04
Aug

Yesterday’s children’s outreach:

Good: Pioneering a children’s event at Ybarra instead of at church

Not so good: The AC wasn’t working until after lunch. Even I, who barely sweat in Taiwan humidity, was getting moist.

Good: No one complained. And when the AC finally came on, we really appreciated it.

Not so good: The speakers rushed to get here immediately coming off the airplane, after a vacation in Hawaii.

Good: They made it!

Not so good: They were late!

Good: Adeline did a fabulous job leading games and reading a story to fill in until they got here.

Not so good: By the time the teaching began, it seemed like the day was already over! We already played games, had snacks, and heard a missionary story.

Good: The speakers had energy, the kids were responsive.

Not so good: It was a long day, no matter how fun it is. It was hard to maintain the mental engagement.

Good: All the helpers were great. Feedback was they wanted more time in small group with the kids.

Not so good: A parent just emailed me that her daughter got hurt and she wasn’t told.

Good: I don’t know how I will reply yet, but I can trust God to smooth things out. He will have the victory.

Good: I enjoyed the whole day. Was able to relax and talk to other “older” helpers while most of the running around was done by the youth and younger people.

Good: Had a couple bites of Costco cheese pizza which I never eat. It was so good!

Good: Got some roast duck from the chinese retreat dinner.

Good: I had enough energy and the desire to go back to church to hang out with the preschool team for a short time after dinner. The preschoolers were having so much fun.

Good: Thankful I live less than 10 minutes from church so I can go back and forth.

Good: Went to sleep relatively early at 10:45pm.

 

 

01
Aug
stored in: 2019

I had lunch with someone who will be going to college. I’ve known her since 5th grade and I wanted to have an “adult” meet up before she starts school. Seeing her excitement for what’s ahead made me appreciate my own journey through the years of college.

God has been so faithful to me, steering me towards Him. It would’ve been so easy for me to fall away. I could’ve been easily tempted to follow the world. But God gave me fear – fear of God and the judgement to come is a good thing. I did not dare stray too far. By the grace of God I am walking with him.

Hurt my achilles tendon by over extending and over stretching. That doesn’t pay to exercise!

I promised I will not be defined by my age, my aches and pains. So I am going to approach Saturday’s children outreach with the joy of anticipation of a fantastic event!

01
Aug
stored in: 2019

I am thankful for the priority our staff puts on personal spiritual life. On the 5th Tuesday of the month we are told to take a spiritual retreat day.

I spent half my day at home reading and half my day at my favorite retreat place – Mariners church in Irvine. There is hardly anyone there on a weekday, but a few people to keep it from feeling deserted.

I am inspired by my daughter to keep my brain active by memorizing verses, starting with John 14. You can’t go wrong memorizing the words of Jesus. And it’s a little easier because I already know parts of it.

So far I am really enjoying the process, taking the time to read it over and over, forcing me to meditate on the meaning. I decided I am not going to pressure myself to get every single word in the right order. In the past I gave up memorizing because I got tired of getting every single article in the right place.  This time I will not keep going back to get it exactly right. A few words wrong here and there is acceptable margin of error.

—-

So thankful for the team serving together on Saturday’s children’s outreach. Their attention to detail is beyond my imagination.

I’ve planned many VBSs in my lifetime. I was younger, more energy, had more bandwidth to attend to the details. But even then, I didn’t do that well with details. I always did the big picture planning. Now I just hate too much detail; makes me confused and anxious, leading to poor decision making.

I am true to my ENFP MB type – “Under great stress, ENFPs may become overwhelmed by detail and lose their normal perspective and sense of options.”

But I get the job done, all by God’s grace. And isn’t that just how life is? In our weakness He is strong.

 

30
Jul

This sauce is good with Mexican or Mediterranean inspired dishes.

Here are the ingredients. Blend it all together till smooth. It’s a thin sauce to be drizzled over the meat or veggies (think shredded cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes).

Greek yogurt, plain, I use full fat yogurt

Garlic – to taste

Green onion – as much as you want

Cilantro – more the better, I love cilantro

Lime juice about 1-2 tablespoons to taste

Salt, as needed, I didn’t need it

 

30
Jul
stored in: 2019

In an effort to daily post about my day in 2019, seems like posting a day behind is becoming the pattern.

