29
Apr
stored in: 2019

It’s really nice to have Monday off!

The weekend is always busy, either ministry or personal. The thought of unwinding on Monday is such a relief!

I can see why people look forward to retirement if you don’t like your job. What a drag to go to work on Monday mornings. I am doubly blessed with a job I love and Mondays off! The pay isn’t great, but I do get health insurance. At my age, that is worth a lot.

Perspectives was great yesterday. Very challenged by Vicky Warren. She worked directly with Steve Jobs in product development! Worked for Disney as an executive, was so effective there that 6 women asked her to mentor them. She started a Bible study with them and 3 of them came to Christ. She could’ve stayed and be used by God but her heart grew for the unreached. So she left Disney to use her skills to help develop businesses in unreached people groups. She’s traveled to 35 countries where she’s helping with the business plan. What an interesting life!

Do I envy her? Yes, of course, who wouldn’t! I want to have that kind of energy and skill and faith to go all out for God. I think I always hold back and God has to prod me to take a risk for him. Vicky got her Doctoral degree when she was 50. I thought about it, but didn’t want to do it. God didn’t make me like Vicky Warren. I need 7 hours of sleep, 8 is even better; she said she only sleeps 5. She credits the Holy Spirit for all she’s accomplished. And looking back, I do the same. Despite my unworthiness, the Holy Spirit grew me and enabled me much more than I would naturally be able to do.

27
Apr
stored in: 2019

It was a joyful morning of training with over 60 in attendance plus 2 young adults helping with 5 kids. Thank God for all volunteers who love God and love children ministry.

I’ve always struggled with my ethnic identity. Usually I don’t “feel” like I’m Chinese. I grew up with white people and tried hard to fit in, tried hard “not be Chinese”. While I know I’ve never been accepted as “white”, I generally identify more as white than Chinese. But today I felt Chinese.

Today my husband and I took our training speakers to have a Chinese cultural experience. The husband is Nigerian and wife is white from the Valley, Simi Valley that is. We took them to authentic Canto food at the Noodle – “there’s no Panda Express in Rowland Heights”. Through their eyes I discovered, and appreciated, my Chineseness. We took them shopping at the Chinese market. Everything from hanging roast duck in the deli, stew beef with tendons, the variety of chinese vegetables (not just one kind of bok choy), the choices of fresh noodle – it was fun for them, and it was fun for me too to be the host.

We had them over for dinner a few months ago for hot pot, and since then, they’ve been wanting to do their own hot pot meal. Today at the Chinese market, they bought the whole set up and all the food items, planning to have it with her parents and sisters tomorrow. I walked them through everything they need, as if I know what I’m doing. I guess I do know something about Chinese culture…

And he showed us how to pick a good coconut. He used to climb up coconut trees, without a harness, and ax coconuts! To me that’s pretty amazing. I guess the Chinese market was pretty amazing to them in the same way.

26
Apr
stored in: 2019

I said something really stupid at the mom’s fellowship today! One mom shared how she’s always giving to others and it’s hard to also have enough energy to encourage her husband. I meant to say self focused constant complaining makes things worst and doesn’t allow us to experience God’s victory. But I’m afraid it came across like I wasn’t saying we shouldn’t complain. I felt bad and apologized to her if I may her feel like she can’t share her problems.

This bothered me all day. I felt so bad. It bothered me because I was careless with my words. I said it without thinking it through. No matter how good my intention may be, wrong choice of words are wrong and hurt people. Good intention does not excuse behavior. I pray that God will help her forget what I said and that she’s not discouraged!

I know I have a tendency to blurt things out when I’m comfortable with people. I do that with my family. I don’t filter what I say. This scares me. My sin and immaturity comes out in sarcastic remarks. As a leader of the church, people may take things wrong if they don’t know me that well. Of course they know leaders are not perfect, but people like to be able to think highly of their leaders. I know I do. Why else would I want them to be leaders if they are not mature?

I realize now this is one of the difficult things about being a leader/pastor. You can’t totally be yourself even though your church is suppose to be your church family. These are the people you’re closest to, yet you have to keep a certain distance. Otherwise your sin is so apparent and it can be ugly. I’ve heard this from pastors and didn’t understand it till now as I analyze why I feel so bad about that incident.

I mean, I get it that a leader should be authentic and it’s ok to admit you’re wrong. But if it happens too often and your sin is out there all the time, it’s not a good thing.

No Awana tonight. Went to Costco instead to buy snacks for tomorrow’s training workshop. It’s one chance for my husband to get a Costco danish. In the old days, we would actually buy, and eat, a pack of those sugar-rich, fat-ladened cheese and apple danish. But in our old age we can’t eat that anymore…Sigh! Well, we can IF we exercised, but we don’t, and that’s the tradeoff.

 

24
Apr
stored in: 2019

What did we used to do before search engines?

My searches today – outdoor plants in a pot, hamstring stretches, bump on forehead, eggplant recipe, ministrysafe, Sacred Fire, Office Depot, tight gluts

Enjoyed praying with Glenys at prayer meeting.

