2017!

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Happy 2017, everyone:) I just realized that my last post was January 2016, which means this has just become an annual blog! I’m proud to say that I was able to accomplish the goals I made for 2016, but apart from that, 2016 was a pretty important year for me. It was the year I turned 30, served God for 7 years, and the first time I visited Australia since I left almost 12 years ago. At each of these moments, I stopped and looked back on my life and I am both grateful at what God has been doing in my life and inspired to give back more.

30 sounds old, but at the same time it marks a new stage in my life. I was reminded that Jesus was around 30 when he began his ministry and priests were given more responsibilities in the temple, so I hope that by His grace, I can put away my childish ways, and strive to become a more mature woman of God.

7 is a perfect number, and when I look back on the years I’ve been serving God, I know that it is all by God’s grace. There have been many times when I’ve looked at my life and thought, who am I to be serving God in this capacity? But every time, God gently reminds me to trust in Him, and as long as I serve Him with all my heart, He will provide all that I need to care for those He has entrusted me. It is this grace that encourages me to continue faithfully, and I hope that in the coming years I can know Him more and take up more for Him.

12 years away from “home” is a long time, but visiting Australia made me see how different my life has become since I left, and how “home” has truly become where the heart is. Seeing all my family and friends back in Australia was awesome, and I felt right at home with them. I was especially grateful that all these friendships have not changed over time and it was exciting to see how we have all grown up. But two weeks past by very quickly, and soon it was time to go “home” to the place and the people God has put me with at this point in my life.  Life is full of moments with different people. I feel so blessed to have had so many people come into my life, and I pray that I too can be a blessing to others.

Having such a “milestone” year in 2016, I look forward to what 2017 has in store. The verse to begin 2017 for me is this: “Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord.” <Romans 12:11>.

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2016 goals!

Happy 2016, everyone!

Happy 2016 everyone!!
So it’s the first day of the new year, and it’s time to make new year resolutions!!
Here are three of my new goals for the new year:

1. Keeping my Monday Sabbaths– this coming year is likely going to be busier than 2015, but I’m hoping that I can continue to make time each week to get away from everything and draw close to God, to gain new strength for the work ahead!

2. Buying toilet paper– ok, this needs explaining 🙂 So at the end of last year, I realized that the 2 years I had been living with my housemates, I hadn’t helped out much in refilling our household goods, like buying toilet paper, washing powder, rice, etc. It’s not that I never thought of it, but every time I thought of it, someone else had already helped buy it…SO, I’m making it my new year goal to keep my eye out when we are running out of common goods and getting them first so that I can learn to be a better housemate and serve in the little things.

3. Saying the right things at the right time– although I’m not a person of many words, I felt that there were times in the last year when I said things I shouldn’t have said or said them at the wrong time, so I’m asking God to help me learn to be led by His spirit, to be able to say the right things at the right time so that my words can build up others.

So there they are. Keep me accountable. Hope you also have some new year goals and keep them in sight during the year. As C.S. Lewis says, “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream!”

God created us to soar and be creatures of great vision. Let not your vision grow dim, His plans for you stand firm forever.” -Abbie Teh

 

Top 3’s of 2015

 

New Year Wallpaper.

With 3 days left of 2015, it’s time to sit down and reflect on the past year. Here are my top 3’s of 2015; What are yours?

Events:

  1. Monday Morning Sabbaths: Inspired by a ‘silent retreat’ I attended with church, I began to make Monday mornings my Sabbath morning, getting away from work and duties to spend more time in quietness with God and making time for some light reading. Beginning the week with time out puts things in better perspective!
  2. Visiting my Aunts in HK: Not being close to my relatives in HK, I hadn’t visited them at all since I came back in 2009, but this year, I made the effort to visit and care for them and hear their life stories.
  3. Meeting Coworkers’ Children from around the world: It was exciting meeting the much younger Coworker’s Children at camp this year and learning to encourage them in their faith.

People/Things that inspired me:

  1. Elisabeth Elliot: a Christian speaker and author, perhaps most well-known for sharing the Gospel to the Auca tribe in Ecuador, the people who killed her husband and 4 other missionaries. She passed away this year in June and in the many sharings about her life, her life inspired me to view suffering in a new perspective.
  2. The two spies of Jericho in Joshua 2. The Bible speaks of two spies who went into the land of Jericho. They came by the house of Rahab and saw what Yahweh God had done and could do. Because of what they saw, they had the faith to go in and conquer the land because “Surely Yahweh has given all the land into our hands.” (Josh 2:24) They inspired me to stop and see what God is doing so that I have the faith to go on.
  3. Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” This year there were moments when I felt unequipped for certain responsibilities, but God encouragd me with this verse. If He is my teacher and has His eye upon me, what more is there to fear?