So yesterday, we went to eat Malaysian food in Anaheim – got a Groupon for it. Amy also has Mondays off work. Usually she has her own plans, but she had no plans and joined us.

I’ve been on the lookout for suitable for Monday outings on my day off. I don’t think I’ll do that Malaysian restaurant again – too spicy for me. My default outing would be Huntington Library since I have an annual pass.

Making use of Amy’s annual pass parking at Disneyland, we went to Downtown Disney after lunch. Even just being in the parking lot of Disney was magical haha! I remember the tram ride used to have a recorded message with Disney music background, saying the perfunctory “keep safe, enjoy your stay, etc.” I liked it, but this tram ride was silent. New security check system was efficient but a sad commentary of the state of things nowadays. In the ol’ days…security checks at amusement parks was unheard of.

Came home, went swimming, watched half of Christopher Robin on Nexflix over dinner. I made a pretty good shrimp “taco” dish for dinner – without the shell, with a yogurt lime sauce. I would make it again.

 

29
Jul

After much deliberation for the last several weeks, I decided to go to the young adult retreat for one day.

Funny thing is, I carpooled with Jedda; four years ago we carpooled to the women’s retreat to the same place. And on the way back, I drove Joyce home, which was what I did at the women’s retreat as well. I guess it was meant to be.

“Why are you here?” I was asked more than once. It was a genuine question, not implying that I was unwelcome. I’m not a young adult, nor am I the group’s official mentor.

I went for 2 reasons. I want to get away and listen to the speaker, whom I heard was good. When I was on Sabbatical last year, I really enjoyed attending worship at various churches. I just want to sit under some good preaching at this retreat.

I also wanted to get to know the young people. I was the teacher/leader of the young adults in my former church. I still keep in touch with many of them. I miss being with that age. My children are now in that age range, so by getting to know other young adults, I can understand my own children more.

I found that unless I had a role there, ie counselor, or mentor, or teacher, people will not automatically come to talk to me. They go up to talk to the speaker, because he had a role, they know what he is there for.  Even the young adults who know me didn’t come talk to me when they see me by myself, with the exception of maybe 4 people. It didn’t hurt my feelings, just an observation.

I had no hesitation making conversation with people. In fact, I talked to a young man I know is a PT and got some free advice :) We don’t know each other well, so it was good to be there to hear what he’s doing now. At the same time, it seemed pointless to catch up, because I probably won’t interact with him again.

One of the girls asked me for some advice. I got to know her more.

Overall, I have no regrets of going. I probably would’ve regretted if I didn’t go. I always choose the fun option, afraid that I would miss out on something good.

I enjoyed the preaching too. I appreciated his way of engaging with young adults. His applications are not relevant to me, but the Word of God is always relevant. It’s always good to grow deeper in our understanding of our identity in Christ and how that affects us daily. When I reread my notes today, it made sense.

This retreat gave me a shared experience with the young adults, and with my daughter. It’s a springboard to further connections, hopefully build on those relationships.

 

 

25
Jul
stored in: 2019

I went outside for less than 5 minutes and got 4 bug bites! This is in my backyard, not a jungle! This hot humid weather is no fun. It’s expected in Asia but I am not ready for this in SoCal

Praise God He gave me inspiration for my sermons today. I am giving a promotion message to the preschoolers and one to the elementary children on Sunday.

Children messages are short, so it is not as hard to prep as an adult message. But the thought behind it is the same. I also think about how the message would edify the adult helpers there.

I am glad I don’t have to preach to adults regularly as our pastors do. It would take so much thought that I wouldn’t be able to split my mind to plan other things for children ministry. I can do more detail planning than the pastors do because of that.

People don’t know what pastors do. They think that even if they spend 20 hours a week in sermon prep, they would still have a good 20-30 hours for running the church, so they expect more production. It all sounds good on paper. But the mind cannot engage so quickly from this to that when it is relational and dynamic.

Sermon prep is a creative process that takes up your brain space. As a lay leader at my previous church, I used to teach adult SS every Sunday. I thought sermon prep was basically the same, so my pastor should be able to do a lot more with all the extra time he has. But now I see how it really is, I experience it, and I give a lot of credit to our pastors.