In our lifetime we pray many prayers, but we don’t recognize God’s answers to all our prayers.

For example, the benediction – The Lord bless you and keep you. That is prayed over us every week. Did the Lord bless me and keep me this week? How did he keep me? I don’t know.

Another example: saying grace before a meal – Bless this food to our health – that’s what I say. Did God answer that prayer? Does it mean he said no to that prayer when we get sick?

I am not saying we shouldn’t pray these prayers, but we don’t pay attention to how God answers these routine prayers we pray rather mindlessly. I suppose we don’t have to keep track.

When I get to heaven, I want to ask God how he thinks of these prayers. I suppose it’s something like when my children were toddlers holding up their short chubby arms to be held. It’s a routine thing, and it’s cute. I pick them up most of the time, sometimes not when I can’t. Maybe God thinks of our routine prayers like that. It pleases him that we ask, it’s cute. And he answers them according to his will, even when we don’t see it or just take it for granted that it happened.

23
Apr

Sunday highlights:

A parent texted me Sunday afternoon and thanked me for helping her children. It is my privilege!

Watching the baptism in the Chinese service, and live stream the English service in Children Worship. Chinese baptism was very serious. Lots of laughter in the English baptism. In Children Worship we cheered after every baptism. A time to rejoice!

Special music medley in Children Worship by Matt on piano and Kristin on violin! I was pleasantly pleased at how attentive the children were. Even the usual noise-makers were listening. The movements of the violin is mesmerizing. It was very worshipful.

One of the dads, who serves in Awana, with 2 children in my department, and I thought he knew me better than most, asked, “Are you like a salaried staff? What do you do?” Sigh, after 7 years, even parents I work with don’t know what I do. I don’t blame them. I can’t even tell you what I do.

Would you believe my husband set the alarm at 5:30am…to put the roast in the bbq? It needed to cook for 3 hours, then wrapped and slow cook for another 6 hours. Getting up at 5:30am was the only way to get this done while still be able to go to church. He is very committed to doing this slow cook bbq pull pork :) It was delicious!

All my kids came back for Easter dinner. We sit around and talk. I don’t think I did that with my parents.

—–

I learn a lot from the pastors. I appreciate their different views yet are committed to maintain unity. I learn about leadership, loving the flock, going the extra mile, humility, theology, and more. I am also thankful for their willingness to help other churches, new ideas and thinking of better ways of doing things. I am thankful for an office with a window.

 

19
Apr
stored in: 2019

I have to admit, it’s hard for me to get emotional by the crucifixion of Jesus.

I am definitely grateful and don’t take his sacrifice for granted. But I’m the type of person who doesn’t care to make a big deal of birthdays and anniversaries.

What I enjoyed about today’s Good Friday service was not the program itself, but the chance to sit and let God speak to me. I enjoy meditating during singing time. I did get a bit emotional as I heard God speak to me about humility and trusting in him.

I heard him tell me that I am but a small part of what he’s doing. I felt a sense of relieve and peace knowing I don’t have to take myself too seriously. My life and what I do is not the main show, He is the main show. He’s the lead character. Extras don’t have to worry about their roles. If the lead character does well, the show is a success.

I’m just an extra. Thank God He always does his part perfectly and makes us look good!

18
Apr
stored in: 2019

My Perspectives reading today revealed a flaw in my understanding of church. Wow, after all these years as a Christian and attending church, and now on the pastoral staff at church, I get a revelation that makes me think how “Western” I am in my Christian theology. Fortunately it’s not too late for me to adjust my perspective.

“The core reality of the Church is Jesus Christ being followed, loved, and obeyed.” Yes, I understand that, and that’s what we do when we disciple believers. However, the part that is eye-opening for me is teaching believers to obey all of Christ’s commands. We tell new believers to obey by worshipping God via coming to church and Sunday School. If they come regularly, we are happy, we assume by their attendance that their affection for Christ is there. We tell them to read the Bible, pray, fellowship with believers, witness to unbelieving friends and family. Those are all good ways to obey. But we don’t really follow up with them to see if they are obeying what they’re learning when they read the Bible. Are they obeying the command to love your neighbor as yourself? We think it takes a while for them to understand the Bible, get some more knowledge, etc. No! The Great Commission said to teach them to OBEY. That should be the priority in follow up.

“Teaching heavy theology before one learns loving, childlike obedience is dangerous. It leaves a person assuming that Christianity is having scripturally correct doctrine and he leaves it at that. He becomes a passive learner of the Word rather than an active disciple.” (p639 in the Reader) I think this is the case with many Christians in America. I am guilty of that too. We can have very good theology, excellent students who love to study the Bible. They do love God. But are they passive learners or active disciples? Are they obeying the commands with childlike faith?

Our church identified 4 indicators of a vibrant Christian – Love passionately, Live authentically, Give generously, Go courageously. These are not exhaustive of what a Christian look like, but it’s a good start to be active disciples, not passive learners. We must help each other to obey in these ways to live out Christ’s commands.

But sometimes I just enjoy being a passive learner, and only obey when it suits me.

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.