Surprises & Touching moments

  1. Surprise visit from my good friend and sister from Singapore! It was a Sunday and I had just finished preaching on the topic of “spiritual friendship” when she suddenly popped in to say hello!!
  2. Surprise Birthday gift: This year I received a gift from somone I hadn’t seen in more than two years. Just the fact that she remembered my birthday and wanted to encourage me with a gift and card really touched me.
  3. Postcards: Thank you to everyone who remembered me in their travels. I LUV getting postcards:)

Books I read: 

  1. Keeping the Sabbath Wholly – Marva J.Dawn : it taught me the importance of spiritual rest
  2. You and Me Forever -Francis and Lisa Chan: it emphasized the God-given purposes of our lives, and how we should view family and marriage in light of eternity
  3. The Testing Trilogy– Joelle Charbonneau: hadn’t read a fiction series in a long time. Enjoyed this lighter version of Hunger Games:)

Songs I enjoyed: (I just realized they’re all Chinese…)

  1. 祢專屬的花園: IHOPKC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d24ruTE_HOs
  2. 能不能 Let Me Stay: Stream of Praise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AW6aFoCCaIg
  3. 《你的微笑/出賣》Voice of China 4; Jay Chou’s team: didn’t watch the whole series, but I think they did a pretty good job with this medley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1qgqpbX-uQ

An old woman with a cart

“We embrace time instead of space, people instead of things, holy happenings in history instead of fate, freedom instead of a schedule. We do not have to do anything on the Sabbath day, so we are free to move as the Holy Spirit leads us, to participate in whatever opportunity the day gives. Thereby we are set free to care more deeply about others and to discover more richly who they are as fellow children of God.” (Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, Marva. J. Dawn, ch 21 Embracing the World)

So it was another Monday morning Sabbath and I planned to take the 1:20 ferry back home. Just as I was about to head to the pier, it started pouring and so I took out my umbrella and started walking. Across the road, i saw an old lady with a little umbrella standing by the side of the road with her cart stacked with cardboard. I looked at her and then she started shouting. I couldn’t hear what she said so i just kept looking and then she started waving and motioning to me. So i walked over to her and she started pushing her cart very slowly. And i asked her, do you need help? She said, yes, come and help me push. It was pouring rain, but i put away my umbrella, put on my hood and started pushing with her. It seemed kind of light, so i said, How about you just let me push? She let go for perhaps three seconds before continuing and said, no, it’s better with two people. (I tried pushing the cart in those three seconds and the cart wouldn’t budge…) So we kept pushing and then we started going down a slope and the cart moved really easily downhill. She started saying to me, don’t need to push, and repeated herself as if worried i didn’t hear. I thought she didn’t need me anymore so I let go and she starting yelling, don’t go, don’t go! I quickly held on again and she said, it’s slippery, don’t push, but hold on!

So i held on with her and got to the end of the road and then she told me to let go as she prepared to push the cart onto the curb. She pushed, but the cart wouldn’t go up, so she motioned to me and i went over. She said, push down. I pushed down with her. She said push forward. I pushed forward with her and we got the cart onto the curb! Then we turned into a little road and finally arrived at a little corner stacked with cardboard. She thanked me repeatedly and said, you can go now.

I smiled and walked away to the pier. It was 1:20 and i had missed my ferry. I was drenched from head to toe, but inside I was rather exctied from the little adventure with the old woman with a cart.

She looked a bit like this…

Breakthrough and Beyond

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This year’s coworkers’ kid’s camp was again full of fun and exciting moments, but most of all, we witnessed God’s love for each of us and his provision in so many ways. This camp almost didn’t happen because we almost didn’t have a place to have it. With more than 30 people joining this year, we had to book a campsite, but campsites in HK are really hard to book during summers and places are allocated by ballot. Notifications of successful applications were received on or before April 20, but by April 20, we had not received any notifications whatsoever. We had to start considering other options. A few days passed when we suddenly received a letter that our application had been accepted by Tso Kung Tam Outdoor Recreation Centre! You can imagine our excitement and amazement at the late notification. We knew it wasn’t just luck.

As the camp drew near, we also saw how God opened the way for many of the kids to join this camp. Some had trouble getting leave off work, others had their own difficulties, and one coworkers’ kid  even got appendicitis one week before camp! But with much prayer support, they all made it in time for camp!

I’ve been to many camps in my lifetime, but i think there’s something special about these coworkers’ kid’s camps. For one, many of us had never met before this camp, but there is a bond that holds us together because all our parents serve God. Although we are very different, we share an understanding because we all know what it’s like growing up as a coworkers’ kid. And i think it’s that understanding that allows us to share from our hearts and encourage one other as if we had known each other for years.