I especially commend the solo pastor of a small church who preaches every week, each sermon being judged if it’s “good” or not. And then he has to love and care for the people who don’t understand why he is not more productive. It’s hard to explain on paper in terms of hours you work. It’s hard to explain until you experience it first hand. It is definitely a calling, not a job.

I would like to teach adults and youth once in a while for a change of pace. It’s good practice, same as I think it’s good for pastors to preach to children once in a while.

Enjoyed my monthly massage today. Then I felt too relaxed to swim, afraid I might drown! So I did 30 minutes on the elliptical.

About a month ago I bought a used elliptical for $50. I figured if we don’t use it, I’ll give it away and $50 wouldn’t hurt much. I would say we already got our money’s worth though. My husband is finally exercising (40 minutes a day) and I do at least 15 minutes a day, hopefully my cholesterol will go down.

23
Jul
stored in: 2019

I hear about people having to deal with various personalities in the workplace. We have a variety of personalities, perspectives and opinions among the staff. I’ve come to appreciate each one though I have more affinity towards certain types. I thank God that in a church environment, there is a good amount of grace and forgiveness.

It’s funny that at staff meeting we had to talk for more than 15 minutes about whether or not to continue sending out birthday cards. I suppose a small thing like this can have wider implications. It’s small changes like this that shows that things are changing.

I’ve been given more birthday cards to write recently and it does take a lot of time. I pray for the person, and try to write something personal on each one. It’s probably not time well-spent considering pastors can be doing other things with that 1/2 hour of time.

Rick Warren said none of his friends who started the church with him stayed as the church got big. He couldn’t be the small church pastor they wanted him to be – he couldn’t give them time or attention they were used to getting. Birthday cards reminded me of that. Growth brings changes. I like changes.

One of the weakness of our church is not releasing the laxity more. For example, these birthday cards. They should be written by the people who are caring for the person, ie their small group leader or SS teachers. Then , there’ll be no need for a card to come from the pastors. More ministries should be given into the hands of the people. Writing cards is just an example.

Swam by myself today for 20 minutes. It makes me feel like I’m doing something good for my body. Tomorrow is prayer meeting and I won’t be able to swim.

Took Mike to cut eucalyptus for me to make a wreath. He’s such a good husband :)

 

 

22
Jul
stored in: 2019

My day off started with our usual Costco run, Billy’s egg farm. My husband got Haagen Dazs ice cream bars (on sale), and I got parmesan cheese crisps (on sale) as our treats to ourselves for the month.

Quiet afternoon, then a quick run to TJ Max for fun, swam just because I feel guilty having a perfectly warm pool right here with no one using it. Tried to eat dinner outside, but it was too warm even at 7pm, the bugs were starting to bite. We moved back indoors, turned on the AC…ah, such is the suburban life!

I thank God for this season of my life where it’s relatively easy. It hasn’t always been this way. We’ve had our share of struggles. I hope I’ve matured to be able to handle difficulties that may come ahead, especially with aging.

My worst fear is if my husband dies before I do! But God knows what I can handle, and what he can handle.

Pastor Jackson says, he asks God for he and his wife to die together since they don’t have kids to take care of the surviving spouse. But that would only happen under tragic circumstances such as a car or plane crash. That would be sad, but would be an answer to his prayer. Morbid thoughts.

 

 

 

 

21
Jul
stored in: 2019

I can’t talk loud over the kids anymore.

Since I’ve been having LPR, my voice has been weak. The symptom of my greatest concern about having LPR is a burning sensation in my throat. It affects my vocal cords and potentially damage them permanently.

Today, the kids were loud, which I’m ok with. Of course kids are loud.

But I can’t yell loud enough to get their attention. Now my throat hurts from trying.

I also realized my sin of trying to solve the noise issue my way by talking louder. Instead of shooting up “arrow prayers”, I use my own solutions. I’m sure God could’ve quieted the kids if I asked Him.

In fact, I’ve not been looking to God in my times of need. In big things, yes. But I live the “regular” course of life pretty much dependent on myself.

