impossible task. We are not professionals and we do not know how to handle him.  He doesn’t respond to reason, to authority, or any kind of urging. His mother did not know what to do either. There is only one way to help, that is to pray. I haven’t prayed enough for the children. I need more people to pray for the children.

When people ask me what help I need in Children Ministry, I used to say we need more Awana Leaders, or nursery helpers. Now I say I need people to pray. But people don’t take me seriously. They expect to help in a “practical” way. That’s how American Christians think. In Taiwan, Christians seem to take prayer more seriously.

Young married couples fellowship today was encouraging. I thank God for their encouragement to me even though I am suppose to be the mentor.

15
Mar
stored in: 2019

I struggled in preparing for the message for Awana tonight. The theme is courage, Joshua 1:9. I didn’t want to teach the usual that the children have heard many times. Praise God He gave me a message about Paul’s courage. After thinking about it since last week, I made the final revision this afternoon and gave the message tonight. The children were all engaged, it went well. A leader told me that the message spoke to her, she needs courage in serving more. That was a big blessing.

When my teaching goes well, I know it is God’s work through me. I would like to think I am naturally talented, but I know I’m not. Whenever I start to pat myself on the back, I remember Deuteronomy 8, it is God who gives us the ability to produce. Thank you God, for affirming the leadership position I’m in. You put me in this position, and you help me do what you’ve called me to do. Apart from you, I can do nothing.

Stayed around church talking to people till almost 10:30pm. I like it when no one wants to leave. My old church was like that too. I’ll have a day of rest tomorrow to prepare for Sunday.

 

 

14
Mar

Since my daughter is in Orlando for the Ligonier Conference, I decided to listen to some of it on FB Live. The theme is Holiness.  This stood out:

God does not bless great talent so much as Christlikeness.

A holy believer is an awesome weapon in the hand of God. Regardless of your IQ.

God chooses to use holy vessels.

We SAY we believe in this, but we don’t really make leadership decisions based on this. We follow the ways of the world.

We look for talent, abilities, charisma. I am impatient with incompetent people. I am angry at my own incompetence. I wish I was more talented and smarter.

I should instead work on my holiness, not only my effectiveness.

Finished all my Perspectives reading today. And finished preparing for Awana message for tomorrow. Urgent tasks done, now I can work on ongoing projects.