This year’s theme was ‘Breakthrough and Beyond’. The main message was based on the story of Samuel. We, like Samuel, were in a sense offered up to God by our parents when we were young, when they decided to serve God. But what’s special about Samuel’s story is that after his parents offered him up, God spoke to him as an individual, calling him personally. At first, Samuel didn’t know it was God, but by the third time, he knew and he responded, “Speak, for your servant is listening”. (1Sam 3:10) We weren’t given a choice when we were young. We followed our parents to church and grew up where they were sent to serve. But God is calling us individually to establish a relationship with him, to live for him and offer what we have to him…will we say Yes to God? That was the question put forth to us as we were challenged to make a breakthrough in our lives in our relationship with God and see where it would lead us…from here and beyond.

The Need for Rest

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This morning I woke up early and took a 10-minute ferry ride across to Discovery Bay (Yes, one of the perks of living in Peng Chau)  and was excited to find an almost empty beach with awesome huts to sit in and i spent the morning enjoying the sea breeze while having a whole morning of precious quietness, with my bible, a journal, and a book. This is the first time I’ve done this since moving here. I call it my first “Monday morning Sabbath”.

I’d better explain myself. So the Sabbath is the seventh day of the Hebrew Calendar week, and a holy day of rest, as God rested from creation, and a remembrance for the Hebrews of the Exodus. This day of rest is observed by Jews from Friday evenings to Saturday evenings, while it is observed by Christians on Sunday. The purpose of a day of rest, is not just to take a break from work, although that’s included too, but a day to worship our Creator, align our lives once again with His will and gain new strength for the new week.

Ever since I remember, I’ve spent my Sundays at church and it’s always been enjoyable to spend time with friends and family there and learn to draw close to God through song and His word. However, since I began to serve full-time at church, I’ve found Sundays to be probably one of the busiest days of the week. While I still enjoy it as I have in the past, I wouldn’t really call it a day of rest because of the different responsibilities I have on Sundays.

I had been thinking about this problem for some time when I came across a book called Ordering Your Private World, which I’ve found quite insightful. The author, who is a pastor, shared from his own experience that one day he discovered that he could not enjoy rest on “the day of rest” because he had to preach in different services and be available throughout the day to the people of his congregation. Rarely did a Sunday end without he and his wife being on the verge of exhaustion. So what did he do? He decided that on Sundays, he would try to help others enjoy their Sabbaths and reserve another day to have his “sabbath” to enjoy rest and time with God.

Following that, while I cannot say I am as busy as he is,  I thought I too would help others enjoy their Sabbaths on Sundays and I’d make Mondays my “day of rest” since I usually don’t have any set responsibilities that day. After my daily morning devotions, I originally planned to spend the day doing some light reading, playing simple worship songs on the keyboard and things that would help me enjoy rest and time with God. But before too long, i found myself quickly distracted by work that needed to be done, emails, facebook, sleep and a whole lot of other stuff. So I was back to square one.

However, last week i had the chance to go on a silent retreat with my pastor and a few sisters to learn how to draw close to God through quietness. Almost three days of no talking, no computer, no phone…and the purpose was to focus on God through reading the Bible and prayer and we got to reflect on our lives too. It was my first time to join such a retreat and it did get some getting used to, but overall, I found it really refreshing.

I realized the reason why my Mondays “day of rest” never worked was that I hadn’t left the house, and ended up being distracted with my computer and tedious things that i felt needed to be done. Thus, I decided it was time to try again, this time somewhere away from home.

Which comes back to where i began with this post, my first “Monday morning Sabbath”.

Are you making the most of your “day of rest” to worship our Creator, align our lives once again with His will and gain new strength for the new week?

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Count the stars

The other day, I was looking up into the sky and as it began to get dark, my eyes searched for the stars. I saw but a few.

At that moment, I imagined God taking Abram outside, telling him to look toward the heavens, to count the stars…and so shall his descendants be.

I imagined Abram looking into the sky and counting the stars. 1, 2, 3…

Abram was old and childless, but God promised him a son, and descendants as many as the stars in the sky. Abram believed.

There were just a few stars. But as I continued to look, suddenly the clouds rolled away and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I suddenly saw another star here and another star there and I saw stars cover the sky.

And I imagined Abram’s excitement as his eyes saw the stars and he could not count them.

“Then he believed in Yahweh*; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Gen 15:6

Thus are the promises of God. Sometimes we can only see clouds in the sky, but as they roll away, we see that what God has planned is beyond anything we could have imagined.

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*Yahweh (יהוה) is the Hebrew name of God