I thank God for revealing this to me today. I am asking God to help me to grow in this way. I think this will greatly help in relieving stress that I’ve been feeling.

Getting back to the heart of worship, it’s all about you, it’s all about you, Jesus…

It’s hard for me to truly worship at our church. My mind is on things I need to do, people I need to talk to, people I should catch up with… And I’m thinking how we can improve this or that during the worship…Announcements should be faster…they can improve the lighting…too much stuff on stage…why haven’t they moved the piano, it’s too close to the edge…

When I worship at another church, I can usually relax. But yesterday, I couldn’t. I was looking at things that our church can copy from them – offering receptacles, baskets with welcome brochures, gifts for new comers, prayer room for those who need prayer after service.

I had to close my eyes and consciously focus on worshipping God. I have to intentionally focus on the words we were singing instead of on the lighting and sound and what the musicians were wearing. I force myself to pay attention to the words of the Bible instead of the pastor’s smooth delivery style.

I need to go attend evening service more as I used to before Perspectives. It’s where I re-center. It takes me away from being a “professional Christian”.

After church, we went to the most popular Asian center in Irvine. Parking is worst than Rowland Heights. We were really lucky to get a space right when someone pulled out.

We ate at Pepper Lunch, got an order of sui mai from Tim Ho Wan, a custard tart at 85. We decided we should do a food tour of Rowland Heights. We have a lot of good food so close to us.

It was a fun date.

In the morning we went to Ontario Mills for the Skechers sale. That was fun too.

It’s not too often that I have a whole Saturday free.

 

I love reading these “Christian Heroes” biographies for children.

Cameron Townsend is the founder of Wycliff Bible Translators. In the old days, missionaries get through many harsh conditions to unreached people groups. Travel was not as easy as it is now.

Nowadays, missionaries can go back home fairly easily if needed. I admired the Christian heroes of the past who were willing to suffer for Christ. Americans now, especially speaking for myself, do not have that “grit”.

The book does not emphasize all the difficulties, which I’m sure were many. But I guess being the wimp that I am, that’s what I think of when I read about Townsend’s traveling on trains, riding on mules, taking 2 weeks through the jungle to get to the village…I can’t even imagine what that’s like! How do you go to the bathroom??

I did not realize that Wycliff Bible Translators did more than translate the Bible. When they live with the people to learn their language, they are there to help the village improve its living conditions, ie clean water, medical help, etc.

Townsend had vision for God’s work till the day he died. He continued to travel into his 80′s. It was a bit easier by then, the 1970′s. But going to India, Soviet Union, Philipines, Nepal, all over the world, for a man his age is not easy even today. Again, that’s a reflection of my weakness when I think about his life.

Therefore, I am inspired once again, not to let age define me.

One time, Townsend had second thoughts about sending two single women into the jungle. But one of the women replied, “Don’t you trust God to take care of us?”

Yes, God will take care of us.

18
Jul
stored in: 2019

It was hard to go swimming by myself for the first time . It was a lot easier today.

It takes a few times of anything to overcome the resistance. Then it becomes easier. I did not hesitate at the edge of the pool as I did the first time. It helped that the water was nice and warm. I got a good 20 minutes of exercise. It didn’t seem long.

Got some work done at the office, ready for Sunday. Tomorrow I will work on long term stuff. Thankful again for Denise for reminding me of admin stuff that I need to keep track of.

 

 

 

 

17
Jul
stored in: 2019

On Monday we went to eat in LA to celebrate Audrey’s 30th. I can’t believe I have a daughter 30 years old!

I was a mother at 30, and I felt like an adult. Yet it’s an odd feeling that my own daughter is 30 and going to be a mother. No wonder my parents treated me like a child when I was 30. I promise myself I would not treat my adult children like young children.

I don’t like the idea of going to LA – traffic, no parking, homeless encampments…but it is a fun diverse city. I like going in a group, especially if I don’t have to drive. Thank God my husband is a good driver and skillful at parking. But I wouldn’t go there on a date, just the 2 of us.

———–

I believe everyone is creative. Creativity is expressed in different ways.

I’ve gone through many creative seasons of crafts – sewing, rubber stamping, mop dolls, paper making, stitchery, etc. etc. I was never that interested in drawing or painting, mostly crafts.

Maybe they were more like hobbies. I don’t do any of that anymore. Michael’s and Joann’s used to be my favorite stores, now I rarely go.

Now I am into making fresh wreaths and kombucha :)

I successfully brewed my first batch. It tasted great! I invested less than $7 for a fresh SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) from Amazon, followed the instructions on You Brew Kombucha, and waited for the fermentation to happen.

Today I bottled my second batch. Trying different flavors.

I hope to have time this week to make another fresh wreath from eucalyptus. The lavender wreath I made is now dried, but it still looks good because lavender wreaths look good when it’s dried or fresh.

16
Jul
stored in: 2019

Such a big event happened on Saturday and I didn’t blog about it!

For the past month, Amy and I have been planning the baby shower for Audrey! As with all events, we never feel fully prepared. My only responsibilities are the food and party favor.

In the old days I would do some homemade stuff. But now I don’t want that stress. My brain just can’t handle all the steps needed to put it together. I think I have too much in my brain with work that the only creative thing I can handle making kombucha. I’ll write about that next.

Everyone loves Porto’s so I ordered it, had my SIL pick it up. Got some salad from Costco. Infusing 2 water dispensers with lemon/mint, and hibiscus/blueberry brought it up a notch :)

The highlight were the ham and cheese sliders with Pooh and Piglet buns made by my DIL’s friends! So cute you don’t want to eat them.

Amy planned out the decorations, kept it simple, but a clear theme of Pooh and Piglet, year of the pig. Had a friend take pictures. It all turned out great!

Oh the party favors – I got the idea from a friend – a tea leaves bar with 3 different kinds to choose from. Audrey loves tea. Everything from Amazon – easy. Cute Pooh bags from Daiso.

I asked 3 moms to share a verse and advice, then I shared as well. However, I didn’t have a verse! I was focusing on explaining how the gospel applies to parenting that I forgot to share a verse. And I was hoping a bit of the gospel message would open a crack in the unbelievers in attendance. But wow, no Bible verse to point them to…does that reveal something about my heart?

To be honest, lately I’ve slacked off in Bible reading. I still read the Bible but not taking time to truly meditate on it. My attention has been drawn to ministry related books. It really doesn’t make sense to read ministry books to do God’s work when I don’t read THE Book to hear from God himself on how to do His work.

 

14
Jul

I had to intervene in a situation with a preschooler today, right at the time I had to give the children’s sermon. The 1st-3rd graders were waiting for me when I ran back upstairs. I felt very distracted which probably contributed to the kids not being attentive. Usually I am able to get their attention but not today! I also felt very distracted by a girl sitting in the front asking many questions, some not so relevant. It got me off course in my sermon. I’m glad I didn’t record myself!

I thank God that the 4th-5th graders were very attentive though, extra attentive! And I felt very good about the content that I was able to deliver. Praise God that He enabled me so that I didn’t feel totally defeated after that first session.

Long day with Officer’s meeting and STM meeting at my house. So I cut out of Officer’s meeting early. I had time to take my time cooking for dinner for the team. Well, it’s just 2 extra people to cook for since the other 2 members are my husband and daughter.

The meeting was encouraging and productive. Every team has been a great team.  Makes my job a pleasure. Always a growing experience for me to lead them.

I haven’t gotten back to reading one book a month since Perspectives. I just finished one, I’ll count this for July.

I got this book from one of the Perspectives speakers who is on staff at Barnabas International to care for those in cross-cultural ministries. After reading this book, I am convinced of the need for people to care for cross-cultural missionaries. A “tender”, a person who watches over the dangerous job of a commercial deep sea diver is analogous to what a member care personnel does for a missionary.

Missionaries are generally spiritually mature, but they are not immune to sin, discouragements, misjudgments, conflicts, marriage problems, etc. They also have cross cultural adjustments that aggravate those issues. On top of that, if they are effective missionaries, which we hope they are, the devil will not leave them alone, a spiritual reality that we don’t take seriously in the West.

The main thing I apply from this book is to pray for our missionaries, and ask God to provide people to care for them. I read this book because I would be open to caring for missionaries, IF God calls me to do that. I don’t think I’m qualified, but that’s a good thing. Moses and Jeremiah did not feel qualified for the job God called them to do. But I think that is something I would be interested in.

12
Jul
stored in: 2019

Mike and I went swimming after dinner.

I think this is the first time we’ve ever done that, just the 2 of us. After 20+ years living here we finally make use of the pool. Unfortunately we are motivated not by fun but for health reasons. It’s good exercise.

I would much rather sit and read.

——–

Yesterday my group of girlfriends and I had lunch, 6 out of our usual 9 gathered at the new Porto’s.

Almost 3 hours together and we were just getting started! I really do love these friends. We can talk about anything. And though we don’t intentionally talk about our walk with God, which I wish we could do more of, it definitely spills out in our convo because Jesus is just a part of us. We grow through life stages together with oneness in Christ. We share the same values though we are all different. We were young moms, and now we are grandmas!

As we get older, we are all pretty steady with our walk with God. But I would like to hear more about what God is teaching them. It’s easier to do that 1-on-1. It’s not that we are not willing, I think we trust each other completely. It’s more about opportunity. When we meet up 3-4 times are year, we barely have enough time to catch up on the basics.

We usually start by giving a rundown on what’s happening at home, with our kids/husband/grandkids. We are now talking about retirement…how life has changed. We inspire each other to be better women.

12
Jul
stored in: 2019

My MIL complained of back pains, so we took her to PT. A week later -

Me: Are you doing the exercises you learned from the PT?

MIL: No, it doesn’t work.

Me: It’s not going to work in a week, it’s not a cure. You have to do them consistently to strengthen your back.

A few months later, she says her back is still hurting.

Me: Are you doing the exercises?

MIL: No, it doesn’t work.

Me: Do you do a little bit each day?

MIL: No, I don’t do them. It doesn’t work.

Me: If you don’t do them, it’s not going to work. Your back is not going to get better by itself.

MIL: It’s old age. Actually, even young people have back pains.

Ok.

Recently I’ve been seeing more clearly how my upbringing and the traits of my parents influence the way I think and act.

My father was very proactive in improving himself. He stopped us from watching TV and told us to go outside – pull weeds, ride our bikes, go play tennis. Watching TV was a waste of time, do something more healthy. He never told us to study more. We all got decent grades.

I got that from my dad. I don’t watch TV, I want to do something productive. The downside is I feel guilty when I relax.

My husband takes after his mom. Like her, he is very responsible, keeps his nose to the grindstone, never complains. But he is lazy about improving himself. He’ll sit and watch TV, much like what his mom does.

I’m proud of him that this week, he’s starting his exercise regiment. He’s had high blood pressure for many years. Recently, it’s been going up even with meds. He still wouldn’t exercise, until this week.

I hope he’ll keep it up. I need to exercise too. But I’m underweight and have low blood pressure. My motivation is to get stronger to go on Taiwan STM in September.

We are all getting old. No one ever gets younger. It’s no reason to stop improving ourselves in body, soul, and spirit. I am only willing to take a small step, but I figure that’s better than nothing.

 

 

11
Jul
stored in: 2019

Overheard: “He’s really immature.”

Response: “Everyone is immature.”

It is true that everyone is immature in one degree or another.

Thinking back to 5 years ago, I was really immature in certain areas. Even to last year, I can think of ways where I’m more mature today.

And I’m immature today compare to next year when hopefully I will have matured in some areas.

So to say someone is immature as a negative trait is not quite right, as if everyone else has arrived. In fact, we are all immature.

——

I was very encouraged by Pastor A yesterday. I told him I felt stressed about an upcoming children’s event, that attendance may be low and results not as expected. As the senior pastor, my supervisor, what would he say?

He said, well, then just take it as a learning experience. You’ve done all you can.

No pressure to meet the numbers, no pressure to produce. He understands that I’ve done my part and trust my work ethic to do my best. That’s all he expects. The rest is up to God.

His answer assured me that if anyone complained about this or about me, he has my back.

It is this type of gracious atmosphere that keeps me at my work. It is this trust among our staff and ultimate dependence on God that I’m grateful for.

This is a sign of growing maturity.